Web Hosting & Domain Registration
A top choice for web hosting and domain registration. Their service, uptime, and responsiveness to their clients' concerns make them the best hosting company I've come upon. Their knowledge and skill of the Shopsite e-commerce platform is second-to-none and they've even created a number of useful add-ons for this popular program. Even on a Saturday night, they reply to support requests promptly (well under 30 minutes in my experience) with useful responses that usually resolve the issue the first time (unlike many competitors' canned responses that often don't help much at all).
Hostgator offers a number of inexpensive packages for basic web-hosting that include plenty of bandwidth and storage space for any size website. They also offer a great selection of free add-on scripts for photo galleries, blogs, mailing lists, and much more to enhance your website.
Shopsite provides a very full-featured and customizeable shopping cart program including multiple shipping and payment options, coupons, customer registration, and more.
Shopsite is a great e-commerce platform. However, like many such packages, it wasn't designed to handle back-end order processing, warehousing, shipping, and management tasks wfficiently on a large scale. Along comes Ordoro...designed specifically with Shopsite merchants in mind. This platform is fully web-based for easy maintenance and integrates seamlessly with Shopsite to provide full-featured, easy-to-use Order Processing, Shipping, Inventory, and Purchasing functionality. It also integrates with Amazon, Big Commerce, and other shopping platforms. (I'm also pleased to have provided feedback and ideas in the early stages of this software's development.)
When you sign up, enter the code "BAREFOOTCHRIS" in the "Hear About" section and save 20% off your first month's payment.
A very affordable online shopping cart option. Available in both a versatile free version and a more fully-featured but very affordable pay version, Cubecart is based on the PHP/SQL programming languages and hence extremely customizable.
AWeber provides e-mail marketing software with a variety of stylish templates for getting your message noticed in your clients' inboxes. Their web-based software solution is easy-to-use and full of features for message customization and autoresponders so you can follow-up with the right message for the right person at the right time. They work hard to ensure your message gets delivered and not filtered, too.
Social Networking Sites
This site includes blogs, photo albums, friend lists, interest groups, general profile information and more. Though geared to a young crowd, it is one of the most popular social networking sites on the web.
Another popular social networking site, this one once limited your online "friends" to people who attended the same school or workplace. However, it has now expanded to allow you to befriend anyone who shares your interests. A variety of interest-based groups also exist and work well for increasing your "exposure" on the web.
Another wonderful networking site, though geared to a more "alternative" crowd--from bellydancers to attendees of the Burning Man Festival.
Though not specifically a "social networking site," videos posted on the popular YouTube video hosting site generate an incredible viral effect, with people surfing from video to related video via the site's "Related Video" links or shared "user favorites" and "channels." YouTube also provides an easy way to embed video on your own website without needing a more-expensive hosting account to handle the bandwidth demands of streaming video.
Though add-on software (even of the free variety) exists for you to host a blog directly on your own website, Blogger provides another alternative that allows you to create your own online journal, complete with the ability go post photos and get feedback, all for free. In addition to Blogger's easy-to-use interface and long-term archive is the social/viral marketing effect when people comment on and share your blog with others.
General Computer and Website Information
The magazine for keeping up with the latest trends in the world of computers and technology. New news and articles appear online everyday.
This is a great website with plenty of free downloads to keep your computer running, healthy, and free of viruses and spyware. Among the free programs available for download to keep unwanted and harmful spyware from your computer are Ad-Aware, Spyware Blaster, and Spybot Search & Destroy. I use all 3 in addition to anti-virus software to keep my own PC safe.
This is the standards-making body that helps to make sure that web-related computer code works properly and uniformly across a variety of web browsers and viewing/rendering devices. The Web Accessibility Initiative is a valuable resource for designing websites accessible to people with disabilities.
Mozilla is the creator of the popular Firefox browser, one of the few to challenge Internet Explorer's monopoly on the market. Firefox is faster, more secure, and more standards-compliant in displaying webpages than IE. Firefox had tabbed browsing far before IE and the new version 3.0 adds a much-enhanced bookmark feature. Plus, there are hundreds of third-party plug-ins available to provide added functionality from social bookmarking to easy-access weather information. Mozilla also has a great e-mail client called Thunderbird to replace Outlook or Outlook Express.