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Accessibility, Usability and a bit of SEO

When building a website, here are some of the tools I use to make my site where I want it to be regarding Accessibility, Compatibility and SEO. Since, I don’t really want to spend any money for such services, the list below is refined to those which are mostly usable (to date of this post) free of charge. I’ve tried to group them into categories, although some services include a bit of all three aspects.

Free tools, services and resources

Accessibility

Is your site accessible? For me that means, is the site easily readable and understandable, can a blind person read it, can it be easily navigated without a mouse, is the colour scheme ok, if you’re colour blind? You’d be surprised how many people see the colours of your site differently, even if they are not officially colour blind. All those questions and more ...

UITest Webmaster Tools

UITest Webmaster Tools

This site offers a comprehensive compilation of links to all kinds of useful tools, especially in regard to accessibility. You will find links to tests for WCAG, Section 508 and colour blindness, but also links to services which test performance, spelling, semantics and overall analysis. A site that should definitely be on your bookmark list!

Usability, Compatibility and Optimization

I really hate badly structured and coded sites. That’s easy to say, I don’t believe a site can be 100% perfect in all aspects of that. However, it is relatively to avoid loads of HTML errors, unclean and unsupported code etc. So, here are some services which will help you to discover your site’s weaknesses and help you to fix them and optimize your site.

W3c Validation Service

W3c Validator

Helps you write clean and valid HTML and CSS code and makes sure your site complies with standards. Totally free and easy to use. However, when the Validator tells you that you’ve got 73 errors on line x, y and z it often doesn’t offer helpful suggestions on how to fix things. If you are not a coding Guru of course, look up Google for better explanations.

Qualidator – Test your site

Qualidator

A Swiss Company (site in English too), whose quality checking service tries to give you a fairly round picture of what might need to be optimized on your site. It’s very good at picking out coding weaknesses, but aspects of accessibility and SEO are covered too. Even if some suggestions are a bit nit-picking, it is on the whole very useful stuff and I like to use it on a regular basis. A 10 page analysis is free, more than that costs money … Go and treat yourself, if it’s your Birthday ;)

SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

Optimizing your site for search engines is a pain, at least in my opinion. However, if you want a reasonable ranking and a good flow of visitors, who are going to read your quality content, you’ve got to consider it. For private sites, paying some expert analyst a lot of money is not really an option, and not necessary. If you have patience and endurance you can do it yourself. Here, some helpers on the way …

Google Webmaster Tools

Google Webmaster tools

Like the title says, a free set of tools for webmasters from the Masters of the Universe. I think it’s a must for anyone who wants to find out how Google sees your site and where Google sees problems. Apart from giving you basic statistics about you keyword and meta content etc., it allows you to remove pages which may have been crawled during the early stages of your website going online and now no longer exist. It really is a must!

SeoCentro - Web Marketing

SEOCentro

This site has, among many other resources, a very handy and free “Meta Tag Analyser” which I use mainly for optimizing title, Meta description and keywords. It tells you as to how many percent you have fulfilled certain criteria in this regard and how many times the frequency of each word on your page, which is handy when choosing suitable keywords. The only disadvantage is that you have to enter the URL of each page manually.

Abakus Internet Marketing

ABAKUS

This is a commercial German site offering a lot of SEO information and services. However, it offers a free analysis tool for top keywords and phrases. In other words, with this tool you can easily find out which are the best keywords to use on a particular page. Very handy for the lazy or unsure – like myself sometimes ;).

Pear Analytics

Pear Analytics

This site offers a very nice and clean overview of things which are ok, have to fixed over time or need your immediate attention. It’s a good place to start and I like the fact that it makes clear that some things do take time! Especially in regard to SEO optimization, time and patience is something you should have … it certainly helps keeping you sane. Did you know that SEO-Optimization can be addictive and cause lengthy bouts of obsessive behaviour?

Other tools and useful resources

Here, the rest which does not fit into any category above, but do come in handy now and again.

intoDNS – Check your DNS records

intoDNS

A free service that will check the health and configuration of DNS and mail servers on a clean page, without adds and other annoying things. What I like is that it also makes recommendations as to correct settings and the fact that it’s fast.

YSlow – Check your Webserver and more

YSlow

A free service from Yahoo: It offers you a set of recommendations, or rules as they call it, that will improve the overall performance of your site. They offer this in form of a browser extension that will analyse your page, grade it and make recommendations. I found it very helpful – especially in regard to setting us you own CDN for static content and tweaking that last bit of performance out of your server.

Six Revisions Blog

Six Revisions

Six revisions is a blog style site, with very useful articles for web developers and designers, covering all aspects of web building and design. I found the articles there very well written and certainly worth a read every now and again. It also has some nice graphic freebies and Photoshop tutorials.

Suggestions?

Do you know of any other tools or resources which are worth using? Please do make suggestions, I will appreciate it. But please! Don’t misuse my suggestion and please only make suggestions which you yourself use. Explain why and what you find good about them. Thanks!

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