Monday, November 12, 2007

A Nice Button With a Gradient PNG

Borrowing again from things Peter has done (Post 1, Post 2), I did a button effect using his gradient alpha PNG ideas.

The Gradient on a blue background:

And the buttons I did using the graphic...really just a solid background with a border. But the gradient makes them look much better.

Button Button Button Button

Note: I couldn't get some of the effects to work right in the blog editor. Since the gradient I did goes from transparent to opaque to transparent in a top-to-bottom pattern, you can use the CSS X:hover to change one tag background-position: top; to do the mouse-over.

.mjbbutton {
background:#f44 url(/images/top-bottom-gradient.png) repeat-x bottom;
border: 1px solid #800;
padding: 4px;
color: black;
.mjbbutton:hover {
background-position: top;

For MyMealCoach, I'm using this so a client will be able pick a color scheme, and the buttons can all change to use their colors--without having to redo any graphics.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Pete's Multi-purpose Apha-Gradient PNG

My brother had the idea, and writes about it here.

I'm using it on another site, so at some point clients will be able to customize the look by just picking a couple colors. With the gradient applied, it will look like we're doing all new graphics and things for them :)

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Increased Download Rates

We made a change to our websites a couple weeks ago, that really seems to have increased the number of downloads!

Previously, the home page had a "Download" button that linked to a separate download page. Pretty ordinary, I made a copy here so you can see.

I could see from the logs that the number of viewers on the homepage, to the viewers of the download page, to the actual files downloads decreased each step. I thought to try some changes to remove some steps--but still keep the information on the old Download page.

Many sites do a Download button, then on the 2nd page use the Meta-Refresh tag to send the download. That works, but gives the Security Warning in Internet Explorer. And I didn't want that either, it's another step for people to download the file.

I started with GetRight Pro, and changed so the download button sent directly to the installer EXE, but also added some javascript, a timer set by the onclick, to refresh the page to a similar "Your download has started" page with the same information as before.

It was right the day after a new version, which spikes the downloads, but they were higher than before. After a week, we changed GetRight to do the same. And it showed a similar increase on the day of the switch--and it's nothing trivial, it's a 10 to 20% increase! Thanks to the nice graphs that FileKicker can do, it's pretty easy to see--this is a 3 month period of downloads, and easy to see the peaks for the new versions.

Here is the basic HTML...just calling a JavaScript timer function in the onclick

<script language="JavaScript">
function handleClick() {
setTimeout('window.location.href = ""', 3000);

<A href="" onclick="handleClick();">Download Now</a>

If you just download GetRight or GetRight Pro, you can see how it works!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Big Pricing Experiment

We decided to do a pretty major pricing experiment. After talking to several people at the shareware conference--we decided to do the opposite of what everybody said.

For a few years, our upgrade policy was "2 years, all upgrades are free" with a $29.95 price. (Before that, it was "free for life"--something I'd do differently. We haven't charged for an upgrade yet.)

The recommendations we got at SIC were to offer a more expensive option with a longer upgrade time. What we did was offer a cheaper version with a lower upgrade time.

"1 year, all upgrades are free"
I've been keeping track of the "Dollars Per Day" (DPD) in Excel. Using a time at the end of June and beginning of July just before we made changes as a base.

We started with the 1 year option at $16.95. I could immediately see that we sold more copies--about 60% of the people choose the cheaper price! But in the end, the big question is did we make more money. We stayed at that $16.95 price for 2 months. At the end, it works out to being at 87% of the base DPD amount. So we made less.*

On October 1, we changed so the 1 year option increased to $19.95. At that higher price, we made 97% of the base DPD amount. So very slightly less.

BUT, these people understand when buying that we're going to charge them an upgrade fee sooner rather than later. So we really are hoping that a little less now works out to more in the long term. Sometime in early 2008 we need an "upgrade worthy" new version--and we'll charge for it.

* Note that all of these are over the typically lower summer months.

Tablet PCs

I've seen pictures for years about the tablet computers, the latest about an Apple one...with various things saying they would be the next big thing.

Why they haven't, and won't be anything more than a niche:
Every time I can remember seeing a marketing picture of one being used, it shows some document with red hand-drawn circles and arrows and handwriting on it. "Fix This." "What About Europe."

For the CEO and high up management types, that looks awesome...but they're the ones drawing the red marks (and approving Tablet PCs). The people whose job is to actually do the "Fix That" is going to want a keyboard. I can only think of specialized jobs that interact better with a computer with a pen than a keyboard. Such as an artist or, say, a CEO who just has to mark up a document :)

Friday, November 2, 2007

Horrible site...

As part of checking the new programs submitted to FindFiles, I visit the sites to check them out.

TSoft came today--the worst web page I've seen in a very long time. I wouldn't mention it if it was some abandoned site without updates in years...but it's obviously being maintained and actively submitted to software sites.

Where to begin critiquing this site....
  • The colors.
  • Animated everything.
  • The "sliding in" text.
  • An animated clock with a totally incorrect time for my time zone.
  • Wait, the other animated clock, also with an incorrect time for my time zone.
  • The details about what the product actually does way down at the bottom.
  • The Internet Explorer promotional button from IE 4(?).

Thursday, November 1, 2007


So, this blog is mainly about computer programming, software marketing, gadgets, probably some video games I'm playing...and also Quilting.

My wife is an avid quilter. I can't sew--but all the algebra and geometry classes I've taken, plus just thinking in terms of pixels for a lifetime lets me be a big help to her for laying out and designing her quilts. In my head, quilts are made of large fabric pixels.

Here is a design I did for her. The cuts divide the middle squares into 2/3 and 1/3 parts. Then just swaping and rotating the pieces. Geeky me, an animated GIF of the cuts and rearranging.

She picked the fabric (she's better at that by far!) She made 4 of the 3x3 checkerboards using 9 inch squares. 2 with the "blue" fabric in the corners, 2 with the white fabric in the corners. Putting all the pieces together in a mirror pattern ended up with this quilt. It looks like it takes a lot more work than it does!