Written on February 17th, surf Active Apparel website 1cecilia311 zone.at 09:02 am by Darren Rowse

Designer AdSense Ads

Adsense 54 comments

Adsense-2-1While we’re speaking about Blog Design I’d like to point you over to one of my favorite blogs in terms of it’s design - Karen Cheng - Snippets of Life.

Karen regularly features in the finalists of all kinds of blog awards, usually in the design category. She’s also an Aussie.

The reason I wanted to point you over to her is not just because her design is pretty special but because she’s just decided to put AdSense ads on her blog.

Ok - not an earth shattering thing in and of itself - but the interesting thing is that Karen has decided to put her designer thinking into the design of her Adsense ads also.

There are two AdSense units in her sidebar and in each case she’s cleverly put a border around them that makes them look…. well… they look incredible! (screen caps above and below).

Now when i first saw the ads after an email from Karen asking what I thought I had two immediate reactions. Firstly started drooling - the ads integrate so well into her design and are incredibly tasteful (I want me some Karen!)

But secondly I found myself asking ‘are they within the AdSense rules?’ I passed these thoughts onto Karen and suggested that she email AdSense to find out.

Today she’s emailed me to say that AdSense have reviewed the ads and they are legal as long as she doesn’t alter the Ad code. As Karen has not done this she’s in the clear and the ads are approved.

It is worth noting that if you want to experiment with doing something similar that there are two main things from the AdSense Policy guidelines that you need to keep in mind:

1. You may not change the ad code itself. The wording in the policies is:

‘Any AdSense ad code, search box code, or referral code must be pasted directly into Web pages without modification. AdSense participants are not allowed to alter any portion of the ad code or change the layout, behavior, targeting, or delivery of ads for any reason.’

2. You can not be seen to be drawing undue attention to ads, either with text or images. The wording in their policy says:

‘Web pages may not include incentives of any kind for users to click on ads. This includes encouraging users to click on the ads or to visit the advertisers’ sites as well as drawing any undue attention to the ads.’

One strategy that some publishers have used that is similar (but much less subtle than Karen’s strategy) is to put images directly next to, above or below ads (directly in line with them) to make the images look like they are part of the ad. Google has ruled on many occasions that if you put images next to ads in this way that you need to have a clear border between the image and the ad.

Of course, the interpretation of this second rule is somewhat subjective and there must be a line somewhere between what people did with images (without borders) and what Karen is doing.

When in doubt I would highly recommend that you shoot AdSense an email. Politely ask if they would take a quick look at your ads to make sure you’re within their guidelines. I find that they usually respond quickly and with reasonable advice and requests. If you approach them with a question they always seem to give you the opportunity to make changes if you’ve broken the rules as long as you’re polite and make it clear that you’re approaching them because you want to operate in the rules.

Adsense-1-1

Written on February 17th, surf Active Apparel website 1cecilia311 zone.at 03:02 am by Darren Rowse

PR Blogger Builds Profile and Lands Job

Blogging for Dollars 3 comments

Popular PR Blogger, Steve Rubel, has just announced that he’s moving from CooperKatz to new employer at Edelman. While I’m sure there’s more to it than just his blog (a lot more), it’s been fascinating to see how Steve has used Micro Persuasion over the last 20 months since it’s beginnings to raise the profile not only of his company but also himself. In doing so he’s marketed himself as an expert in his field brilliantly and it’s no wonder that he’s in demand. Yet another way of making a living from blogging (more indirectly than running ads - but still well worth exploring). Congratulations Steve.

Written on February 17th, surf Active Apparel website 1cecilia311 zone.at 12:02 am by Darren Rowse

Blog Design for Beginners

Blog Design 42 comments

PeterThe following post is a guest post from the very talented blog designer, Peter Flaschner, as part of the blogging for beginners series.

Hi all. I’m Peter Flaschner, the founder and creative dictator at The Blog Studio. I’m going to walk you through the process we go through when designing a blog or other website. This is part one of two. When we’re done, we’ll have a super flexible WordPress theme perfect for anyone looking to make a buck with a blog.

Design can add tremendous value to a blog. When it comes to making money with your blog, proper web design can make a huge impact on your bottom line. For some reason, I get a lot of resistance when I say this. I think it has to do with one’s perceived definition of design. The typical response I get is ‘ugly sites do well with adsense’. That may very well be true. I bet though, that those same sites would do even better with proper design.

Before we get into this, I need to dispel one further myth: design is not about making things pretty. It’s about making things work to their best ability. Let me quote from dictionary.com:

  • To formulate a plan for; devise: designed a marketing strategy for the new product.
  • To plan out in systematic, usually graphic form: design a building; design a computer program.
  • To create or contrive for a particular purpose or effect: a game designed to appeal to all ages.
  • To have as a goal or purpose; intend.
  • To create or execute in an artistic or highly skilled manner.

So, without further ado, let’s design a site. Here’s what we’re going to need: pencil, paper, and a graphics editor (such as Photoshop, Illustrator, Freehand, or Gimp).

We’re going to start by collecting a bunch of information. I know the instinct is to jump straight into your drawing program and start messing around, but it’s not the best approach. You’ll see why as we move through this.

We’re going to design a site for a fictional enternetusers. This person (let’s call him Fred) writes about watches. He’s earning a couple of hundred bucks a month from his current site, and wants to step that up.

Step 1: Identify the site’s goals (what are you trying to do? How will you achieve it)

We’re designing this site to increase Fred’s profit. We’re going to do this by designing a flexible framework for Fred to experiment with ad placement, by increasing the attention grabbing aspect in order to capture more first time visitors, and by increasing the site’s stickiness, giving users more chances to see an ad that they want to click on.

While we’re at it, we’re going to use a plugin we recently developed that will give Fred control over the colour of the various elements of his site. This way, he’ll be able to keep things looking fresh.

Step 2: Identify your audience (who are they, and where do they come from)

Fred’s audience is made up of two groups: hardcore watch nuts, who read Fred’s site for news and reviews of the latest timepieces, and people shopping for watches, who come to the site via searches for specific makes and models.

Step 3: Identify specific needs (what functions does the site need to have in order to meet its goals?)

Flexibility with a minimum of fuss is key here. We want Fred to be able to move ad blocks around without having to mess with the code. We also want Fred to be able to change up the look of his site to keep things fresh, again, without messing with the code.

We also want to increase the site’s stickiness. We’ll do this by including a “favorite posts” listing and related links in the post’s footer.

We’ll show a category listing, to allow readers to explore the site in a non-linear way, and a search bar, so readers can search for specific makes or models. We also want to include a blogroll, to share the love. Finally, we want to show recent comments, so Fred’s regular site visitors can keep up with the overall conversation.

Step 4: Draw wireframes (rough sketches to experiment with element placement and layout)

Now the fun starts. I use a fabulous program called OmniGraffle (mac only) to play around with site layout and element hierarchy (more on this in a moment). I like to stay out of my graphics editor, since the potential to get sucked into designing visual elements is so strong. You really want to avoid jumping into the visual part of the design at this stage, since you’ll just end up getting lost.

What we’re doing now is building the terrain that we’ll lay our visual elements over. Skipping this stage is is the single biggest mistake newbie designers make.

Here’s an example of Fred’s site in the first stages of development:

Wireframe

As you can see, there’s no “design” per se present. What we’re doing though is figuring out the optimal placement of the various blocks that make up our site. We’re establishing the hierarchy of the page elements; deciding what’s most important, where we want the users’ eye to move.

This is a very rich area of study. I’m going to try to boil it down to it’s most basic (this data comes from an article by Peter Faraday. In essence we perform 2 functions immediately upon landing on a web page: search, and scan. The search function is our eye looking for a salient entry point into the page. We are attracted by the following (in descending order)

  1. motion
  2. size
  3. images
  4. colour
  5. text style (font choice, font weight)
  6. position

Once we’ve determined where we can start reading, we determine what to read by scanning the page. We look at groups of objects, and the proximity of individual objects to decide what is most important to read first.

Knowing this, we can make decisions in the layout and styling of our pages in order to increase the odds of generating the intended response (ie, clicking on an ad).

The eagle eyed among you may have noticed that we have more ad blocks than Google currently allows. We won’t be using them all at the same time, but we’re building them in so Frank has the ability to move the ads around.

Step 5: Make a mood board (a collection of images, colours, type, etc that give you the feel you’re aiming for).

On larger jobs, we collect a bunch of imagery that feels like the project at hand. We look through magazines (fashion mags are a goldmine), books, and the web for colours, textures, layouts, etc. We cut up the magazines or print stuff out and literally make up a board that summarizes the mood we’re aiming to create for the site.

For a smaller job, we go through the same process, but create a virtual board instead. This is basically a big document in Photoshop that we can paste a bunch of stuff into. These images become our starting place for creating a colour palette, exploring texture and form, and generally acting as inspiration.

Creating one of these things doesn’t take long - go and try it, you’ll be surprised how much it helps.

Here’s an example from a recent project:

Mood-Board

Step 6: Visual design

Having completed all of the above, the visual design is a much more manageable job than had we jumped straight in at the outset. Now we can concentrate on the site’s balance, energy, and style.

One huge mistake web design newbies make is not leaving enough space around the individual elements. This is called “white space”. Note that it doesn’t have to be white! Rather, the term refers simply to empty space.

At this point, you should be pretty well along in your design. I’m going to leave you now and get to work on Fred’s design.

Tomorrow, we’ll turn our static graphic into a WordPress theme.

Before I go, here’s where I’m at with Fred’s site so far:

Site-So-Far

update: Peter’s just emailed to say he and most of his family are unwell. As a result, the next part of this mini series might be a day or two away. Stay tuned for part 2.

Written on February 16th, surf Active Apparel website 1cecilia311 zone.at 09:02 pm by Darren Rowse

Speed Linking

Pro Blogging News 3 comments

Written on February 16th, surf Active Apparel website 1cecilia311 zone.at 01:02 pm by Darren Rowse

enternetusers Feeds Down in Bloglines

enternetusers Site News 11 comments

Sorry to my RSS subscribers (via Bloglines only as far as I can tell - Of course Bloglines readers won’t be able to read this :-) ) but my feed doesn’t seem to be working. It’s quite frustrating as the majority of readers to this site are via RSS and Bloglines makes up close to 40% of those subscribers. Hopefully it’s just a small glitch. Are others using other news aggregators having problems with my feeds?

update: Just heard from Feedburner (who I asked to check into it) who suggested I ask Bloglines to restart polling on my feed which I’m now going to do. From memory last time I had this problem both Bloglines and Feedburner blamed the other and it took a few days before it suddenly ‘returned to normal’ with no real explanation. Lets see what happens this time.

update 2: I’m seeing the feed again in Bloglines as are others. Thanks for all the reports in friends.

Written on February 16th, surf Active Apparel website 1cecilia311 zone.at 12:02 pm by Darren Rowse

YPN’s US Based Beta to Continue

Yahoo Publishing Network 5 comments

In other contextual advertising news - I was speaking with someone close to the YPN team this week and was a little saddened to hear that it’s unlikely that they’ll allowing non US publishers to enter the beta test for some time yet.

This confirmed my suspicions after seeing them kick out some of their beta testers in the last week due to them having too much non US traffic. If they’d been close to going international I suspect they’d have allowed such publishers to remain.

The challenges of non US traffic are obviously a challenge for YPN - I suspect the logistics behind sourcing a large amount of relevant ads that can be targeted geographically are beyond what most of us can imagine.

Written on February 16th, surf Active Apparel website 1cecilia311 zone.at 12:02 pm by Darren Rowse

ContentAds is the Name for MSN Contextual Ad Program

Advertising 1 comment

Jensense reports that MSN’s contextual Advertising program will be called ContentAds. She also says that the beta launch of the program is likely to be in surf Active Apparel website 1cecilia311 zone.(although I wouldn’t expect that it’ll be live for everyone until at least next year).

Written on February 16th, surf Active Apparel website 1cecilia311 zone.at 12:02 pm by Darren Rowse

Blog Herald Sold

Pro Blogging News 1 comment

The word over at the Blog Herald auction on SitePoint is that BlogHerald has sold (again). The original sale fell through but it looks like this time the deal is more solid from what I can tell reading between the lines.

There’s no official word at BH yet but I’m sure Duncan will post something soon enough. update: Duncan has written a little about it here.

Written on February 16th, surf Active Apparel website 1cecilia311 zone.at 12:02 pm by Darren Rowse

What Blog Tools Do you Use?

Blogging Tools and Services 31 comments

Do you Want to Improve Your Blog? Subscribe to enternetusers Today for Free.


As I mentioned yesterday, it seems that a new blogging tool or service is being released every day to help bloggers add a new feature to their blog. It can become quite overwhelming to choose between them all.

As a result I thought it’d be worth having an open mike discussion on Blog Tools.

I’m not talking about blog platforms (we’ve covered that in this series but add ons that you might like to use on your blog.

What do you use?

Here are a few categories of addons with some of the things I use - but I’d love to see yours also. To contribute to the conversation either leave your list of blog tools in comments below or write a post on the topic on your own blog and leave a comment below with the link (or trackback this post).

Statistics

Blog Editors

Plugins

News Aggregateor

That’s all that is coming to mind at the moment but I’m sure I’ll add more later as I think of it. What blog tools (not platforms) do you use? Feel free to give your reasons and links to them.

Written on February 16th, surf Active Apparel website 1cecilia311 zone.at 10:02 am by Darren Rowse

Interview with Patrick Gavin from TextLinkAds

Advertising 0 comments

Search Engine Journal has a good interview with Patrick Gavin from TextLinkAds (aff), a way of selling text links on your site that I’ve been trying out over the past two week. They’ve been undergoing an expansion in marketing and growing their publisher list over the past month or so and Loren asks Patrick what it’s about:

‘The publisher expansion was something we have wanted to do for a long time. Up until the last month we were identifying large networks of websites that would run our ads as this was easier for us to manage a low number of contacts with a high number of sites. There are only so many large quality networks available and we have known this for some time so we have spent the last year building a full ad serving system that could process individual websites in an automated fashion handling everything from ad placement to payment to the publishers. So the reason for the sudden publisher expansion was opening our automated ad serving system to public use.’

The full interview is quite comprehensive and you can read it here.



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