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Information Resources


By admin404

A Decade of Lessons in Small Business Management

October 7, 2012 - Information Resources

As we round third plate to complete our 10th year of business at era404, it’s impossible not to reflect upon the previous decade’s successes and lessons. In fact, despite the enormous pride we have for our successes—the awards we’ve won, the opportunities we’ve been afforded, the pieces we’ve created—it was in the lessons that our company grew the most. We can only assume that the same way the triumphs and tribulations of a child’s first ten years shape his or her personality, a business uses its own experiences to analyze the risks it will take and the directions it will pursue.

The first ten years weren’t always easy. Read More

Tags | awards, design, development, education, failure, lesson, opportunities, recommendations, reflection, small business, strategy, success, tips, tribulations, tricks, triumps



Information Resources


By admin404

Introducing Penguin

August 20, 2012 - Information Resources

Social engagement, rather than search engine trickery, yields top Google results.

We all know about Google’s algorithm, Panda. Launched around February of 2011, its artificial intelligence enforced the best practices guidelines Google had long provided to those seeking to optimize their websites. Their new algorithm, Penguin, created much stronger methods of preventing websites from tricking search engines into ranking them ahead of their competition. The update emphasized the importance of quality content, originality, and overall user experience. What does this mean? Stop focusing on technology and tricks and start focusing on people. If your website appeals to people, it will appeal to Google’s algorithms too.

But the Panda and Penguin messages go deeper. A brand’s website isn’t the only place on the Web it needs to maintain a strong presence. Search engines are placing an increasing importance on how social media services influence their ranking of brand web sites.

Learn more about the importance of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Google Plus in terms of how to maintain or ameliorate your Google Pagerank:

SEO Isn’t What You Think It Is (Fast Company)

Illustration by Ricardo Tercio

Tags | algorithm, brand, facebook, fast company, google, google plus, linkedin, optimize, pagerank, panda, penguin, pinterest, rank, ranking, search engine, seo, twitter, youtube



Information Resources


By admin404

23 Tips for Optimizing a Blog’s Google Sitelinks

June 27, 2012 - Information Resources

What are Sitelinks?

The links shown below some of Google’s search results (1), called sitelinks (2), are meant to help users navigate sites. Indexing is the process by which search providers scan websites to extract the information that may be potentially searched by users to properly organize each site among relevent results. Google’s indexer analyzes the link structure of each site to find shortcuts that will save users time and allow them to quickly find the information they’re searching.Read More

Tags | best practices, blogger, blogs, blogspot, google,, information resource, page rank, pagerank, quality, recommendations, site links, sitelinks, tips, tricks, wordpress



Information Resources


By admin404

A Guide to ERA404’s Acronyms

December 11, 2010 - Information Resources

Oftentimes, in work, we tend to use acronyms to describe the creative and developmental process. And while we typically provide a glossary in our agreements and proposals, sometimes they can become a little confusing. Listed below is a glossary of some of the acronyms we use and their definitions.Read More

Tags | acronyms, application, backronyms, design, development, dictionary, glossary, graphic design, guide, list, listing, recursive, thesaurus, web design, web development, website



Information Resources


By admin404

10 Questions Before Beginning Web Development

May 23, 2007 - Information Resources

What every prospective online homeowner should consider before breaking ground

When we’re approached about beginning a new Web presence, ecommerce system, or online application, ERA404 likes to pose 10 questions to our clients. This not only stirs up ideas to begin the process, it also allows all parties to fully explore what the process of Web development entails.

1. What are three words you would use to describe your business in terms of focus, pace and culture?
Oftentimes, the description of your business is identical to your Web site. If your business focus is technology, customer relations, politics or health, your site should have a similar feel. Is your pace is dynamic and fast-moving (like an online service or new product) or conservative and rock-solid (like a bank or a law firm)? Your business’s  culture (fun, friendly, approachable, professional, formal, methodical, meticulous) should also be represented in your Web site’s design.

2. What are the general purposes for your Web site?
Your site should have a primary and secondary purpose (and sometimes even a tertiary one). Purposes could be to increase sales and awareness, to assist in distribution of products or services, informational, educational, eCommerce, subscription-based marketing, customer feedback, ISO or employee intranet, employment postings, product support, entertainment or forums.

3. Will this site be part of an existing marketing strategy?
Does your business already have a marketing strategy in place with previous printed collateral material, web sites, or advertising campaigns? If it does, please send samples of these pieces to assist in ensuring the site works within the framework of your existing strategy. If it doesn’t, or if you’d like to deviate from your existing strategy, can you provide a description and/or examples of concepting for a new strategy? Would you be interested in working with ERA404 to develop this new cross-media campaign?

[ ] Yes, this site is part of an existing strategy.
[ ] No, this site varies from our existing strategy.
[ ] We currently do not have a strategy.
[ ] We’re developing a strategy in-house and will provide samples and a description.
[ ] We’re interested in working with ERA404 to develop a cross-media strategy.

4. What reactions (calls-to-action) are you hoping to achieve with this new Web site?
While this question hinges on #2 (general purpose), it’s important to outline your customer’s reaction to determine if the site is successful. If the site is information-based, this can be monitored with statistics. Other reactions could be: customer contact, online sales, forum/chat participation, increased customer retention, decreased phone, fax or email support calls, growth of marketing opportunities (mailing lists, newsletters, event participation and RSVPs), etc.

5. How do you plan on maintaining your site?
ERA404 provides a number of maintenance opportunities including an online content management system (CMS), maintenance contracts and on-site/telephone tutorials for manual site updates. If you plan on updating your site at regular intervals, which opportunities interest you?

6. The Competition

a. Do you have direct competition?
Providing ERA404 with links to competition sites enables us to gauge what your competition is doing, how they’ve been successful, how they’ve failed, and what makes your business different. Please list some links to competitor sites.

b. How are you different from competition?
If you have direct competition, please list why your business is different and what you do that makes your business unique. What do you do that is different from these other businesses?

7. Which existing site designs appeal to you?
Existing site designs do not have to be competition, nor do they have to even be in the same industry. List some sites that you feel satisfy your general purpose and embrace your company’s focus, pace and culture.

8. Aside from your calls-to-action, what are your short-term and long-term goals for this site?
Do you expect this site to grow, to have new sections, to have new features? Will this site work in tandem with other sites that your business may have? Do you expect changes in offerings, strategy or functionality?

While ERA404 designs all sites to be flexible, we believe pre-planning and preparation can assist in ensuring your site is cost effective and successful at attaining short- and long-term goals.

9. What additional materials do you have to assist us in providing you with an estimate and timeline?
Before beginning design and development, ERA404 provides site Mechanicals (wireframes) and Information Architectures (IAs) to describe site layout, pages and functionality. Do these materials already exist? Can you provide us with sample page content, photography, identity pieces and artwork? What is your estimated budget and site launch target?

[ ] Mechanicals
[ ] Information Architecture
[ ] Design Storyboards (GUIs)
[ ] Digital Content
[ ] Digital Identity
[ ] Artwork/Photography*
[ ] Budget: _________________
[ ] Launch Target: __________
[ ] Copywriter*

* If you do not currently have a copywriter or photographer, would you be interested in working with ERA404 to provide these services?

10. What are your expectations to deem this Web site a success?

For More Questions or Information

Contact ERA404 for more questions to get you going or for design and development estimates by clicking here.

Download Questionnaire

Click the link below to download our “10 Questions” survey. The file is a PDF, so you must have Adobe Acrobat Reader installed to view it. You’re also able to fill-out the form using Acrobat by simply clicking a form blank and entering text or clicking checkboxes. When finished, email or fax the completed questionnaire to ERA404 or print it for your records.

Download the PDF: ERA404_10_Questions


Tags | 10 questions, adjectives, audience, breaking ground, budget, business, citarella, competition, era404, goals, marketing, new web, questionnaire, strategy, success, web costs



Information Resources


By admin404

Flash Plug-In Detection and Upgrading

July 19, 2006 - Information Resources

Incorporating the SWFObject ExpressInstall to force Plug-in Installation

In our previous article (Activating an ActiveX Control’s Interface through Javascript), we recommended circumventing the Microsoft Internet Explorer update that forces users to activate media items with Geoff Stearns’s SWFObject. As a result, a number of emails flooded into ERA404 with questions on browser detection to drive users to upgrade their Flash Plug-In.

Flash has obviously grown quickly from its original version and Adobe/Macromedia released a number of browser plug-ins to handle these advances. While we recommend publishing Flash files to accommodate for the least common denominator (that is, users with older plug-ins), sometimes requesting a user browser upgrade is unavoidable. Browsing the Adobe site can show you a census of plug-in penetration into the web-browsing world. At the time this article was published (07/19/06), penetration looked like this:


V. 5 V. 6 V. 7 V. 8
97.7% 97.2% 94.8% 69.3%
98% 96.9% 94.1% 79%
98.3% 97.2% 95.1% 76.1%
n/a n/a n/a n/a


Adobe has recently released the Adobe Flash Plug-in v.9.0, and while roughly 94% of the world has at least v.7.0, your Flash files may require 8 or 9, to work properly. Note, also, that those figures are from March 2006 and penetration has certainly increased since then; especially now that is forcing users to upgrade to Flash Player 9.0. Again, Geoff Stearns has come to the rescue with his ExpressInstall method for the SWFObject.

To detect and request an upgrade, encode your SWF file the same way we instructed in our previous article:

<div id="navcontent">This content will show if the movie cannot load.</div>
 <script type="text/javascript">
 // <![CDATA[
 var a = new SWFObject(swf/nav_home.swf", "fo_nav", "796", "72", "8,0,0,0", "#FFFFFF", true);
 a.addParam("allowScriptAccess", "sameDomain");
 a.addParam("quality", "high");
 a.addParam("scale", "noscale");
 // ]]>

Add a parameter for the Flash redirect to tell the browser to reload your flash after installation is successful:

a.addParam('xiRedirectUrl', '');

Now that you’ve properly inserted your Flash using the SWFObject, let’s look at how you can modify your Flash file to use the object’s plug-in detection and drive the user to upgrade if necessary. In the above example, you can see I’ve required a plug-in of 8 or greater. With the following code, users with a browser that meets or exceeds this requirement will see nothing but your movie. Users with an older plug-in (release previous to v.8.0) will see Flash Alert (left) that asks them to update their plug-in. If the user says “Yes,” the plug-in will install automatically. If they say “No,” a Javascript Alert will inform them that the movie cannot be viewed because a newer plug-in is required.

Remember from our previous article that when the SWFObject returns “false” (the movie cannot be displayed), then the text content that you provide in the <div> container will show instead. It is because of this that you should put text in the <div> container to inform them of what’s happening. The example above says “This content will show if the movie cannot load,” but it would be more informative (when you have the ExpressInstall included) to replace that content with something like this:

This Flash movie cannot load. You are viewing this because:
1. You have no Flash Plug-In (Click here to download)
2. Your Flash Plug-in is older than the necessary version required to play this movie
(Click here to reload the movie and click “Yes” when asked to upgrade your plug-in.)

Now let’s get to the Flash.

Include the following lines of code into your Flash file prior to the loading bar (optional) and content:

#include ""
 // initialize the ExpressInstall object
var ExpressInstall = new ExpressInstall();
// if the user needs to upgrade, show the 'start upgrade' button
if (ExpressInstall.needsUpdate) {
// this is optional, you could also automatically start the
 // upgrade by calling ExpressInstall.init() here instead of the following lines
// attach the custom upgrade message and center it
var upgradeMsg = attachMovie("upgradeMsg_src", "upgradeMsg", 1);
upgradeMsg._x = Stage.width / 2;
upgradeMsg._y = Stage.height / 2;
// attach the button actions that will start the ExpresInstall updater
upgradeMsg.upgradeBtn.onRelease = function() {
 // the ExpressInstall.init() method is what kicks off the actual update
 // if expressinstall is invoked, stop the timeline.

Ensure that Mr. Stearns’s file is in your build directory so that it will be available to be compiled with the movie when you publish. That’s all you need to do.

Zeh Fernando, the genius behind, recommends embedding the contents of Mr. Stearns’s script into the timeline of a template Flash movie and saving this as your launchpad for all sites. Starting with a FLA that includes the ExpressInstall (and a stripped-down index.html file for which the .swf is to be “embedded”) will help to manage your scripts from inception to launch and make it easier for users.

Recommended Links

Tags | activex, adobe, citarella, deconcept, detect, flash plug-in, geoff stearns, macromedia, shockwave, swfobject, update, upgrade, zeh fernando