A Good Lookup
A big part of the world of customized user lookups is response. Sure, you might
start making lookups just because you can, but somewhere along the way someone
will comment on your lookup, and you probably won't be happy if it's negative.
So, rather than tell you how to code your lookup to perfection, or design the
most beautiful and intriguing graphics imaginable, I'll tell you of the general
guidelines to avoid being tarred and feathered by lookup makers everywhere.
Quick Lingo Check
Browser: Program you use to view the internet.
CSS: Style of a webpage.
HTML: Structure of a webpage.
Resolution: Size, in pixels, that your monitor displays.
Sidescroll: When the webpage is wider than your resolution, and it creates
a horiozontal scrollbar.
To start, let's keep in mind the practical side of lookups:
Make your lookup compatible
Whether it be your browser, your resolution, or even special sidebars, try
your best to make your lookup work with as many different possibilities as you
can. If you can't test it, ask others for their opinion.
Keep credit where credit is due
Stealing graphics and/or code is reportable, and not in the least looked up
to. Coding depends, though. If you want to use their font code and edit it to
your needs, there's nothing wrong with that. You can find that sort of thing
on any HTML or CSS site. But copying their template and just using different
images and text does not count as your own work, and is entirely reportable.
As long as you follow the user's rules, there's nothing wrong with using a premade.
Keep your lookup quiet
Music tends to annoy people. Never add any unless it's entirely necessary to
complete the effect. Please, please, never use music that starts out loud. Most
of the time it disrupts what someone is already listening to.
Keep your lookup uncluttered
Glitters, dolls, quiz results, photos of yourself, and usually anything animated,
are a common thing that can ruin a lookup, mostly if you have more than one.
If they're really small and don't clash with your theme, there's probably no
issue. Quite often it's just annoying to scroll through them.
Avoid horizontal scrolling
Small blogs are a pain in the neck to everyone. Sometimes you don't have space
to fit a proper sized blog over an image, and that can slide. But if you can't
view your stats and shield without them being disfigured, redo it. Another problem
is when the blog is so long, it might as well be a table. That defeats the point
and can be quite distracting.
If you have a large layout, it will create sidescrolling for small resolutions.
Optimal sized lookups can fit in 1024x768, if not 800x600. If the side looks
too blah to you, add a repeating background, as big as you want, that isn't
necessary to see for the lookup to be satisfactory. Happiness all around.
Don't use low quality images for your graphics
Pixelation or white edges are what you're likely to run into, and they just
make your lookup messy. If you want to use a picture that's too small to make
into a good layout (e.g., a pet image) make sure you can compensate by, say,
adding effects that distort it just enough that you can't tell it was distorted
through enlargement. :P But make sure you can still tell what you're looking
at, and it also needs to be aesthetic.
Keep your stats visible
Not only is it against the rules to hide them, it's also plain annoying. Most
of the time people visit your lookup to see your stats. Your font must also
Choose colors with good taste
Contrast is key, but that's with light and dark, not bright and dull. Make
sure you're using colors that apply to your theme, not ones that are all over
the map. Similarly toned colors are a no-no in any art form, and it is especially
applicable to fonts. Dark background = light font. Light background = dark font.
Mixed background = Put the text in a colored table.
Choose your background with care
Probably the riskiest kind of background is an animated one. There are only
a few exceptions. Another major problem with backgrounds is often due to making
them specific to your resolution. It is actually quite impossible to make a
background work with all resolutions without making it repeat. So make sure
it repeats when you want it to, and position it to be correct in all resolutions.
Always check, either by changing your resolution or asking someone else.
Make your navigation navigable
Lookups are meant to be practical, no matter how much people just want to make
them spiffy looking. Include navigation links whenever you can. Make sure your
navigation is large enough to click on. Periods are a nightmare to click, and
you have to figure out which one you're going to, too. ;P Using links that name
the links you're going to is at least reasonable. If you're using an image for
the menu, make sure the names are readable and match up with the links. You
can check by watching your status bar to see when your mouse is hovering over
a different link. If you don't have a status bar, you can most likely make it
show up by clicking on View > Status Bar in your browser.
Make your lookup unique
Even if you coded the layout yourself, make sure it's not a carbon copy of
what's apparently a fad. Avoid using common graphic or coding methods just because.
Also, avoid using themes that you can find on practically everyone's lookup.
It's easy to get tired of seeing Illusen, MSPP, and popular celebrities everywhere
Balance your lookup
Been told your lookup is too plain? True or not, don't compensate by going
to the other extreme. Over-using brushes and sticking complex graphics and codes
everywhere you can doesn't make your lookup any nicer, and they don't always
fit the theme. Simple tiled backgrounds work nicely for blank areas, whether
in the actual background or in a background of one part of an image.
Keep the load time short
Sometimes this just isn't avoidable, but it can mainly be fixed by keeping
your graphics to a reasonable size pixel-wise and saving everything in a compact
format. Smaller lookup = more compatibility and faster load. ;)
Keep your links the same size on hover
A simple thing, but one that can ruin the feel. Say you look at a lookup, and
it's all nice and balanced, and you go to click on a link and suddenly it jumps
out from under your mouse because it's twice as big and long when you hover
over it, and stretches everything in sight. How are you ever going to be able
to click that thing? This type of thing can also happen with adding borders,
bolding, and other such attributes.
Don't use fancy fonts
They can be hard to read, or they can be pointless because people are less
likely to have the font. Effects on fonts usually don't help either. The only
time to spiffy up your fonts is when they're quite prominent on graphics. Or
a header. And otherwise, avoid using large coded fonts, too.
Don't make fake lookups
Even if you keep your stats below whatever you added, it's generally just a
very temporary amusement, and turns out to be more annoying than anything else.
Keep your shield
I'd put this in the same sort of range as adding music. You may add a custom
one, but they can be bothersome, due to displacement and that you can no longer
see the convenient rank in months you've been here. But sometimes custom shields
are exactly what you need.
Use your description as an accent
Sometimes just having extra words on a lookup can make or break it. Try to
say something, but don't ramble. Check your spelling and grammar, and don't
bore the people you think are going to read your lookup by making a long lists
of likes and/or dislikes or anything else that is better said elsewhere for
the people who are actually seeking it. Break up your comments into short paragraphs,
which make everything more interesting and useful. As well, messages to TNT
are both disconcerting and pointless, as they don't sway TNT in the least.
There are, of course, more pitfalls in making lookups, but these are the ones
you are most likely to run into and should most carefully avoid. Good luck and
Special thanks goes to the NeoBoards for having people who know what they don't
This guide is based on opinion, mainly on various opinions of the unanimous