When putting together all of the elements of your website, you may want to look for some free cute guestbooks on the web, and choose one as a feature of your site. They are easy to get, easy to maintain, and they make a nice addition to your site.
Free Cute Guestbooks Galore
One thing to get clear right away - it is not hard to find a guestbook online. In fact, it's much harder to find a way to pick just one for your site. Here are some of the factors to take into consideration when picking out which free cute guestbook to use:
Do It Yourself vs. Hosted
How much HTML and CGI coding are you able to handle? There are some distinct advantages to getting a script from somewhere like Matt's Script Archive and putting it right on your server. You don't have to deal with ads, for one thing, which is how many externally-hosted guestbooks make their money. However, you will have to deal with configuring the script and probably creating a MySQL or other database on your server, setting permissions, and more. If the thought of all that work makes your head ache, then you may want to go with a hosted guestbook.
Hosted guestbooks aren't actually on your web server - instead, they direct users to a different site where the scripts and databases are all handled by (hopefully) trained professionals. As mentioned before, usually there are ads involved, whether big banners or unobtrusive text, but if you and your viewers don't mind, this is an easy way to get a guestbook up and running on your site. Many services such as BraveNet offer "branding removal" for a small fee or "upgrade" cost.
How Much Customization Do You Need?
Don't forget the "cute" part. While many coders are happy with the bare-bones text-based interface, the web is definitely about more than just words - the look and feel of a website matters a lot. If "cute" is your aesthetic, then you want to make sure that your guestbook - whether hosted by you or someone else - has the flexibility to change to match, or at least complement, the rest of your website.Here are some of the customizable options regarding appearance that you may want to look for:
- Colors - at a minimum, you should be able to change background, font, highlight, and link colors.
- Fonts - Whether you are only choosing between serif and sans-serif or uploading your own particular web font, having lettering that is similar to the rest of your site helps users feel that they haven't left your site entirely.
- Images - Having banners, logos, or background images also helps a lot with the branding of your site and your guestbook.
Other Customized Options
No matter how cute your guestbook looks, you also want to have functionality. This could be one reason you may want to use a website like Smart Guestbook, which includes demo pages that show how the user interface works. The cute backgrounds are great, but do you want threaded response? Should users be able to upload their own images? Avatars? How are you going to be notified of new posts? If your guestbook becomes too busy, can you designate other people to help moderate it? There are a lot of questions to be answered, but it's best to start by simply writing down what exactly you want your guestbook to do.
Do the Research
With all of these factors, it's important to look for a guestbook that will go beyond "cute" and will also work well with your website. Check with people who have similar sites, and see what they use; that will give you a better idea of what you need and what will work.