Tag: Web

Mint

Webmasters undeniably rely on web site statistics to give them a clue as to how their respective sites are doing. Statistics become important in evaluating site changes and even adding new content. For the do-it-yourself webmaster, clear and easy to use stat packages become a necessity, so obviously you want to pick the right web stats program for your site. Your choices range from web services like Google Analytics, to programs that analyse your webserver logs, such as AWStats, or you can choose a script that concentrates on what your web site activity is at the moment. Mint concentrates on just the essential statistics you need, in this way it is a good stats program for webmasters who are not interested in long term analysis. Bloggers in particular will find Mint to be a good alternative to AWStats or Google Analytics, since it can be integrated with most major web blogging scripts like WordPress. If however you are in the need of more in depth reports or eCommerce tracking, then Mint is not for you.

Unwrapped Mint

There are two ways to setup Mint. You can simply add a single line of javascript code to the head tag of your html, or in the case of WordPress, to the header.php template file. The advanced method requires that you have PHP installed as an Apache module and is harder to implement if you are not an experienced webmaster. Since Mint requires javascript, it is unable to track any visits if javascript is disabled. This is usually not a problem for most people, since javascript is now a pretty common requirement. At the time of this writing, Mint also requires Apache, PHP, and MySQL in order to run properly. Most Linux and UNIX based web servers will satisfy these requirements, but Windows servers will not work. Even with all these stipulations, I still found Mint to be an interesting and worthwhile investment.

For $30 per domain, Mint can provide real time stats and unlike other stat packages, it totally ignores bots and spammer scripts. This gives you a more accurate picture of actual hits on your site. Compared to other stats packages, I would say Mint is actually more conservative about hits. On the other side, the standard Mint stats are not very spectacular, fortunately, Mint is expandable. Its plugin architecture allows for new search panes to be added to the standard Mint stats view. These plugins are referred to as peppers. I highly recommend XXX Strong Mint, Sparks!, and Fresh View. You can find more peppers on the Peppermint Tea page.

WordPress & Mint

If you run WordPress and use ShortStat, you might be wondering if Mint is worth the price of admission. The advantage of Mint is that you can track static html pages as well as your WordPress blog. Other than that, the other big difference is that ShortStat registers way too many hits from search engines and bots as regular hits. Mint is more accurate or you might say conservative in its hit tracking. In my opinion, if you receive moderate traffic above fifty actual hits from actual visitors you probably could benefit from Mint. Technically, thirty dollars is not a lot of money these days, so Mint is a pretty good value considering how much commercial web site tracking software costs.

Related Forum Posts:

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Blogs Killed Forums

I am not sure about the whole Web 2.0 debate, but something which is very noticeable about the Internet in 2006 is that forum based sites are dying a slow death, and the sites that include a forum as part of their main site are doing even worse. Forums on those sites are being posted to less and less. It seems that much of the forum posting community has gravitated to either posting primarily on their own web blogs or commenting only on blogs. This has created a shift away from forums and for sponsored forums, it has meant a loss of ad revenue. It may be possible that this trend may continue and cause some sites to scale back or disappear completely.

Lack of Discussion

The most obvious turn off to forums is the moderator. Keeping the conversation going between multiple members is quite hard to do. Most moderators are faced with either not moderating at all discussions and letting other members get offended while a couple of members go at it and argue pointlessly about which operating system is the best or whether you support The President or not. Eventually moderators do buckle down and impose some civility and this causes hard core members to feel censored. Once they leave, the forum becomes a ghost forum with only old discussions left. A moderator is pretty much a thankless job.

Not Enough Ad Revenue

As for the webmaster, you have to pay for the forum software which is not exactly cheap or risk going with an open source script that will require more technical maintenance. Then you have to pay for the domain and hosting services; all of this is added cost. Most webmasters depend on some sort of steady revenue from sponsers and forums have a reputation for not performing well in this area, unlike blogs.

Ease of Publishing

The irony is that while forums were once the easy way to publish quickly, they are now being outclassed by blog scripts. Today almost anyone can learn to publish on Blogger or in WordPress, but learning to navigate, search, and setup your profile in most forums takes longer than the five minute WordPress install.

Not Trendy

Then there is the obvious: web blogs have adapted the latest technologies like CSS, XHTML, AJAX, and other Internet buzzwords. Forums are just catching up and unlike small blog scripts, forum scripts are quite complicated and large, making even small changes sometimes requires thorough testing.

Internet Evolution

All of this leaves forums on the brink of unpopularity, forcing forum script developers to rethink their audience anf evolve into something else. Perhaps the web blog is the natural cousin to the forum, and the Internet may still have future uses for the once popular online forum.

Filed under: News & TrendsTagged with: , , , , , ,

Web Authoring Software

One of the first steps to making a website is of course creating it, and not every webmaster starting out knows HTML and CSS. Yes, it may surprise you but many web sites are actually made by non-programmers. Mostly I think because, programmers do not always write good content, so a competent writer can output plenty of good content, but he or she does not know how to design the web site. This is where web authoring software comes in. This allows people who can make great content, publish it easier. Although the web site that comes out of web authoring software may not be as polished or as pixel perfect as a manually coded web site, it still is a web site and it is the content that matters in the end.

There are today a variety of web authoring packages that can give you a website in a very little time. For the most part they can be divided into either one of these categories: applications and scripts.

Dreamweaver and Nvu

Applications were once the only way to make a website for non-coders. The most popular application being Macromedia’s Dreamweaver. This expensive piece of software can help you design a website in less time and has extra features for more skilled webmasters that can help with programming languages like PHP and ASP. Of course, if you can’t afford Dreamweaver, then Nvu is probably the application for you. Nvu is based on the old Netscape Composer module and does most of the basic things that Dreamweaver can do. In between Dreamweaver and Nvu are all sorts of other applications, many are HTML editors that are for intermediate webmasters.

Web Blogs & Scripts

Scripts are programs that can create entire web sites for you, once you install them and add your content. The web blog is the most famous type of script program that webmasters use. A web blog is made up of two interfaces, a backend system that allows a webmaster to administrate and add content to the blog and a front end which is the rendered web site. Even though web blogs help organize content and make easy to publish it, you still have to install and setup the weblog software to start out with. That was until services like Blogger came around, that allowed anyone to setup their own blog without needing to install anything.

Most other scripts that are not web blogs, are multiple user based. Meaning they can handle multiple authors or administrators. These scripts are usually called Content Management Systems or CMS for short. For a while the CMS was very popular, but the rise of web blogging scripts like WordPress and MovableType have made content management systems less desired by webmasters who only want to publish personal sites.

Choosing Between The Web Blog or Static Web Site

Web blogs have the advantage of easy publishing, but many webmasters still choose to use Dreamweaver to put up sites, because Dreamweaver outputs actual files that they can backup and change. Web blogs are in fact complicated and if you make a mistake and mess up their configuration, it usually means the entire site is down until you fix it. Static files from Dreamweaver won’t have that problem. Using a web blog service too has its downsides. If you depend on a free web blog service, your site may disappear overnight without explanation. Your content may be lost or unreachable in the process. It is important to note that if you value your content, you are better off setting up a proper web host and domain for your web blog. This way you have more control over your content and down times.

More Resources

Macintosh based applications:

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