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Photoshop Express Editor ScreenshotImage Editors: A good image editor is hard to come by, and rather than spending money on a desktop or cloud version of image editing software, many of which can have a high and time consuming learning curve, take advantage of some of the free online editors out there. All are easy to use and have different effects and options. There are many other free editors out there as well, but be aware some may try to install add-ons or malware on your computer, or simply have an excess of pop-ups or ads, if a site asks you to download or install something, STOP right away. When you go to the editors, before you click on a link or button, look carefully at the page to make sure you are clicking on the correct thing. The snapshot above is a good example, many people will log onto the Adobe site and think the “try it free” is the editor.

My personal favorite for doing social media headers and other social media images that need specific image dimensions is https://www.canva.com/.

And size matters! If you are using these tools to edit photos and other images make sure you size them for the web! It speeds up loading time of images on your website. A great online photo size minimizer is http://www.jpegmini.com/. They do have a paid downloadable version as well, but for the price you can buy Adobe Photoshop Elements, which gives you quite a bit more options.

Web/Submission Forms: Are you looking for some decent submission forms for your website or website in progress? While there are a variety of plugins for WordPress, as well as some templates have submission or other types of forms already integrated into them, they may not have all the options you may be looking for, or your website may be based on another type of website platform like a basic HTML site, Drupal or Joomla.  Some WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) website builders like Wix or Weebly may have forms in them as well, but again they may not suit all your needs.

There are several caveats to using forms on your website, many people, ie. guests and potential guests don’t like them, they prefer email, phone or a text, and second, but also very important, is all of them have glitched (and some permanently) at one time or another. If you have a form, whether you are integrating a new one into your site or you already have one, make sure you test it frequently! I know quite a few B&Bs out there with submission forms that dont’ work. Why check? Lost reservations perhaps??? While I do understand that some innkeepers prefer not to put their email on their websites because they think spammers scurry around the web looking for email addresses, this is not the case.

Forms do have their places though, if you offer catering services, host weddings or events and engage in any type of activity at your inn which requires getting an extensive amount of information from a guest, than forms are terrific for that use. Or a form (like a Google form) with a link can be sent by email to someone when more information is needed for an event. Google forms are on of my favorites because they are easy to set up and all of the information migrates into a spreadsheet, so information can be viewed individually in the forms itself or aggregated. This can also be useful if you are sending an survey or a request for additional information and feedback to a guest after they have stayed. The results also turn into graph formats, so if you send out 200 requests and 190 said yes to something and 10 said no, you would have a chart that gives you the results in easy to use format.

Graph from Google Forms

I would suggest one of my favorite alternatives to a website submission form and that is a fillable PDF. While most small businesses don’t have, and have very little use for, the full program to create fillable PDFs (Adobe Acrobat Pro $199+), there is a terrific free online alternative at http://www.pdfescape.com, you don’t need to download anything or even sign in, just use the online version.

I would suggest before integrating a form into your website to make sure it is secure (the site has an SSL certificate), even if you are not asking for confidential information. While SSL compliance is something Google is pushing for on all websites, an exterior form still needs to have SSL compliance, so if you have WordPress and are exploring additional plugins, check the plugins security, reviews and reliability ratings before installing.