The only constants

I don't know about you, but I don't always deal very well with change. You'd think I'd be used to it by now. But sometimes it seems like there's more change on the web in a month than there used to be in the world in a year.

We seem to think that more things are changing, faster than ever. But 200 years ago Charles Dickens wrote "Change begets change. Nothing propagates so fast." Around the same time, Herbert Spencer wrote, "A living thing is distinguished from a dead thing by the multiplicity of the changes at any moment taking place in it."And over 2,500 years ago, Heraclitus wrote that "Change alone is unchanging."

And yet all this just reminds me that while the world changes around us constantly, the way people think and feel really doesn't change. I remember reading a letter sent 3,000 years ago by an Egyptian teenager to his parents. It basically said, "Having a wonderful time. Please send money and a new pair of sandals."

So times change, but people don't.

So what does this have to do with the internet? You have to remember that all this technology is for people. You're a person (if not, then e-mail and tell me what you are). And the people who visit your site are, of course, people (though my pet chinchilla loves to browse the web, too; or at least dance around on my keyboard). The people who are visiting your web site want what people have always wanted.

They want their lives to be better. That's pretty simple, even if there are now officially six billion different ways to do that.

So this week we try to help you do better at making people happy. Chuck Green (Mr. www.ideabook.com) starts his new column "The Mix," which helps even the most graphically-challenged understand how design works so you can make other people happy with your site.

To make yourself (and the people you work with happier), we offer part II of our popular "Getting what you want" series, written by myself and my lovely wife, Toni. We've worked freelance for years, so we've both had to learn how to negotiate and write contracts. Now that your life may be changing to the point where you have to do the same, you can learn from our experience (and mistakes!).

One more quote and then we're done. "The lapse of ages changes all things—time, language, the earth, the bounds of the sea, the stars of the sky, and every thing 'about, around, and underneath' man, except man himself." Lord Byron, 1788–1824. (See, I'm not the only one who thinks so; and although Sherwood Forest has mightily changed since Byron's death, I highly recommend you pay a visit to his estate there—it has a delightfully ancient grotto :)

—Daniel Will-Harris, editor, http://www.efuse.com


Mixing It Up (Something new under the sun?)

It never ceases to amaze me that after centuries of baking bread, a 21st century baker can bring something new to the recipe. Almost routinely, talented people produce astonishingly unique results by adding a little something different to THE MIX. That is what this column is about—for you and the amazing Chuck Green to have a conversation about the ingredients of design: type, illustrations, photography, and color. Notice I said conversation. Chuck wants to see what you're seeing—a unique web layout, design style, or color scheme—and hear what you're hearing—about resources such as clip art, royalty-free and stock photography, typefaces, and such. In return, he'll keep you posted on what comes across his desk and suggest some combinations of ingredients that he thinks work well together. Read it, right now!

Getting More Of What You Want (in writing!)

OK, so your negotiations are in progress. At this point, it's vital to "document" things, to put them down in writing. This helps eliminate the chance of confusion, and make sure that people know precisely what's being agreed to, and stick to it. There's an old joke, "An oral contract isn't worth the paper it's written on." It doesn't matter what someone agrees to in a conversation. It can be binding, but also nearly impossible to prove. So Daniel & Toni Will-Harris share what they've learned from years of freelancing, and putting it down in writing.

What has the web done for you? (come on, tell me!)

Answer yet another of my nosy but possibly somewhat entertaining questionnaires and you're entered to win a set of WebSpice SiteStyles, not to mention millions of web graphics. Itメll only take a minute and it'll help me out—and possibly get you millions of graphics and things. Really. Thanks!

More Ideas For Marketing Your Business

Mary Gillen and Andy Attiliis have more good ideas than ever. So take a look at their latest articles and help yourself to really useful information you can use to make your business more successful.


Five e-commerce myths

In his article, "Five Myths that could kill e-commerce," Daniel Roth writes, "The first site to take off on the Web was 1-800-Flowers," says Michael May, a digital commerce analyst at Jupiter Communications. "And a big part of their positioning is, 'We're not automated; we're real people.'" This is a great article, because it talks about how people work, live and shop, rather than how the internet works. You can read it here.

Sell Away

I speak from experience when I say it isn't easy to sell stuff from the web. I sell fonts from my own web site, and it took me a long time to find an easy, inexpensive way to do it. I've written in the past that I use PayPal and if you sell under about $7,000 a year from your web site, this is faster, easier, and even less expensive than a merchant account. Ccnow also lets you take credit cards for items you sell on auction sites such as eBay.

Now there are two more very interesting ways to sell anything you want, for next to nothing.

So if, "How do I build a site and sell from it," has been a question you haven't been able to answer, now the answer is www.sitematic.com.

If you already have a web site, but you just haven't figured out how to sell from it, then consider http://www.amazon.com/zshops . Unlike auction sites, here you show what you've got, you set a price, and people can buy it. There are pros and cons to this.

The Pros:

1) More people can find your products. Let's say you make custom cat toys. Well, Zshops lets you associate your items with books on Amazon. So if someone searched for books on cats, you could choose the best selling books about cats, and your items would show up with those books—which clearly targets your merchandise with the topics people are looking for.

2) Amazon can process the payments for you and then direct deposit the funds in your bank account. Their one click ordering makes it extremely easy for people to order your products. If they've ever ordered from Amazon before, it knows their credit card number, their shipping address, everything.

3) If people haven't bought from Amazon before, they've probably heard of it. So the site has a lot of customer trust. Amazon even offer buyers a guarantee so that if what they get isn't what you said it would be, Amazon will give them a refund (after trying to get the money back from you first, I'm sure).

4) Even if you don't sell many items from Amazon, you can think of it like a low-cost advertising site. Your item is linked to their item, and you can link your web site to your item. These are very big pros.

The Cons:

1) You lose your identity. It's clearly not on your web site, so people can get distracted and start looking for other items on zShops, instead of other items on your site. If you've ever been on eBay or another auction site, then you know how the lure of the unknown can suck up hours of your time, so that you forget what you came there looking for. This is a very big con.

2) zShops last only 14 days. If you have regular items you want to sell for more than that time, you have to keep renewing them. This isn't just a hassle, it makes it impossible for people to bookmark your items so they can find them later, the way they could on your own web site.

3) The competition is fierce. While this is true of the internet in general, here your customers can find your competitors at the same time they find you.

4) It's also not quite as inexpensive as it sounds. While you can create a listing for one thin dime (for now, this could be an introductory price), when someone buys your item, you then have to pay Amazon another fee of 5% (up to $25); $1.25 plus 2.5% of any amount over $25.00 and under $1,000; and $25.63 plus 1.25% of any amount over $1,000.00.

If you use Amazon's one-click ordering, then there's an additional fee of 60 cents plus 4.75% of the transaction amount.

Lest you get too excited: I put up my zShop the first day zShops opened. I am linked to the major books about fonts and architects, and I've yet to get one single order. I am not yet using their payment system, but even so, I have to say I find this a little disappointing. Still, it's something to consider, even if you use it for nothing other than just 10 cent marketing to get people to your web site!

Web safe or web sorry?

Do you still need web-safe color? The latest stats show that just 13% of Web visitors are viewing 8-bit or 256 colors. More than half see 65,536 colors (also called 16-bit or "high color"), about 19% see 4.2 billion (that's 32-bit), and the rest, almost 15%, see 16.7 million (that's 24-bit, also known as "true color").

So do you really need to stick to that very limited palette of 228 colors invented by engineers? Well, first, it's amazing what you can do with those colors, and if you've looked around the web, you know there's so much variety that even with that limited selection (and web-safe tints, such as the kind we use on eFuse), the choices can seem limitless.

I'm not sure of the answer on this. My "old" four-year-old computer could show thousands of color, but I always had it in 256 color mode because that's all my graphics card would show at 1024x768, the resolution I prefer. Now I have a new computer with 16MB of video memory. (That's 250,000 times more memory just on the graphic chip than my first PC had in its entire system and this was not that long ago!). I can easily see 4.2 billion colors (not that I could tell all of them apart, so don't offer to test me!) at the same time. Do I need web-safe color? No.

What about screen resolution? Is it time to reevaluate 640x480? Most people have 800x600 or higher. What do you think? Tell me!


For generating meta tags online, visit:


Fill out a simple form and it will generate all sorts of meta tags (including some obscure ones most people won't even have heard of.)

Hint: For the more commonly known ones - keywords, description - keep them typed in your text editor and paste into the text boxes as they occur. I've been using this for over six months, and it is very effective.

— Suresh Ramasubramanian, webmaster of KCircle - http://www.kcircle.com

Special Deals for eFuse.com readers

Add A Little Spice To Your Sitestyles

The folks at WebSpice.com just released a new product called WebSpice SiteStyles for NetObjects Fusion. In case you haven't used them yet, SiteStyles are a collection elements and color schemes that are automatically applied - with just one click - to every page of your Web site.

SiteStyles are especially useful if you need to change the style of multiple Web pages on your site without tediously changing each page one-by-one. WebSpice SiteStyles includes more than 2,000 professionally designed SiteStyles and sells for about $79. Get more information and see examples at: http://www.webspice.com/wsss.html

Special offer for eFuse readers. WebSpace is offering you, our loyal eFuse reader, a special 10% discount on their online Web graphics subscription service. They have tons of great Web graphics, including seamless backgrounds, buttons, animations, Office 2000 themes, and much more. WebSpice.com is the largest Web clipart collection anywhere, with more than 2 million images help you "spice up" your site. Take advantage of your discount by clicking on: http://www.webspice.com/limitedoffer.html

 .CO.UK 4U?


Here's a jolly special little offer for all you FuseLetter people who always wanted a .co.uk domain name but never knew who to ask! You can now register a ..co.uk domain name at http://www.namedropper.co.uk/fusedprice for only £25 ($40) for a full 2 years service and that includes email and web forwarding. Now come on... £12.50 a year for your own unique U.K. identity can't be bad, can it?

If you don't already know, email forwarding simply means you can have email from your new domain forwarded to an existing email address. For example, if you have yourname@hotmail.com namedropper can forward all email messages from your new domain to that address. Same with web forwarding. If you have an existing website, perhaps on a free provider like GeoCities, we can forward your new (and shorter) URL onto this site. When you type in www.yourname.co.uk into the address bar on your browser, hey presto... your site comes up.

This price is especially for FuseLetter Readers only. The usual Name Dropper price for a .co.uk domain name registration is £34. So visit, and save 9£ - and who doesn't want to lose some pounds? :)

Web Miracle--Feed The Hungry With Just A Click

Here's a great idea. All you have to do is visit this site and click on the "Donate Free Food" button. When you do, a sponsoring corporation will make a donation to feed a starving person for one day. You can do this once a day, and it costs nothing to you personally.

This is a form of public relations for the sponsoring company. It gets their name in front of you and associates it with a good cause. It does not cost you anything to make this donation. So bookmark it, email all your friends about it, and visit it once a day!

One Final Word

The more things change, the more they stay the same :)




Like the stories? Buy the book!

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The SchoomozeLetter is ©1998-2005, Daniel Will-Harris, all rights reserved. If you'd like to use any article on the web or in print, please ask for permission. If you're an agent or publisher looking to publish these pieces, just drop me a note.