Grow your store with our weekly podcasts, videos, and letters. JOIN NOW
Ethercycle logo
For your iPhone, we've created two wallpapers with a test pattern theme. You may recognize the latter wallpaper as the original Apple logo colors.
To install your new wallpaper, download it, add it to your iTunes photos, sync your phone, and set it from Settings: Wallpaper. For a more detailed explanation, check out iPhonesTalk's step-by-step guide.
In an effort to support startups and small businesses, EtherCycle now offers payment plans for web sites. With just a small down payment we will begin the development of your website. The single flat monthly payments include hosting costs. For your convenience, we accept Visa, MasterCard, American Express, PayPal, and Google Checkout.
Good communication is the cornerstone of client satisfaction. We believe that the more interaction we have with a client, the better the resulting project will be. We have five commandments for client communication.
  1. Offer free consultations and give honest advice.
  2. Listen to what the client has to say to better understand them.
  3. Ask the client questions to clarify the project's goals.
  4. Research the client's target market to ensure the project's effectiveness.
  5. Revise the project proposal as many times as necessary to earn the client's approval.
Mood boards serve as a visual tool to quickly inform others of the overall feel that a designer is trying to achieve. We find them to be most helpful as a source of inspiration. A typical mood board can feature color palettes, logos, concepts, ideas, features, layouts, pictures, screen shots, and anything else that can be informative or inspirational to the project's team.
Sample mood board for EtherCycle.com.
While different clients and projects require unique design and development processes, a typical EtherCycle website is created in the following order:
  1. A consultation assesses your needs, aims, and budget.
  2. A proposal is created to establish the project's budget, goals, and timeline.
  3. A type of poster design called a mood board is created to develop our design concepts and to communicate to other members of the design team.
  4. Mockups of the home page are created.
  5. Mockups of the internal pages are created.
  6. Content is supplied or created as necessary.
  7. Development begins.
  8. Usability testing ensures the website is easy to use.
  9. Cross-browser compatibility testing allows for thorough debugging.
  10. Meta Tags are created based on market analysis.
  11. The site is live, Champagne is enjoyed.
This is definitely an oversimplification of what occurs, but to those of you who are new to the process, it may be helpful. It's also important to note that the client is included in every step, and if anything is not to their satisfaction, that step is repeated. Typically, the home page mockup (step3) is repeated several times to achieve the client's vision. To date, the development process has never had to be repeated as our sites have always exceeded our client's expectations.
Section508 is an amendment to Workforce Rehabilitation Act. It's a provision assures that people with disabilities can access web pages predominately through the use of text labels and descriptors for graphics. It applies to all Federal agencies, and sometimes private organizations who receive Federal funding. EtherCycle understands the fourteen guidelines for better web content accessibility set forth by The World Wide Web Consortium.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the art of coaxing search engines in to driving traffic for specific keywords to a particular website. There are two approaches. Paid or organic inclusion. Paid SEO is the most straight-forward method, as a webmaster pays for traffic in the form of advertising. By buying Google AdWords or paying for banner ads, traffic is driven to their site. While anyone can buy ads, the trick is to maximize the efficiency of these ad campaigns by carefully controlling placement so that each click paid for is actually within the target market. With some AdWords campaigns exceeding $100k monthly, it is self-evident why a campaign manager is necessary to ensure the efficacy of each paid click. Organic or natural SEO strategy is a multi-faceted discipline that seeks to place a website as high as possible in search rankings for relevant keywords. Content strategy, link building, accessibility, and competitor analysis are the corner stones of any good organic SEO plan. Organic search engine marketing is critical to the success of any online business. All of our websites are designed in such a way to be easily and completely read and indexed by search engines. This guarantees that our clients' customers can easily find them. Additionally, employing organic SEO strategy from the ground-up has the added benefit of improving accessibility, increasing the base of users who can view our designs.
or "Why Users Are Leaving Your Website" Regardless of its style or category, any website's success hinges on its ease of use. According to Jakob Nielsen, an eminent usability expert, "If a website is difficult to use, people leave." A website should:
  • State plainly what it offers.
  • Be easy to navigate.
  • Be easy to read.
  • Offer answers to user's questions.
  • Load quickly and consistently on a variety of browsers and devices.
Since there is no standard on how websites should be designed, it's up to the web design agency to infer what users will expect given a client's particular content. Through experience and testing, the agency can determine the best design, all while maintaining the brand's message. A good web design agency should be spending 10% of a project's budget on usability testing. Nearly universally users assume that:
  • A link to the home page, usually in the form of a logo, is available in the upper left.
  • Pages have descriptive headers or titles announcing which page a user is on.
  • Text is legible. Printed in high contrast, appropriately sized, and carefully typeset.
  • Load times will be short, or a progress bar will indicate loading if necessary.
  • Navigation is placed near the logo, either at the top of a page or down the left side.
To aid ease of use, a designer should:
  • Avoid drop-downs or other expanding menus (with the exception of large fly-outs.)
  • Use modal windows where applicable to prevent unnecessary page changes.
  • Use breadcrumb trails make large websites easy to understand. For example, a listing on eBay for a truck wheel would include the following note near the top: "eBay Motors > Parts & Accessories > Car & Truck Parts > Wheels, Tires & Parts > Wheels"
  • Offer a search tool, preferably located in the upper right, for users to quickly navigate large sites.
  • Use style-based elements, optimized images, and minified code to reduce load times.
By designing a site with usability in mind, the user's experience with a brand is greatly improved. The user will have more confidence in the brand, and be willing to spend more time on their site, which translates into increased sales.
The power of Firefox is in its library of add-ons. There are at least five extensions that a web developer can not live with out.
  1. FireBug "Put a wealth of development tools at your fingertips while you browse. You can edit, debug, and monitor CSS, HTML, and JavaScript live in any web page."
  2. MeasureIt "Users can calculate the measurement specifications of tables, paragraphs on internet."
  3. ColorZilla "Advanced Eyedropper, Color Picker, Palette Viewer and other colorful goodies."
  4. ScreenGrab "Save or copy the current page, viewport or selection in a png file."
  5. Load Time Analyzer "Measure and graph how long web pages take to load."
There are two major components to a web page's code. The top or Head, is the machine readable portion of the page that provides additional information called Meta tags to search engines. The rest of the page, or the body is the part seen by us humans. The importance of meta tags is often overstated when optimizing a website for search engines. As a result, there are a lot of myths regarding meta tags. Below are five important meta tags truths.
  1. Google has ignored the keywords meta tag for years. It's possible that Google could use this information in the future, but it's unlikely.
  2. The title tag is the new keywords tag. Bing and Google both consider a page's title to be its primary keywords.
  3. The description tag is often (but not always) used as the snippet shown in a search. It will not impact your ranking in Google's search results.
  4. Most new meta tags are proprietary tags used by one or two third search engines. We've even seen cases where a meta tag was invented on the spot by a developer. This is not helpful in anyway.
  5. Bing relies on geo-meta tags to determine a site's location, but Google ignores them because they're too often improperly implemented.
All of our websites include complete meta tag information because it is helpful, but we never charge our clients for keyword stuffing disguised as Search Engine Marketing. Google's Matt Cutts states that, "Lots of webmaster just copy/paste from a template without checking the meta tag values. The unreliability of the meta tags is why Google tends not to use them or give them less weight."