Shopify Articles

Etherycle sometimes blogs about ways to make you more money!

Imagine that you're a car dealer. A man pulls onto your lot driving a '78 Yugo with unpainted fiberglass, replacing the metal that has succumbed to rust. Vinyl racing stripes have been hastily applied in an attempt to modernize the car.

The owner of the car steps out, revealing himself to be a modest businessman.  He says that he is ready to buy a new car.  He  knows exactly what he wants.

He's right, he has a very specific list. The car must be all wheel drive, mid-engine, and black. He wants a Lamborghini Murcielago. Unfortunately, he doesn't have the means or the resources to maintain a supercar.

"That's okay," you say, "We have a Porsche that fits within your budget, and requires far less maintenance, but it's rear engine, not mid engine. Slightly different."

"No, I know I need a Lamborghini, because I've seen one in my neighbor's garage," explains the buyer. "I will buy it right now for the price of the Porsche."

Unable to buy the car his neighbor has, the man leaves the dealership in his forgettable car.

We've seen this scenario play out with our own clients. Often a list of must-have features turns out to be an inventory of competitors' features. The client, believing imitation the key to success, refuses to give up any of their features. This greatly inflates the required budget.

Rather than choose a website that fits their business, they decide to wait until they have the budget for their "everything and the kitchen sink" web project. Of course that day never comes. The competition continues to outpace them, and as more players enter the market, the list of features continues to grow.

Competition research is important, but it isn't a replacement for genuine innovation. No business ever feature-creeped their way to success. Worse yet, you may just be copying the competition's mistakes.

Here's our best advice, regardless of the size of your budget: Just do one thing well. Find out what problem your competition hasn't solved, and provide your solution to your customers.
Plants vs. Zombies: A mob of fun-loving zombies is about to invade your home. Use your arsenal of 49 zombie-zapping plants — peashooters, wall-nuts, cherry bombs and more — to mulchify 26 types of zombies before they break down your door.

Tiny Wings: You have always dreamed of flying - but your wings are tiny. Luckily the world is full of beautiful hills. Use the hills as jumps - slide down, flap your wings and fly! At least for a moment - until this annoying gravity brings you back down to earth.

Cut the Rope: Help get the candy to Om Nom, the lovable star of the game, in this highly innovative and addictive puzzle game. Combining outstanding physics, devilishly tricky levels, and bright colorful High Definition visuals, Cut the Rope is one of the most original and fun-filled games on the App Store.

Harbor Master: Relax and let the sounds of the sea transport you far away. You are the Harbor Master in a busy harbor. Direct boats into the docks, watch them unload their cargo, and direct them off the screen. But be careful not to let the boats crash, and watch out for the pirates, monsters, and cyclones!

Where’s My Water?: A challenging physics-based puzzler complete with Retina display graphics, Multi-Touch controls, and a sensational soundtrack. To be successful, you need to be clever and keep an eye out for algae, toxic ooze, triggers, and traps.
The Stop Online Piracy Act (H.R.3261) and the Protect IP Act (S.968) threaten the Internet by forcing internet service providers to censor websites that don't do enough to police their users, essentially giving the government the power to create a U.S.-friendly version of the web. This legislation reads like a record company wish list. It is designed to protect the interests of old media companies, stifling innovation.

Join us and other opponents of these bills such as eBay, EFF, Etsy, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Mozilla, Reddit, Tumblr, Twitter, Wikipedia, Yahoo to help protect your right to free speech online. You must tell your Members of Congress that you OPPOSE H.R. 3621 "Stop Online Piracy Act" (SOPA) and S. 968 "Protect IP Act" (PIPA).

Our Chief Software Engineer, Dave, was recently asked by a friend if she should choose Mac or PC for her next computer. He had this to say:

Mac if you have any work to do, PC if you want to game, do 3D animation/CAD, or code in .NET.

Forget buying brand new, I've always bought refurbished without issues, as it saves a few hundred dollars. Though Macs are fairly price-competitive if you match components and hardware specs.

Macs don't let you customize the interface nearly as much as Windows, but if you ever need to go "under the hood," OS X is far more powerful. (see: Terminal) Also, Adobe software is far snappier on my MacBook than my more powerful Windows desktop. (Adobe heavily optimizes for Apple, and vice versa.)

Our office is all Mac for one simple reason: support. If something goes wrong with a machine, and we can't fix it, we scuttle over to the local Apple Store. While most "Geniuses" aren't much better than Geek Squad, it's still the manufacturer's store, so getting a computer or part replaced is significantly easier than trying to go through a third party like Best Buy.
A lion met a tiger
As they drank beside a pool
Said the tiger, “tell me why…
You’re roaring like a fool.”

“That’s not foolish;” said the lion,
with a twinkle in his eyes,
“They call me king of all the beasts
because I advertise!”

A rabbit heard them talking,
and ran home like a streak.
He thought he’d try the lion’s plan,
but his roar was just a squeak.

A fox, who happened on the scene,
had a fine lunch in the woods.

The Moral? When you advertise,
just be sure you’ve got the goods.
Louis Lazaris recently posted a list of skills and technologies that all front-end developers should know. However, if someone knew all 45 items on his list, they'd qualify as a highly-skilled software engineer, not a developer. While our own software engineer was familiar with all the list, he is only competent in about 90% of it.

We've edited Mr. Lazaris' list to just the things we'd like a newly hired front-end developer to be comfortable working with daily:
CSS2.1 / CSS3
HTML5 Boilerplate
Progressive Enhancement / Graceful Degradation
UX / Usability
Website Speed / Performance
Responsive Web Design
Mobile Web Development
Mobile Web Performance
Cross-Browser / Cross-Platform Development
IE6-IE8 Bugs and Inconsistencies
Debugging Tools (Firebug, etc)
Accessibility best practices
Image Editing Tools (Photoshop, Fireworks, etc.)
Web Font Embedding
SEO Best Practices 

The above skill set was created by surveying our own lead developer, and may still be excessive. Ultimately a job interview for a front-end development position only needs one binary question: Can you turn a PhotoShop document in to an HTML5 website that renders consistently on major browsers such as Chrome, FireFox, IE9, and mobile Safari? If yes, congratulations, you have what it takes.
This morning we biked to work via the multi-use path along the Des Plaines River, and got to test our new GoPro HD Hero2. Our goal this year is to ride 5,000 miles collectively. That would save 275 gallons of gasoline, but result in the expenditure of 300,000 calories or 340 burritos. Healthy is happy.

This year we made a Christmas card for our clients and friends that could be turned in to a simple paper-craft Christmas tree.

Some recipients were kind enough to send us photos of their trees–

If you as an individual want to write an email to your family, what would you do? I would open Gmail and compose a letter to my family. Maybe I would add a picture as an attachment.

If your brand wants to send an email to its customers, what happens? A graphic email is designed, content is forced in to it, it's cut & coded in non-semantic HTML, and then distributed to a mail list. Upon arrival, the images don't load because they're probably disabled by default, and your table layout breaks because email clients don't support web standards.

Email clients don't support web standards because they're not web browsers. Microsoft goes so far as using Word as Outlook's rendering engine. That makes sense: email is correspondence, not interactive media. That's why we prefer plain text emails for our newsletter. It looks more personal, and has a 4-7% higher click-through rate.

Stop trying to shoe-horn your branding design guidelines in to your emails, and start communicating with your customers instead.
In addition to web standards, we have our own pro-tips and best practices that our developers follow.

When writing HTML...
Be semantic above all else
Separate style from content
Make use of form features such as fieldset, legend, label, and input[type=email]
Use divs sparingly. Instead use HTML5 tags such as header, footer, nav, section, article, and aside.
Limit H1 tags to one per separate content level. For example, an overall page can have one as a title, and each article should have one.

When writing CSS...
Use repeated patterns to keep CSS lean
Only use !important when absolutely necessary.
Use IDs for unique elements
Use classes are for repeated patterns
Use in-line styles only in the rare circumstance where it results in a smaller overall page size
Alphabetize styles first, then group according to function, browser specific/partially supported styles at end. For position, margin, padding: x, y, then z. For background-position: horizontal then vertical.

        #minky {
            background: #000100;
            border: 1px #0f0 solid;
            color: #fefcff;
            margin: 0; padding: 0;
            position: absolute; top: 5px; left: 10px;
            -webkit-border-radius: 12px;
            -moz-border-radius: 12px;
            border-radius: 12px;

By following coding best practices, we create code and websites that are useful to people, understood by machines, and easily maintained by developers. This improves usability, accessibility, SEO, and reduces maintenance cost.