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Need suggestions about design

I have no design sense whatsoever. I am going live with a page and am not terribly satisfied with the overall design. I do not have permission to change the logo, but what can I do to make this a bit snazzier looking? Thanks!
looks too obviously a "template" site to me... i would align the top part personally. i like the gradient, but lose the google ads me thinks...
hello peaceninja,
good day...

well the site looks good and the gradients are fine. Is this your work?

You said that you want some design. Well I am glad to share you some, and i hope that it helps.
1. Improve the text title of your site "Against the Grain". I mean, make it stand out, so that the people will easily recognize it. You can add some gradients, or drop shadows, or outer glow, and even vertical shadows with layer mask, and a foreground to transparent fill. You can also change the font.

2. You said that you can't change the logo. But you can add some crystal effects on it, so that it looks cool.

3. On your contents page. "Welcome to Against the Grain
Against the Grain (ISSN: 1043-2094) is your key to the latest news about libraries, publishers, book jobbers, and subscription agents. It is a unique collection of reports on the issues, literature, and people that impact the world of books and journals. ATG is published on paper six times a year, in February, April, June, September, and November and December/January."
-your border for it is gradient. from green to white, but as can you see, if you look at it, you can see that the border is cut, because of the color white gradient found at the middle bottom part of the contents page. Well you can improve it in Adobe photoshop. It will be nice if you edit it, and fill the it with a foreground to transparent fill. In that way, you can minimize the cut looks in your contents page.

By the way if you want me to help you on your design, don't forget to PM me, i'll be glad to help you.

If you have some spare time, you can visit my site at it is my personal site.
Thanks to both of you, here's some feedback:

bjwok: I agree with you that it's a template site, that is the word I am looking for. I need to make it different to make it look less template-y. As for your opinion about GoogleAds, why should I remove this? We would like to generate some revenue from the site and we are also going to sell ad space eventually, however google ads kind of fit well to the side. Are google ads seen as too ugly these days?

zplitstonez: you have a lot of insight, I am working to to improve the title, crystallize the logo, and to try to remove some of the 'cut' looks in the border. thanks!
hello peaceninja, if you need some help, just email me at
Don't forget to include your name peaceninja. OKAY?

I'll be glad to help.
GOD bless.
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