Tools for maintaining your website

Even if you have a great content management system for your website, sometimes you need a little outside help to get things done. These are a few tools that you can download and start using right now that will help you edit images and maintain files on your web server.

Resizing and touching up images

No need to buy Photoshop if you simply need to touch up and resize your images. Paint.NET is a free image editing application for Windows that can do much of what Photoshop does. And if you use a Mac, check out Paintbrush. It’s not so great at color correction, but cropping and resizing images are no problem.

Resizing and modifying LOTS of images

If you need to resize 10 or more images, it can get a little tedious to open up each one in your image editor and modify them one by one. But there are specialized applications made for resizing and modifying lots of images at once. FastStone Photo Resizer allows you to select as many images as you like, choose a new size (along with lots of other changes if you like), and output them all at once to a new location on your computer. (Note that the free version is for non-commercial use only. Go ahead and pay the license fee if you use it for your business—it’s worth it!) Mac users should check out SmallImage for a similar toolset.

Managing files on your web server

Sometimes you need to access your web server and upload new files or maybe move some things around. To do so you need an FTP (File Transfer Protocol) client like FileZilla. Available for both Windows and Mac (Linux, too), FileZilla is open source software and, therefore, free to use.

There’s even a tutorial to get you started with the basics of FTP.

New website for Chef Mike Roemhild

I recently had the pleasure of helping out an old friend, and we quickly redesigned and launched her husband’s website. Chef Mike Roemhild has traveled the world while being the executive chef for one of the world’s top luxury cruise lines. He has now settled in Mississippi where he will be head chef at the upcoming Table 100 in Flowood, Mississippi. I am personally looking forward to tasting his food!

Chef Mike Roemhild website

Visit the site to find out more about Chef Mike Roemhild.

Health Help Mississippi updates its website

Health Help Mississippi is no longer only for children. The Mississippi program is now available to assist all Mississippians with health care benefits. To this end, we have just recently updated the site with new copy and imagery to reflect the change.

Visit the updated website to read more.

Mobile websites, not apps

Apps, or mobile applications, are all the rage right now. “There’s an app for that“ or “Where’d you get that app?” are now competing taglines that aim to put one device above another based on what software (or apps) is available for that particular device. Well, here’s what bothers me about this as a developer: apps must be developed for at least four major devices—iPhone, Android, Blackberry, and now Windows Mobile (is Palm still big?)—all with different development kits. Which should you choose if you can’t afford to build for all of them?

HTML5: the other choice

What if you didn’t have to choose? What if you could simply develop one application and it worked on all of the major devices? Well, you can—mobile web apps with HTML5. 37Signals recently did it with their Basecamp web application. There’s nothing to install or update. You just point your mobile browser to your Basecamp account and you get a special, mobile-optimized version on your phone that works much like a native app. You can even bookmark it and save the bookmark to your “home” screen. Best of all, it doesn’t care which of the major phones you use!

Good for customers, too

Not too long ago, I had a discussion with someone about an iPhone app for college campuses. It sounded great: maps of the campus, class schedules, places to eat, and much more. However, my first reply was, “What if I don’t have an iPhone?” Mobile web apps are not only more cost-effective (build once and deploy everywhere), but they’re more consumer-friendly because they’re less likely to exclude anyone.

There are instances, I will admit, where an device-specific app may be more appropriate, like games, for example. The mobile web is more powerful than ever, though, so it should certainly be considered when beginning discussions about creating a mobile app. There are two big questions to ask yourself:

Does my budget allow us to build an app for two, three, or four devices?

If we choose to build for one device, can we afford to exclude the customers that use other devices?

If the answer to either of those is “no,” then it’s time to think about building a mobile web app.