Want to know if your customers are satisfied? Or perhaps you'd like to test a new product idea? Perseus Development's SurveySolutions for the Web 2.0 lets you ask your public 24 hours a day what they think. The program uses familiar wizards and a word processor-like interface to create surveys for the Web, then analyzes the responses and presents them in Microsoft Access database format. You can also have the program generate charts and reports for each question on your survey. The package provides a library of popular sample questions and helps you create effective survey questions even if you don't have a research background.
You decide whether visitors' responses will be e-mailed directly to you or stored in a file on the Web server you're using. You can also create "live" surveys, which instantly show respondents up-to-the-minute results.
SurveySolutions For The Web 2.0
List price: $179; $149 for downloadable version from the Web site
Requires: Windows 3.1/95/NT, 4MB RAM, 8MB hard-drive space
Perseus Development Corp.
Rebecca Frances Rohan has been a computer and Internet journalist since 1988. She is the author of Building Better Web Pages (AP Professional).
No taste for accounting? Well, finally there's some accounting for taste. Peachtree Accounting 5.0, designed specifically for small-business owners, is attractive enough to make the most number-phobic homebased business owner want to take a bite. This program doesn't include the time and billing features of its bigger sibling, but it handles general ledger, accounts receivable, accounts payable, payroll, inventory, shipments, back orders and much more. You get a wide range of reports and a narrow dose of nerdiness--the latest version hides accounting terms and lets you focus on tools like checks and invoices.
Peachtree Accounting comes with a Getting Started videocassette, on-screen tutorials and helpful wizards. It also offers a multiuser-for-free policy that will improve your bottom line if you have other users on your home office network.
Peachtree Accounting 5.0
List price: $129
Requires: A 486 computer, Windows 3.1 in Enhanced Mode/95/NT 3.51, 12MB RAM, a 256-color VGA display, 25MB to 40MB hard-drive space
Peachtree Software Inc.
XOOM Web Clip Empire 250,000 is a collection of 250,000 clips for the Web or electronic presentations, including animated GIFs and nonanimated graphics, photos, videos, sound effects, music clips, borders and Java buttons. The collection includes content made exclusively for XOOM, as well as acquired material. There's even a classy series of nostalgic object photos. Some costly objects are included in XOOM's giant collection, but the 12-CD set is only $89.95, or $59.95 if you sign up for a free membership in XOOM online, which also gets you 11MB of free Web space. Your name isn't shared with other companies--the Web site itself is advertiser-supported.
I didn't pay much attention to Web Clip Empire when it first arrived in my office, but since then, I've turned to it time and again for various projects. There's a wide variety of themes and styles, with many subsets meant to work together.
Smaller collections are also available from XOOM. With the free Web membership, you can even get nearly 150,000 individual downloadable clips free for noncommercial use from the Web site.
XOOM Web Clip Empire 250,000
List price: $89.95; $59.95 with free Web membership
Requires: A 486 computer, Windows 95/NT, 16MB RAM, a 256-color display, a mouse, audio for sound clips; or a Macintosh 68020 or Macintosh Power PC with OS 7.01, 8MB RAM
Crystal Graphics' Crystal 3D IMPACT! Pro makes it easy to create animated 3-D text. A helpful wizard takes a series of choices and turns them into nicely molded text. You can change the material of the text to another material included with the program or to a texture from your own image files. You can make nontext objects 3-D and animate them, too. A good starter library of objects is also included.
Crystal 3D has helpful tutorials on topics such as creating light beams, scrolling text credits through the frame and creating highlights. The program offers power and flexibility without demanding expert-level skills; advanced users can bypass the wizard and work with a wide variety of tools.
Crystal 3D IMPACT! Pro
List price: $99
Requires: A 486 Pentium computer, Windows 95/NT, 16MB RAM, 50MB hard-drive space, a mouse, an 8-bit graphics card (also recommended: OpenGL drivers)
Just Your Type
Lots of programs come with free fonts, but when you need to put the perfect professional touch on your brochure, you may need a designer typeface that's sold separately. Really great layouts have fonts chosen as carefully as the other graphic elements--fonts that speak to the theme, intent and energy level of the message you want to send. Waters Titling MM (multiple master) Typeface from the Adobe Originals Collection is a beautifully drawn all-caps alphabet that reveals why people turn to a la carte fonts--the charm and originality are simply worth the price when your layout is screaming for a unique typeface.
When you buy the package, you get an Adobe Type Library program diskette, utilities diskettes, plus the Waters Titling MM disk, which includes many variations of the font: complete Roman and tall-cap alphabets, fancy alternates of selected letters, and ligatures like EO (all in caps) plus selected lowercase cursive words including a, an, and, at, for, from, in, of, the, and to. Finding a designer font that's right for your project can be a smart way to add a very special touch.
Waters Titling MM Typeface
List price: $95.99
Requires: Windows 3.1 or higher; or a Macintosh 68020 or Macintosh Power PC with OS 7.1, 8MB RAM
Adobe Systems Inc.