I Offer These Ideas As A Business Website Owner Who Uses Them
Think of this article as a letter from a friend who maintains a website for his own business, and wants to share with you some time/cost-saving methods he employs – at zero cost – to get more value from his website.
The Following Tools/Methods Can Make Using Your Site Easier/Less Expensive
In considering the resources featured here, you should keep in mind the fact that your ability to use them on your website may be determined to some extent by the type of web hosting package/functions you have purchased from your host. For those whose web hosting packages do not permit the easy use of these tools, I describe the very useful alternative of Remotely Hosted CGI Scripts and Resources towards the end of this article.
DISCLAIMER: Please note that I provide descriptions of the resources featured in this article for your information only. I cannot guarantee they will meet your requirements in any way.
There are many other scripts that do similar work available on the net. I have only described these ones because they are the ones I use – or have used.
If you choose to download and use them on your website, you will be doing so at your own risk. I have however used them all at least once, and currently use most of them/have done so for over 2 years – which is why I can recommend them.
1. Automated Website Membership Subscription Management
Resource: Membership Manager LITE
Membership is a feature that allows visitors to your website become members by completing a simple registration web form. Registered visitors will subsequently be able log in to restricted areas of your website using login details they would have specificed when signing up. You can even have two or more levels of membership(for instance Free/Basic and Paid/Premium).
Using this feature, you can enable your website provide member specific content like special offers, articles, email newsletters, and other interactive content. Offering membership on your website will definitely set it apart from many others which do not.
One nifty CGI script I have found quite useful to easily and securely offer membership on my websites is called Membership Manager. This programs uses HTACESS browser based login authentication(regarded as the most secure form of password protection on the Internet) to protect your restricted members-only directories from unauthorised access.
Membership Manager, comes in two variants – LITE(Free) and PRO.
A. It allows the owner to use a control panel to administer user accounts of members (who will also be on their automated newsletter mailing list).
B. The members have login ID and Password of their choice automatically used in creating a website membership account for them when they signup.
C. Paid Subscription Management is possible. If someone has paid for one year access, you can setup a 1 year member account access to a password restricted members area on your website where some premium content may be accessed.
D. Also, the system at the expiration of the 1 year subscription period, automatically disables the appropriate member’s account – and notifies the member and the owner.
E. In the PRO version, members can automatically retrieve lost passwords using a link provided on the site.
You can download the 30kb zipped folder containing the LITE version of the script from [http://www.membership-manager.biz] and follow the very useful installation instructions provided in the accompanying “Setup Instructions” HTML file.
2. Dynamic Website Contact Forms
Resource: All Purpose Form Handler
This is an amazingly flexible/customisable script that allows a user to quickly implement HTML based forms on different parts of a website. It is configured by information you provide in the form itself, giving the user a unique advantage of making the script handle data submitted in the web forms in a variety of ways without changing knowing ANY Perl programming or having to change the code/script.
The following can be done in any combination using forms that call the SAME script:
A. Web form completed by the user submits an e-mail to a specified person(s) – say the website owner – and CC to say other employees(e.g. marketing manager), or even another email address used by the owner.
B. The EXACT text of the title that appears in the subject line of the email the script sends to the site owner, can be specified in the code for the web form. This makes it very easy for you to know which contact form on your website was used to send you EACH message you receive.
C. The script sends the data submitted via the web form to a file for easy import into a database program. You, the owner will be able to locate the file(s) on your server in the cgi-bin.
D. The script automatically sends a response to the person who submitted the form. The content of the response can be varied for each web form. This is made possible by creating a text file(given a unique filename extension) to contain your message whose name you then place in the form code, so it is used by the script.
E. The order in which the data submitted via the web form appears in the email received by the website owner can be specified in the code for EACH web form.
F. The completion of required fields can be enforced by specifying such fields in the code for individual forms.
G. To increase user-friendliness, code for each form can be modified to call a unique “Thank you” or an “Oops!” page after the form is submitted.
How I Use It: I have found this script extremely useful in determining quite accurately what people who visit my website are interested in. For instance, on my website, I created a separate contact form(all outwardly similar) for EACH of the different services I offer, providing links to each web form from the body of text/web copy where the service is described. This way, I am able to quickly establish, from the title of the email sent by the script, exactly which service the enquirer was considering when s/he decided to contact me.