During the course of my own writing work and IT work, there is a long list of websites that I like to keep an eye on for new content. In addition to that, I have a certain areas of websites that I like to keep track of as well, and sections of pages to monitor for new news.
A lot of people monitor their favorite sites using RSS feeds or just regularly monitoring a long list of bookmarks, but if you get really busy, checking your feed reader or visiting all of your bookmarks to search for new changes on your favorite sites isn’t always easy. So, I’m very happy to introduce a very cool plugin for Firefox users called AlertBox.
AlertBox is like a really convenient notification box in your browser window that tells you whenever your favorite websites – or targeted sections of a website – have changed. You can configure the plugin to keep an eye for changes, allowing you to stay productive without the need to go out and hunt down new content. Whenever the pages get updated, you’ll have access to those updates right there in your browser.
Many Uses For AlertBox
Keep in mind that AlertBox isn’t only for monitoring blogs or websites that you read often. Just think of what the plugin-does – it actually lets you highlight anything from one line of text on a page, to a collection of images. If anything within that highlighted box changes – you get notified.
Just think of the possibilities! You can keep an eye on the latest news releases inside of a page, monitor the number of likes or shares that a page has received, or you can be notified anytime someone has commented on one of your favorite blogs. And that’s only the tip of the iceburg.
Setting Up AlertBox Notifications
The moment you set up AlertBox in your browser, you’ll see the two AlertBox icons show up on the upper right corner of your Firefox browser window.
The key to setting up an AlertBox notification is to go to the site that you want to monitor before clicking that little bell icon to set up the notification. Once you’re on the page, click the notification icon. Next, as you hover the mouse over sections of the web page, the section will get highlighted with a box.
If you move slightly inside of the box, just a small section of text will get highlighted. Find the section of the page that you want to monitor and click.
Give the notification an accurate name in the field under step 2. Once you click on the section in the main window, you’ll see a sample of the content show up in the text pane to the right. This tells you that the section content has been captured.
Under step three, you can define the frequency that the plug-in will go out and check for new content. If you know a website tends to update it’s news daily, just make this a 1 day update. Or, if it’s frequently updated, you can check it every hour – or every couple of minutes if you really want to go wild.
Once you click on the button to save the alert, you’re done. Now you’ll see a notification update every time the latest news page changes for that site.
Again, there are so many more possibilities with this plugin. For example, if a blog has an area on the main page that highlights the latest comments on the blog, you can actually highlight that area of the page and receive notification every single time the blog receives comments.
That’s a pretty cool way to stay plugged into the social activity of your favorite sites. Or, if you have a blog and have highlighted your Facebook like volume using the Facebook widget, you can get updates on the changes to that like volume right in your blog by highlighting that widget on your blog and adding an alert for it.
All of these ideas transform a simple website alert plugin into a central monitoring tool that you can check every day, rather than running around the whole Internet to see what’s new on your favorite sites or on your own blog. Just click on the notification icon in your browser, and it’ll open up a new tab to your Alert Box account.
In that account, you’ll see the latest changes to all of the web pages that you’ve set up alerts for. In the review window, you’ll see a small excerpt of that new content, and the most recent date that the content was checked.
If you click on any one of those individual listings, the plugin will open up an actual display of just that section of the web page that you are monitoring. This is such a cool way to watch just an area of a page without ever having to even visit the page. If that’s not a time saver, I don’t know what is.
You can also totally change how that drop-down display looks. Instead of displaying in HTML format, you can have the plugin just take a screenshot of that area of the page and show you the content in the form of an image. You can also configure the plugin to alert you only if that section of the page contains certain text, or meets a list of rules that you can set up as part of the alert.
Every time there are new notifications, you’ll see the alerts as updated numbers. The left number will tell you how many of your monitored sites have new content for you to check out, and the right number shows you the total number of sites that you’re monitoring.
Now, with just a glance, you can see everything you need to see. No more browsing through all of your bookmarks only to discover that just a few of the sites really have any new content. Just keep this plugin running in your browser, and you can be notified any time the web content that you care about changes. Talk about convenience.
How do you monitor your favorite sites for new content? Now that you know about AlertBox, can you think of other creative ways that the page-section monitoring feature could be used? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Image Credit: Wake Icon Via Shutterstock