Not all of the free services featured here are strictly relevant to building your own web pages, but I figure that if you're making your own internet site, you'll also be interested in other internet-related services!
Once your site gets beyond a few pages it's helpful to let users search your site for a topic of their choice. Usually this means setting up a CGI script and a fairly comprehensive database - which may be beyond your ability. Now FreeFind has produced a free and ready-made answer. Simply register your site with FreeFind and they will look at your site and index all the pages. Paste into your page some HTML code which they provide and, hey presto! - you've got an instant search engine for your site. The only disadvantage over creating your own search engine is that you need to remember to ask FreeFind to re-index your site when you make any changes. You can try out the service by searching this site.
Setting up your own mailing list couldn't be easier. Visit the ListBot site and sign up for their free service. You place a piece of HTML code on your web page (example below) for users to sign up to your list and ListBot takes care of adding them to the list. When you want to send out a newsletter just copy it onto a form on the ListBot web site and they will send it to your members. You're limited to 10K for the size of each newsletter, but quite frankly I wouldn't want to receive too many mailings that were bigger than that!
The difficulties for most of us in implementing forms are discussed in the HTML tutorial. FreedBack (formerly known as FreeForm) offer a way around the problem. You can either design your own form (within the guidelines laid down by FreeForm) or use their standard one. When someone uses your form, the data is sent to FreedBack who will then email it to you.
Note: Link failed when last tested
Many service providers give you a way of putting a counter on your page, but few of them give you any feedback from it. Pagecount, in return for an advertising banner on your page, give you a counter and by visiting their site you can get details of the dates and times or visits, which browsers and operating systems your visitors use, the countries they came from as well as the names of their host computers. A very comprehensive and interesting set of data.
If you want a counter that's less obtrusive than the Pagecount one, FastCounter should do the trick. Only a small image, but the counting seems as reliable as any of these counters is ever likely to be. No information is given other than the number of visitors, but you can get a weekly or monthly e-mail of the figures sent to you automatically. (The one shown below's not real - I wish! Mine's on
the Home Page.)
guestGear (formerly Guest World, formerly LPage Guestbooks)
If you don't want the bother of setting up your own Guestbook for visitors to sign, use GuestWorld's. You can either use their standard model or remodel it to suit your needs. All data is stored on GuestWorld's host computer so you don't even need to use your own service provider's disk space to keep it. GuestGear is now part of the Lycos group, so if you've got your home page at Tripod it's right on the doorstep!
As well as the usual hit counter and guestbook, BraveNet have some more unusual offerings for adding to your web pages. These include e-mail form processing (they will send you by e-mail the responses to a form placed on your page), a website search engine so that visitors can search our site, and a greeting card program (visitors can send an illustrated electronic greeting card to their friends from your site).
If you are using some of the free web hosts you will have a URL which not easy to remember. With a service such as this one, you can have a nice short, snappy URL and V3.com will automatically redirect users to your real web site. Your URL will be something like surf.to/yourname. You can also choose come.to/yourname, travel.to/yourname and many others.
Web Site Garage
This site will check your page on-line, but it does more than just check the HTML. It will, for instance, tell you how quickly the page loaded. It will also check any graphics and suggest smaller, faster formats where appropriate - it will even do the re-formatting for you. You really should run your front page through this service.
Unlike the other validation services mentioned above, this one will not only check a single page, but will also check all the pages on your site if you wish. NetMechanic will also check the links on your site (both internal and external) and e-mail you when the results are ready. As if this wasn't enough, NetMechanic will also monitor your web site for eight hours and give you a report on the speed and availability of the site.
It's all very well creating a great set of web pages, but the trick is to get people to come and see them! AddMe will submit your site to 30 search engines and listings for free. You'll find this much quicker than visiting each search engine yourself!
Another submission site similar which will automatically submit your web site to up to 40 search engines. Unlike AddMe (listed above) you have no choice about which sites to submit to, and the information submitted is less although the overall operation is much quicker.
Dr Webster's Amazing Free Stuff Page
If you want free stuff, it's probably listed here! All the sorts of things I've mentioned on this page and a lot more. You can sign up to the site's mailing list and be sent details of new free services, software, etc. by email. This site was formerly known as Dr. Webster's Amazing Free Stuff Page.
iName Personalised EMail Services
This works like the URL redirection services mentioned earlier (see V3.com, but redirects your email. You choose a name from their list (like firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com and tell iName your real email address. After that you just use your new email address and everything automatically gets forwarded to your real address. If you ever change your email address, just tell iName your new address -- you don't need to inform anyone else, they just go on using your iName address.
Note: Link failed when last tested
A new free e-mail service similar to HotMail. Features of this service include auto-responders, forwarding, POP retrieval, advanced address book/contact management, color schemes, email addresses search engine, and mail blocking. A Platinum service is also available at $US15 a year which includes POP and SMTP e-mail.
HotMail EMail Service
HotMail give you an email address and a postbox, so you can send and receive email using your web browser. You don't need to have any other email service. Since you're using the World Wide Web for your email this service is very useful if you're travelling around a lot.
A similar service to the one offered by HotMail.
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