Seloquent – Free Myspace Div Overlay

With a reported 230,000 signups a day MySpace is more than just an internet phenomenon, a phrase that is banded about far too lightly these days. The social networking site started in back in 2003 by Tom Anderson, has grown to such an extent that it was acquired by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation for a figure in the region of $580 million in 2005 and the 100,000,000 user signed up in August 2006. A figure thought of as inflated at the time, the current valuation is considered to be nearer a cool $1 billion!

With such success they are clearly doing a huge amount correctly; enabling people to keep in contact easily with the ability to post photos, video and music it has quickly turned into a successful marketplace for aspiring musicians and film directors.Where MySpace fails is how difficult it is for the everyday user to create an attractive site that doesn’t give their audience a head ache after 5 minutes.

MySpace Overlay

Well here’s my first approach to offering something back to the community and hopefully the sanity of some of the 100 odd million users. Welcome to ‘Seloquent’…. something along the lines of a simple and eloquent design that hopefully demonstrates some of the potential for making MySpace a little less hectic and refined. You can check out Seloquent in action on my page at MySpace.

Seloquent is a MySpace div overlay (or myspace hack) that effectively lies over the top of your page, while still displaying the information to your friends that your want them to see. Including the ability for people to drop you a comment, it should hopefully be a pretty painless way to spruce up your MySpace page for the princely sum of nothing, gratis, FOC or in other words nothing!

Quick Instructions.

This is a quick version of the installation instructions required to install this overlay. Please read through all the instructions included with the download as well and post any problems you have below. I will try to answer all of them though this is distributed without any warranty.

  1. Download the Seloquent zip file below.
  2. Copy the contents of the ‘aboutme_css.txt’ into the ‘About Me’ section in your profile, making sure to erase everything that is already there.
  3. Copy the contents of the ‘idliketomeet_html.txt’ into the ‘I’d like to meet’ section in your profile, making sure to erase everything that is already there.
  4. Alter all references of ‘YOURFRIENDID’ with, yep you guessed it, your actual friend ID.
  5. Edit the appropriate sections to add your information.
  6. Save your profile.

License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 License. Woa, that sounds serious, what does this mean? Well you can use it, modify it and distribute it but you must continue to have the small print section at the bottom linking to this page or website. At the very least there should be a clear link to this page displayed in this section.

Download Seloquent Div Overlay

Download Seloquent 290307

Version 1.3 of Seloquent

Custom MySpace Div Overlays

For more information about having a MySpace profile designed exclusively for your band, group or personal ‘myspace’ page, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Versions / Changes

Version 1.3 (dated 290307) another small alteration, adding the CC licensing information.

Version 1.2 (dated 020107) a small alteration to the readme file and the ‘Idliketomeet_html.txt – only nessesary to ‘upgrade’ if some of the links at the top of the page are not working.

Version 1.1 (dated 281206) update that fixes an issue with the comment box at the bottom of the overlay. Thanks to Cmoney in the comments for bringing it to my attention. See my follow up comment for those who want to edit the single line of html rather than download the new version and make all the customisations again.

Creative Pitches – An Unpaid Necessity?

Andy Budd has done a thought provoking post covering the advantages and disadvantages of creative pitches to potential clients and whether they should be chargeable. Certainly in the current market it is expected that creative pitches should include examples of work potential ideas and the cost should be consumed by the agency.

Creative pitches cost the industry an average of £38,000 per year which for a small agency is undeniably a large cost to swallow. Unfortunately the client expects these and, unless you are fortunate to gain work on based on reputation and resume alone then, it is unavoidable. While these costs are inevitably absorbed and reflected in the price of each project I do think it is a necessity and perhaps budgets should be allocated to take these into account. It is a form of advertising and promotion, albeit concentrated on one client, so perhaps this should be properly accounted for and by doing this refine the process to make it as economic as possible?

Eye Tracking Heatmaps

Etra, the usability and accessibility experts, are currently publishing their eye tracking heat maps for some very well known UK sites. Eye tracking is a system involving cameras following eye movement of users browsing websites. These sorts of tests are useful for indicating user trends on your websites literally recording what users look at and crucially what they miss. Eye tracking results are displayed as a heat map indicating the areas covered on a scale from light green to bright red being the strongest focus.

So far they have used Curry’s and Dixon’s websites as a comparison of sites with similar purposes. Interestingly the retailers are both part of the same group, aiming at the same market yet they have achieved quite different results. It would appear while both are offering competitive deals the structure of the Curry’s website with the ‘Top 10’ column along the left hand side would appear to draw the most focus. While advertising the best sellers and drawing viewers attention to them, it appears to be at the detriment to the rest of the site. Meanwhile Dixon’s heatmap displays a less concentrated viewing, while still attracting viewers more evenly across the rest of the page.

This technique can be invaluable to e-commerce sites in particular in gauging how successful a sites design is, but extensive testing has drawn results that can be applied to all websites. Jacob Nielsen‘s, the highly regarded usability expert, has drawn conclusions from extensive testing using eye tracking, that users habits when browsing bear a resemblance to the letter F.

“Eyetracking visualizations show that users often read Web pages in an F-shaped pattern: two horizontal stripes followed by a vertical stripe.

Users appear to read first across the header part of a site, traditionally the logo and navigational areas of sites. Next the move down and horizontally again followed by vertically down the left hand side of the page.

This implementation of these trends should really be considered when developing websites. Maximising the design of your next site considering these critical areas could be the difference between making a success of your web presence and losing your reader to another site that’s only a click away.

BenBishop.me.uk Site Redesign

On May 1st I took part in the CSS Reboot, completely redesigning the appearance of my personal tech blog. The CSS Reboot takes place every year and is a day when designers across the world re-launch their sites focussing on CSS, design, usability and accessibility.While I was happy with the result, the design was only probably 70% finished and still now with further improvements to the layout, I am still not satisfied. Over the last few days I have made improvements to the comments system and have polished up some of the rougher edges to a WordPress theme I am calling ‘Satin’. Take a look.

This I hope to be the first of many themes I produce for WordPress and I intend to make these freely available for download in the future. Satin will be available when I have made the theme a little more manageable.

Please contact me if you are interested in having a (we)blog for any number of reasons. I will be happy to consult on the best course of action from technical issues to designing a custom appearance for your blog. Whether designing a blog for business or personal use or to integrate into your existing site, blogging is a quick and easy way to communicate effectively with your audience.

Internet Explorer 7: Layout Complete

With the latest beta release of Internet Explorer 7 beta, it has been announced that the layout is now complete and it would appear very unlikely that there would be any more development on this part of the browser until after the official release.

“….we are now layout complete with the release of the MIX build – we don’t plan to add more layout features or drastically change layout behaviour.”

Well what does this mean? Microsoft’s current browser, Internet Explorer 6, has been around for many years in its current guise and really predates universal acceptance of writing web standards compliant websites. That is websites that conform to universal standards set by various different groups such as the W3C and ISO. These standards have been laid out to ensure websites display and function the same in different browsers and are accessible to as many different sorts of users as possible.

Today, all professionally designed websites are developed considering web standards and are generally rendered or displayed correctly with certain compliant browsers such as Opera and Firefox (though no browser is perfect). Internet Explorer 6, which was originally released around 5 years ago, requires ‘fixes’ to be written into websites so that it displays the same as in compliant browsers though.

Microsoft’s upcoming release of Microsoft Vista (due Q1 2007) will coincide with the release of a new Microsoft web browser that will be titled ‘Windows Internet Explorer’, though this essentially Internet Explorer 7. Can it now be considered a web standards compliant browser? Well judging by the Beta 2 which is out at the moment, not exactly. While there is great improvements with CSS and Microsoft have fixed many of the work arounds developers have had to do for IE6, there are still problems and undoubtedly there will be more issues yet to surface.

In answer to the original question, Microsoft’s announcement that the layout is now complete with IE7 beta 2 allows the web development community to ensure current sites will be compatible in preparation of the forthcoming official release.

If you want to make sure your site will be compatible then please don’t hesitate to contact me. I am offering free checks for your existing sites and very competitive quotes for making any changes that might be necessary.

First Impressions Count for Everything

The first few seconds a reader has when first viewing your site can be the deciding factor of whether they hang around to read even the first few lines, a study has shown. In a report by the journal Behaviour and Information Technology it has shown that readers’ first impressions of a site closely tallied with their given impression even after a longer period of time on the site. The BBC news article goes on to show that decisions by the brain in the first 20 milliseconds can have much longer lasting effects on their opinion of the website, first impressions have a lasting impact.

“If people believe a website looks good, then this positive quality will spread to other areas, such as the website’s content.”

While clearly to keep the reader or customer interested, the website’s content must equal the quality of the design, this does illustrate the importance of attractive, stylish websites.

2005 was the Biggest Year of Web Growth

The BBC has reported on a study finding that the web has grown more in 2005 than it ever has before – even in the first dot com era.

The report, by monitoring firm Netcraft, shows that the web grew by more than 17 million sites in the period from January to October 2005. Beating the previous record in 1995 during the peak of the first internet boom. The report highlights the increase in small business maximising their sales potential by going online for the first time.

Target Sued for Lack of Accessibility for the Blind

US retail giant Target is being sued by the National Federation for the Blind (NFB) because their websites are inaccessible to the blind according to Cnet News.

Bruce Sexton, part of the group suing Target, claims that the website “contains thousands of access barriers that make it difficult, if not impossible, for blind customers to use”. Sexton successfully browses most websites using screen readers but there are a number of factors that makes using Target’s site impossible for him. A lack of ‘alt’ text on images and makes the site difficult to use, while he can browse and search for products this problem prohibits finding the price of products. Further the checkout process requires the use of a mouse to complete the checkout process rendering the site useless as an e-commerce retailer to him.

This further goes to show the seriousness of accessibility issues with websites and illustrates the importance designing websites with usability and accessibility in mind. Not only is it a potential pitfall with a large number of your potential audience but your site could be braking laws by not complying with accessibility laws.