soroptimist supplement

updates

Jan 26, 2011: Added 2 new gift buttons.

link back

gifts

gifted graphics

awards

credits

Supplement © Cass 2010-2012
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Since Mar 11, 2011

introduction

Welcome to Soroptimist Supplement, a division of Soroptimist Directory that houses all of its extra content. Here you can see all of the events Soroptimist hosted as well as a some exclusive Soroptimist content, both for reading and interacting. Soroptimist Supplement is home to Soroptimist's previous events, an FAQ, gifts/awards I've received, a guide to becoming recommended or ranked at Soroptimist, and an about me section. The Status Center has moved to its own page for organizational and content relevance matters. I sincerely hope you find something entertaining or educational here! You're free to contact me anytime you like, as well.

frequently asked questions

Please read this section before neomailing me with a question!

1.) How do you determine a site's recommendation?
I base it on quality of content, amount of content (sometimes), quality of layout, and presentation - but mostly on content. For directories, 800+ sites is the ticket, competition sites need a good amount of contestants, and review sites need a good number of solid reviews. (Especially if you're a new review site, you need to review at least 5 sites for me to do a recommendation evaluation on your site, unless you look really promising.) But the most part is whether or not I would actually recommend the site to someone else!

2.) How do you determine category rankings?
I pick the best sites in each category from the array of recommended sites. Ranked sites, of course, have to have amazing content and layout.

3.) What can I do to move up in rankings/get ranked?
Well...the only answer I can really say is to be better than your competition. If you think you're improving, drop me a neomail, and I'll check out your site. If I don't agree, I won't rank you or increase your rank.

4.) Can I make you a link button?
Sure you can! I love gift buttons, but I may not use it. It might not be all that great or it doesn't say my site's full name on it. (Note: If you're making me a gift button, please put "Soroptimist Directory" on it, not just Soroptimist. Thanks!) I appreciate the thought though!

5.) How do you put your links side-by-side like that?
I used columns. The coding for them is available at my site Apartment Nine.

6.) Will you make me a (insert graphic/layout here)?
No, sorry, I do not take any sort of graphic requests unless specifically stated in Soroptimist's updates and I never make custom layouts of any kind. If you need a petpage, my premades are located at Exclusive. And, of course, if you would like a custom graphic, try the requests section. (I'm not that great of a graphic/layout-maker, anyway. You're better off asking a request professional.)

7.) So what's the Halloween Special?
It's a special Soroptimist event every October 31 where I offer button and banner requests. It started in 2009, when I only offered button requests; but now I've broadened my horizon! I don't have a new layout or anything for it, just a spiffy banner for this day-long event.

8.) I'm trying to make a directory too! Any advice?
All directory-owning and -maintaining advice I could ever give is available at my site Apartment Nine!

9.) Can I use a snippet of your coding?
Column, navigation, textarea, scrollbox, and resizing images codings are all available at my site Apartment Nine. Please do not take Soroptimist's coding and use/edit it!

10.) How do I make a petpage like yours?
Check out my petpage tutorial, Apartment Nine!

11.) Why didn't you pick up your gift button?
Er, I don't like the button you made me, sorry. I will, however, post it here in appreciation!

12.) Why didn't you put up your review award?
I don't believe in review awards or awards in general, they seem silly to me. I only put up personal gifts and non-review awards here.

13.) Can I review you?
Sure! I always let the new up-and-coming review sites review me to start off with or allow sample reviews of Soroptimist. Since I don't really value anyone's reviews anymore anyway (no offense; I do my own thing), this is more for your benefit than mine.

13.) Will you join my competition?
No thanks. If I want to join a competition, I will ask. (I'm not really a fan of competitions, anyway.)

14.) Can you help me with my site's coding?
Probably not, I'm not a coding wizard. You should check out the coding and design section for coding help or post on the help chat if you're really stumped.

15.) Will you start a review site with me?
Er, no thanks. Firstly, I believe in solo review sites, and I totally don't have time or inclination to review other sites. I prefer to offer general advice at Apartment Nine that everyone can use, or make an event about it right here at Soroptimist. Besides, hardly anyone knows how to review nowadays and - no offense - chances are, I won't be a fan of your reviewing style.

16.) Will you vote for me at [this competition]?
Probably not; if I even bother to vote in a competition, I'll vote for my personal favorite sites, which may not include yours.

17.) Will you vote in my site's competition?
Sure! I only like to vote if asked.

18.) Why don't you anchor your layout?
I get this a lot from reviewers and people in general. Well, guest, I had an anchored layout once, and a lot of people didn't like it because they couldn't just CTRL + F search for whatever they were looking for, regardless of category, and that greatly reduced convenience. Since Soroptimist is all about convenience, I decided never to have an anchored layout. That long scrolling bar on the side is a small sacrifice to make for heightened visitor convenience, I say.

19.) Can you change your layout more often?
Sorry, guys, I know a lot of y'all want this. But I'm just too busy to make a layout more frequently than I do; when I have the time and inspiration to make a new layout, I do so!

20.) Can I make Soroptimist's next layout for you?
Oh, this is so sweet of y'all, but I prefer to make Soroptimist's layouts completely myself. That way, it reflects all of the organizational aspects that I, personally, want on my layout. But just the thought is so nice!

about me

COMING ASAP.

buttons

Includes gift buttons as well as buttons I commissioned. (Approximate newest on top.)

Recommendation & Ranking Guide

UNDER CONSTRUCTION.

How, exactly, do you get recommended and/or ranked at Soroptimist? What does into the decision? Get educated and get recommended/ranked today!

recommendation

The first step to ranking is, of course, getting recommended first. Now, recommended is defined as: To present as worthy of confidence, acceptance, use, etc.; commend; mention favorably. And that's exactly what recommending at Soroptimist is - when you have that little star next to your site's name, I'm signifying to my visitors that your site has high (enough) quality content and that they should use your site.

So how do you determine recommendation?
Of course, the obvious answer is, "If I would literally recommend the site to someone who was in need of its genre, then I'll mark it recommended." But that doesn't help you improve, so...recommendation is 90% based on content. If you have decent content - often regardless of quantity - and it's of pretty good quality, then I'll mark you recommended; simple as that. If you're almost, but not quite, to the recommended level, I'll probably put you on my mental "watch" list and, if I remember, periodically check up on your site to see if I can recommend it.

Anyway, so the bottom line is: just have good content. That's really it. Of course, your layout should be decent and not blinding, hideous, or anything undesirable, and you should have good grammar, organization, neatness, etc. But if your content is good enough, I might be willing to overlook minor infractions, depending on just how severe they are.

How long does determination take?
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How do I get my site evaluated for recommendation?
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How many chances do I have?
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What are the perks of being recommended?
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I've tried and tried, but you just won't recommend me!
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Review site recommendation:
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Directory recommendation:
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Request site recommendation:
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Graphic site recommendation: (also including fonts, premades)
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ranking

global site improvement month 2010

Global Site Improvement Month (GSIM) Nov 2010 was a month-long event at which I posted a new site tip every day to help people improve their sites! I hope you find these tips as helpful; they're organized from oldest (day 1) to newest (day 30) at the bottom.

link buttons

You should always start a site off with a link button. This seems obvious to most, but as a link directory owner of almost 3 years, I can safely say that a lot of people don't take link buttons into consideration when they begin their site and start getting listed. If you don't have a link button, it's not so easy to link back to your site, thus reducing site traffic. So just wait a few extra days before officially opening your site to get back those requests you sent out to button sites, and start your site off right. Also, make sure you procure attractive link buttons, which greatly increase the probability of increasing or obtaining site traffic, for your site.

quality of directories

The number one thing to take into consideration when making a directory is the quality of links. It's better to have 5 high-quality guides than 20 links to useless, miscellaneous pages like screenies and quizzes. Your focus for a general directory should also be to list the most guides, since those are what help people the most. And, of course, you shouldn't wait around for people to get listed at your site - you should go out and list as many helpful sites as you can! The object of a directory should be not necessarily to have the most links but to be the most helpful. Otherwise, why bother making a directory? Also, try adding something original, fresh, and new to your directory to set it apart from the rest. After all, how many sites do we need that list the same sites over and over again, really?

originality vs copying

When you're opening a new site, it shouldn't a carbon copy of another. If it's a directory, don't make it a copy of Soroptimist Directory or Elle's Help Guide (or whatever the case may be). The same goes for review sites and contests. The whole point of opening your own site is that you can offer something others can't - otherwise why would they bother coming to your site? Just because everyone's doing something one way doesn't mean your site should be just like them. Actually, it means you should do everything you can to be different.

Of course, in the case of other sites - pixels, graphics, fonts, requests, guides, and premades - the content is so wholly distinct for every person this "carbon copy" issue doesn't necessarily apply. Originality is the key!

Limiting # of requests

For sites that take requests (graphic, review, or otherwise), you should never let the requests pile up into a daunting mountain that you don't even want to begin to tackle. If you let it build up, then you keep putting off starting to chip away at it, and then the requesters have to wait even longer. If they have to wait too long they may not even want a review anymore and you'll merit yourself a reputation for being a slow reviewer. Then who'll come to your site? Limit requests to a manageable-per-week number like 3-5 for reviews and big graphics and maybe 6-10 for buttons? Request sites should be getting through at least that many a week, otherwise you're totally inconveniencing the requester and no one will want to request from you. Personally, when I owned button and review sites, I did at least a few a day and kept it very updated. If you can't keep up the workload of request or review sites, don't string your requesters along, it's nuisance for everyone involved.

visitor convenience

This is one of my biggest concerns for sites at large. You should always think through everything as if you were the visitor. You should eliminate silly code words - not only are they more of a useless tradition than actual necessity, but people know they're there and just skim the rules until they find it (I know I do it sometimes...lol), and then what's the point in the first place? You should also write out dates with the month and day so it's less confusing for everyone. Make sure everything is easy to find and use (for example, those tiny weeny textboxes are kind of hard to use), which means having a great organizational and navigational system.

Also, make all of your links - especially ones to neomail you, which you SHOULD have - pop up in another window so people don't have to leave your site to look at another or so they can look at the issue they're neomailing you about while they neomail you.

Lastly, make sure you take in all visitor feedback and reviews that suggest how to make your convenience and organization better - because it's not really all about you, it's about your site. Think of your site as a business - shouldn't customer service be your #1 priority? That's how you stay in business. (Look at Comcast - worst customer service ever, so I hear. And nobody likes Comcast.)

affies & sister sites

The best way to increase popularity, other than word-of-mouth, is to acquire affiliates, of course. But how many is enough? How many is too many? And why should you limit affies both quantitatively and qualitatively? All very good questions - and I figured out the answers after owning sites for a while. Well, you see, if you have a huge box of affies, each one is less likely to get individual attention and the actual point of affiliates is to increase traffic to those sites. Also, never have affies in a tiny little scrollbox (unless you have only a few) or a marquee, since it's harder to see and click the buttons, which is hardly fair. Affies should be limited to about 20-30, which is a good amount, and you should only affiliate yourself with good-quality sites. Why? Well, affies are sites you should be proud of - I can hardly see people being proud of low-quality sites - and they sort of set the standards for your site. It's like letting hobos come into a five-star restaurant, you know? You don't want to show that you have low standards.

On sister sites: First off, the whole "brother," "cousin," etc. sites thing doesn't make sense. The correct term is 'sister' site, like a sister company, regardless of the gender of the siteowner on the other end. Anyway, sister sites are sites owned by a friend and are special affiliates. You shouldn't have more than one sister site, otherwise they're not that special (I've seen sites with 4+ sister sites. Now that's just top affies). Sister sites should also be the same type of site (directories-directories, review sites-review sites, etc.) because, well, that's how sister sites work.

neatness & organization

The biggest pet peeve of mine on sites is link borders on buttons and general lack of neatness or organization. It should be yours, too! Always check over your site's buttons to make sure they don't have link borders - and check your codes to make sure they have the border=0 thing before you click "preview changes." Also, make sure the link button codes you offer in your textareas have border=0 and isn't messed up. Now, neatness also means having your margins and layout match up (in most browsers, anyway) and making sure there are no huge, weird gaps on your site.

Organization, on the other hand, means making sure everything is in its right place and there is nothing on your site that either unnecessary or randomly out of place. If you have a sidebar, make sure you have everything in the right order: updates, (sister site), affies, listed at, reviews, anything else, and credits. If you have a sidebar make sure it's not super-wide and that it isn't cluttered. Also, make sure everything like your link buttons and navigation is labeled and/or easy to find.

review sites: constructive criticism

A huge problem with review sites nowadays is peoples' inability to properly present constructive criticism in a review and, frankly, review accurately at all. Important tips for reviewing include keeping yourself (first person "I") out of it, offering suggestions for everything you mention, and employing tact when pointing out problems. So what do I mean? Well, firstly, don't say things like "I don't like it." Think of yourself as a professional critic for a business - and conduct your review with professional language. If you interject your straight opinion into a review, people would be less likely to listen to you, and it also makes a weak argument. You should back up statements with proof and present it like it's fact. "Your layout isn't the best quality. The edges don't match up, the colors don't match", is a good way of getting started on these tips. If something's ugly, don't go out and say, say it's "low-quality and could definitely be improved." Sure, on Neopets reviews are "for fun", but you shouldn't review if you don't know how.

updating

Personally, I love to update and I update about everything for Soroptimist. Professionally, updating is very important for the convenience of the visitor and for yourself when you're trying to get people to be aware of all your new stuff! Firstly, you should have a good-size updates box (on the sidebar or mainbar or in its own little box, doesn't matter, as long a it's not teeny-tiny) somewhere that's easily found and one of the first things you see when you come upon the site. You should write out the date (ex: November 9, 2010) so it's EASY to see the last date you updated. [Personally, I have trouble with the 9/6/09 sort of format, one because I have to figure out which number month that is, and two because in a lot of places, they put the day first and it confuses me.] Also, when you update you should LINK everything you talk about to its place. You got new affies? Don't just say who they are, actually to their site - same goes with places you're ranked, etc. If you're talking about somewhere around your site, you should also provide a page anchor link to it as well (even if you don't have those in a strict visual navigation).

Now how often should you update? Ideally every day, but that's just my personal liking. ;D Realistically, if you can't update at least once or twice a week, your site is on the fast track to becoming inactive and then that's just a big waste of everybody's time isn't it? (And it keeps their hopes up, hoping you might come back.) If you're a REQUEST or REVIEW site, like I said before - you should be updating ideally every few days or your request are TOO slow. What kind of site management is that??

Clearly I feel very strongly about updating. Take a hint. Just update your sites, please. D: Or announce a hiatus!

simplicity is key

[There are] four basic premises of writing: clarity, brevity, simplicity, and humanity. ~William Zinsser

I myself am a victim to the tendency to make your site all pretty and fluffy and attractive in an effort to gain visitors (I'm not so concerned with the last part, though, I do everything for my own enjoyment). But especially for directories, review sites, and guides, you should keep it simple like Quinn's Price Guide or Davin's Petpage Tutorial.

So why keep it simple? Well, firstly, to let it load faster. Directories, review sites, and guides are all about the ultimate convenience and helpfulness in the reader's eyes. I plan to make Soroptimist's next layout more simple like Google or the [very old and closed] directory Poogle, if you've been around long enough to know about it, lol. Anyway, the #1 priority of directories and guides is to get to the content the fastest way possible - and if reducing loading time and the amount of stuff you have to go through to get TO the content helps, then why not? This way, you can also focus more on the content than making your layout amazingly perfect. (Like cultivating your mind in school instead of worrying about your appearance.) Review sites, also, aim to be purely helpful (my inspiration for this segment is [closed] Raving Reviews, if you've seen that site) so if you have a simple layout and css, people can just focus on requesting to be reviewed and reading reviews. For example, a library wouldn't be ostentatiously decorated and puffed up, would it? Libraries usually have soft, calm colors and a quite atmosphere. Consider review sites to be along the same lines.

Lastly, of course guides should be simple and straightforward. Use large tables for guides (especially if you have a lot of text) and preferably 8pt text (sans serif fonts like Verdana or Tahoma are the best) for easiest reading. :)

improvement, effort, and amibition

Not good at something site-related? Not a good reviewer, button/banner/graphic maker, coder, site-maker, etc.? Well, there are remedies for all of these problems. They're called tutorials and EFFORT. [GREAT tutorials to help you out in every aspect of sitemaking are available here.] If you're not good at something, you shouldn't just stay at your low level, you should try to rise up and improve your sitemaking. For example, Soroptimist Directory used to be a few grey tables, a made-in-Paint banner, and listings consisting of a couple different-sized buttons. I think after 2 years I've come very far and improved a very great deal. Same with my buttons and reviews; I owned two button request sites and at least as many review sites and just kept getting better. One of the resons I got better is because I had the ambition to do so. I wanted to be better, and I believed I could achieve that goal. I also exerted 100% of my effort into improvement and imprinting my personal seal on sitemaking. My experience is a great example for the importance of today's advice. If you own a low-quality, unrecommended site, then all hope is not lost for you. Buttoness and Caught in the Headlights are great success stories - they both started off as less-than-amazing, but look at them now; they're consistently ranked among the top sites in the Neopia! Learn from past experiences and start revamping your site today. ;D

manage your neomail workload

If you're one of those sitemakers with a ton of daily neomail, here are some ways to deal with your workload! Of course, keep a few tabs open with your site, edit homepage, and your inbox. Edit your site as you go through neomails and save changes every now and then. You just shovel through as quickly as you can. A great way to cut down response time is making up a page of pre-written answers. If you come across a neomail that requires something more than just a simple copy + paste answer, skip it and come back to it later. You should also try to keep your inbox as empty as possible (use folders and delete all messages you've already looked at or replied to) so you don't feel cluttered and overwhelmed and, of course, don't get a full inbox. It's extremely annoying for visitors to not be able to contact you for who-knows-how-long because you're a little lazy on your "housekeeping" detail. Now, don't bother with answering EVERY neomail. If someone replies "thank you," or something just as unimportant, just delete it. You'll just be going into pointless neomails after that. If you have a big project, sometimes it's best to just sit down and DO it, and don't worry about time constraints or anything else and sort of wing it where you have to. It's one of the only ways you'll keep your sanity sometimes. Haha.

proofreading & mistakes

Always spellcheck your site to catch mistakes! Firefox, for one, has a built-in spellchecker that's telling me inbox and neomail aren't real words (lol). There's a "preview changes" button for a reason - to check over your site and make sure everything, especially the newly added content, is perfectly coded and without mistakes. Also, of course, check for link borders, incomplete tags, that your navigation/links work, etc. Put yourself in the visitor's shoes (or his clothes, whichever xD) and try to navigate your site to get to the content, sitely section, and back to the homepage. Did it work? Or did you spot those few broken links that've been bothering your visitors lately? You should also check your site in the major browsers - IE, FF, Chrome, Safari, and maybe Opera. [If you don't have some of these browsers, you can, of course, always ask someone who does have to screenie your site for you.] Spelling/grammatical errors, link borders, etc. just make you look sloppy, irritates the visitor, and shows that you don't pay as much attention to the finer details of your site as you should.

rules, forms, & requesting

To continue my theme of visitor convenience, we're going to talk about an easy way to slightly increase it and maybe even increase number of requests. Now, I know a lot of sites like having their special little "secret word" in their rules for requesting. I used to do this back when I owned Button Requests, but in actuality it doesn't help. People know there's a secret word, they skim for it (and it's always relatively easy to find) and then they don't have to read the rules. I don't know why anyone thought this idea would really force them to read the rules. (On the other hand, the whole "find the special link to access content" thing is a little harder to find, so that one's okay for now.) Also, try to include forms in the neomailing links themselves and then make sure you have your links coded so they open in a new window/tab. (Just add target="_Blank" in your link tag.) If you use built-in neomailing forms, then keep it short. Don't include that unnecessary stuff like "Hi, Jo, I'm -blank- and I'd like to request a button." You shouldn't even include that in a regular form. It's ridiculous! If you must use an actual form, also keep it short and make sure your neomailing link (you SHOULD have one; not everyone does for some inexplicable reason) opens in a new window/tab so they can easily return to your site while filling out the form if need be.

reviews, part 1: when to get reviewed

Some sites apply for affies, directories, and reviews all at once when they first open! You should own the site for at least a month or two before you apply for a review. Firstly because reviewers won't have much to work with if you're just opened with very little content. Also, you should let yourself get comfortable with sitemaking and kind of know the ropes so when you do get reviewed, you'll better understand where the reviewer is coming from, what he or she is saying, and how better to implement them. You'll also have a better judgment on what works and what doesn't on your particular site.

It's silly to have to say this, but actually follow advice from reviews. Some sites just get reviews for the awards or ratings and not actually for the helpful advice. (And some review sites review not specifically to help others, but to make another site for themselves and rack up reviews, the content of the site.) You should also look over your site with a reviewer's eye before getting reviewed. Think of it as a sports game or fancy event you're attending - you want to look your best!

Lastly, you shouldn't apply for like 10 reviews at once. Apply for max one or two so you don't get the same advice over and over again and so when you do improve and think you're ready for another review, all of the review sites won't have already reviewed you.

reviews, part 2: when to start a review site

First of all, you should not be starting a review site if you have a) never owned a site before or b) owned a site for less than 3 months. Also recommended is that you have owned different types of sites for a while so you can get a feel for how they work. You see, reviewing is not for everybody. In fact, it's not for most people, including about 7/8 of the current reviewers out there. Most people don't know how to review with constructive criticism (detailed on day 8) or really review the right way at all. I'm sure most of that stems from their low experience in sitemaking (which could mean either they own low-quality sites, don't own any others, or haven't owned them for long enough), which in turn leads them to offer low-quality and not-recommended reviews. Sure, they still get review requests (any type of low-quality site usually gets some traffic) but you're aiming to be high-quality, knowledgeable, and amazing, remember? Go for it!

You should also be pretty confident in your suggestion and critiquing skills, as well as staying objective, reviewing fairly and on the quick side, and planning to keep the review site open for a while. If you're not sure if you can handle the large workload of a review site, you should offer reviews on the side at one of your existing sits or maybe on the boards or something.

how to get out of an enthusiasm slump

Okay, maybe this isn't strictly about site improvement, but bear with me here. Countless times, people have lost interest in their site and just closed them without properly reviewing their options. Or maybe they put it in indefinite hiatus or something of the sort. (I'm not talking about time management difficulties here, just loss of interest.) Well, maybe you'd like to indulge in this 2-minute rehab for your site and maybe rekindle your excitement about owning your site! Read on, young grasshopper.

Identify the problem. What exactly is the problem with owning your site? This might be an easy one for directory or contest owners (repetitive, boring) or review site owners (too much work, loss of reviewer drive). But maybe your reason is less tangible than you think. Maybe you're dissatisfied with the quality of your site; you're trying hard, but no matter what you do, you can't seem to get better in reviews or in general comments. (And maybe you're hopeless at coding no matter how many times you try, too.) That's ok. We're here for you.
Revamp your site/start over & simplify. Before you completely give up on your site, try revamping your site. [I do this when I'm dissatisfied with one of my sites.] Completely rewrite everything more simply (and hopefully grammatically correct), and get a BOMBSHELL layout from either requesting or a premade (which you can edit to make more your own and maybe add a banner). Maybe by rebuilding your site you can rediscover why you made the site in the first place and what you really love about it.

So don't forget to simplify your site. Take off those needless extras (SOTM, mini-reviews, blog, etc.) and just let your site be itself. Start with the basic core of your site and then build on it if you feel ready (and you should know what the newer features are like already so you'll know if you're ready to add them or whatever).
Ask for help. Talk to a close friend (preferably a sitemaker) about your problems and what help you need, whether it's with your layout or thinking of new ideas or simplifying or something.
Get help. Read all about dealing with your workload and a ton of other sitely advice at Apartment Nine. It's there to help. :)
Compare and contrast. Compare your site to others of the same genre. What specifically makes their site better than yours? Is it their layout, awesome content, original ideas, etc.? Don't emulate others exactly, but get inspired by looking at other sites.
Get compliments. Get honest opinions on the best parts of your site. Hearing what you're doing right should boost your confidence to continue to do what you're doing well. You're always free to neomail me at any time for anything at all!

do's and dont's of button sites

Do: Limit the number of buttons per person per site to 1-3. Nobody needs that many anyway and then you'll have more time for more peoples' requests.
Don't: Let your waiting list pile up. Not only are you making everybody wait, but it also puts you off when you're trying to work.

Do: Make gift buttons if you're really good. It's a good way to advertise and spread your awesome work around, plus it's just really nice.
Don't: Make gift buttons and always expect the recipients to use them. Maybe they don't like it or they want to make all the buttons for their site themselves.

Do: Have extra button goodies, like resources, tutorials, BOTM, button reviews, etc.
Don't: Get caught in up all your extras and neglect your waiting list!

Do: Offer a textarea of a text link for crediting your site in your pickup section.
Don't: Get all fired up about credit. It's just a button you probably spent ten minutes on, not the pride and glory of your life. Don't look stupid for pursuing trivial nonsense.

Do: Make your site's link buttons the most beautiful they can be - they are advertising your skill and attracting people!
Don't: Request buttons from other sites (you're not showcasing your own talent) or spend more time on your own link buttons than your requests. You should be showing off your consistent talent.

do's and dont's of textareas

Do: Go ahead and edit your textareas to make them all fancy, change their sizes, etc.
Don't: Make your textareas too small!

Do: Actually use textareas for your buttons (and of course, any other sort of graphic content).
Don't: Forget to close your linking tag so your textarea is linked as well.

Do: Make sure the code in your textarea is RIGHT. Make sure the image is the right image, that it's linked properly, has the border=0 code in it, and has the RIGHT link to your site.
Don't: Include extra stuff in your textarea, like , , , etc.

scoring revisits

What brings people back to your site, other than boredom browsing? Take a look.

Daily updating If you have something to update for every day then people will drop by your site to see what's new!
New content Of course, if you're good with actively adding new content on a frequent enough basis, people will stop by your site to check if it's their lucky day and you added new stuff.
Helpful content If you have stuff people can learn from (whether you're a full-on guide or have some tutorials on your site) people will come back to take a look at and maybe reference your helpful content.
Open service If you have open requests for any sort of service, of course people will come back to your site and tell others about it. Other than the basic review and graphic requests (of course), if you offer some extra service that people can use even when your real requests are closed, you can ensure more visitors.
Added benefits Maybe offer some sort of activity where, if the visitor visits everyday, they get some sort of benefit - maybe it's a code for special graphic/review requests or like Box's box collector buttons (genius!). (GSIM is also an example!)
Special events Offer a day or two when you accept extra/special requests or some other sort of feature (like Soroptimist's Halloween Special or GSIM!) and try to tie it into the holidays or something. :)

a tip from shinning123

For guides, it's important to think about the perspective and the audience that you're going to write for. For example, are you going to assume they are already knowledgeable on the topic or are you going to start from the complete basics? Like in art tutorials, CSS/HTML guides, and the like. That also affects your tone and how you're going to write. Also, it's important to narrow down a topic and be specific. It's like writing a thesis statement. You need to have a clear direction of where you are going, what you hope to accomplish, and what you want the reader to learn from your guide. For example, if you try to make a "blanket" guide that covers everything, you're not going to be able to go in-depth enough. You want to hit one section of a huge topic and cover that specific topic well, not try to cover all of it and end up overwhelming yourself.

improvement-central reviews/inspections

CURRENTLY BEING REVAMPED.

a potpourri of tips from gothwing

1.) The Neopets header must remain on the page at all times. Most people try to hide it -- but it is against the rules (see the edit pet page, 1st bullet - it says The page will have a Neopets header on it at all times). You can have your page wiped if you don't have that header there.
2.) Browser compatibility -- specific coding to avoid so that it will be compatible in IE.
3.) Bad coding habits: mixing div and tables and using tables to build layouts.
4.) Avoid large blocks of text, use bullet points, always bold/highlight key terms and topic sentences. Please read How To Write For the Web for more information.

text etiquette

The other day I was trying to read a review on a site and I could barely see the tiny light grey text on the white background! It made me think of proper text etiquette, so here are your tips for today!

1.) Your text shouldn't be smaller than 7.5pt (or maybe a little bigger for smaller fonts). You want people to be able to READ it, right?
2.) Sans-serif fonts like Verdana, Tahoma, and Arial are usually easier to read then serif fonts like Times New Roman and Georgia.
3.) Text color should be relatively well contrasted with the background without being too blinding. For example, on a black/very dark background, don't use white, use a light grey for a softer effect.
4.) Align text to the left. In most any publication, the text is aligned to the left, yes? That's how the eye is trained to read, so make it easy on your visitors' eyes, I implore you.
5.) Add in a line-height of 17-19px. What is a line-height? It's a code that changes the line gaps of text (or headers). See how this page's lines of text are more widely spaced than usual? That's due to the line-height of 18px. It makes the text neater and easier to read, so it's not all squished together. How do you add this? Just add line-height:18px; in the text coding part of your CSS.

taking constructive criticism/suggestions

You know sometimes people (friends, people on the neoboards, etc.) comment on your site and offer suggestions and stuff? Well usually they're right, and it's always refreshing to have another point of view on something. However, if you have everything the way you want it, and some suggests something, well, you don't have to listen to it if you don't want to. Remember, it's your site, and it reflects you and your tastes. {I just hope you have a good eye for making judgments on these kinds of things, lol.}

encouraging communication

{Quick tidbit before we get started: I just wanted to mention that you know how some sites have that story introduction? I mean, it's cute and all, but you shouldn't have it for two reasons. One, because a lot of people aren't that good at fluid storytelling, so it comes off too rigid and choppy. And two because it's unnecessary and distracting. People just want to know what your site name is and what it's about, they don't care about the story bit. Introductions should be simple and to the point. Please spare us all from the story bits!}

So, last night when I was lying in bed trying to fall asleep and envisioning The Guide Library project (a separate page where all of Soroptimist's game guides and guides & tutorials will go for better organization and for faster loading of the main page), I also thought of today's tip: encouraging visitor-owner communication. It's quick and easy thing, but it can be pretty important too. (I would reckon this falls under the category of "visitor convenience." I think I covered this partly on day 14.)

What do I mean? Well, this is all about having neomailing links to you EVERYWHERE (preferably with the target="_Blank" code in it) - tastefully of course - and encouraging communication wherever you can. Like if you need suggestions for something, comments on your new layout, etc. A "contact me" section is also great if you get a lot of neomail and a lot of the same topics (this makes it easier on visitors). If you encourage communication with your visitor, you're more likely to get it!

credits

Now, this seems trivial, but it's one of my favorite parts of a site. It sounds weird, I know, but the credits section just finishes off a site and you can be proud of your creation by saying "Site name © shroudedwalk1870", right? Well some people are a little miserly their credits section and just mention who made the layout and buttons. You should credit inspirations, helpers, yourself for the content and maybe ideas, and seriously don't steal. I mean, it's obvious, but how many times have I seen people steal stuff from Soroptimist? Too many times. Be honest, be generous with your credits, and make sure you credit everyone for resources as well. Also, make sure your credits section is neat and don't just put a bunch of link buttons in it, actually write out the credit to each site. Link to the site, don't just mention it.

adding those extras

A lot of sites nowadays give in to the craze surrounding site extras, and it's great! It's cool to go to, say, a button site, and have your fill of buttons - but wait, there's more! You get rankings, mini-reviews, site history, tutorials, you name it! So yeah, adding an "Extras" section filled with miscellaneous little goodies is always a great advantage. It gets people staying on your site longer, enjoying themselves thoroughly, and maybe coming back! What's not to like? :)

don't be a review site hypocrite

Soo yesterday I was looking at some review sites and noticed that some are guilty of "review site hypocrisy." Well, the term is self-explanatory, isn't it? It's when review sites give all this advice (and it's usually not in the "try this, this, and this to make your site better" it's like "you should do this, it'd look better" without an explanation) but they could take their own advice on their own site, too. {See day 10: Simplicity is Key.} That's one of the reasons why I recommend making review sites with simple layouts so it doesn't have to worry about the "sitemaking" and perfection aspect of sitemaking. I mean, I'm just talking about those not-so-great review sites, not necessarily every one. Learn from others' mistakes.

Review Site Intervention 2010

Review Site Intervention (RSI) December 2010 includes a myriad of tips and helpful advice for running the best possible review site out there. It's a combination of my own review site experience, sitemaking experience of at least three years, and my evolving ideas of how review sites should be run and how they should critique others. Some of this may not apply to you specifically, but on the whole these pointers are relevant in the larger reviewing psyche. It's now available in the updated form of Reviewing the Right Way: A Review Site Tutorial at Apartment Nine.

Site of the Year 2010

Site of the Year (SOTY) December 2010 was a celebration of the hard work and admirable enthusiasm of a select bunch of sites around Neopia, just in time for New Year's. Take this time to reflect upon your own sites and the featured ones and maybe form a New Year's resolution. Being featured here as part of the SOTY lineup is not an honor, simply a well-deserved recognition of preexisting skills and illustrious demonstrations of what a real sitemaker is. I salute these sites in their amazing work and hope they continue their endeavors as long as they can, and hope that they inspire you, shroudedwalk1870, to do the same.

9th tier

-Dreams Are Reality, closed.

-Cloud Nine, closed.

8th tier

I am certain that our first 8th-tier site, Peach-Pit (aka Amber's Pixels), run by Amber, needs no introduction. Before this site moved off-Neo, it was consistently ranked in the top pixel sites of the day - usually #1, I'd say - and everyone was sad to see it go. (Not many Neopians wish to venture offsite for 'Neopian' goodies, even ones as delectable as these.) However, PP very recently opened a petpage version of the site thanks to popular demand, and its adorable pixels and resources continue to be a staple around sites today.

-Kawaii Fridge, closed.

7th tier

-Fontosis, closed.

-Pixel Wave, closed.

6th tier

Without a doubt, a SOTY lineup would be incomplete without the inclusion of JubbyJubJack's Guide to Neopia, arguably the most popular dailies site in Neopia. Sporting over 1.8 million views, this site (owned by Ham) offers a beautiful and flawless layout that accentuates the always-up-to-date daily content. If you haven't yet discovered this dailies site, now is your opportunity to 'fall in love.'

-Courier, closed.

5th tier

-Impressionist, closed.

Sugary Premades, run by Nene, also cannot be left off the SOTY lineup. Sporting colorful, adorable, and flawless layouts that promise to spruce up your dull lookup, petpage, etc., SP is a premades site you cannot exclude in your search for the perfect layout. As with most premades sites, SP operates to the beat of its own drum - a very quality drum indeed.

4th tier

If there ever was a site deserving of the "#1 Buttonmaker" mug, it would be Buttoness by Rebecca, a long-time buttonmaker. Just one look at this site has you scrambling for the 'Request' section. Even if you're not taken in by the beautiful layout, one stroll through the portfolio or pickup section will leave you breathless.

-Sparks of Magic, closed.

3rd tier

One step into Trapeze and Alex takes you on a journey sprinkled with frivolity and fantastic premades. One look at those original pet lookups has you itching to try them out on your own pet's lookup, and the lookups and petpages follow suit.

-Rivulet Premades, closed.

runner-up

Although the name is certainly unusual, Foomanshu by both Rebecca & Amy is a site I could be caught looking through for hours. If the site layout isn't enough, the indescribably gorgeous graphics really knock your socks off. Foomanshu has always been and will continue to be my favorite graphics site ever.

soroptimist's SOTY 2010

The Teahouse, closed: Ah! Here it is! The finale of Soroptimist's SOTY 2010 - and here we go! As many of you had already deduced beforehand, The Teahouse, run by Rika, is the epitome of ultimate review site stardom. If you followed along on Review Site Intervention, you could deduce that The Teahouse is certainly the goal of that review event. Offering fresh, objective, and in-depth reviews, this site is my current favorite review site and sets the bar for review sites everywhere. Now, the whole point of SOTY is honoring a site that significantly added to the sitemaking experience pool - one that changed the way we make our sites. And I believe The Teahouse is the one to look to for this.

nominated SOTY

Maybe they weren't going to be featured in the SOTY lineup, but some people out there wanted to show appreciation for their favorite sites. (:

TLB seems to have everything - it's my go-to place for all kinds of graphics. I love the unique array of resources, like numbers and unique, easy-to-read, go-with-anything styles. They also offer rankings and requests!! I really hope you feature TLB because I want everyone to know how great they are, thanks! ~neobutterfly282

The Teahouse, closed: The Teahouse has the cutest theme ever! Not only that, but Rika makes the most amazing art! What really shines about this site, is the ridiculously amazingly helpful reviews. ~rockyiam

Cass will not recognize her own amazing site in her SOTY event, but Soroptimist still definitely needs to be recognized. Cass's directory is by far the biggest and the most helpful directory in all of Neopia. Cass invented many of the aspects that are now considered norms in all directories today, and she continues to create new and unique ideas (like her monthly events!) that allow Soroptimist to continue to stand at the top of the list of all sites in Neopia. Her site always has an adorable layout and is constantly up-to-date as well. On top of all this, Cass is always around to lend a helping hand with any problem you may need. Way to go Cass and Soroptimist! ~456americangirl

Flamboyance is an extremely unique, beautiful, and high-quality site by Adrienne. The site not only offers pixels and scribbles, it also offers gorgeous CGs, banner blends, icons, and more! This is definitely tied for my favorite site on Neopets. ~lolamartinez1

Trapeze offers the most unique and the highest-quality premades in the whole of Neopia. Alex's style of graphical pet lookups is so different and refreshing, and there are many, many people who are using the fabulous premades Trapeze has to offer! Without a doubt, Trapeze is the place to go for all your premade needs! (: ~zonic_boom

SOTY speculations

Who people thought the SOTY 2010 was going to be.

The Teahouse, closed
neobutterfly282
rockyiam
melodiousnocturne_2
loleverything
jcats26

miz_cheeki
whitehouses


lolamartinez1

Teetot, closed
tears_oih
lampshading
trixiefayy
mothershipzeta

zonic_boom
helenarox_5
fire_earth_aqua__77

Directory Directives 2010

Directory Directives (Jan 2011) was my favorite event yet, since there was so much to be said about directories from my experience! I was, of course, inspired to create this event by Review Site Intervention, which I got a lot of positive feedback from. If you're interested in making the best directory out there, this is for you. It's available in the form of How to Build a Great Directory at Apartment Nine.

Site Recognition Month 2011

Do you ever think that the "little guy," the "underdog" (the non-recommended or lesser-known recommended site) always gets the short of the end of the stick? They hardly/never get featured, ranked or recommended, and oftentimes people just pass them by (unless, of course, their opinion differs or something). Well, March is Site Recognition Month (SRM), which meant for two weeks around spring break I posted an active, non-recommended or lesser-known recommended site that at least deserves some recognition for all the hard work the owner puts into it! Celebrate the sitely community and all of your neighbors this March!

Note: SRM daily sites were originally going to go for a full month, but after spring break ended I was too busy to keep up with it and just cut it back to two weeks.

The 14 sites that were featured here have been deleted, since it would take a while to keep them updated and the information was already outdated. But the real message of SRM is to celebrate the talent around you, and that talent is always shifting with every new day.

what can YOU do for site recognition month?

Go ahead, compliment a site this month - today, even - just as a random act of kindness (or RAK). This will make someone's day and I'm sure it'll make you feel all fuzzy inside too. Spread the love!

You can also host your own SRM event, or just feature a non-recommended (or lesser-known recommended) site every now and then. Maybe offer some constructive, gentle criticism and help them become better. Be a site mentor! Whatever it takes, do some "community service" this March. (: Karma cookies are available for everyone!f




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