Looking to add life to your Web page? From polls to weather updates to message boards, a host of free online applications and widgets are available to keep visitors coming back to your site.
But remember, while some free gadgets can be useful, many are not appropriate for business sites. Choose widgets that match the tone of your site, appear professional and serve your audience directly. And be careful not to clutter your Web page with so many freebies that your site’s main message gets lost in the shuffle.
With a little digging, you might be able to find some quality additions for your site.
Following is a sampling of some of the free tools available online.
Webs.com: If you don’t have a business Website yet, this service offers more than 300 templates to build your own. Users can take advantage of photo- and video-sharing capabilities, create a Web store, and add blogs and forums. Premium subscription services are available for users who are willing to pay for more features.
Tumblr.com: With this blog service, you can use your own domain name and customize the design template any way you like. You can post to your blog from anywhere, and the application supports high-resolution photos, videos, music and more.
WordPress.com: This open-source application has long been a favorite blogging tool for professional content. Users include CNN, People magazine, Fox and Time Inc. The site offers 60 templates from which to choose, an integrated statistics system that gives real-time feedback on blog traffic, and an easy-to-use writing tool designed to save often so that you won’t lose your work in progress.
FeedBurner.com: Acquired by Google in 2007, this service helps make it easy for readers to subscribe to your blog and provides you with free tools to analyze the traffic patterns of your site. Free services include PingShot, which sends update alerts to search engines and aggregators as soon as you add new content to your blog.
WeatherSquare.com: This decorative box displays the local weather in your area. All you have to do is provide your ZIP code and choose the background colors, and the site will generate the HTML code you need to add WeatherSquare to your site.
Polldaddy.com: This allows visitors to answer a question online and instantly see the survey results. The poll can be created using templates that are provided, or site-managers can design one of their own. The reporting tool gives you real-time results.
StatCounter.com: Curious about your Web traffic? This counter tracks how many page loads, unique visitors and returning visitors come through your site in real time. Reports can be generated for daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly or yearly statistics. The counter itself can either be visible on your Web page or hidden from view.
Bravenet.com: This site offers a variety of free Web tools, including message forums, photo albums and guest books. The site also features free tutorials, trials and downloads.
Google Gadgets: Google offers a variety of widgets, from weather displays and clocks to newsfeeds and cartoons. The Google Maps Data Connector can create maps from the address of your choosing.
SiteGadgets.com: This site provides a variety of tools from the whimsical (FunLibs) to the practical (Mail List Builder). On the practical side, the Tell A Friend tool allows readers to recommend your site to others by entering their e-mail addresses into a Web form.