Google AdSense Adds Contrast

Google’s AdSense product has offered a number of ways to design and customize ad units and styles over the years. Starting with strict HTML embeds of the colors and formats, then moving to a Google-hosted ad unit — allowing you to manage an unit on google.com/adsense.

Google is stepping up the game and allowing publishers to more effectively create ad units that will hopefully convert better — for both publishers and Google.

The ad unit customizer allows you to choose a contrast type, and then customize the colors based on the contrast.

WebdesignLedger.com has some further reading on The Principle of Contrast in Web Design.

Google+ Re-Ordering of Circles

It’s obvious that Google wants to succeed with Google+.

There are still a number of features that it needs to add before it can be mainstream like Facebook is with its 500M+ userbase, but it’s getting closer.

Today, Google+ engineer Brett, announced the release of re-ordering circles so they appear in the order you want them in.

This is a great way of Google showing that it’s listening to user feedback and acting quickly to make features available.

In case Google+ is listening to this post, here’s a list of other Google+ Features I’d like :)

This is Real-Time

Chris Brogan broaches the topic of how “WORLDLY” Google+ is. The ability to tap into so many people around the world at any given second of the day.

And as I’ve been posting on Google+, the social network is much more than an update like Twitter is; you can easily have a full conversation with other people. While you can do that on Facebook, I feel Google+ is doing a better job of it.

Here’s what Chris had to say and look at how quickly so many people responded.

Google+ Feature Suggestions

Google+ is awesome. But it’s not perfect. This is Google’s first real take at creating their own social network to compete with Facebook and Twitter. Let’s be honest, MySpace isn’t much competition these days.

Over the past week, I’ve been seeing things that Google should do to be a better platform.

  • Shorter profile permalinks, ie profiles.google.com/jdingman is just too long, maybe acquire gpl.us or use goo.gl instead
  • Endorsements; think..LinkedIn and Namesake meets true social networking. LinkedIn is never going to be a full time social network. It’s great for business, recruiting, job seekers, etc, but for simple social network, it’s never going to be prime time. Think about endorsing your friends for say, the subject of WordPress or SEO or advertising or people management. Then being able to filter and contact friends based on those endorsements. That could be huge.
  • Writing on someone else’s “wall” is difficult (if not impossible.) You can “mention” someone in an update, but you can’t just message them directly…without emailing them
  • Circles should update faster. When I first joined, it took 3-4 days to update…I’ll give them some slack that it was probably just a bug

  • Ability to sync up Flickr photos. I don’t use Picasa really, so my photos are really lacking in my profile. On Facebook, I update directly to Facebook and I’ll eventually do that for Google+…however, I have a ton more photos in Flickr and to have the ability to either sync those up or import, would be amazing
  • Real-time comments (instead of having to refresh the page) apparently this is only a Safari issue

Overall, Google has done an amazing job on a product they can be proud of. Plenty of room to grow, but they’ve come a really long way in such a short time.

Google Plus…It’s So Shiny!

Google+ is actually pretty awesome. I got my invite just a few days ago and so far, it’s great.

What’s so great about it?

It’s clean. Even cleaner than Facebook.

Let’s rewind back to 2004. Facebook was “TheFacebook.com” and the site required you to be at a college that it had registered on the site. The school I was attending, Azusa Pacific University, finally got added to the site. I was ecstatic. I joined immediately and was probably one of the first 500,000 people on the site (there are now over 750M users on Facebook.)

MySpace was also in the race for becoming the social network of choice. MySpace sold out to News Corp and Facebook held tight on the reigns.

Facebook won my attention because it was cleaner than MySpace. You could customize all the pages on MySpace and that drove me absolutely nuts. Add Friend and every button click was somewhere different on every page — I hated this.

Facebook, it was always in the same spot, every page, everywhere. This, I did love.

Facebook today still holds this true. While a photo can be longer or wider, a link is going to be where I’m expecting it to be.

Welcome Google+ to the stage.

Google is taking social networking to the next level.

Twitter-like “lists” as Circles and “fixing” the privacy problems that Facebook has, Google+ is taking the best of both worlds and pushing them into a single experience.

The first problem I have with Google+ is that I’ve invested 7+ years into Facebook. I feel…”stuck” on Facebook. My entire social graph is there. I have over 900 friends on Facebook.

A large number of my friends are not tech-savvy folks, so they probably won’t care enough to fully switch from Facebook to Google+. That’s the battle that Google is facing right now: “How do we get everyone people to switch over and delete their Facebook account?”

Ideally, Google wants people to delete their Facebook account and switch to Google+, and I admire that goal (presumption on my part.)

As one of my friends [who works for Google], puts it:

I’ll be deleting this facebook account soon and moving to Google+. Let me know if you want an invite.

There’s one. Now just 749,999,999 to go.

What Do I Love?

The feature that I really love the most about Google+ is the ability to put friends into Circles. I then have the ability to share an update just to a particular Circle. You can..sort of do this with Facebook, but it’s really difficult to manage a List on Facebook. Google+ made it easy to manage circles, +1 for Google on that.

Comments are so much cleaner than Facebook. The crispness in the design and layout is so much better. You can also edit a comment after the fact, where in Facebook you must delete the update and recreate it. +1 for Google on that.

You aren’t forced to be mutual friends with someone. I can add someone to a circle of mine, but it doesn’t have to be mutual. Kudos to Google for creating this Twitter-like environment. That way I don’t have to share all my information to people I don’t necessarily know, but they want my public updates.

The list just keeps going about what I love more about Google+ than Facebook.

I’m just a few days into using Google+ and so far, I’m absolutely in love with it.

I’m not deleting my Facebook account [yet], but maybe one day I will.

Until next time, find me on Google Plus.

Google Plus, The Google Social Network

Google has tried time and time again to get into the social networking space.  They have failed, until now .. maybe.

Google+ launched yesterday.  This is Google’s first real attempt at competing with both Twitter and Facebook.  So far, people have been positive to the clean layout and they are enjoying not having 500 invites to Farmville in their inbox.

I’m still waiting for my invite to get in.

Here are some related stories.

Google to Lease Chrome Laptops for $20/mo

An interesting post on Mashable this morning brings up the rumor that Google may begin leasing Chrome laptops, including hardware and online services, for $20/mo; being geared towards students.

Something to think about, is that, to run Chrome OS (or Google services), all you really need is some low-key hardware, a [fast] Internet connection, and some memory.

Everything would be operated, stored, and done, in the cloud.

Google Docs, Google Maps, Google Voice, Google GMail, and all the other services that Google offers, is pretty much all summed up into what others call GDrive.

We already know that Google designs its own servers, so it’s not out of the question to consider Google building their own laptops too, specifically targeted at having Google Chrome as the operating system.

UPDATE: Forbes has confirmation from a Google executive that the rumors are true.

UPDATE #2: Something I didn’t realize is that these laptops have Wi-Fi and 3G built into them. The 3G service is set to work with the Verizon network. Here is an excerpt from the Chrome OS website:

Integrated Wi-Fi for home and work, and 3G for all the places in between. 100MB of free 3G data every month* on the Verizon Wireless network. Affordable data plans with no commitment required.

Which means, Google is serious about having an always-connected machine and allowing users to always be connected, no matter where you are.

It’s a little weird that they have this specification on the Chrome OS website, rather than a laptop page – but hey, they’re doing it for a reason.

Update #3: Official Google post about it.