Text-Link-Ads is a nice service which I use to help pay the bills for running this site. They just released a new version of their WordPress plugin which I use to put their adverts on this site, so I installed it but in doing so it overwrote a couple of changes I’d made to the old plugin. I had made those changes as I like the service and I definitely like the additional income1, but I don’t like how the plugin makes the ad links less than obviously ads. So my changes in the plugin add a specific class which I can then style via CSS. Since I don’t want to have to keep redoing my customizations from scratch each time they release the plugin; I’m posting the code changes I make here.

Under function outputHtmlAds(), I changed the following line of code from:
echo "\n<ul>\n";</ul>

echo "\n<ul class=\"tla_sponsor_link\">\n";</ul>

Also under function returnPostAd($postId), I changed:
return "\n\n<em>".$prefixes[$prefixIndex].":</em> $ad->before_text <a href=\"$ad->url\">$ad->text</a> $ad->after_text";

return "\n\n<div class=\"tla_sponsor_link\"><em>".$prefixes[$prefixIndex].":</em> $ad->before_text <a href=\"$ad->url\">$ad->text</a> $ad->after_text</div>";

Side note: TLA, you guys should change the Our Blog to be called something else as the link doesn’t actually take users to your blog.

1 I don’t make enough from these ads to get rich mind you. Just enough to cover the costs of running CoffeeBear.net and maybe a cup of good coffee from my local coffee shop.

The title on this post is somewhat misleading. The default stylings of AnimeIowa‘s forums make my eyes blee, especially after some of the forum members have taken it upon themselves to give their words extra features ugliness. E.g. putting bright, yellow text on top of a dark blue background. Fortunately, I do 99.9999% of my web browsing using Firefox and there exists an extension for Firefox that will override any given site’s default CSS with the CSS you specify. This means people can do things like take the CSS which makes CoffeeBear.net so lovely and with a few tweaks turn this…

AI Forum Before

Into this…

AI Forum After

And all it took was the Stylish extension and this little bit of CSS:
@namespace url(http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml);
@-moz-document domain("animeiowa.com") {
html {
color: #0F0F0F !important;
body {
color: #0F0F0F !important;
background-color: #FFF !important;
a:link {color: #D57100 !important;
text-decoration:none !important;
a:visited {color: #459045 !important;
text-decoration:none !important;
border-bottom:none !important;
a:hover, a:active {
color:#6F2314 !important;
text-decoration:underline !important;
table tr td {
background-color: #F1EFFF !important;
color: #0F0F0F !important;
font {
color: #000 !important;
font .quote {
background-color: #FEFFBF !important;
font .catbg {
background-color: #F1EFFF !important;

Don’t believe this makes that much difference? Then try it out yourself, your bleeding eyes will thank you.

In my day job, I deal with massive databases of business listing information. Occasionally, I am required to go through those listings to review the sites attached to the listings. And for the love of god, people you’re making my eyes bleed. In hopes that some of you out there find this blog post and are willing to fix your site, here’s a few tips.

Give your homepage the title of your company.

When you build your site, make sure your company’s name is the title of your home page. It should not be things like: “Welcome!”, “email”, “under construction” or “index”. This makes your site both more professional and easier for search engines to properly index your site.

Do not use massive amounts of Macromedia Flash/Javascript/Animated Gifs.

Some truly amazing things can be done with Flash. Using it to animate your navigation is not one of them. Flash is best used sparingly as it limits your audience, blocking the blind for your site and users of mobile internet devices (e.g. cellphones).

Likewise, javascript should be sparingly and the site should degrade gracefully when a user without javascript visits. Which is to say if your navigation or other major site features break without javascript; then you’ve done something wrong. So go back and fix it!

The occasional animated gif can add impact and interest to your site; while dozens are annoying and look amateurish.

Color is important, but try not to blind your site visitors.

When you blind your site visitors with odd bad color choices; they will move on to your competitors. Along the same lines if you have overly complicated background images behind the text of your website; you are marking it harder for people to read what you have to say. Keep it simple for maximum impact.

Make sure all your links have logical names.

Naming your various pages as: “Page 1”, “Page 2”, etc… might seem simple and easy, but it makes those links useless to your visitors. How can anyone other than you know that “Page 1” is the page where you sell dildos or whether it is the page where you’re selling balloons? They can only find out by clicking the link.

Avoid Comic Sans MS

While Comic Sans MS may seem like a fun, cheery sort of font to you; it’s been greatly overused and most people find it annoying/unprofessional.

So faithful readers that’s my list of big tips for the small business owner who wants a web presense. Did I miss one of your hot button issues? If so, please add it in a comment!

Updated: 2007-03-19

Kind readers have added some extremely good tips that I should have remembered in the comments on this post!