Dec
10
2008
2

How NOT To Build A Successful Website: Adobe Flash

No Flash, please

No Flash, please

There are many different ways to put together a website.  Flat HTML which does not interact with the users at all.  Javascript enabled pages which allow the user to interact with the webpage a little.  AJAX enabled pages which allow the user to interact with the web server and even other users.

The worst way imaginable for a website to be built is one entirely powered by Adobe Flash animation.  I know of at least one workers’ compensation defense firm that has an all Flash website – and I feel sorry for them.  Their clients probably never use their website.  They’re squandering one of their best marketing tools.

Here are just a few of the problems with Flash websites:

  • Bandwidth. A picture of the word “website” is much much larger than the text “website.”  In a similar way, a Flash website is going to be much much larger than the same information presented in pure HTML.  The bigger your website, the longer it will take for it to load.
  • Maintenance. The smallest change to the website needs to be handled by the original web developer.  If you “invest” in an all-Flash website, you’re basically hiring that web developer for life.  With traditional websites, you can hire any code monkey to adjust your website.
  • Unnavigable. Flash websites do not work with the browser’s “Back” button.  If your users can’t navigate your website in a normal fashion, they will leave and never come back.
  • Search Engine Optimization. Or, SEO, as it is known in the business.  If your website is basically a bunch of moving pictures, it can’t be indexed by a search engine, so it doesn’t know what your website is about, so it doesn’t know when to show it to people who are searching for exactly the kinds of things you are trying to sell.
  • Repeat Business. If your website is meant to be something people look at once and never return to, I suppose its fine. The problem with a Flash website is that it will not allow users to bookmark or link to particular pages.  This means if your clients really love a particular page on your site they can’t e-mail the link to their co-workers!

I know why web developers sell Flash websites.  These websites show off how great you are at creating swooshing logos and nifty pages transitions.  And, if your client ever needs a little change, they have to come back to you or pay someone else to build them a website from scratch.[1]

I also know why businesses invest in Flash websites.  They want something stylish and unique.  In reality all truly successful website forgo snazzy animations for functional user friendly pages.  If Amazon, eBay, and Google don’t build their websites out of Flash, why should you?

This isn’t to say that Flash animation doesn’t have its place.  It think its great for product demos, presentations, and banner ads.  Its an excellent way to present information in a graphical format.  That said, you should never ever purchase a Flash website.

Website Development Tips:

  • Never build a site out of Flash.
  • Never use Flash to show words.
  • If its good enough for Google, its good enough for you.
  • Focus on what your customers want to see, not what you want to show them.
  • Make it easy for your customers to tell people about you.
  1. Heaven forbid you have a new hire or, you know, the law changes. []
Dec
08
2008
0

Review: TNT’s Leverage

Leverage

Leverage

I’ve been looking forward to watching the premier of a new TV show called, “Leverage” on TNT.  I first saw a teaser preview during the summer.

I happen to like Timothy Hutton.  I was a big fan of the Nero Wolfe mystery series on A&E a few years back.[1]

If you like caper movies/shows, chances are you’re going to enjoy Leverage.  Its in the same vein as Ocean’s Eleven and Hustle.  If you haven’t seen Hustle, its a BBC import shown on AMC about a group of con artists.

For those keeping score at home, I’d liken Leverage to:

  • Ocean’s Eleven
  • Hustle
  • Burn Notice
  • Sneakers
  • A-Team[2]
  • Mission Impossible
  • The Sting

Leverage even has its own Alternate Reality Game.  Its good for a few minutes diversion.

The premier of Leverage was on last night on TNT.  I expect they’ll show an “encore” sometime in the near future.  In any case, its going to be on Tuesday night at 10:00 PM.

  1. Unfortunately, A&E in their infinite wisdom decided to cancel this show.  I believe they began airing reruns of “CSI: Who Gives A Damn” instead. []
  2. Come on, you know you liked it. []
Dec
05
2008
0

How To Bootstrap A Business

Bootstrapping 101

Bootstrapping 101

Everyone has heard the phrase, “pull oneself up by the bootstraps.”[1] It basically refers to using your current resources to reach the next step.

In a prior post I talked about “How to Start a Business: Plan B,” which was mainly about fund raising.  Fund raising is the exact opposite of bootstrapping.  If you can’t raise funding for your business and you’re really committed to it, you’ve got to find another way.  That would be “Plan B.”  In hindsight I would have entitled that post, “B is for Bootstrapping” or “Starting A Business On A Budget.”

For a very nuts-and-bolts look at starting a business, look to Guy Kawasaki‘s “The Art of Bootstrapping.”  This is an excerpt from his new book, “Reality Check.”  My understanding is that this book is a distillation of his prior books and blog posts.  Its on my Christmas wish list, so I’ll look forward to reading it in about a month.

I used many of these bootstrapping techniques while building this website.  Using the bullet points from Guy’s post, here’s some of the things I used to start this business:

  • Ship then test.”  To be more exact, I tested the calculators rigorously but didn’t spend nearly as much time testing how the earliest versions of this website looked in different web browsers.  Once I got it to work in Internet Explorer, I started marketing it.
  • Start a service business.”  In the first few months of building this website I worked as a technology consultant and part-time programmer.  In addition to being a nice change from my day job as an attorney and earning a little extra, it also gave me the chance to learn some new programming languages and techniques.
  • Go direct.”  I schlepped my laptop to every appearance and showed off the website to every single attorney that was foolish enough to sit still and listen to me.  Besides not having the resources to hire people to sell for me, it also allowed me to learn more about what my customers wanted.  Keeping in touch with my clients/customers has lead to a LOT of new developments on this site.

As to “how” I started this business, here was my process:

  1. I wanted to build my own online rating calculators.[2]
  2. I bought a book about starting a business.  “The Art of the Start” by Guy Kawasaki.  $17.00 or so.
  3. I bought some books about web based programming languages.  $55.00 or so for two books.
  4. I bought a few website domain names.  $10.00 each.
  5. I wrote a “prototype” of the 1997 and 2005 permanent disability rating calculatorsIt wasn’t pretty, but it worked.
  6. Once I had a working prototype, I bought some web space.  $180.00 for two years.
  7. Market the website.
  8. Make a sale.
  9. Develop more features and/or improve the site.
  10. Lather, rinse, repeat steps 6 – 8.
  1. Photo courtesy of Jarl van Hoother []
  2. The exact reasons why are the topic of an entirely different blog post altogether. []
Dec
03
2008
1

How to Repair A Laptop: Option 2 – Big Box Stores

Broken Laptop

Broken Laptop

Before I start talking computer repair, I offer three caveats.  First, I have no formal training in diagnosing, repairing, or even using computers.  Second, I have no experience with repairing an Apple or Mac computer.  Third, all of the below only applies to laptop repair.  Its incredibly easy to swap out components on a desktop.

You’ve done the math and decided that it is a better use of your resources to repair your non-functional and out-of-warranty laptop.[1] You know that sending an out of warranty laptop to the manufacturer is a bad idea.  But, what about a big box store like Best Buy, Circuit City[2] , and Fry’s?[3]

Option 2:  Big Box Stores

When I’m not buying computer or electronics components online, I like Best Buy for products and Fry’s for components.  However, I would never have a computer diagnosed or repaired by either place.

First, let’s recognize that a big box store has certain priorities.  As such, their staff are trained to sell, not to diagnose or repair.  I imagine their priorities are, in order: (1) Sell you things, (2) sell you warranties for things, (3) sell you new things, and (4) sell you warranties for those new things, (5) LLR. [4] From a capitalistic perspective, its hard to argue with a business plan like this.

A little burned out component on the motherboard takes very special equipment and skill to replace.  When faced with such a problem you can replace the entire computer, the motherboard[5] , or just that one component.

From calling numerous computer repair facilities, I know very few of them have the special equipment and skill required to replace a single tiny component on a motherboard.  If dedicated repair facilities do not typically have this equipment, I doubt big box stores would be up to the task.

I think everyone’s heard the horror stories or seen the TV investigations of big box computer store repair services scamming unwary or uninformed consumers.  I have friends who hired Best Buy’s “Geek Squad” and still didn’t have their problems fixed.

If I were a very cynical person[6] I’d suggest that big box stores hire untrained staff who have a vested interest in charging a diagnostic fee to tell you that your computer and all your data is beyond recovery.

Luckily, I believe the third option, finding a reliable dedicated computer repair shop, is your best bet.

  1. Photo courtesy of Just Us 3. []
  2. They’re bankrupt, so don’t bother []
  3. For those of you who just can’t wait to find out: I think a dedicated computer facility is best. []
  4. LLR – Lather, rinse, repeat. []
  5. Which, by the time you need it, costs as much as your computer is worth. []
  6. And, I am. []
Dec
02
2008
0

New WCAB Regs, New EAMS Forms

Block Letters

Block Letters

According to a recent DIR news bulletin on November 17, 2008 the new WCAB Rules of Practice and Procedure were approved by the Office of Administrative Law and filed with the Secretary of the State and (apparently) made effective that same day.  If you haven’t already reviewed the new regulations, now’s a good time.  You can check them using the above links or download it here:

New WCAB Rules of Practice and Procedure (Effective 11-17-2008)

Since the new WCAB rules became effective, the new EAMS forms are now mandatory.  The exceptions named in the above bulletin are:

  • There will be a four-week “transition period” in effect through December 12, 2008 during which the “legacy”[1] forms will still be accepted.
  • Forms requiring multiple signatures will be accepted in “legacy” form as long as the filer establishes that circulation began prior to November 17, 2008. [2]
  • Unrepresented injured workers will be allowed until February 17, 2009 to use “legacy” forms.
  • Unrepresented injured workers who do not have access to a computer or typewriter will be allowed to fill in the new OCR forms by printing using block letters.[3][4]

Did you know there’s a handbook for the new Optical Character Recognition EAMS forms?  You can check it out here or download it here:

EAMS OCR Handbook (Rev. 11-24-2008)

  1. Read: non-EAMS []
  2. I suppose the easiest way to demonstrate this is to point out that at least one of the signatures was dated prior to 11/17/2008. []
  3. Though, I suppose printing clearly in all-capital letters migh work better… []
  4. Photo courtesy of Thomas Hawk. []

Use of this site constitutes agreement to its Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Legal Disclaimer.
Copyright 2007 - 2019 - PDRater – PD calculators and Jay Shergill
Powered by WordPress | Aeros Theme | TheBuckmaker.com WordPress Themes