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Five Cool Resources for Web Designers

Author: James Hurst
Five Cool Resources for Web Designers
Most seasoned Web Designers and Developers have a list of tools and resources stashed away that they refer to from time-to-time. The five no-cost items below are little gems that I utilize quite often.

Browser Compatibility

We all know how important it is to test a new site for compatibility with the multiple Web browsers on the market. If you run a Windows based PC, installing and running multiple browsers can be a nightmare.

‘Browsershots’ utilizes volunteer members to take screenshots of a submitted website as rendered on various operating systems and browsers. Simply visit http://v03.browsershots.org and enter the URL of a website you’d like to view. Due to the popularity of the service, URLs get added to a queue for processing and are visible to you very quickly.

After your screenshots are ready, your URL will be linked to from the ‘queue page’. You’ll see thumbnails of your website viewed by the different browsers and different operating systems that you previously selected from the drop downs and checkboxes. You can even select different browsers at specific screen resolutions. If you run special plug-ins on your machine, you can see what happens when visitors that don’t have them navigate your site.

A word of caution on the ‘queue page’. The queue and screenshots are visible to all visitors. If you have a confidential client or a Web design in beta that you’d like to keep private, using Browsershots is probably not a good idea.

Accessibility/Convenience Tools

‘The Scrutinizer’ touts ‘231 Tools in One Place’, and they aren’t kidding. http://www.scrutinizethis.com offers the time crunched Web Designer/Developer tools listed under three main categories, ‘URL Tools’, ‘Keyword Tools’ and ‘IP Tools’.

From the main page you can select tools such as ‘CSS to English’, ‘Windows Live’ and ‘IP to City’ lookup.

DNS Tools

An excellent resource that I have utilized for years resides at http://www.dnsstuff.com.

From the main page you can check A, C, MX, NS, & SOA records, reverse DNS lookups, ISP cached DNS lookups, Ping, Traceroute, etc. for any domain or IP address. You can also run Abuse, Spam database and WHOIS lookups. You can also check the speed of your DNS host.

In the ‘Other Tests’ section, (very bottom of main page), you can utilize the ‘CSE HTML Validator’ to check your site for HTML errors or test an Email address.

Web Presentation Tool

‘PowerPoint’ for the Web. http://robertnyman.com/ajax-s

AJAX-S, (AJAX-Slides), is a free, lightweight slideshow application based on HTML, CSS, Java and XML. It allows you to create your own custom slide presentations for the Web without the need for any particular program or provider.

From the main page you can utilize the dropdown menu, (lower left-hand corner of page), to navigate the Website. The download page is entitled ‘Rounding up’.

Navigation Tool

With all of the Internet security issues that exist today, visitors are often reluctant to click on a link that navigates to another Website. ‘Link Thumbnail’ will show your visitors where they are headed. http://lab.arc90.com/2006/07/link_thumbnail.php

When a visitor’s cursor hovers over an external hyperlink on your page, ‘Link Thumbnail’ script will produce a small image of the destination page. It’s a nice visual cue that gives the visitor a clearer view of what’s ahead.

From the main page you can download the code and obtain custom script that will configure ‘Link Thumbnail’ to perform the way you want it to.

About the Author:
J.C. Hurst is the IT/Internet Marketing Director for The Ziegler Corporations located in Atlanta, Georgia You may contact J.C. at: jchurst[at]zieglersupersystems.com

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