Right now, there’s a trend called Web 2.0 (pronounced “two point oh”) that all the web veterans are busy twittering about. Web 2.0 describes a shift in the Internet from its original usage as a read-only interface, into more of a platform for collaboration and sharing. The problem is, all the talk about Web 2.0 is leaving behind all the folks who haven’t had the chance to absorb and understand the first version of the web. We’d like to help you catch up. We’ve put together a list of the top ten websites and services on the Internet that we think can change the way you use the web.
At its most basic, Flickr lets you upload photos that you’ve taken, and share them with just your friends, or with the whole internet. You can view other people’s photos, leave comments, and even draw little boxes on the photos to leave notes. It’s a well-designed, easy-to-use service that caters to everybody from photo-loving families to professional photographers. For business, Flickr has great potential. You can use Flickr to post images of your company’s recent projects, or even to publish photos from your staff Christmas party. We use it to cross-post our design critiques from “Around Calgary.” It helps drives more traffic to our website, and we’ve also met a couple like-minded professionals over Flickr who have helped us with our business. [Click here to visit the site. | Click here to view our Flickr collection.]
When you’re stuck with a technology problem or a sticky ethical dilemma, what do you do? You could Google it, but it’s sometimes hard to find specific answers. You could ask your mother (which is always good to do)…or, you could ask Metafilter. Metafilter is a community of curious web-users focused on sharing and discussing unique and newsworthy discoveries on the internet. With over 50,000 registered users (and thousands more unregistered readers), it’s a busy place that’s great for finding excellent links and interesting discussion. Perhaps the most useful feature of Metafilter is the section called “AskMetafilter.” This is where users can posts questions and problems for the community to answer and solve. Its tagline is “querying the hive mind,” and it’s a remarkably effective way to get input on virtually anything, from employment questions, to graphic design questions, to advice on buying new products for your office. It’s free to browse and read answers, but if you want to ask a question, it costs a one-time fee of $5 to sign up. Just a cautionary note: questions and answers are sometimes not suited for the whole family. [Click here to visit the site.]
Peacedeals.org is certainly the newest site we’re featuring on this list. In fact, it isn’t even live yet. We do happen to have a little bit of inside information for you. Peacedeals.org is an online mediation service for both real-life and virtual dispute resolution. With online gaming and alternate societies quickly becoming mainstream, this web service provides a common platform for dialogue between gamers and characters. In real life, people can get advice and sort out their issues securely and effectively. Mediators are trained specialists from all walks of life and industries. This site promises to be the social conscience of the web, valuable leverage for buyers, and from a business perspective, freedom from pricey legal services and collection agencies. [Click here to visit the site.]
Pronounced “Linked-In”, this website is best described as Facebook or MySpace for business professionals. It’s an online networking club. You can join this for free, create a profile of your professional history, include info on your current employment situation, and provide people with your contact details. Once your account is all set-up, you can get to work on building your network by sending invitations to your clients and colleagues. You can tap into your network to make business connections, look for work, and seek answers to questions on various subjects. The jury is still out on the R.O.I. potential of investing your time in this fashion. However, everyone here at ERD is linked-in, and if you are too, look us up — we’ll see what happens. [Click here to visit the site.]
5. Mozilla Firefox
Firefox is not a website – it’s a web browser. This popular alternative to Internet Explorer is more secure and more customizable than Explorer, and a lot more stable, too. On the surface, it works and looks very similarly to Explorer, but its ability to let users easily implement “add-ons” means that Firefox has virtually limitless functionality. For example, you can add an in-browser FTP client, a font finder, an in-browser colour eyedropper tool, or a bandwith tester…and tons more. Whether you’re a developer or an email-only web user, Firefox can become your new best friend. If you’re interested in switching, click here to visit the site and start your download. If you already have it, start exploring extensions!
Digg may just be the future of your nightly news. It’s a site that is driven by users as they submit stories and articles then decide what’s most important by collectively voting for or “digging” stories of interest. The most “diggs” an article receives, the higher it’s rated, and the more people see it. Being “Dugg” is one of the internet’s most notable achievements that can result in instant celebrity status or catastrophic system failure as your website becomes inundated with traffic. According to Alexa’s current stats, Digg is the 20th busiest website in the United States and the 80th busiest site in the world. From a marketing perspective, being discovered on Digg.com can be a good way to get noticed and spread information quickly. Getting noticed though, is the key to your success. [Click here to visit the site.]
Got a Digg account? Try it out right here! Just click “Digg It” to cast your vote for this article:
iStockPhoto provides designers with a unique, cost-effective resource for purchasing photography and illustrations for their projects. While most stock photography sites publish a privately-controlled selection of photos, iStockPhoto enables registered users to upload their works and get paid every time their photo is purchased from the website. Started in Calgary Alberta in 2000 and purchased by Getty Images in 2006 for $50 million, this website has revolutionized an industry and changed the way photographers work by pioneering what is now known as microstock photography. However, with this artwork being so accessible, don’t be surprised if you see a photo you’ve used in a project everywhere else as well. [Click here to visit the site.]
WordPress is software for the internet that lets people easily create and manage websites. If you are considering starting a blog for your business, you can open up an account with WordPress.com and have your website running in minutes. But unlike similar blogging services like Blogger or LiveJournal, WordPress is open source. This means that if you’re a developer (like us), you can install WordPress on your own server and customize it as much as you want. We’re using WordPress to manage Elbowruminations, and it lets us easily write and update our posts, and even install third-party plugins to add extra treats to the site, like the Flickr badge that’s showing pictures on the side. WordPress is great for businesses looking for a web presence that’s somewhere between a custom website and an easy-to-use blog. [Click here to visit the site.]
If you’ve ever been sent e-mail with pictures in it and wondered how they do that – this is how! Campaign Monitor is a web service for Graphic Designers that provides the capability to send HTML e-mails and online marketing campaigns on behalf of their clients. In our case, we design the e-mail, input an Excel spreadsheet of contacts, and send it on behalf of our clients. After the message is sent, clients can login to their personal account on our website in order to manage contacts and view statistics. Information provided here includes very nice looking charts and graphics pertaining to who opened their e-mail, which links were most popular and how many times the e-mail was forwarded. It’s never been easier to send e-mail campaigns to your customers. It’s never been so affordable either! [Click here to visit the site. | Click here to request our email campaign rates.]
FeedBurner is a behind-the-scenes service for publishers looking to provide their readers with a new way to read their content. These days, websites are being designed very differently than in the web’s early days: the actual content of a website is no longer dependent on context. That is, you don’t have to visit a website to read the words on it. Services like FeedBurner can deliver the content in many different forms, using technology called RSS. You’ve probably seen these initials around — RSS stands for “really simple syndication.” An RSS feed from a website is essentially the text-only version of the site, and lets viewers read your website over email, on their own personalized websites, or via Live Bookmarks. Feedburner, to be brief, helps make your website RSS-friendly. As RSS grows in popularity, FeedBurner is one of the easiest ways to help your website remain accessible to readers on the go. [Click here to visit the site.]
- Special Thanks
All thumbnail images on this article were generated using Joshua Eichorn’s “WebThumb” tool. Joshua’s free service is a useful and innovative tool that lets users quickly capture images of specific websites for use in posts like this. You can check out the tool for yourself, or visit Eichorn’s AJAX and PHP Blog.