A Decade of Lessons in Small Business Management

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

25 Tips for Optimizing a Blog’s Google Sitelinks

25 Tips for Optimizing a Blog’s Google Sitelinks

The following is an excerpt from a new Informational Resource I’ve posted on my company‘s web site:

What are Sitelinks?

The links shown below some of Google’s search results (1), called sitelinks (2), are meant to help users navigate sites. Google’s systems analyze the link structure of each site to find shortcuts that will save users time and allow them to quickly find the information they’re looking for.

Google only shows sitelinks for results when they think they’ll be useful to the user. If the structure of the site doesn’t allow their algorithms to find good sitelinks, or they don’t think that the sitelinks for the site are relevant for the user’s query, Google won’t show them. At the moment, sitelinks are automated, but there are best practices site owner’s can follow, however, to improve the quality of their sitelinks.

Read the rest of the article here…

Flash Video Smoothing

While working on a new project for era//404, I received a great tip from Zeh, my Flash Obi Wan whom you’ve no doubt read me gushing about in the past. The site (which will be launched at the top of 2010) is centered around a video loop. The loop began as a 208MB raw Quicktime video clip shot by one of era//404’s video directors/editors, Greg Stadnik (you may remember his work from our Beautiful Children viral video that was featured in Gawker and AdRants last year). The clip was then scaled in 1/2, compressed using the On2 VP6 codec, imported into flash and then manipulated manually.  The final SWF was 3.12MB, but the quality suffered terribly.

This is when Zeh clued me in to video smoothing. It’s the same principle as bitmap smoothing, since embedded video clips are technically just an image sequence. The result was night and day. The left half of the below screenshot shows video smoothing set to true, where the right shows smoothing set to false.

smoothingFigure 1. Video Smoothing – Click image for larger/detailed version

Note that this is just the beginning of this site with the radial gradient and scanlines stripped away to accentuate the smoothing detail. Overall, it’s an easy way to preserve quality without increasing loadtime, memory or processor demand. Give it a try. I’m sure you’ll be as pleasantly surprised as I was by the result.

Career Tips from The Creative Group

The following five (5) tips, I found in the monthly GDUSA Newsletter and thought they might be beneficial to [d]online readers in our current economic climate:

With Mother’s Day just past, you may want to thank mom for passing along nuggets of wisdom that help on the job hunt. Following are five ideas you may have heard from her that can help you land a new role in a challenging economy:

1. “Mind Your Manners.”
This is especially important when checking in with a company’s receptionist prior to an interview: Six out of 10 hiring managers surveyed by our firm said they value their assistant’s opinion when making hiring decisions. So, go out of your way to be nice to everyone, from the executive assistant to the parking attendant, when you’re meeting with a potential employer.

2. “If You Don’t Have Anything Nice To Say… ”
There are few bigger turn-offs for hiring managers than listening to a potential employee vent about his or her former company, coworkers or boss. While you want to give authentic responses to interview questions, focus on what you bring to the table, not slights from your past.

3. “Do Your Homework.”
Researching the prospective employer is the most important step prior to applying for any job. Tailor your resume, cover letter and portfolio to the opportunity, making note of how your skills can contribute to the company’s immediate needs. In the interview, use what you learn about a firm to ask intelligent questions that demonstrate your understanding of the business.

4. “Don’t Sell Yourself Short.”
Your resume shouldn’t be a laundry list of former job duties. Instead, highlight your achievements, quantifying your contributions wherever possible. But be selective in the successes you highlight. Ultimately you want to emphasize those that are most relevant. Winning a student design competition, if you graduated a decade ago, isn’t the crowning achievement it once was.

5. “Always Send A Thank You Note.”
Yes, mom was right. Employers do pay attention. In fact, nearly nine out of 10 executives polled said sending a thank-you note can boost a person’s chances of landing a job.