Working as a Website Programmer for almost 10 years now, I have learned not to get too comfortable with what I am doing for customers now, and to always make sure I keep up to date with new trends in Web Development.
For me, the first time I really noticed the need to remain current was when programming trends turned toward using stricter XHTML standards in place of the older ways of doing HTML with unclosed tags, unquoted attributes, and other sorts of messy styles, and when CMS sites and Blogs (a type of CMS) started to become more available and mainstream. Another big change was the rise of the use of PHP and MySQL in place of ASP and MS SQL.
Today, I have my own small Website Update company, and my main services are in the development of XHTML templates, updating and upgrading websites, developing custom PHP/MySQL applications, and converting sites to CMS sites, among other things. These are currently the services that customers seem to be in need of the most these days. However, in the last year or two, I have noticed a new trend that seems to be catching on faster these days. It is the appearance of a Live Chat button on all kinds of websites, and it is becoming more common.
I can understand why we are seeing these buttons more and more. It is yet another way of allowing a customer to communicate with a company to get the help they need, and usually, the connection time is really fast. I have used these Live Chat buttons on many sites myself, already, and I have found them to be even better than calling, and, of course, a lot faster than email.
After doing a lot of research into the Live Chat button phenomenon, I have managed to find one that is really good, and the best thing of all is it is open source (free to download and use). It is called Mibew Messenger.
The list of features is quite generous and includes the following:
- Unlimited operators, chats, and users
- Priority queue of visitors
- Differing buttons on same website
- Reconnect automatically if the internet connection goes down
- Agent and visitor “Typing Indicator”
- Agent photo
- Chat transcript emails
- Sound and Visual alerts
- “Leave a message” when you are away
- Unicode support for multiple languages
- Quickly convert text to hyperlinks in chat
- Not blocked by pop-up blockers
- Web-based Operator Console
- Canned messages for speed and consistency
- Track where your visitors clicked from to get to your website (refer URL)
- Chat conversation history with search
- Linking to previous visits, instant access to previous chats
- Reassign/Transfer chat ownership
- Mark/Highlight nuisance visitors
- Administrator can view active chats
- Information about visitor: first message, address, browser
- Administrator can take over the chat
- Customize chat with your Logo, Name etc.
In order to add this to your own website, first, you will have to make sure that the server where your website is hosted meets the minimum requirements: PHP 5 or higher and MySQL 5 or higher installed. You will also need to have an extra database available, and have your database server, name, username, and password handy for installing the application on your site.
After you know that the application can run on your server, it is time to go to the Mibew Messenger website to download the latest version. You will need to download that, unpack it, and then upload the files to the Web server on which your website resides. You should create a separate folder for holding this application, and upload all the files to there. Installing it is then a simple matter of navigating to your website and typing in the exact path to your Mibew Messenger installation directory. You will then be able to install the application by adding in your database information and then installing everything at the click of a button.
Of course, the application is not much use if you don’t place the Live Chat button somewhere on your site. There is a special code you can get once you log in to your Mibew Messenger installation that you can copy and paste anywhere on your site where you want the Live Chat button to appear.
Now, it is time to allow the application to start working its magic. All you need to do is log in to the application backend by navigating to your folder and then wait. If you are logged in, your Live Chat button on your site will change from OFFLINE to ONLINE, and if someone clicks on the button, you will get a sound and visual alert, and will see a new person in your chat queue. The best way to test it out is to try it on two different computers. Load up your website at the page that has your chat button in one browser, and log into your chat application in the other one. Then click on the chat button in the first one, and see what happens.
You can find more instructions about the use of the application at the Mibew Messenger website, but the best way to learn how to use it is to try out all the features yourself. I’m sure you’ll love it, and that it will be a great addition and benefit to your website and business.
If your current Web server does not meet the minimum requirements for installing Mibew Messenger, there are many great, reliable, cheap hosting companies available for you to choose from. On my own website, I always have a few hosting companies that I like to recommend to everyone. Just go to my site and read the summaries I have for them, and see if one of them might be a good choice for you. You can even use coupon or promotional codes that I have listed there for an even bigger discount. Also, if you are having trouble installing Mibew Messenger yourself, I would be glad to do it for you. Just check out my rates and services at my website, which is sitefixers.ca.