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Posted by Admin On12th April 2006

If you view this post on it’s single page you will notice an AdSense block at the bottom of the post that is greatly enhanced with a bit of graphics work. No, this isn’t a recent Google addition to AdSense, nor do I have a deal with Google. You can decorate your AdSense ads yourself, with a bit of CSS magic!

Default AdSenseWe’re going to place our AdSense block within a div element and this element will be assigned a class to specify it’s background image, width, height, and various padding properties. The first step is to design your AdSense block within Google’s AdSense control panel, implement on your website, and get a screenshot of it. After this step my AdSense block resembles the picture to the left.

Take a screenshot of your AdSense block, paste this into Photoshop, crop out the rest of the picture (leaving your AdSense block only), and then create a new blank layer below your AdSense block layer. This new layer is where we will do all of our decorative work. Unfortunately we will not be able to edit any portion of the AdSense block, but we are free to edit anything surrounding the AdSense block.

AdSense with BorderI’ve decided to add a green border around my AdSense block – the picture to the right resembles what my work looks like as of now. Now all we need to do is hide the AdSense layer and save this image – this will be the background for our div element that houses our AdSense block.

Measuring PaddingIf you place any graphical elements to the left or at the top of your AdSense block you will need to use appropriate padding to get the AdSense block out of the way (so the user can see the background image). Just measure between the outside edge of your background image to the border of the AdSense block and you have the exact amount you need to pad. Don’t forget to set the width and height to the size of your final image.

Here’s the final CSS code for our div element:
.ads {
background: #FFF url(/images/rect-ads.png) no-repeat top left;
width: 356px;
height: 290px;
padding-left: 10px;
}

By using this method you can easily combat ad blindness, where the user overlooks your advertising, while still blending the advertisements in with your site. Do you currently use this method, or one like it, to combat ad blindness on your site? Feel free to share your examples in the comments section!

Note: Google has not specifically stated this is okay, yet there are many sites on the Internet using this method. Google’s Terms of Service specifically state AdSense may only be labelled in specific manners. If your account get suspended for doing this – it’s your own fault.

digg this!

Posted by Admin On12th April 2006

TagsPageBy now all have heard of the wildly successful Million Dollar Homepage. When it was first launched everyone smacked themselves in the head, asked “Why didn’t I think of that?” and proceeded to either blatantly rip off the idea or modify it into something new. Hell, I’m working on my own spin-off that was heavily influenced by the Million Dollar Homepage yet no one else has done it yet.

One of those that put some thought, and work, into the idea is TagsPage. The idea of purchasing tags on a website has been one of the most popular Million Dollar Homepage spin-offs to date. Where TagsPage sticks out in this crowd though is its mastery of this concept, especially in the ordering process.

With the sleek appeal of AJAX customers can quickly enter the tag they want, select font size, font and background colors, and see a live update of how much that tag will cost. A quick click of the button and your order is processed via Paypal or credit card and you now have a custom tailored inbound link that’s sure to grab some attention (as well as some indexing).

TagsPage offers three different options for your tag: exclusive at $5/character guarantees the highest exposure for your site, shared at $3/character lists your sites amongst others with the same tag, and a free option (TagsPage has already filled one page with 800 tags and is working on the second).

When looking for a cheap, and oh-so web 2.0, method to grab an inbound link for year for whatever anchor terms you want – TagsPage is definitely my top pick.

Update: Bogdan, from TagsPage, just sent me an email to thank me for the review – he’s also setup a coupon for Betaflow members to use and get a 50% discount on tags they purchase! Head on over to TagsPage and use the coupon betaflow to make your order!

Posted by Admin On9th April 2006

BuzzShoutJames Yu announced the launch of BuzzShout today, a web 2.0 review site. I can definitely see people getting involved with this website and submitting a lot of good reviews (as does Mike Arrington).

Anyone can submit a company and then BuzzShout users submit reviews of that company’s service as well as rate them on a 1-5 star scale. All of the buzzwords are here: tag clouds, RSS feeds; surprisingly there is no search yet. BuzzShout has also fallen short on the edge aggregation front – it’s not there and this is a perfect example of where it could prove useful.

Steve Rubel likes the idea as it’s a way to see beyond the marketing and get an accurate review of a company’s services. Unfortunately, with the lack of reviews as of now it is rather easy to make any company an all-star, but this will quickly change as more people submit their own reviews.

I am curious, as are others, as to what the business model for this could be. I’m sure Pete Cashmore would suggest a revenue sharing model which I believe could work fairly well on BuzzShout.

Posted by Admin On9th April 2006

ESPNEric A. Meyer, of Netscape Communications, recently interviewed ESPN Associate Art Director Mike Davidson concerning ESPN’s undergoing website redesign. ESPN serves more than half a billion pages a month and has dropped the table-based layout of their home page in favor of structural markup and CSS layout – with the rest of the site soon to follow!

The interview discusses the benefits ESPN has saved in bandwidth (2 terabytes per day), their decision to deny access to those without standards compliant browsers, and even the browsers in which they tested their design.

Check out the entire interview over at Mike Davidson’s blog.

Posted by Admin On7th April 2006

Anyone who has read this blog for a decent amount of time knows I am an avid fan of Netvibes. Netvibes has just launched their newest update and it features a lot of items I have discussed within this blog and as comments to their blogs.

Some of the items I suggested that were implemented: multiple pages, change the number of columns, and enabling/disabling of favicons. There are various other new features, like downloading modules in the background and hiding of the green page title, plus a lot of bug fixes and faster RSS feed receiving.

Still no word on the Netvibes API truly getting any use and support though.

Posted by Admin On7th April 2006

WeblogToolsCollection is sponsoring a redesign competition in which the grand prize is a Microsoft XBox 360 Premium!

The description of what exactly is necessary is a bit confusing, so I’ll be emailing to clear a few things up. Will the entire website be going over to WordPress and they want a WordPress theme or do they want a redesign whereas only the entries section must work with WordPress? I dunno but non-working and presentation formats will be allowed, so I intend to submit a couple myself.

Posted by Admin On5th April 2006

Well it is now 1PM on April 5th for myself here in Kuwait, which means it is Naked Day! I am pretty impressed with how well Betaflow held up to the removal of it’s stylesheet, especially with this design being my first true XHTML/CSS design.

If you’d like some more info on Dustin Diaz’ Naked Day, check out his original article discussing it.

Posted by Admin On3rd April 2006

37signals37signals is by far the most awesome company I have covered in this blog so far. I awoke this morning to an email in my inbox stating that I had received a complimentary copy of Getting Real! Although I was intending to buy it once I made it back to the states, it is greatly appreciated.

37signals understands Web 2.0 – hell, the practically invented it. They also understand how to get good press – by creating awesome applications and holding the interest of those who write about them.

I’ll be sure to get a review of the book up as soon as I finish reading it – until that time, thanks 37signals! This is a great wedding/baby/coming home from deployment/moving to a new base gift. :)

In the meantime, check out these reviews!

Edit: Roger of 456 Berea Street just sent me an email – I won his tagline contest with my suggestion of “456 Berea Street: Between Web Standards Boulevard and Accessibility Road.” Congrats go out to JW and DaveMo for the most humorous and best effort awards – they also received a free copy of Getting Real!

The 37signals guys are still awesome though. :)