Canada-Mom-Deals.com has a new look! A lot of hours and research went into the new design of the blog. Being able to highlight unique and relevant posts for readers was a key feature that I wanted to implement to make the site more easy to use - easier for readers to find the deals!

The site has several areas that readers can zoom in on to view posts that feature ongoing deals or articles...
  • A scroller at the top highlights posts across the screen.
  • A large Featured Posts section highlights deals by featured companies.
  • Below the Featured Posts are mini-posts that link to the Latest Posts, and also features current ongoing deals, with an indicator for the deal expiry.
  • Below the Featured Posts are the Latest Posts on Canada-Mom-Deals.
  • Each post features a one-click rating scale (located at the bottom of the post): if you think the post is a "Good Deal", you can rate it as Hot Hot Hot!, Worth a Look, or Not for Me. This is just for fun, but it will also give me an idea of what you, the reader, finds interesting.
Freebie Online Services Used
Canada-Mom-Deals.com would not be possible without a number of online technologies that are available for FREE. It's amazing what's available for free these days! Here are the online services that I have used for this blog (both the new and old versions - if you are a blogger, you may find these useful, too! The only thing that was not free for this site was the domain name purchase.

  • Blogger.com. Blogger is the main backbone of this blog, as that's where it's hosted. Thank you, Blogger, for your free service!
  • Falcon Hive. An independent blogger that converts WordPress themes (another free blog service) into Blogger templates, and makes them available for free. Falcon Hive created this lovely template that you see here (with many modifications by yours truly to create the Canada-Mom-Deals theme).
  • FeedBurner (Google FeedBurner). FeedBurner creates my feeds (automated lists of my posts) and automates the emails you receive (if you are a subscriber) from Canada-Mom-Deals.
  • Feed2JS.org. This is a free feedburning service I also use for Canada-Mom-Deals, for automating the mini-post of the "Latest Posts".
  • Drive Headquarters. This is a fantastic free service for free online file storage, FTP hosting, Client Server and Software, and more. I could not have implemented some of the new features of this site without this service. I found the service relatively easy to use, and services can be upgraded for a fee in the future should the need arise.
  • Smashing Magazine. A graphic designer's dream source for free professional icons and graphics. It's where I got my little Tweeter bird graphic.
  • Picapp.com Beta. Another graphic designer's dream: a source for free professional images.
  • BlogBulk.com. A great source for Blogger "how-to's". It's my favourite Blogger reference site as the articles are relevant to many features I wanted to implement, plus the articles are well written and easy to understand.
  • BTemplates.com. A source for Blogger templates. It's where I got the template for the previous design.
  • EmailMeForm.com. Get free forms here - if you need to create a contact form, for example.
  • Gimp. A free graphics manipulation program - like Photoshop, except you won't need to spend hundreds of dollars! A great program for my requirements. The only downside is I found the Help files limited (as with most free programs).
  • LinkBee.com. A free URL shortening service. I like this service mostly because I can customise the shortened links. For example, I can create a link called LinkBee.com/CMDFreeTech and have it link to this post, that way I can easily remember the link and send it to people on-the-fly. The service also has an optional revenue-earning feature, where they add an advertisement across the top of the linked page. I don't use this feature much, as it would take thousands of hits to earn anything anyway.
  • Lijit.com. This is the new search service I use for Canada-Mom-Deals. One great feature is that the search results can be integrated into the blog or any website. I used to use Google, and because of the blog setup I was unable to integrate the search results. Lijit also pulls search results from multiple social media sources that you indicate; for example, a search on my site will search Canada-Mom-Deals and my Twitter posts. This gives readers much more relevant search results.
  • Google. Google now owns FeedBurner, and I use Google Analytics, Adsense, GMail, and Documents. Does anyone not use Google for anything?
So there you have it - everything you need to create a fabulous, free blog. Do you have any favourite online services? What do you think of the new site design? I'd love to hear your comments!


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