The moment you’ve all been waiting for is here – Google’s +1 button has arrived! Just kidding, most of you probably had no idea what the +1 button was going to be, and still don’t know what it is. For the less informed, the +1 button is Google’s version of Facebook’s Like button. If you’ve been keeping up with Google lately, you know that they’ve been trying really hard to get into social networking. They tried Google Wave and Google Buzz, but they weren’t very successful. Google Wave was a self-proclaimed failure; Google was planning on getting rid of it completely, but they decided to extend its life to the end of the year. Google Buzz was a bit more successful, but nowhere near as popular as what they had anticipated. Their next attempt at social networking is the +1 button. Basically, you click the +1 button if you like the page you’re on. You’re probably thinking by now, “What’s the point if you can just use the Facebook Like button?” The reason the +1 button isn’t useless is because the +1 button can affect your search results. For example, if your friend searched for the same keywords that you’re searching for now and (s)he found a page that (s)he likes, (s)he can click the +1 button to advance it higher up on the search results. Basically, you are relying on your friends who may have similar interests as you to find good search results for you, then let you know which ones they like. I heard about Google’s plans to release the +1 button a while back and signed up for the mailing list. I received an email earlier today letting me know that the +1 button is now available, so I went ahead and implemented it into my website. For starters, all my blog posts, including all existing ones, have the +1 button on the top right corner of the main content area right next to the Tweet button. I think it’ll be a little unrealistic to go back to all my previously written articles and add in the button, because my articles are published differently than blog posts and need to be updated individually and manually. However, all articles written from now on will include a +1 button. While I was adding in the +1 button, I also decided to give the Facebook Like button a try as well. If you know me, you probably know that I don’t really like Facebook that much, and that I haven’t been regularly using it for over a year. But, just because I don’t like Facebook obviously doesn’t mean nobody else does. Facebook is undeniably one of the best ways to reach out to a wide audience, so I threw in a Facebook Like button on my website as well for those who wish to share any page on my website with their Facebook friends. Most of the other updates are efficiency, compatibility, and usability updates. One thing a lot of people have mentioned to me in a complaint-like manner is the fact that I have a huge legal notice at the bottom of every page of my website. I’ve had that there since I created this site design, but I finally decided to modify the footer so it isn’t excessive. The last two lines involved a disclaimer about changing content and a notice to contact me if there’s any unintended copyright infringement on my website; I thought those were the two least important lines of my five-line notice, so I decided to get rid of them. You may have noticed that the background no longer dynamically changes. It used to be a lightning bolt that randomly changed color, but now it’s back to my classic neon background (which is the same background I’m using for my Twitter profile). The lightning bolts weren’t very high-quality anyway because I was trying to save bandwidth, so they weren’t really that appealing. I decided to get rid of them because it was just increasing page loading times and wasn’t really that aesthetically pleasing. You can think of the neon corner background as a temporary background – I have an idea for a better background that I found on a different well-designed website. Similarly, I no longer have dynamic header banners for articles with the same topic. I selected one header that best represents the topic, and made it a static banner. Once again, this will save bandwidth and reduce loading time because once the static banner is downloaded, it’s stored in cache and doesn’t have to be redownloaded each time a reader refreshes the page or goes to a different article of the same topic. This update isn’t completely implemented yet, but I’ll be finishing it up within the next handful of days. Finally, if you have used my contact form in the past, you may have noticed that it was a little bit difficult to correct your message if you decided to change it around a bit. The reason for that is because my website is built to ward off copyright infringers to begin with. If you have ever tried to highlight any of my text to copy or right-click to view my source code, you will have noticed that both of those features are disabled. Of course, there are other ways to copy my text or view my source code, but that takes a bit more background knowledge and fewer people are able to do so. A side effect of this was that my contact form was difficult to use. I rewrote a small portion of my contact form so you will be able to highlight text within the contact form itself. Not only will this make it easier for you to fix any mistakes in messages, but it also patched up a spam threat that a handful of people already discovered and abused.