swiss-knife

After a request to share some of the resources and tools we use here at CommonPlaces to plan successful websites, I went to work on a second part to my "Planning a Successful Website" blog from two weeks ago. Without futher ado, here are a few tools you can try out for your next website.

Wireframing
As I have mentioned, wireframing your home page and interior pages before you begin development is critical. If you can afford a paid wireframing tool, try Pidoco or Axure RP; if you're on a budget, Hot Gloo and iPlotz are good free alternatives.

Sitemapping
Some wireframing tools will build a site map for you dynamically. If yours doesn't, build a simple one in Micosoft Visio or even a word processor. Looks aren't too important here; you just need a complete picture of the pages on your site, and how the user navigates between them.

Planning for SEO
It is so critical to plan for good SEO from the very beginning of your Web project. A lot of time can be saved if best SEO practices are planned for and implemented as the site is built. If you're building a Drupal site, you might want to try SEO Checklist, a Drupal module that provides a list of SEO "don't forgets". You can also search Google for a good SEO checklist (there are plenty). You might want to start with this article.

Browser Compatibility
One of the more frustrating parts of Web development has to be ensuring that your site works in all major browsers. Nevertheless, you are limiting your business if you do not make your site compatible with all of the most common browsers. Try Browsershots or Browser Sandbox to check out your site in different browsers - even if you don't have those browsers installed on your machine.

This is by no means a complete list of Web development tools; these are simply the ones that came to mind when I was asked to share some of my favorites. Did I leave out your favorite tool? Share it in the comments!

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