Welcome to Frequent Flyer: Lite Edition

Frequent Flyer is still up and running but what's Lite Edition all about? Read the blurb below or visit the F.A.Q for more details!


My name's Turnip and I'd like to welcome you Frequent Flyer: Lite Edition, an offshoot of the regular Frequent Flyer review site.

During the school year, all flights from Frequent Flyer are docked. However, this doesn't mean you can't get help with your site! From September to May, FF will still be here to help you with your specific questions. This is a great way to get feedback quickly!

You know those "help columns" in magazines and newspapers? This is sort of like that. You send in a question and I'll do my best to help you out.

Lastly, the unique thing about FF: Lite Edition is that anyone can reply to your question, not just me! Click here or here for examples of what kind of feedback you would be getting.

Latest Travel News


Mar.3.2014

Requests are now closed.


Feb.28.2014

+ 1 review (+1 follow-up question and answer)


Feb.27.2014

+ 1 review


Feb.25.2014

+ 1 visitor comment


Feb.24.2014

+ 1 review

Visitors, don't forget that you can post your responses to review requests as well!


Feb.20.2014

+ 1 review


Feb.19.2014

Requests are open again!


Feb.18.2014

New affiliate, Topiary!


Feb.17.2014

Review requests are now closed.


Feb.16.2014

+ 1 review


Feb.15.2014

Requests are now open! They'll remain open until Sunday evening (or Monday morning).

Choosing your destination // rubrics

During my school year, I'll only be offering the Q & A rubric. While this may seem like a huge restriction, it's actually the opposite! By allowing you to dictate where the review goes, you'll receive much more informative critiques that really focus on the area you want me to look at. My hope is that this style of Q & A reviewing facilitates discussion rather than one person simply getting feedback.

This is a full example of the type of the Q & A review style. The first red box is the person's question while the first blue box is my answer. I always include a reply link just in case the site owner wants further clarification on anything I said. The second red box is the site owner's follow-up question and the second blue box is my answer. The last box (green coloured) is a visitor's comment. You can contribute your thoughts by clicking the "reply" link as well!


Unsure Button Maker

Dear Turnip,

I'm thinking about adding buttons requests to my site (only as an "extra" for the time being). Based on what you see in my portfolio, do you think I should go for it or practice a bit more?

Sincerely,
Username @ Button's Site Name

Hi (Username),

I would definitely recommend that you go for it! Getting requests from visitors and making buttons will only help you improve in the long run. Based on the buttons you have now, they aren't very high-quality because a lot of them suffer from similar issues. For instance, almost all of the images you use are quite blurry. I recommend reading through A Button Collection (particularly the section on sharpening your images). Also, you tend to use the "normal" border quite often. I recommend experimenting with border design so that you're not offering one border style for everyone.

One area where I think you're doing a great job is text design. It's super easy to read and there isn't a button that has low-quality text styling.

Best of luck!
- Turnip

/ REPLY?

Thanks for the feedback! The button border is actually my weakest area of button making. Do you have any tips or resources you can point me to?
Since you're just starting out with button making, I recommend using premade buttons until you're more conformtable experimenting with creating your own. There are quite a few button borders here that you can use. Just be sure to give credit to the site.

- Turnip

/ REPLY?

Hi (Username)!

I would definitely want to request a button if you had them at your site! I really like how you edit the colours of the button base. I agree with Turnip though, the images are quite blurry but you can easily fix this by sharpening them.

- Visitor Username Here

Booking another ticket // request a re-review


Form for RE-reviews:

Write FF Getting Re-reviewed as your subject!

BEFORE YOU SEND IN A REQUEST...

- Check the main request page to see whether or not the rubric you want is available.
- Make sure you read through the short FAQ section on re-reviews.
- The request status is on the main request page. If it's open, feel free to send in a form.
- I highly recommend that you not request another extensive review (i.e. if you requested an In-depth review) because it wouldn't be very helpful to you as a site owner since I've already discuss all of the main issues in detail already. However, the decision to request a re-review is up to you.

Book your ticket // request

Want to get reviewed? Take a look at the rules below, fill out your form, and send it in! The form may look a bit daunting at first, so I've included a little "explanation" at the bottom of this page.

TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF YOUR FLIGHT (A.K.A RULES)

Due to the neomail glitch for URLs, please use the shortened form. For example, /~petname.
Even though these "reviews" will be much shorter, please be serious about receiving feedback (i.e. do not request if you have no intention of making changes around your site).
If asking a question about a specific site, please link back to Frequent Flyer before, during, and after your review. Feel free to use a button on the sitely page!
Please do not make any major changes to your site after sending in a request (general content updates are fine, but if you wanted feedback on your layout and then you change your layout the next day, this makes it difficult for me).
My familiarity with certain site types is limited. Be sure to check out my credentials!
I'll always keep an open line of communication during and after the review. Please keep your inbox relatively empty so I can send you neomails. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, feel free to neomail me and I'd be happy to help.

Extra:
In the form, you'll see something like (Hello, Hiya, What's up, Dear - be creative!) Turnip,. Since this site (and its reviews) are written in letter format, you can take this time to get creative with your introduction and "letter name". Feel free to take a look at the examples.
Stuck on what to ask? Click here for some great examples!
You can ask as many questions as you need! Just be sure to send in separate forms.

Extra notes:
- Unless something major occurs, you will receive your answer in 24 hours.
- Get creative with your letter!
- Be sure to read through the rules above before sending in your form.
Form:



Confused about how to fill in your form?

Here's the form you'll be filling out:

Name of your letter: (examples: Need opinions on my layout; Banner maker is confused!; How are my latest buttons?; get creative!).

(Hello, Hiya, What's up, Dear - be creative!) Turnip,

What is your question: (please include all relevant information, like site name & URL)

(From, Sincerely, Signed, - be creative!) (Name) @ (site name & URL)

Other: (anything else you want to include in your form?; you might want to include other important info if it relates to your question; ex. how long your site has been opened)
Have you linked back to FF: (yes/no)

(DELETE EVERYTHING IN BRACKETS - THANKS!)

The "name of your letter" is what will be written on the pick-up page. It should be fairly short but detailed enough that visitors know what sort of question you're asking. For example, if you're a button making and you want a critique about your latest content, a suitable name for your letter might be "Button Maker Seeks Critiques!" or "How Are My Latest Buttons?"

Want feedback on your new layout? Examples for letter names might be "Thoughts On My New Layout?". Basically, it's a shortened version of the question you're asking.

Next is the (Hello, Hiya, What's up, Dear - be creative!) Turnip, part. Here, you can get creative in how you want to say "hi".

What is your question: (please include all relevant information, like site name & URL) is where you write your actual question. Go into as much detail as you want! Here's an example:

I'd love to receive some feedback on my latest batch of buttons at Open Eyes. In addition to general questions, can you also focus on my animation? I've been experimenting with the sparkle and I'm not sure how it looks so far.

The next part is (From, Sincerely, Signed, - be creative!). I suppose there's not a lot of ways to say "from" but who knows? Maybe you'll make it interesting!

The last important bit is the (Name) @ (site name & URL), and that's where you tell me your name (or nickname if you're more comfortable with that) and what site I'm actually reviewing. If you don't have a site, then I'll simply put your name.

The Other option is just somewhere you can write anything else you want me to know. For example, if your layout doesn't work in a certain browser, you can let me know ahead of time.

And that's all! The form may look a bit confusing at first (what with all the brackets and examples) but I hope this explanation simplified things.

Flight Logs // pick-up

Below, you can read all of the questions sent in so far! The first one is an example of the types of questions you might see or want to send in. It also shows you various responses from me and even other visitors. Newer entries are near the top.

Here's a button you can use to link back, which has been coded with your rubric. Feel free to add the date to the coding!





1. Button Blowout / Feb.28.2014
2. New Font Maker Seeking Advice / Feb.27.2014
3. What do you think? / Feb.24.2014
4. Colouring Advice / Feb.20.2014
5. Uninspired Owner / Feb.16.2014
6. New Reviewer / Dec.24.201378

7. Directory Disaster / Dec.23.2013
8. Lazy Artist / May.19.2013
9.Complicated Creature / May.14.2013
10.Jumbled Girl / May.13.2013
11. Flair-less Layout Creator / May.11.2013
12. Confused Coder / May.10.2013


Examples?

Want to take a look at some examples of the Q & A process? Check out the rubrics or example page.


Button Blowout

Buenos dias Turnip,

So my site, The Gift, has been making buttons for a while now, but I haven't really been having people look at my buttons and see if there are any problems with them. So can you look at my portfolio and tell me any buttons that can be improved? And can you tell me some tips on how I can improve on my button making?

Regards,

Joaquin @ The Gift

Hi Joaquin,

Overall, I'd have to say your buttons are very solid. There aren't a lot of major issues I can find throughout your portfolio so I'll just choose a few buttons and talk about what can be improved:

With this button, the image is extremely sharp and "pixellated". The lines look very jagged and low-quality. Because the background is a light blue, the black outline of the character is very noticeable. I didn't find this issue in other buttons but since this was one of your newer ones, I thought I'd point it out.

If you're using a base that does not have a focal point (like the one above), then it makes more sense to place the text in the middle. By placing the text at the very top, you're accentuating the empty space below, implying it's the focal image of the button. The bottom half is just a hill and the mass of green colour isn't very eye-catching. Also, the text covers up a lot of the more interesting parts of the button base, namely the water part. Placing the text in the center also balances out the colours of the button (blue versus green).

Again, the text placement is a bit off. The word "Optimism" is pushed too far to the right and it leaves a very noticeable white space on the left (which becomes the area I focus on first). If you're ever using a "white stripe" behind text, make sure that the text itself is completely centered rather than pushed to one side. This makes better use of space and it's more visually compelling.

Your colouring technique is very light, and while that in itself isn't a bad thing, a lot of your button's colouring is almost to the point where the image is completely faded. The two buttons above are examples of this. The buttons don't catch my eye, and the grey look to the image doesn't hold my attention. The button below is an example where you've used a lighter colouring style but one that doesn't make the button look too washed out or faded. In other words, the button is still useful as an advertising tool because it's visually engaging and looks higher quality.

My last piece of advice is to experiment with button borders. The vast majority of your buttons use regular "normal" borders. While there's nothing "wrong" with this border, it would be nice from a visitor's standpoint to see that you can and are able to use different border styles.

Not many button makers put any effort into creating original borders because it can be a pretty difficult task. However, it's one of the most important aspects of a button and it can really help make your site stand out from the crowd.

- Turnip

/ REPLY?

Are there any buttons where I excelled in a certain aspect? I think this information will help me so I can implement what I use in the buttons I excelled in with my future buttons.
I would say that an area you've certainly mastered is cropping. Here are some excellent examples:

Though cropping might seem like an "easy" aspect it's actually something that stumps a lot of new button makers. You've definitely got this part perfected!

- Turnip

/ REPLY?




New Font Maker Seeking Advice

Ni Hao Turnip,

My font site, Radioactive, has been open for about one or two months now and I've only just recently started adding a bunch of content. Judging from the content currently on the site, do you think I am off to a good start? If not, any advice given will be received warmly. Thank you!

Sincerely,

Maddie @ Radioactive

Hey Maddie,

The main thing I think you could add is some additional clarification. For the font Huggy - Angels are Falling, you have two options and it may be hard at first glance which one is Non-NB Pen and which one is. One easy option is to create a similar textarea style but make the background a slightly different colour (maybe a light shade of blue or red to match your layout banner). Then, in the Key section near the top of your layout, you can simply state something like, "If a font has two sets of textareas below it, fonts in the blue textareas are for Non-NB Pens".

Another thing you might want to consider is putting the avatar above the font name. This just gives visitors a quick look at how the font and avvie would look together.

Other than that, I think Radioactive is off to a very good start! All of the text fonts look great. I can't really compare text fonts with any other section since there aren't a lot in Picture or Customizable, but the few available are solid.

- Turnip

/ REPLY?




What do you think?

Heyy Turnip,

I created a new request site named Define and I just wanted some basic critique on it eg. How's the layout? Is it confusing? How is the content is it organised well? What can I do to improve?

Lots of Love,

Jenny @ Define

Hey Jenny,

I think your site is off to a good start so far. Because it's a request site, How To Offer Great Service could help you out with some general areas that I won't go into too much detail here.

The layout looks great! It's easy to navigate and all of the pages are well organized.

Going through your site, the only major issue is with verbal and visual professionalism. There are areas that aren't consistent or are missing. Here are some of them:

Writing
You wrote, I will only create buttons with neopets images, I find it difficult to work with colours on non neopets images. This is a comma splice. Here are some revisions:
- I will only create buttons with neopets images as I find it difficult to work with colours on non neopets images.
- Since I find it difficult to work with colours on non neopets images, I will only create buttons with neopets images.

Another example of a comma splice is: I will always respond to your neomail, if you have sent me a neomail and haven't received a response neomail within 3 days, please resend it.

Additionally, on your Rules page, some of the bullet points have periods at the end, other sentences do not. Be consistent with how you're formatting your list. There are other areas of your site where you don't end sentences with any punctuation (ex. the first sentence of your introductory paragraph on the Home page).

Image Spacing

One thing to look out for are minor issues that are easy to fix. Check out my mini-guide, Top 10 Common Mistakes and see if any of them are at your site. For instance, on your Buttons page, all of the images under the "Current Favourite Buttons" are sticking together. Be sure to add some padding so that each individual image is spaced out (my Top 10 guide above has the coding for this in section #2)

With your buttons, be sure that you're paying attention to text and how easy it is to read. Besides, the whole point of a button is to advertise a site so the text needs to be high-quality. For the most part, the majority of your buttons do have easy-to-read text, but some aren't as well designed. For example, the first button "Define" under "Current Favourite Buttons" has low-quality text. The bright yellow outline doesn't help the text stand out. If you're using white text, it's best to go with a darker outline because light colours don't exactly help white text in terms of distinguishing it from the background. Check out tutorials at A Button Collection and The Tutorial Place if you want to experiment with new techniques.

I did find that your request forms were a bit confusing. You wrote, please keep everything in parentheses and delete everything in brackets including this message.

The first part of the sentence states you want people to keep everything in the brackets but the second half of the sentence states you want people to delete everything in brackets. Which is it?

At the moment, you've got the "big" parts of site owning down: convenient and interesting layout, and well organized content. However, it's the small details that visitors often remember most about sites. Be sure to go over your site and see which areas need work. I can't wait to see where your site goes from here!
- Turnip

/ REPLY?

Also, be sure to add some "breathing space" on your buttons. Having no static frames can make the button's quality get toned down because of the fact that the animation abruptly starts again. This is shown in your recent buttons, and not having any static frames can lead to the visitor missing the text. For example, with your "Mitchy BD for the PC" button there weren't a lot of static frames for either of the frames for the text making the animation too fast. Also, with your darigan shoyru button, there are no static frames making the text easy to miss since it doesn't stop.

- Joaquin




Colouring Advice

Dear Turnip,

Are my movie icons too overly saturated as well as my misc icons being too dull or unsaturated?

- Troubled Artist

Saturation in itself isn't a "bad" thing so at the end of the day, it's very subjective and depends on the person's taste. There was only one example I could find where the colour didn't really suit the image (see below).

With this icon, the colours are absolutely gorgeous. The green is vibrant and the orange is rich as well. However, the colours do take away from the image itself. The green is what draws my attention the most, not the focal character. In an icon where you've cropped for a focal point (in this case, Nemo), then it's important to make sure your background colour isn't too overpowering.

Other than that, the rest of the movie icons were perfectly fine. In the Misc. section, there are a few icons where the colour just isn't engaging but that's only in comparison with other icons. On their own, they look fine:

In terms of colour, these two have a very light pink monochrome look to it. However, that's not necessarily a bad thing because these would appeal to different people, especially those who want an icon with more muted colours.

Overall, there aren't any issues with saturation or colouring techniques. Again, colouring is subjective. Where one person prefers more vibrant colours, another might prefer more muted ones.

Best of luck!
- Turnip

/ REPLY?




Uninspired Owner

Hey Turnip,

I recently came back from Neopets after a two year break and opened my competition site, Whisper, back up a month ago. Recently, I haven't had many people entering the competitions at Whisper, which is very saddening to me. I really want to get more people to visit the site and enter the competitions, but unfortunately I have no ideas to make Whisper more unique. Since you're a very creative person and have amazing sites, I wanted to know what you think I could do to make Whisper different from other competition sites; whether it be different competitions or unique features.

Whisper has a site of the month, button of the month, icon of the month, and customization of the month competition.

Rose @ Whisper

Hi Rose!

You offer all the basic competitions so that's a good range of events for site owners. One thing you want to consider (especially if you want to increase traffic) is having an event that relies less on the visitor and/or takes less time to set-up on your end. That way, you diversify your site's traffic so you're not just attracting those who want to actively take part by making an icon or button (ex. graphic makers), but those who just want to vote (ex. casual visitors).

For example, you can have a monthly competition where you choose the entrants and all you need to do is get people to vote. This would take less time because you don't have to wait for the a specific number of entrants. The key is to make it creative rather than make it too similar to your SOTM. For example, use themes or make the category very specific.

(Side note: I find that one of the biggest issues with competition sites is that you can be "stuck" at 6/10 entrants and your site just sits there, constantly waiting for more people. Getting votes is easier than getting entrants).

Some random ideas that come to mind include:

  • Favourite Button Site
  • Favourite Icon From February
  • Favourite Summer-themed Font
  • Favourite Adoptable From Bisou
In other words, you can experiment and try to structure your site like the People's Choice Award because then you don't have to play the waiting game for new entrants.

Lastly, I would say don't be too discouraged about the number of people entering your current competitions. The site community has been extremely inactive lately and unfortunately this impacts all site owners. In terms of getting more entrants and voting, try to advertise as much as you can and you can even try to neomailed people directly and ask them if they'd like to participate. Personally, I prefer voting at competition sites rather than making a graphic because it's quicker.

Good luck!
- Turnip

/ REPLY?




New Reviewer

Greetings Turnip,

I was wondering if you could give me a general review of my site, Enhance (/~reattoe). Obviously it has no content, it opened yesterday, but could you please read over my rubrics, rules, extras etc and see if they're high-quality and well-organized? I have read thoroughly through How To Write Great Reviews and applied any changes I saw fit to make.

Regards,

Annaliese @ Enhance

Hello and congratulations on being a new reviewer!

Here are some areas you might want to check out:

- You wrote "Once you receive confirmation of your review, make sure you link back with the appropriate measures, meaning a button under the "Reviewed By" section of your sitely. I'll provide a button with your score."
I found this rule to be a bit confusing. You note that you want people to link back after you confirm their request (i.e. link back before you write their review). However, you then state you'll give them a button with their score. This means you want them to link back after. I would suggest simplifying this and try to write more clearly as to what you mean.

- In your "Classic" rubric under First Impressions, you wrote "Is the colour scheme warm or cold?" This seems a bit odd and vague. Reading this, I wasn't sure I understood what you meant by "warm or cold". Do you mean the colour scheme? The layout design? The introduction? Try to be more clear. For instance, a "cold" layout isn't necessarily a negative (think about layouts that uses cool colour tones).

- In the "Classic" rubric under Spelling, you wrote the following:

Spelling and Grammar is important as it factors into how professional your site is.
Hello, and welcome to Enhance. My name is Annaliese and this is a review site.
This would be better structured as: Hello, and welcome to Enhance, a review site run by me, Annaliese.

When reading the two sentences, it's actually the first example (your "wrong" one) that reads more correctly. The second one reads like a run-on sentence and the commas detract from the flow of the sentence. In the first example, the topics are split into clear sentences (ex. "Hello, and welcome to Enhance" as being the welcome sentence. "My name is…" introduces yourself and the site).

- In the "Classic" rubric under the Sitely section, you wrote Do you have high quality affiliates?
This is not an objective or valuable way to critique a page's sitely category. Whether or not they have high-quality affiliates shouldn't matter one way or the other. One thing you can check for is whether or not their affiliates have properly linked back. The site owner wants you to critique their site's quality, not their affiliates'.

- The "Service" rubric was a bit confusing. Based on its name ('service'), I assumed it had something to do with you evaluating requesting sites. However, the sections are the same as previous rubrics. It doesn't seem like this rubric has anything to do with service. For example, you wrote:
For instance: a resource site would do great to offer their resources in multiple colours, to serve a larger variety of visitors.

This doesn't seem to fit in with the idea of "service". How you define "service" will play a role in the rubric's content so be sure to give a brief definition.

- One last comment I'll make about your rubrics is that you provide a lot of different points for each section, which is great! Rather than having the visitor read through each entire rubric, try writing a short paragraph at the top and briefly explain what the rubric's all about. Provide a summary so that it gives potential requesters a quick and easy look at each rubric.

Moving on to your extras, here are some of my comments:

- The "Useful Resources" is a great idea! I'd love to see this section in more detail though. For example, write a short paragraph about each site so that visitors can quickly get a sense of what it offers. Offering a list of buttons is great, but when a visitor is searching for something specific, it can get a bit tedious searching through numerous pages. I would suggest writing short blurbs for the "guides" (the other sections, like layouts and buttons don't need summaries).

- Your "Site Checklist" is coming along great! If you want to add more interaction at your site, perhaps you can even add a form and neomail link so that visitors to your site can contribute their own ideas.

Overall, your site is off to a good start! Your site is very well organized and everything is easy to find. The area that needs work is the content, particularly the rubrics. You've done an excellent job of organizing your thoughts into bullet points, but some of the comments seem a bit off (especially the "spelling/grammar" categories) or just a bit vague. Be as clear as you can. It never hurts to write an extra sentence or two if you think it helps the visitors.

Lastly, be sure to focus on creativity and originality when it comes to your site and site extras. You have some really unique ones in there, but some that don't really serve a purpose or add anything new to the review-site genre.

Good luck with your review site!

- Turnip

/ REPLY?




Directory Disaster

¡Hola Turnip!

My directory, Site Inc. is in need of some organization help. My first question is about sub-categories. How much sub-categories should I put in the site? Do I have enough? Should I add in more? And also would it be advised for me to put in all my sub-categories with no sites under the category yet, or wait until I list a site that fits that sub-category?

Hugs and Kisses xoxoxo,
Joaquin @ Site Inc.

Hello Joaquin!

My personal opinion on link directory sub-categories is that you can never have too much! The more sub-categories (and main categories) you have, the easier it is for visitors to tell what kind of site you're listing. For example, it's always better to say a site offers "button requests" rather than just saying "requests".

As to how many sub-categories you should put in, that really depends on you and how detailed you want to be. Here are some quick suggestions you might want to take a look at:

- Adoptions and lending: Are there any adoption agencies that only offer specific pet species? If so, you may want to create individual sub-categories (similar to your "Specific Adoptables").
- Premade Layouts: Rather than saying "Petpage + Other", I would try to explain what the "other" refers to (gallery layouts? Shop layouts?).

For sub-categories with no sites, I would just leave them off your site at the moment. It doesn't really make sense to create a bunch of sub-categories that will be empty anyways. Perhaps keep a separate list of sub-categories to add at a future date so that you don't forget them.

Good luck with your directory!

- Turnip

/ REPLY?

Thank you,

And one more thing, I added some other categories, can you check to see if there are some unnecessary categories, or any categories I need to add?

As mentioned in my answer above, the Adoptions and Lending could use some sub-categories, particularly because there are sites that only lend specific species (ex. The Draik Realm) or specific paint colours (ex. The Baby Project).

Cleaning up the Premade Layouts is also another idea that I strongly suggest taking a look at. For instance, say a visitor needs guild layouts. Based on your current sub-categories, there's no way to tell which sites offer guild layouts, gallery layouts, or shop layouts.

Other than that, you've covered the major categories. It's just the sub-categories that need more clarification.

- Turnip

/ REPLY?




Lazy Artist

Hello Turnip,

My site has just reviewed by Review Garden and I have changed the layout! Please comment on my layout and see if anything could be changed. My site is CW & EN Art Page.

From,
Lazy Artist

The overall design of your layout is really adorable! I like the soft pastel colours because they work really well together. The shade of green you choose is perfect as it's not too light or "neon".

However, there are some issues. First, there was noticeable blurriness on the layout image, specifically the three characters. They're not very crisp or clear. Second, there's a lot of pixilation and image distortion, especially near your site title at the top. This makes your layout look very low-quality. I recommend saving your layout image as PNG rather than JPG because it'll retain your image crispness.

Since you already have "CW & EN Art" written at the top of your layout, there's no need to have a second banner since this makes your layout look too busy and complicated. Perhaps create a header above your welcome paragraph that says something like this:

A Unique Request Site

There are some spelling/grammar errors with your banner anyways.

I found that the shadow effect on your content area was too strong. It's almost black. With a shadow effect, you want a softer, gradual effect, rather than a harsh, strong one. Try lowering the opacity on it.

In your Extras, all of the graphic signs have linked border. Be sure to add border="0" to the image code. The same goes for your "Back" signs. If an image is linked, then always add border="0" to the code.

On various pages, you have a purple graphic sign near the top. I suggest choose a different colour (light green or light blue). The dark purple doesn't really match your layout colour scheme.

Overall, the layout has some technical issues, but there's a lot of charm! The background image is very nice, and the navigation system in is an easy to reach spot.

- Turnip

/ REPLY?

Hey Turnip,

Thanks for answering my question! I have already added border="0" to the image code & changed the graphic signs near the top into blue. But I would like to know how to make the characters clearer? Thank you! ^^
From,
Lazy Artist

When you're resizing your characters, make sure the dimensions stay the same. For example, if you had an image that's 200 in width and 500 in height, you would not resize it to 150 width and 300 height. You have to "take off" the same amount for each side.

If you're using Photoshop, use the Crop Tool rather than resizing from numbers. I think saving as a PNG would also help because, as I said before, PNG images are more crisp and high quality.

One last thing you can try is sharpening the image so make it less blurry. I would recommend duplicating the layer with your character, sharpening the top layer, and adjusting the opacity of the sharpened layer. Sometimes, it may be too sharp so lowering the opacity will help it "blend" with the non-sharpened layer below it.

- Turnip

/ REPLY?




Complicated Creature

Salutations to Turnip,

I just finished a new layout for my status directory, Chosen. I would like specific feedback about the site's readability. Is the layout logical and convenient? It makes sense to me because I made it, but I'd like to know if it makes sense to others, too. I'd appreciate any advice, and please also let me know if you think the page could benefit from an "About" section.

Good day and thank you,

Complicated Creature

Hello!

At first glance, the layout didn't seem too confusing, but delving deeper, the organization was a bit strange. The "Sitely" area seemed out of place as I was expecting it somewhere near the bottom. In other words, I'm not used to seeing it highlighted beside the content as if it's on par in terms of importance. There are so many other things you can put in that spot (more on that below). In terms of readability, everything looks fine. The colours chosen are easy to read.

I strongly suggest either writing an introductory paragraph or a few paragraphs for an "About" section in place of the "Sitely" content (which can be moved to the bottom of the page). Right now, the only way a visitor can understand what your site is about is by reading your site's subtitle (status directory). Make things more convenient for your visitors! There's a very good reason why the vast majority of sites have introductions and that is to introduce new visitors to the concept of their page.

Overall, I like the set-up of the content. It's just the organization of some elements that seem a bit odd.

- Turnip

/ REPLY?




Jumbled Girl

Bonjour Turnip,

What is your question: I was wondering if you could give me some advice on my new site, Bisou. In the future, I plan to have many series of adoptables but I'd really want to focus on "paintbrushes, cupcakes, seasonal, and neopet" for now. My site only has them separated into Neopets/Items at the moment though.

I'd like the poses for each series to be the same (like the paintbrush adoptable you can see it's a different pose from the others). I'm just curious what other people think if I should change my layout into a anchored layout where each series is on its own page, if it looks fine the way it is currently, or if I should modify my layout in some way. I want the adoptables to be organized in a way that's easy for the visitors and I'd like some advice for which is the best way to approach this ^^ I don't have a lot of coding knowledge when it comes to creating layouts (not sure I could code a full anchored layout but I know how anchoring works) So any advice help from anyone would be appreciated! Thanks for reading!

Au revoir mon ami,
Jumbled Girl

When you have a lot of content (ex. see main adoptable section on this page), then it gets really tedious and inconvenient when trying to search for something specific. Always try to minimize scrolling wherever possible, so in that regard, I tend to advise site owners that have a lot of content to use an anchored layout.

Your adoptables at Bisou are quite large (height-wise) so if you left them in one single div, this would increase the amount of scrolling by a large margin, which isn't ideal.

Thankfully, coding for an anchored div isn't hard! You don't even have to change your layout, just add some minor additions so that the specific Adoptables div is anchored. For example, the community page at Always Connected has a "secondary" nav on the side. This could be something that you can use as well to organize your adoptables. If this is something you'd like to explore, reply to this message and I'll post my coding for you!

On the other hand, if you were looking to revamp your layout completely and make your entire layout anchored, I would suggest using a template from TKM.

Using a premade layout will take some stress away from creating your own layout. In the "Multipurpose" section, the Conventional style is a spiffy anchored layout that would suit your site's purpose.

- Turnip

/ REPLY?

RE:

I'm not really a fan of the anchored layout templates at TKM (If I went in this direction I'd like a fully graphic layout which might be hard for me to pick through his coding to figure out). So I think I'd like to try the way that Always Connected sets it up. I've seen this around some sites and it seems very organized. If you could help with the coding, that would be great!

No problem! Here's the basic coding:

And this goes in your style sheet:

Of course, you'll want to play around with the width so that it fits your current layout. If you're having difficulties, one thing I like to do is add border: 1px solid blue to the div style (I use different colours so for instance, blue for one of them, green and red for the others). This lets me see the width of each div box so I can easily edit them.

- Turnip

/ REPLY?

Thanks for the coding! I'm having some issues now though. I use the browser Chrome but people are reporting issues in firefox with that new coding you sent The issue seems to be in the adoptables section where I placed your coding. That section doesn't appear at all in firefox. I'm not expecting you to help fix it since that's a lot to ask but since I'm having this issue I might have to make the layout from scratch again. If you have any tips or advice, I would greatly appreciate it!
One thing that's curious about your coding is that your div is in (div id="premades") yet in the style sheet, there's nopremades" div specified. This might be the reason why your div is showed up below your main content area. I've never actually ran into this problem before as the coding itself is simply enough.

Once you add the "premades" div style, you can also try adding a z-index so that the div is "above" the rest of your layout. z-index:5; for example. Also, if you're using z-index for any other element of your layout, make sure the number is larger.




Flair-less Layout Creator

Long time no talk Turnip,

I am opening a new petpage layout request site and as I'm adding the content, I kept wondering; what could I do to make my site high quality? So my question for you is; what do you think are the essentials of a high-quality petpage layout request site? And what are some extras I could add to the site to give it a bit of flair?

Goodbye and good chicken,

Flair-less Layout Creator

Howdy, Flair-less Layout Creator!

That's a big question! Layouts are highly technical and difficult for new site owners and combining this with a requesting service means you have your hands full before you even begin! As with any site I strongly encourage you read as many tutorials as you can (The Tutorial Place has a few layout-specific tutorials you can check out).

First, as I mentioned, since it's a request site, you'll not only have to offer high-quality content but high-quality service as well (How To Offer Great Service is a resource you can check out if you want some tips). Layouts take much longer to create than other graphics but you should still try to complete each request in a timely manner. Anyone waiting more than 1 and a half or 2 weeks means it's taking too long. So, you should limit your waiting list to two or three slots. Remember: you are offering a service, after all!

In terms of content, layouts that feature crisp images, convenient navigation and a polished design are all must-haves. The markers of a low-quality layout include blurry or poorly cropped images, a menu that's difficult to use or hard to find, or a layout that's too large. Keep in mind that not everyone will have a giant screen resolution so your layouts should be designed with everyone in mind. Try to keep the overall width under 1024 pixels. One thing to do with your content area is make sure it's not too tall (the div box should be around 550 pixels). If the height is too large, people with smaller screen resolutions will have a difficult time accessing the whole scrollbar.

Focus on originality and trying to create your own style. While it may be tempting to look at other people's layouts, this is not a good way to develop your layout-making skills. You also run the risk of over-inspiring yourself (which could land you in a lot of trouble).

Lastly, don't expect instant success. This is the most common misconception that new site owners have. They open a site and immediately expect it to be super high-quality. This is not the case. It will take months (or years) of constant hard work. If you're serious about your site, then you'll need to put in a lot of elbow grease and effort!

For your "extras", be creative as well! Perhaps write a short tutorial to share your layout-making techniques with new designers. Another unique one you could have is a Layout of the Week feature that showcases top talent from around the site community. Or, how about a twist on rankings? Instead of doing rankings for site types, just have your top five favourite layout sites and write a small paragraph about why you think they're awesome. You might even want to rank your current favourite layouts.

A layout request site is a huge challenge but if you work at it, your site will get better!

Best of luck!
- Turnip

/ REPLY?




Confused Coder

Good afternoon Turnip,

While I was editing a new layout for my site Unwound Clock, I realized the navigation became crazy-looking in Firefox, so I had to fix it a little bit. Can you give me your opinion on the new navigation box? You can see it here. It's still under construction so I apologize if the info is inaccurate!

Thank you very much!

- Confused Coder

Hello!

The issue isn't with the browser, it's with the screen resolution! On my desktop (with a screen resolution of 1600 by 900 pixels), the navigation works just fine. There's a bit of a large gap between the menu and the main content area, but it's nothing too noticeable.

However, on my laptop (which has a smaller screen resolution of 1280 x 800 px), the navigation overlaps the content area (by about 20 pixels or so). This means the width of your overall layout is too large for smaller screen resolutions.

Try reducing the width of the content area by 50 or so pixels.

Here's an alternative route you can take! For your #nav style, I suggest lowering the "left" setting by 20 or 30 pixels. This should get rid of the overlapping problem in smaller screen resolutions. However, both of these solutions create new issues as there will still be a bit of a problem for those with large screen resolutions (like my desktop). This makes the gap between the menu and the content area more noticeable.

While I understand that you're trying to code your layout so that it always sits in the center of the page, it does create some issues for small versus large resolutions. Keeping your menu fixed is a great idea but you may want to try position:absolute; for your content div and add a definite left: #px; value so that the layout appears perfectly on all screen resolutions.

Best of luck!
- Turnip

/ REPLY?

RE: Hello!

I made the changes as you suggested! Does the layout look slightly better or does it need anything else? Also, when I tried to add the position:absolute to the code, the filters deemed it "unrecognizable". Is there another alternative to that?

It definitely works on a smaller screen resolution! Since you've changed the positioning of the content area and the link and put a defined "left" value for both your content area and your menu, you can probably increase the width of the content a bit more so there's no giant gap between that and the menu. At the moment, it's not a huge issue though!

For position:absolute; be sure to add it in the div's coding itself, rather than style sheet. For example:

(div id="container" style="position:absolute;")

The coding filters don't allow you to put "position" in the style sheet itself.

Taking a look at your coding, you have overflow: hidden; for your body { I suggest deleting this to allow side scrolling. Though this isn't a huge issue, some people minimize (or resize) their browser window so without the side scrolling function, they wouldn't be able to reach the menu).

Overall, the layout looks great! Easy to use, very convenient to browse, and excellent organization!
- Turnip

/ REPLY?


Extras

Example of FF: Lite
Want to see an example of the Q & A process?

Example questions
Stuck on what to ask? Here are some great examples.

The Review Process Thinking about requesting a review? Reading through this guide might help you.

Portfolio Here's a list of all the sites I've reviewed!

F.A.Q. Want to know more about Frequent Flyer? Have a question you want answered? This F.A.Q. is for you!

Frequent Flyer Challenges Here's a list of all of the past missions presented in reviews! Who was brave enough to take on a challenge?

My Credentials In this extra section, I'll list my strengths and weaknesses when it comes to reviewing different types of sites.

Top 10 Common Mistakes In this section, learn how to prepare your site for a review by avoiding these common errors.

How I Determine Scores Have you ever wondered why you received a certain score in a particular category? In this section, I'll try to explain why I deduct points.

Site Specifics Do you have a request site? Are you thinking about requesting a service review? Before you do that, why not take a look at these "site specifics"!

Golden Travellers These sites show a very high degree of overall polish! Check them out!

Retired Buttons Here are some spiffy buttons that are no longer in use. Still, I love them to bits so I'm holding on to them!

Extra Pick-up area Whether it's old reviews being pulled from the dusty closet or a "not quite a review" review, you'll find it here.



Example of questions

It really is up to you how specific or vague you want your question to be. If you're just looking for general feedback on your site, here are some examples:

  • Based on the current content I have up, are they generally low or high quality?
  • Overall, what improvements do you think my buttons need?
  • What are your opinions on my site?
  • What are 3 pros and cons for my site?

On the other hand, if you know what aspects of your site you want to improve or change, be specific!

  • I want to add more "Extras" to my site. Do you have any ideas?
  • I'd like to experiment with button borders but I just don't know where to start. Help!
  • What do you think of my new layout?
  • I need help organizing my banners in a neat and efficient way.




Example of how the Q & A review format

Here's an example of how a typical "Q & A" review. The first green box is the person's question while the first white box is my answer. A neat addition is that you can reply if you need further clarification on anything I said. If you want to ask a new question, you can send in a new form rather than use the "reply" link.

The Open-minded Layout Maker

Hello Turnip!

I just put my new layout up and I'd like some feedback.

Signed,
Username @ Site Name

Hey (Username),

Wow! That was my first impression upon loading your page. I love how the image is edited. The colours are warm, inviting, and very high-quality! I really like your colour choices for your text styles and headers. It's always hard working with one colour so it's nice to see that you chose different shades of green.

If there's one area where I think some improvements could be made it's the text design. Right now, it looks a bit flat and it doesn't stand out against the busy background pattern. You see the drop shadow you did for your focal character? Try using a softer drop shadow for your text. This will help make it stand out a bit more and "pop" off the page.

/ REPLY?

Thanks for the feedback! I used quite a bit of drop shadow effects in my layout so I'd like to stay away from using that on my text as well. Do you have any other suggestions for making my text stand out?
Some other simple text design techniques include using a coloured border around your text and adding a bevel effect to make it seem more "3D". There's a tutorial I wrote here (the chapter Adding Text).

/ REPLY?


Extra Pick-up Area



This page is so empty...

Are those...cobwebs?!


The Review Process

This extra was inspired by The Reviewee Handbook which was originally created by Evan over at Esteem. Since that site hasn't been updated, I figured I'd write down some of the tips I originally sent her. If you're interested in getting a review, the "process" outlined below can help you along.

Do you have any tips? Feel free to neomail me!


Before you request a review

Shop around. Don't just request from the first site you come across because they might not be very high-quality. Visit a large directory (The Shelf is a good one) and look through all or the majority of the active sites.

What I highly recommend is that you read through at least one of the site owner's in-depth reviews (i.e. one of their longer reviews, rather than a short pro/con one). This should give you a very clear indication of whether or not they are able to provide useful advice. Sometimes, reviewers will only present you with a list of "problems" rather than help you understand why you need to change something in the first place. Look for the "why" explanations (why should you change this or what). If you're unsure how to measure review quality, asking a reviewer might be a suitable choice. They can provide you with a list of sites that they feel offer a lot of useful advice.

Along the same lines, look through the site's rubrics and see whether or not they're fair and professional. Some review sites use categories like "originality" or "creativity", which is not a useful indicator for site improvement. What you're looking for are basic categories like "quality", and "organization". These are much more helpful in pinpointing areas for improvement. Not all review sites offer the same rubric styles, so it's best to keep in mind the one that you want (in-depth, pro/con, content only, etc). One last thing to note is that like reviews, not all rubrics are high-quality. Some aren't as well explained or high-quality as others.

Talk to your reviewer. This isn't mandatory but it's a great step in opening a line of communication with the person who will be reviewing your site. If you're unsure which rubric would be the best fit for your site, asking the reviewer not only shows initiative, but you'll get a much more tailored review in the end.

Prep your site. It might seem strange and a bit counterintuitive to edit your site before a review, but this just makes the entire reviewing process much easier. Rather than discuss small, silly issues like linked borders, your reviewer will spend more time on larger issues. The Top 10 Common Mistakes guide is a quick checklist you can go through. Some common issues include linked borders, lack of "back" links where needed, improper use of centering, and so on. Your score will generally reflect this "prep work" as well.

Ask yourself if you really need a review. If your site is completely brand new (less than 2 weeks old), then requesting many reviews (or even one in-depth review) might not be beneficial. This is because you'll have less content so there will be less to critique. If you're really wanting a review, look for "New Site" rubrics that will be less extensive or simply request a Q & A rubric if the site has one. In many cases, asking the reviewer questions through neomail is perfectly fine, even when it's not a "formal" review.

Some people just request reviews but they don't actually make any changes. This can be very disrespectful to the reviewer especially since they're offering a free service to you and most of the time they've put in over three or four hours into writing it. Only request a review if you're completely certain you'll be making changes to your site.

Ask yourself if you really want a review. Do you want to improve your site? A review, especially one from a high-quality reviewer, can be extremely intensive and long. Would you be willing to sit down and read carefully through what the reviewer said? Along the same lines, ask yourself how well you take constructive criticism. Keep in mind the reviewer is not "out to get you". If they're a seasoned reviewer, they'll be able to provide solid criticism. Of course, you work hard on your site so anything "negative" will feel like an insult. Just remember that it's someone else's point of view and they don't mean it as such.

Experienced reviewers won't be "harsh". They'll be direct and to the point. What needs changing, what issues are currently at your site, and so on. If you're sensitive about hearing other opinions, then requesting a review is probably not a good choice. Try other indirect methods of site improvement, such as personal neomails to ask small questions.

Sending in your request form

Are the requests open? Obviously, you can only request from a site that has open requests. At some review sites, even if requests are open there's a list of rubrics available. Make sure that the one you want is. If yours isn't, I would generally advise you wait until it becomes available again rather than request a different rubric. For instance, if you wanted an "in-depth" review, requesting a pro/con isn't going to be as helpful.

Read through the F.A.Q and/or credentials. While reading through the F.A.Q is optional, I highly recommend reading through the site owner's credentials if they have one. It'll give you a much clearer indication of their reviewing strengths and weaknesses. It's here that many reviewers choose to list site genres they don't review (like wish lists, pet applications, guild webbies, etc).

If you have questions, reading the F.A.Q could help answer them. At the very least, it'll tell you more about the reviewing service.

Read through the rules. Don't skip this step because it's very important. You'll get a lot of information in the rules and it's just nice to put in effort into reading the site owner's rules because they'll be putting effort into your review.

Fill out your form. This step's pretty self explanatory as the form will have different options for you to fill in. In many cases, the site owner will include an "other" section at the end. Take advantage of this! If there are specific questions you want the reviewer to answer, write it down. For example, "If possible, could you please take a look at the 'extras' because I wasn't sure about the organization" or "I'm using Firefox and I haven't seen my layout in Chrome. Are there any major differences?"

In your form, don't be afraid to ask your reviewers to add or subtract a category from your rubric. For example, if you wanted to request an in-depth rubric but didn't want the "creativity" section in your review, politely ask them to remove it from your review. Likewise, let's say you're requesting a pro/con rubric which is a very basic and general look at your site. If you'd like the reviewer to try to focus on one part of your site (for example, your content), mention this in the form and your reviewer may be able to accommodate you.

During your review

Don't make any major changes. While many reviewers will note in their rules that they'd like you to stay away from any major site updates, try to keep your site relatively similar even if it's not mentioned. For example, don't change your layout a few days after, or revamp your content or organization. Your review may span the course of a few days so if your site is constantly changing, this puts a lot of pressure on the reviewer. Of course, "regular" updates are fine, such as normal content updates or general site maintenance like removal of affiliates.

Keep an open line of communication. Nothing is worse than a reviewer trying to contact you but your inbox is full. Whenever you request a review (or anything else, like a button), keep your inbox relatively empty. On occasion, the reviewer may have a question they'd like to ask you.

No need to keep such close tabs. Once your form has been accepted and you're on the waiting list, there's no need to constantly neomail your reviewer asking "is my review ready yet?" When your review is finished, the site owner will contact you.

I would recommend though that you check in on the review site at least once a day to read the updates as this may give you some indication of how your review is progressing.

Don't panic!. Getting a review might seem stressful to some but if you've chosen your reviewer well, then you'll be getting a lot of constructive criticism rather than harsh and unwarranted feedback.

After your review is ready

Read it, of course!. Once you get confirmation from your reviewer that your review is ready and posted, go read it carefully. What's very useful is to open up your site in a separate window so you can have the two side by side. This will help in seeing what the reviewer is talking about.

Try not to skim through it because chances are you'll miss something important. Even if you think the reviewer is talking about something very minor, it's best to take your time through it. They are writing about your site, after all. If your review is on the longer side (like a "classic" or "in-depth"), perhaps read through it at least twice just so you don't miss any major points.

Absorb your review. I strongly suggest that after reading your review you step back. Just take a day off and think about what the reviewer wrote.

Sometimes, you might not get the score you wanted. Perhaps you thought you'd score in the 80's when you only received a score in the 50's. Don't get too caught up on the score. Your score is only a static reflection of a dynamic site. In other words, it's just a snapshot of your site at the moment but your site will be constantly changing. If you get a low score, that's not "oh goodness, my site is bad, I should close". It's "I have work to do in order to make my site even better". Keep a positive attitude!

Analyze your review. The breather's over so let's get your head back in the game. Going back to your review, actively analyze what your reviewer said. Did they give proper explanation and clearly state their opinions? Or did they simply present an issue without giving you additional feedback? If you can understand the writer's opinion, then that's a sign it's a high-quality review.

Talk to your reviewer. If you have any inquiries or questions about your review, now's the time to discuss it with the writer. I would suggest only contacting them once you've read your review and absorbed it. If you're completely unhappy with your score or review, then it's best to discuss it with a clear and level head (rather than right after you read it).

From both a reviewer and reviewee's point of view, it's futile to argue about your score. If your reviewer bumps your score up, does that somehow make your site higher quality? No, because the score is just a number. Focus on the review itself, rather than the final score.

Instead, you should be talking about aspects of the review that you might have found unfair, unwarranted, or unclear. Getting more feedback after your review is perfectly fine. The reviewer should always be available for follow-up questions.

Edit and make changes. You might not be comfortable with changing everything the reviewer said. If they had a perfectly valid reason for why you should change something, then it's good to keep that in mind. For example, if they said that you have multiple linked borders at your site, you're not going to leave them up. You'd edit that and make your site more presentable.

On the other hand, some reviewers will tend to try to change things based on their personal preferences rather than pay attention to quality (such as saying your graphics need to be more "original" so you should do this or do that). It's perfectly fine to say "I can't do that" if you don't want to change your style.

Unless the review was a complete mess (and it very rarely is), try to change something, no matter how small. A review can take anywhere from an hour to 4 hours (sometimes even longer). Reviews aren't like other requested items such as layouts or buttons. It's harder to use a review so try not to let it go to waste.

And that's that! Though many reviewers keep their old reviews, you might want to copy and paste the review into a separate document so you have a version for yourself. It's very useful to sometimes go back and re-read your review.


Retired Buttons





How to I score each section?

During your review, your site will not be compared to a premade rubric. I won't be looking at a chart that says "deduct 1 star" for this issue. Instead, I'm determining whether or not the issues fall into various categories.

Suggestions:

As the title indicates, these are suggestions only. The issues that fall into this category do not negatively influence a site, and thus, no points will be deducted whenever I bring it up. That is to say, they might help improve your site overall, but they aren't necessary to offering quality service. It's just offering a different solution.

Here are some examples:
- Decrease loading times (ex. Using text links for directories instead of buttons; moving the portfolio to an outside petpage)
- Getting rid of the Neopets header and moving it to a different section of your site.

Aesthetic changes:

These deal with visual aspects of your site, such as your layout and organization. In general, issues here will result in deductions (especially if it also impacts visitor convenience).

Here are some examples:
- Resizing textareas so that they align evenly with the image above them (ex. 88 pixels wide if it's a button)
- Site name is not as visible as it could be (i.e. something I usually say is that the site name should be one of the first things a person sees)
- The layout image is too large (note that on computers using a smaller screen resolution, this may cause side scrolling)
- Text that should be aligned to the left, rather than centered
- Spacing issues (ex. No scaled down images, too much scrolling, large amounts of empty space)

Inconveniences:

This deals with issues that impede on the visitor's positive experience at your site. Unlike suggestions, this category will affect your scoring. Should an issue arise that falls into this category, I take a look at two things when scoring your site: how many problematic issues there are, and how major the issue is.

Here are some examples:
- Unfair and/or overly restrictive rules
- Faulty layout (ex. Brower compatibility, improper linking/coding)
- Negative tone and/or attitude
- Poor spelling and grammar (this only affects the score if you have errors across the entire site; I don't take marks off if you have a few typos here and there)
- Navigation is hard to reach or use

In essence, I'm comparing your site to its possible potential – not against another site, or a set rubric that tells me what to deduct. When looking at your site both from the eye of a visitor and as a fellow site owner, I try to pinpoint areas that can be improved (i.e. suggestions) or changed (i.e. inconveniences).


Portfolio

Here's where we keep records of all of our previous travellers, with buttons at the top being the more recent ones. You can hover over each button for more information. I keep all reviews so if you'd like to re-read yours, simply neomail me and I'll post it up for you again!




Site Specifics

Reviews, layouts, buttons - all of these pages offer different types of services so I focus on particular aspects when reviewing different types of sites. Rules for a button site may be different from a review site, so site genre really plays a key role when I inspect a page. Here, I'll give you some insight on the specifics of what I look for when I write the "Quality of Service" category for service reviews.

Buttons
- Does the text placement work well with the chosen image/border/animation?
- Can I clearly read the text on a button?
- Rules must have little to no restrictions (i.e. not making buttons for a certain type of site, a site must be 2 weeks old, etc).
- Pick-up area must have the button image, the code provided in the textarea, and the name of the user who requested.
- How well is the animate executed? Is there enough space between each animation loop?

Graphics (banners, icons)
- Are the images appropriately cropped so that there's a focal point?
- If textures are used, are they well blended or do they "sit" heavily on top of the base image?
- Is the text easy to read and clearly visible?
- Are the banners high-quality? Are the images crisp or are they blurry?
- Rules must have few restrictions.

Layouts
- Is the navigation in an easy to use place? Is it clearly visible?
- Is the site name one of the first things I see? Or is it too small and barely noticeable?
- Are the textures appropriately used? Or do they clash with the base image? Do they accent the image or cover them?
- Does the colour scheme match the layout? Are the headers legible?

Reviews
- Do your reviews have the key ingredients?
- Do you fully explain your opinions or are your statements incomplete?
- Are you properly spacing your reviews or am I looking at a giant wall of text?
- When going through your rubrics is it clear what you'll be looking for in a site?


F.A.Q.

Turnip looks up and says, silly me, I bet you're confused about some of the things we offer here. Not to worry, because here's a pamphlet that will address all of your concerns!

Want to ask a question? Feel free to neomail me any time!


What is Frequent Flyer: Lite Edition?
During the school year, I'll be much busier than normal. However, that doesn't mean FF will go on hiatus. The site will be temporarily transformed to Frequent Flyer: Lite Edition where you can still get professional and in-depth feedback on your site. As noted, this is only temporary and will usually be active during September until early May.

This is also a great chance to get more personalized feedback without having to read an essay. You can get direct advice on whatever part of your site you see fit.

What are "Frequent Flyer challenges"?
These are challenges that can sometimes pop up in your review. Don't worry though, because these aren't mandatory! They're meant to help you improve your skills, whether it's making banners, writing a review - anything! I'll try to come up with challenges that not only give you room to experiment, but also to have fun. Sometimes, open challenges may be posted for anyone to complete on the main FF Challenge page, regardless if I've reviewed you or not. These challenges can be accepted by anyone and can also be completed by more than one person.

To accept a challenge, simply neomail me and complete it within two weeks. Once you're done, post your results up on a spare petpage, so I can put your results on the Frequent Flyer Challenge page for everyone to see!

Make sure that you're serious about these challenges before you accept them. That's why they're called "challenges" in the first place! If you decide to drop out, you'll be listed as could not complete. If you didn't follow the challenge guidelines or take longer than two weeks to complete it, you'll be listed as failed challenge.

Can I be affiliates with Frequent Flyer?
If you're interested in becoming affiliates with FF, take a look through these guidelines first.
  • Sites must be completely finished, not on revamp or under construction. I'd like to be able to take a look at your content.
  • Sites must have no stolen content.
Those are the only "rules"! Though I'm mainly looking for review sites, I'll take a look through any type of page. Want to send in a form? Neomail me!

How long will it take before I get my review?
That depends on what rubric you've chosen, and when I receive your form. Some reviews will take longer to write simply because they're much more extensive (for example, All Inclusive, In-depth). Shorter reviews are rubrics like Pro/Con and Visual Inspection. If I happen to receive your review fairly late in the day, I might only get through half before I retire for the night. On average though, reviews will take roughly 3-4 hours. Sites with more issues means I'll make additional comments, so they'll take longer.

Why was I moved to the bottom of the waiting list/why is my request on hold?
This may have happened for a number of reasons:
  • Your inbox is full when I try to respond to your request. I won't start your review until I know that I'm able to contact you once it's finished.
  • You haven't read the rules on the request page.
  • You failed to fill out the entire form, or you request a rubric that's unavailable.
  • Your site has stolen content, in which case your request will be rejected outright, and you'll be contacted regarding the content.
I'll always neomail you to let you know if any of these situations occurs. However, if I receive any new requests before I hear back from you, these will be started before yours.

Can I apply for a re-review?
I do offer re-reviews to sites that really need one, but I would first advise all returning requesters to fill out a form for the Q & A rubric instead because this would be a much better choice than receiving, for example, two All Inclusive reviews in a row. Because I've already provided an in-depth review the first time, a site doesn't really need another in-depth review since they already have many suggestions from the first one. If you're really interested in being re-reviewed again, here are some guidelines:
  • You must wait at least two weeks (30 days) days before sending in another form.
  • Your review will not be scored, regardless of the rubric you're being re-reviewed in.
  • Your site will not be eligible for the Golden Traveller award (since you're not being scored and it's not fair if people want to keep "trying for an award").
  • You must clearly note in your form that it's a re-review.
  • There must be significant changes to your site. For example, a complete layout overhaul, a very sizeable amount of new content, etc.
  • If your reasons for a re-review are unclear or not sufficient, then I'll ask that you submit a request for a Q & A rubric instead.

Why do you deduct marks if a site has issues in Firefox?
Points aren't deducted for all site types, just a few. If you know your layout has problems with FF, be sure to include this in your form so that when I look at your site I can be ready for any issues that pop up. For general reviews, points will not be deducted if there are browser issues provided they were mentioned in the form. However, points may be deducted if you've requested a service review since part of offering high-quality service is making sure your site works across all browsers and is assessable to all visitors.

Why are some rubrics not suitable for certain site types?
This question ties in with my credentials page. Some rubrics aren't available for certain site types because I'm just don't have the necessary experience needed to provide in-depth explanations. As an example, for certain types of sites, I'm unable to do content assessments (such as applications). That being said, you might want to request a Visual Only review if you have a pet application because I can help improve the visual appeal of a site. Here's a full list of site types that should not request a certain rubric type:

Content only rubric: competition sites, any type of link directory, pet applications, guild webbies, screenies, poetry sites, adoption agencies, untaken names, lending sites

When will specific rubrics become available?
On the request page, you may notice that not all rubrics are available at the same time. During the week when I'm busy with classes, very few rubrics are available. However, the "availability" is updated every Friday so be sure to check back then. If there's a rubric that you're absolutely wanting to request but it hasn't been available for at least 2 weeks straight, then send me a neomail, make the subject "I want this rubric!", and just tell me which one you want. This does not mean that you automatically get reviewed. For example, if you really wanted an In-depth rubric, I may add one up for the weekend. However, it's up for grab and anyone who requests it first will get reviewed using that rubric.

Do I "have" to read the Top 10 Common Mistakes?
No, but I would highly recommend it. The Top 10 Most Common Mistakes is a mini-guide that's meant to help you improve your own site before requesting a review. The only reason why it's provided as an "extra" is so visitors can take initiative and put in effort to improving their site beforehand. Thus, when I review your site, I won't have to spend so much time on these small issues and more time on actually helping you improve. On a much less important note, it's a way to get a better "score" on certain rubrics. For example, I usually take off at least 1 star or point if your textareas aren't resized to better fit the image. This issue is listed in the Top 10 guide, so if you actually put in effort to fixing it up before requesting a review, you wouldn't lose any marks for it.

Though I strongly suggest you read it, there's no penalty if you didn't. If you didn't, just say "no" for that section in the form. I'd also appreciate it if you didn't say "Yes I read it" when you didn't.

What's the difference between a "top affiliate" and a normal one?
Normal affiliates are, well, normal. The top affiliates are sites that are much more active or high quality. These "top affiliates" are not the same as sister sites - they're just differentiated from normal affiliates for their activeness and quality.

I don't like my review! Can I remove credit?
After your review, displaying FF's button on your site is a way of saying "thanks for this review. I appreciate the effort and time you spent on my site". As a courtesy to me having spent many hours on your review, please do not remove your review credit. If you don't like your review score, then be sure to work at your site and perhaps improve your petpage for your next review. I would highly appreciate that you keep the credit on because it's letting people know that "yes, this site has been reviewed". I make sure that my reviews are high-quality and offer useful advice, so it's not like the review will be useless. It will offer things that could and should be changed, such as linked borders.





Frequent Flyer Challenges

Sometimes, a "Frequent Flyer Challenge" will be issued in a review to a specific person or posted below for anyone to accept. These FF Chalenges have a variety of purposes, such as giving you more graphic-making experience or helping you with your creativity. Each challenge must be completed within two weeks of accepting it. If you see a challenge that can be accepted by anyone ("open" challenges), neomail me if you'd like to participate! More than one person can complete a challenge. You can also contact me if you have any questions or if you have ideas.

For more information on these challenges, visit the F.A.Q.


Open Challenges
Restricted Challenges






Review Yourself

This challenge can be accepted by: Anyone! (Neomail to enter)

Currently accepted by: Florelle (challenge completed), Adzs (challenge completed), Cookies (challenge completed) PF (challenge completed)

Challenge: In this challenge, you'll be reviewing your own site! Since no site is completely perfect, you'll have to look over your own work with a critical eye and write down three positive aspects of your page and thee aspects that need improvement. Think of it as writing a brief "pro/con" review! The aim of this challenge is to get site owners to think more critically about their own site because as the "creators", we might not find anything wrong with our page. Here are some guidelines and tips:

- Your final submission must include 3 "pros" and 3 "cons" of your site - no more, no less!
- You must include a brief explanation of why you think a certain aspect of your site is a "pro" or "con". Don't just list three random things and not explain them. They don't have to be in-depth, but they should answer the question of why.

Results:

Adzs

three positive aspects

The layout is functional - I think it's quite easy to navigate around The Marchen with the links off to the side and the content box is of ample size that won't need requesters to squint when reading their reviews.

I review quite fast - Sometimes I get this feeling that if I leave something unfinished that I won't get it done. I can be quite obssesive on this which is why I try to get as much done as possible while still providing an insightful review and providing the requesters with fast service.

I value visual examples - Most times I'll post up screenies for a particular section that I think would be most helpful when further explained by visual presentation. Screenies are abundant in my reviews.

three negative aspects

I can be abrupt on some statements - I tend to state some things that I only just recently say in the review which can be quite confusing to the requester. I also tend to miss these things when I proofread the review before I post it up.

Lack of audacity - Being a new reviewer I wonder if I am reviewing correctly. There are certainly plenty of helpful sites that serves as great guidance along the way but I think I'll always keep on wondering if I'm doing it right.

Uncertainty of point deductions - In some categories I become uncertain sometimes on just how many points I should deduct. Although I keep looking at that certain category as a whole, I still am unsure sometimes if I am deducting correctly.



Florelle

Three Positive Aspects

- Alaia's layout works in all browsers, which I find very convienent for all visitors since I won't have to lead them to a seperate link for them to view the layout properly. It is also quite a pain to have to get another browser in order to view that layout properly.

Alaia has a decent amount of original rubrics suited for different purposes. If you want something semi-brief but with detail, The Funboard is recommended. The Funboard is like an interview where you ask me different questions and I answer them as in-depth as possible. If you have a new site and want something short, The Bodyboard is for you. That style is meant to be a starter for newer sites. It will ensure your site has the basics. Your score will be determined from the six key points which are: Appeal (10 points), Colour Scheme (5 points), Creativity (10 points), Layout (10 points), Organisation (10 points), Grammar & Spelling (5 points)
In all, there are six rubrics you can choose from, which is more than the standard review site.

- I feel that I review quite quickly as I finish extremely in-depth reviews in less than two days. Though I cover mainly the entire site, I write each review with great detail and many suggestions to help other sites improve their quality and know what they have done well.

Three negative aspects

- The request section of Alaia takes up too little space. I know that you don't want too much stuff in one space but you definitely don't want too little. That part of the content isn't as organized, which is something I must work on - making it more organized in that certain section. I find it not as organized because I have centered lots of text and it looks quite messy.

- While reviewing, I can be unsure of how many points I deduct. I don't want to deduct too many points because it is unfair to the reviewee. When I was still an unexperienced reviewer (few months ago), I once deducted 1 point for 1 grammar mistake. Now as a much better reviewer, I know that I shouldn't have. Though in some categories, I tend to question myself if I am deducting or giving the right amount of points.

- In the story of Alaia, on the sitely section, I write as the character 'Zoe'. I didn't introduce who she is which leaves the visitor wondering who is Zoe and what does she look like? I should explain somewhere in the pages of Alaia who Zoe is. Is Zoe the girl that showed you the papers? Because I didn't explain that, it leaves the visitor with questions.



Cookies

3 Pros- I love the layout! The colors match very nicely and colored in fantastic places. The creative idea of "affiliate reviews" was also a good idea because review sites that are your affiliates are sometimes ashamed to request a review from their affiliate, but now they can. Another good thing was how you incorparated images in the "perfume cabinet". This made it look appealing to the eye.

3 Cons- Although you have 5 different types of reviews, I feel as you could have had more. All high quality review sites have more than 5 types of reviews. I also wish that your pickup section was neater. The boxes are crammed up and a little hard to read from. I also wish that you would have 1 more link-back button. There is an empty space and something needs to go there!



PF

Pros:
- The layout is cute, easy to navigate, and has fast loading. This is perfect for visitors!
- I have high quality buttons. They have just the right animations and font, they're the right size with no borders. I have a good amount for the visitors to choose from.
- I have many extras to visit so you won't be bored browsing my site.

Cons:
- There are some resources that don't match my layout's colors. It looks weird and bright against the light blue and white.
- The white background for the text looks plain and boring. It should be spruced up with a little design to catch the visitor's eye.
- The textboxes for the buttons look odd and cramped up. It makes the button above look not-in-place.

Redmadam (could not complete), Kay (failed challenge)





I Love Icons!

This challenge can be accepted by: Anyone! (Neomail to enter)

Currently accepted by: Hayley (completed challenge), Kingwise (completed challenge), Whizzy (completed challenge), Emma (completed challenge), Kuro (completed challenge), Belsha (completed challenge), Turnip (completed challenge)

Challenge: In this challenge, you'll be making two icons using the image above (click the image for the full size). However, there are some restrictions.
1) You have to use two different areas of the image (the two icons cannot use the same part of the picture). When cropping the icon, make sure they're both 100 pixels by 100 pixels.
2) Your first icon must contain the text "(Your name or username) Love Icons!" somewhere on the image using at least two different font styles. You must use at least one texture (ex. light, grunge, bokeh, etc) and include some sort of border around the icon. You can edit the original image as much as you like. In this icon, make sure the focus is on the text.
3) The second icon can't have any text on it at all and must not have any border. Instead, focus on editing the actual image with colouring techniques, textures, anything! Be creative!

The purpose of this challenge is to introduce people to the different uses of icons. Most often we see icons used as "awards" such as "Reviewed at this Site" or "Featured at this Site". These are what I'd like to call "info" icons because the focus should be on the text. The second icon you're making is what I call a more "decorative" icon. Because it doesn't contain any text, the focus is on the colours of the images and the style.

Results:

Heidi (could not complete), Ari (failed challenge)





What's in a name?

This challenge can be accepted by: Alex

Status: Challenge accepted on August 13th, 2011; completed on August 26th

Challenge: Here's your FF Challenge, should you choose to accept it! All you have to do is come up with five site names. Sound easy right? Well, there's a few restrictions:
- Sites names must be at least two words long (I.e. no "one word" site names are allowed).
- Each site name must include a brief explanation on why that names fits a particular site type. For example, "(Site name here) is perfect for a review site because…" or "(Site name here) suits a link directory site because…"

Results:

Building Blocks - for reviews because they introduce the 'building blocks'; child's toy themed? (reviews)
Twist of Fate - for a directory because great sites are found by a 'twist of fate' (directory)
Ink Typhoon - for font sites because lots of writing would make an ink typhoon (misc)
en bloc - for a directory because all the sites are 'en bloc' (directory)
Full Deck - because having a bunch of sites is like having a bunch of cards (directory)





The creativity challenge!

This challenge can be accepted by: Pip

Status: Challenge accepted on August 10th, 2011

Challenge: Here's my challenge to you, should you accept it! For at least two weeks, create one button every day. The text on the button can be anything, but you can't use the same font two days in a row. Additionally, you can't use the same border design twice, and you can't use the same animation style twice! By sitting down and having to come up with a new border and animation every day, this helps you come up with interesting designs that you may not have created otherwise.

Results:

Failed challenge





The Triple Unique Banner Challenge

This challenge can be accepted by: Heather

Status: Challenge accepted on August 29th, 2012 / Completed on: Sempteber 8th, 2012

Challenge:

Your challenge is to create three banners. Here are the rules:
- All three banners must use different borders. You cannot use the same border you've been using for your content so far.
- For this challenge, you can choose the image yourself. However, all three banners must be from the same image, and you must crop the banners so that they focus on three different areas of the image (I.e. three different focal points).
- For all three banners, you must somehow edit the colour of the image. It has to be visually distinct from the unedited version. You can use the same colouring technique for all three banners.
- The text design for all three must be different (the text/word itself can be the same, but how the text looks must be different).
- For all three banners, you must use different textures, patterns, or brushes. As an example, if you used a specific bokeh texture in banner #1, you can't use it for banner #2 or #3.

It may seem like a hard challenge, but it can be done:



Results:





Turnip's strengths and weaknesses

Everyone has strengths and weaknesses and on this page, I'll give you a list of both in terms of my reviews.

Strengths

  • You will receive your completed review quickly. I'm a very fast reviewer because I believe in offering quick service. That's not to say that I'm rushing. Instead, I start your review as soon as I finish reading your form. You'll never have to wait more than two days for your review.
  • My service reviews are a great advantage for request sites. I have spent a long time working on my guide, How To Offer Great Service and How To Write Great Review, which lets me accurately assess request sites. I can give detailed comments that specifically target service-related areas of a site and provide specialized feedback.
  • I review from different points of view. When I review, I not only look at your site as a reviewer, but also as a visitor and a site owner. This means the feedback you get not only helps you improve as a site owner, but also focuses on your visitors as well.
  • I've owned many graphics sites in the past. I've been creating graphics and layouts for over 10 years. This experience aids me in critiquing visual aspects of a site, such as image cropping, texture application, and colour scheme. For buttons, I've written a button guide, A Button Collection.
  • I understand professionalism in both aesthetics and text. Not only will your review be multifactorial in focus, but critiques about professionalism is something that I can write about very well. Because I've owned many sites, my reviews won't contain any superficial or "guesses" about what "professionalism" actually means.

Weaknesses

  • My familiarity with certain site types is limited. Thus, visitors hoping to get these types of sites reviewed must choose a rubric that doesn't focus on content. Sites that should not request a content-based review include: pet applications, adoption agencies, customization, screenies, untaken names, pet "sites" (i.e. pages with stories about a specific pet) and poetry sites.
  • My time is split between many sites. Since I focus on all of my sites, that means longer reviews (ex. in-depth, all inclusive) may not be available as often as shorter reviews due to time constraints.
  • I only know the basics of coding. If I see any minor technical issues, I can offer you simple coding solutions. However, I will not be able to offer any cross-browser solutions.





Top 10 common mistakes!

Whether it's a button site or a review site, there are always a few common mistakes that I see time and time again. Here's a list of the top 10 errors I've constantly spotted. Make sure you don't have any of these at your site!


| #10 | #9 | #8 | #7 | #6 | #5 | #4 | #3 | #2 | #1 |

#10) "Contact me" links go to an empty neomail


Example of a unhelpful neomail link: send in your form!
Clicking a link that takes me to an empty neomail is not convenient at all. Like I said above, what username do I type in? Should I do a reverse check and search on your petpage and then hope that the owner of that pet is the one I contact? Be sure to always provide your visitors with essential contact information!

Example of a helpful contact link: send in your form!
By linking directly to your userlookup, visitors won't be confused as to who to contact because you've made it very clear.

Example of a relatively helpful contact link: send in your form! (my username is tloef)
In this example, the link goes to a blank neomail but the site owner has provided a username along with it. So, why do I say "relatively" helpful if they've made it clear who to send it to? Well, providing your username is nice, but the visitor has to highlight and copy it. This is adding more steps and basically there's just more room for error here. What if they copied wrong? What if you accidentally made an error when typing out your username?

Example of a very helpful contact link: send in your form
In this example, visitors are taken to a neomail that has the username and the subject line filled out. Here is the coding for that: /neomessages.phtml?type=send&recipient=tloef&subject=FF+REQUEST

To recap…

Never make your neomail links go to an empty page. The best method is to link directly to your user lookup so that visitors know exactly who to contact or add additional coding to your neomail link so that it fills out your username for the visitor.

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#9) Such a tiny div for so much information!


Using div boxes around your site is a great way to clean up your page and organize content. However, sometimes it's just way too small! Now, this issue is much more of a problem for review sites where people tend to cram loads of words (I.e. reviews) into a tiny box.

I shudder to think how much scrolling there would be if I tried to cram one of my reviews into here!

I've come across quite a few review sites that actually use these tiny boxes to squeeze their reviews into. It's crazy to think but some are actually smaller than the example above! When review sites use small divs, they usually put many in a long column on one page (think of them as boxes stacked on top of each other). Why not put each review on separate anchored pages? An example of a review site using this type of organization is Effects. The site owner puts each review on a separate anchored page that visitors can browse through using the arrows at the bottom (one that goes to the next page, and one that goes back to the previous page). If you decide to use this style of organization for your own page, be sure to credit Chris as he was the one who originally came up with this organization for his past review site, Lacuna.

Frequent Flyer also uses this style of organization, but instead of putting each review in a div box, I simply just post the review right on the new anchored page to avoid unnecessary scrolling. It's definitely up to you whether you feel you need div boxes to better organize your page.

Another area where people tend to use much smaller div boxes is for their updates. It's absolutely insane the things people will cram into a tiny box!

Date here
Oh my, super small update box! This makes for harder reading!

Date here
Looks like the scrolling is going to be a lot, even with a few days of updates.

Date here
This updates box is way to tiny to be used efficiently. A minor solution would be to increase the height!

Date here
Sadly, these small update box reflects poorly on the overall site. Too much scrolling makes it inconvenient for visitors to read comfortably.

Date here
All I want for Christmas is a 100 pixel increase in height…

Ouch, not even a week's worth of updates yet!

To recap…

Div boxes are perfectly fine to use but be careful about how much content your putting in them versus how wide/tall your box actually is. For sites that are putting a lot of text-based content into divs (ex. Review sites), large div boxes is a must! Having the necessary space to comfortably read the text means the div should be adequately wide. In addition, make sure that the height is appropriate so that visitors aren't scrolling every few sentences because the div box is only 100 pixels in height.

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#8) The textareas don't line up with the image above it.


This is a fairly common issue, though it isn't as widespread as it was in the past. Still, I see it frequently enough that it deserves a spot in the top 10. To keep your page looking spiffy and professional, you'll want to make sure the width of your textbox is even with the image above it. If it's a link back button, then the width of the textarea should be 88 pixels and if it's an icon, then it should be 100 pixels. At The Lunch Box and this site, I always code for a variety of different textarea widths. Here's a visual example:




Here are the three different textarea styles that were used in the examples above:

Notice how it would look really strange if I used one textarea style for all three:




While the textarea looks nice with the icon image, it doesn't match up evenly with the button or scaled down banner.

When using different textarea styles, make sure that you add the proper id tags to your coding. For instance, the code for the textarea underneath the icon image would be something like this: textarea id="codeicon".

To recap…

Making sure that the textarea width is the same as the image above it makes your page look visually appealing and presents your site in a more professional light. It keeps your page looking neat and tidy! For buttons, make sure the textarea style is 88 pixels wide and 100 pixels for icons. For larger graphics (banners/layouts), make sure the width is equal to the number that you scaled it down to. For example, if you scaled a layout image down to 200 pixels, your textarea would have a width of 200 pixels.

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#7) That linked border isn't very stylish…


Sometimes even more experienced site owners commit this crime! Having a linked border around an image isn't visually appealing but it's very easy to fix. Now, what do I mean by "linked border"? Well, it's that extra border that goes around any linked image if you haven't added border="0" to the image code. Here's a quick comparison (drag and drop into the address bar for full view):

The code is very simple as well! Here's an example of a link back button with the border="0" code added:

Depending on your browser settings and CSS styles, you may not even get the border, even if the linked image has no border="0" code. However, this doesn't mean that it's invisible to other people as well and that you should just leave it out! You always need to keep your entire audience in mind and make sure you add this super easy bit of coding to any of your linked images.

The most common areas where I see this not being used is the link back buttons in the sitely section. A lot of the times, site owners will provide the code for their buttons in the textarea but forget to add the border="0" bit to the coding! This means that the visitor will be a bit inconvenienced by this and will have to add it themselves.

To recap…

These borders will appear on any linked image. To get rid of them, simply add border="0" to the image code and you're finished! If you're providing code for any of your images (ex. award icons, link back buttons), make sure to check to see if it contains border="0".

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#6) Perfessionalizm in text: :) not Using propor spelling, grammar; or punctuation!!?


See what I did there? Proper spelling, grammar, and punctuation are all part of what I lump into professionalism in text and it can really make or break how people view you as a site owner. Is your introduction nicely written or are there multiple spelling errors? Are you paying attention to sentence structure and do they flow nicely when I read them?

Most common mistakes:

Lack of capitalization

Unless your site name is supposed to be lower case, always make sure that you're capitalizing it. Another common error is that people don't capitalize the first word of a new sentence.
Example: welcome to my site, frequent flyer!
Rewritten: Welcome to my site, Frequent Flyer!

Comma splice

If you don't understand what a comma splice is, chances are you'll be committing the same mistake over and over and over again! A comma splice is basically using a comma to incorrectly join two sentences that should be separate.
Example: Welcome to my review site, we offer lots of different types of reviews!
Rewritten: Welcome to my review site. We offer lots of different types of reviews!

Professionalism

Using smilies, chat speak, and other short forms around your page may present you as an unprofessional speaker. The only area where smilies are suitable is the updates blog since that acts as a more personal part of your site.
Example: Welcome to my site!! :) I'm glad you came 4 a visit! Be sure to check out the graphics!!!
Rewritten: Welcome to my site! I'm glad you came for a visit. Be sure to check out the graphics!
(There's no need to spam the exclamation mark as one is suitable. The smiley face presents an immature tone and doesn't make you seem professional.)

Example: Have a question? Be sure to NM me!
Rewritten: Have a question? Be sure to neomail me!
(Always spell everything out completely. For instance, "NM" should be "neomail". You never know who will be visiting you page, and perhaps a newbie to Neopets may not know what NM stands for. Using shortforms makes you seem lazy.)

Another part of professionalism in text deals with your attitude and how you're using text to convey your thoughts. I've already talking a lot about it at How To Offer Great Service, but I'll briefly discuss it here as well.

When writing anything text-based for your site, you want to present a professional and friendly image using an assertive tone of voice. This means not letting your irritation show, or dragging your personal life onto your site.

Example: Ugh, nobody reads the rules! I mean, come on people! I put my OWN time into making graphics so the least you can do is read the rules and show some gratitude…jeez..
Rewritten: Whenever you request, please be sure to read the rules! I put a lot of effort into each graphic, so I'd appreciate it if you did.

To recap…

Professionalism in text is a important part of any site, regardless if your content is text-based or not. Your attitude as a site owner will definitely be reflected in text – are you cranky and impatient, constantly yelling at your visitors and making them feel bad? Or are you welcoming and using a friendly tone? On the more technical side, be sure to always use proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Try to get a friend or fellow site owner to read through your site ahead of a review to check for any errors.

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#5) The rubrics at many review sites


I've reviewed a lot of review sites and the most common content-related issue is with the rubrics. Here are the two major problems:
  • They're barely explained, vague, and confusing.
  • They contain more subjective means of grading or wording.
By the end of this section, hopefully you'll be able to walk away with some new tips on how to carefully construct a proper and informative rubric. This is a pretty big section, so get ready!

Stay away from things that aren't important at most sites.

What I mean by this is that you should focus on site mechanics and how well the site functions within itself. For example, let's say you're working on the "Layout" section of your rubric. Here's a phrase you should not have in your short explanation: Does the layout match your theme?

First and foremost, a layout should be about design/style and function - not the theme. Ask yourself this: does a site inherently function better if there's a "theme"? Does having a layout with a plane for Frequent Flyer make my reviews more in-depth? No. It's a nice surprise if it does match, but a site owner shouldn't lose points because a layout doesn't match their site name or theme.

Be objective and try to stay away from preconceptions!

One phrase in a rubric that I've run into is this: Did it look like I expected? Better or worse? Why?

First, going into a review with preconceived ideas about what a site "should look like" is a bad terrible idea. You'll be judging a site based on a prior point of view, which means it won' be as helpful as it could be for the site owner. When you first load up a site for review, you should be entering with no preconceptions or bias of any kind. Think of it as a blank slate. Perhaps you've visited the site before. If that's the case, then really try to pinpoint what exactly stood out for you when you load their site. It shouldn't be about what you "expect", but how you react. Remember: don't review a site with preconceived thoughts. It'll just lead you to be completely bias and unfair to the site owner you're reviewing.

Do you have enough link back buttons, affiliates, and listers?
This phrase is usually found in the "sitely" analysis of a rubric and it's probably the most useless factor for grading a site. You need to be objective and look at quality, instead of quantity. Be extremely careful with this because it has no major bearing on site quality. What does it matter if a site has five or 30 affiliates? Instead of looking at quantity, look at quality instead. If you're reviewing a new site, would it be fair to deduct marks because they're not listed at 20 directories? No, because the site is new and the site owner wants your early impressions rather than a head count of their sitely section. When assessing each category, look for details like this:
- In the affiliates section, have they included a link to their user lookup? If not, this is inconvenient because people who want to be affiliates with them don't have a quick way to contact the site owner.
- Do they have enough link backs to provide some selection? Based on the type of site, look to see if they have five or so (some sites can have less, such as guides since they generally don't have a fully developed sitely page anyway). Also, look at the quality of the buttons. Do they reflect the site in a positive way? Look to see if the text can easily be read and make necessary suggestions as to which buttons should be removed (and why).
- Are they listed at the major directories? (Soroptimist Directory, Elle's Help Guide).
- Are they properly crediting their sources? Are the credits aligned to the left so that it looks neat and organized?

To recap…

Rubrics are extremely important at any review site since they provide visitors with a comprehensive evaluation of what you'll be looking for. Stay away from things that are excessively subjective (ex. Prior expectations, "bonus" marks) and make sure that you're properly explaining what the focus of each category is.

You may want to check How To Write Great Reviews for more tips!

BACK TO THE TOP

#4) Not using space effectively (and massive scrolling issues)


All site types need to be able to use the space they have effectively, and this is much more important if your layout has a small content area. The more content you stack on top of one another, the longer your page will get, and thus, the more scrolling you'll have. As a site owner, you always want to cut down on the amount of scrolling since this will make it easier for visitors to browse through your content.

The issues of wasting space and massive amounts of scrolling go hand in hand. If you use space effectively, you'll minimize scrolling. Here's a visual example:













Notice how much scrolling is cut down in the second example, simply by putting content beside each other rather than in a long column.

Another area where I see site owners wasting space often is the request area. Most of the time, people will simply put the request status, form, envelope, and waiting list in one giant row. Here's a visual example:



Write "Review request" as your subject

Waiting List:
1. Username here
2. Username here
3. Username here

Notice how there's a ton of space on the left and right that's unused! Let's use space effectively and put some of these things beside each other:



Write "Review request" as your subject"

Waiting List:
1. Username here
2. Username here
3. Username here

Whether you're comfortable using tables or floating divs, using space effectively will always cut down on the amount of scrolling you have.

Here's the coding for the example using tables:

To recap…

Two issues that are very common but are interconnected include using space effectively and large amounts of scrolling. If you do well in one area, the other issue wouldn't really be an issue. The best way to use space effectively is making sure you're using horizontal space (left and right) in addition to using vertical space (up and down).

BACK TO THE TOP

#3) Not making the request status more visible


In terms of request sites, this one happens a lot. The request status is important information that must not only be provided to the visitor, but it must be clearly visible and easy to spot. That being said, many sites are using plain text. Let's run a small test. Below are two examples of a request status.

Requests are closed.

Which one's more noticeable? Which request status stood off the page more? Using a colourful graphic sign not only adds a bit of style to your page, it's also handy because it's eye-catching. However, what if you just don't have the space for a graphic sign? If your content area is small and you can't fit a larger sign, why not use CSS to change the colour of your font? For instance, the two examples below are both plain text, but one will stand out more.

Requests are CLOSED.

Requests are CLOSED.

In the second example, I used a different colour, red. Though it doesn't stand out as much as a graphic sign, the capitalized red text will still be more helpful than plain text. I've provided the code in the textbox below.

Note that if you want to make a green colour for "open", then you would need to create a new class and input different colours.

To recap…

A request status sign should always jump off a page and be clearly visible to all visitors. Never use plain text or simple bolded text since it may blend in with the rest of your page. Make it visually different by using a graphic sign, or even use a different font colour.

BACK TO THE TOP

#2) No spacing between images


Possible one of the most common errors that I've seen to date, this issue is actually extremely easy to fix! Whenever I see this issue, it's usually with linked buttons. Common areas include a site's link back buttons, their affiliates' buttons, or their directory buttons. Here's a visual example of the problem:

Uh oh, looks like the buttons are "sticking together"! That doesn't look visually appealing at all. How can we fix this? Well, let's look at the coding. For the "sticky" problem above, I simply copied and pasted the button code and put them right after one another. Here's what I mean:

(button code 1)(button code 2)(button code 3)(button code 4)

However, what if I put each code on separate lines, like this:

(button code 1)
(button code 2)
(button code 3)
(button code 4)

Here's what I get:

See how each button is evenly spaced out? It looks much more appealing and professional this way since they're not "sticking" together. With any linked image, always try your best to put them on separate lines since this creates some space between each image.

What happens if your image isn't supposed to be linked? How should you create space? Simple - add padding to your image code. Here a visual example of non-linked images without padding:


This is the code I'm using:

Note how they're all sticking together! To solve this sticky issue, let's add padding to the image code and see what we get:

This is the code I'm using:

Notice how the icons are nicely spaced apart in the second example. I've added style="padding:3px;" to the image code. You can use any number you want, but 2 and 3 are the ones I usually use.

To recap…

If you have a "sticky" situation with any of your images, be sure to one of the following:

For linked images, simply put each code on a separate line.

For non-linked images, add padding to the code itself.

BACK TO THE TOP

#1) Aligning text in the center instead of the left


Oh boy, far too many sites are guilty of this one it's crazy! I don't know how many times I've seen this, even at professional and well established sites. It's strange that this aspect of owning a site has gone by unnoticed but here it is: the #1 common mistake!

Centering large bodies of text (i.e. your introductory paragraph, your updates) makes your page look messy and less professional. It's also harder for visitors to read because of the "jagged" edges of the paragraphs and the fact that centered text means none of the lines start at the same point. The worst is having to read entire reviews that are centered. My eyes were literally begging for left alignment!

This is an example of writing a large body of text that is not supposed to be centered. It makes the page look a bit messy and unprofessional. Centering text is mostly used by new site owners who think that it makes their page look more nice but that's not the case!

Additionally, lists of any kind should be aligned to the left. Like with large bodies of text, centered lists are way too messy. Here's a quick demonstration:

Tloef at (HTOGS)
1,2,3,4
Turnip at (YYBP)
This list is aligned to the left.
Tloef at (HTOGS)
1,2,3,4
Turnip at (YYBP)
This is a centered list. Ouch.

To recap...

The golden rule: if it's a large body of text or if you're using a list of any kind, always align to the left! Centering is not a way to make your page "look neater". The only situation where centering should be used is for a graphic (ex. a request status sign), or if you have a small blurb of text that needs emphasis (see here and scroll to the bottom. Note how the text "Current tickets available" and "Waiting list" are centered, but the lists are properly left aligned).

BACK TO THE TOP





Golden Travellers

Here are a list of sites that have earned a ton of frequent flyer miles! Golden Traveller members are organized by review type, so you can use the menu below to navigate between the various rubrics.

| All Inclusive | Service Only | In-depth | Build Your Own Review |

If your site is in listed in any of the categories above, feel free to take a Golden Traveller ticket below!








Golden Travellers (All Inclusive)

Here are a list of sites that have earned a ton of frequent flyer miles! Golden Traveller members are organized by review type, so you can use the menu below to navigate between the various rubrics.

| All Inclusive | Service Only | In-depth | Build Your Own Review |

If your site is in listed in any of the categories above, feel free to take a Golden Traveller ticket below!




20/20
None

19/20


18/20


17/20


16/20


15/10





Golden Travellers (Service only)

Here are a list of sites that have earned a ton of frequent flyer miles! Golden Traveller members are organized by review type, so you can use the menu below to navigate between the various rubrics.

| All Inclusive | Service Only | In-depth | Build Your Own Review |

If your site is in listed in any of the categories above, feel free to take a Golden Traveller ticket below!









Golden Travellers (In-depth)

Here are a list of sites that have earned a ton of frequent flyer miles! Golden Traveller members are organized by review type, so you can use the menu below to navigate between the various rubrics.

| All Inclusive | Service Only | In-depth | Build Your Own Review |

If your site is in listed in any of the categories above, feel free to take a Golden Traveller ticket below!









Golden Travellers (Build your own review)

Here are a list of sites that have earned a ton of frequent flyer miles! Golden Traveller members are organized by review type, so you can use the menu below to navigate between the various rubrics.

| All Inclusive | Service Only | In-depth | Build Your Own Review |

If your site is in listed in any of the categories above, feel free to take a Golden Traveller ticket below!





None yet!


Progress


Hullo there, Becky! Here's your secret page for the review mentor/student program.

Becky's review mentoring page

IP Activity #1

Layout assessment:

FF Review Activity #1: Gut Reaction

This activity is less about the actual review content. Instead, it focuses on helping you review at a fast pace. Because review sites offer a type of service, we need to be able to quickly and efficiently write down our opinions. Every reviewer has their own ways of approaching reviews, so this is an introduction to something that has helped me out a lot. It's just something to try out and if it's not for you, that's fine!

Purpose: To help you review at a quicker pace; to help provide a more efficient way of building review statements

Guidelines: Below are four banners. They've been scaled down so drag and drop into the address bar for full view (or right click and choose "View Image").

When viewing each banner, write down the first three words or phrases that pops into your head. That's it, that's all! The things you write down can be negative or positive.

Future activities will build on these words/phrases, so I'll keep a record of them here.

Example:


Here's an example of my "gut reaction" when looking at the banner below:

Light, textures, copyright watermark

The Duty Free Shop

Link back







Sister Site


Looking for some accommodations? Why not check out The Lodge, a review site by Ricky! With an incredibly unique theme to the in-depth reviews, The Lodge is a one-of-a-kind site that's full of creativity and high-quality advice. There's many rubrics to choose from and a ton of interesting extras. So, what are you waiting for? Book your room today!

Affiliates

Requests are: OPEN // Apply to be affiliates // More information?


Listed At

Affinity
Akakosui's Directory
Angel's Directory
Dragon's Lair
Desolace
Luminescent
Plethora
Masked
That One List
Lacuna Directory
Moonless
Simple Gifts
Fireflies
Spiderweb
Smiley Central
HotL Directory
Unwound Clock
Alpha Directory

Achievements and other goodies

RANKED...

#1 at Critique, Intuition, Soroptimist Directory, The Faerie Compass, Trapped Fairytales, The Bookshelf, Down The Rabbit Hole, Starcatcher, The Secret Library, The Bakery, Hidden Treasures, iSite, Sample Reviews, Elle's Help Guide, Purple Dream Reviews, Echelon, News Flash, Dragon's Lair, Cloud Infinity, The Lodge, Simple Gifts, Lacuna Directory, The Shelf, Radiant Gardens Directory, Sweeters Cafe, Karma, Enough Said, The Music Book, All of the Cupcakes, Erised, Captivate

Thanks so much for ranking FF. It means a lot!

Notes: Unlinked sites are either closed or have removed their "ranking" section from the site

FEATURES & MORE...

- SOTW at Sweet Dreams (Oct.31.11)
- Featured Site at Neostars Magazine (Sept.1.11)
- Notable new site at Bedazzled (Aug.14.11)
- Most Recommended in Reviews at Enchanted


Credits

Layout designed by Rika at Flux; coded by Shingie.
All buttons are linked back to their creators.
Resources are from The Lunch Box.
Frequent Flyer: Lite Edition inspired by Ask Grace.
Credentials idea originally by Rika at RSA.
Neopets characters, logos, names, and all related indicia are trademarks of Neopets, Inc. © 1999 - Present. Used with permission.



Counter started on August 7th, 2011.




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