tips on how to run a successful site


Welcome! My name is Violette {starpbl@neopets}, and I run UltraViolette Designs and .dot Helpfuls, a graphic/request site and a petpage directory, respectively. I also help to run three offsites with a group of friends. Now, this might seem like a handful, and it is. I get busy very easily, especially with all the requests that keep coming in through UVD and school. But I learn which sites to pay more attention to, and which ones to pay less attention to.

In this guide, I will give tips on how to run and maintain a successful site. Hopefully, this will be helpful to anyone who might be running or thinking of running a site. It's a lot of reading, but this might be really handy for you!

**And no, I definitely do not consider myself the ultimate site runner, and I don't guarantee that your site will become super-famous with 43987538957849348103489 hits per day, but these are my opinions on how a site could be successfully run.

Updates and other site content on And Finally.
Pie in the Sky SOTM! Please vote for SUCCESS!

zero impressions

What I like to call "zero impressions" are are what people think about your site before they get to see the first impression. In other words, what do they think about when they hear about your site before visiting it, or first see your link-back button on another page?

The site name might not be so important to you, but it is pretty significant when you want a lot of visitors. Really, which site would you rather visit? Nightlife Designs or Smiley-Face Lyts? Make it easy to remember, and don't overthink it.

When looking for sites to put on my directory, I look through the sites I have already listed and look at their Affiliates section. I usually click on the better-looking buttons, and I usually don't bother to click on the ugly-looking buttons unless I have way too much time on my hands, which is something most people don't have. Plus to me, a bad-looking buttons probably means a bad-looking site layout. If you don't think you can make a decent-looking button, request one at...

zero impressions

any button/request sites. Many are listed on my page directory.

Have a good reputation. If your site is known as being a bad site, some people might not even want to bother visiting. If you have a request site, and your customers' requests are always said to be late, people would look for another request site. If there are millions of errors in your premade layouts all the time, there are so many other premades sites people could go to. Be a reliable site manager, and always try to be the best, even thought there never will be an absolute best.

first look

When someone first visits your site, what do they think of it? Does it look messy or neat? Does it load fast or does it take 5 minutes to finish loading? Is there any music playing?

When people surf through the internet, they're usually listening to music at the same time. If not, it probably means that they want no noise to be coming from the computer. So if your site has automatic music playing, your visitors would most probably find it annoying to see that your favorite song is playing over their favorite iTunes playlist or the movie their sister is watching in the same room. If you're crazy about a song, blend it into your layout a little. Great premades that incorporate songs into their layouts can be found at FTW Designs and lots more other sites.

If your page takes more than one minute to load, I would just click the 'back' button and not come to your site in weeks. I might not even come to your site ever…

first look

again. This is probably the case for other people, too. And, trust me, there are a lot of people that have less patience than me. Try to make your page as easy to load as possible.

If your layout is a mess, people will think that you didn't take your time trying to complete a well-coded layout. For websites, looks are everything. Well, almost. The content is very important also, and might be a big part in why a person might visit your site in the first place. More about layouts in the next section.


When coding your layout, take everything into consideration. Ask yourself these questions: Do I need a sidebar? Should my page scroll, or should it have a scrolling blog? What is my colour scheme, and does it tie in with my theme? Does it look right in all browsers?

Let me just get this out of the way: If you have a premades site, don't use another site's premade for your page layout. What's the point of making a premade for other people when you can't make one for yourself?

The most significant part of coding that most people {including me} have trouble with is making your page compatible in the most common web browsers. You don't even need all browsers in your computer to test that. There are so many nice people on the Help Chat section of the NeoBoards that are willing to help you out. The browsers that Neopians use the most are Internet Explorer, FireFox, and…



Colour schemes can help bring your site together. If you like to change layouts every once in a while, there's no one telling you that you have to keep using the same colour schemes over and over again, so go ahead and change the scheme if you want to. Just make sure to use colors that go well with each other, and don't use different hues of the same color, like royal blue and turquoise. You could, however, use different shades of the same color, e.g. turquoise and dark turquoise. Add at least one neutral color to your scheme. Neutral colors give your scheme balance and don't make your site look too bright. For some color scheme ideas, you can go here or here.

A theme is not something most sites have. But if you have one, it's important to let it fit in with the colour scheme. If you have a Maraquan-inspired theme, don't use dry colors like brown or tan, and vice versa….


Messiness is not something you want in your layout. Keep a narrow textspace, and don't make it too narrow, either. 320px-650px is very reasonable for your main textspace. And something to make your textspace so much neater: PADDING. It adds an inner border to your textspace and creates a boundary between your text and other things on your page.
To me, the easiest way to make a page look messy is to have a wide textspace and a pure white {or light-colored} background. It takes a lot to pull off a wide, light-colored layout. But it is possible to make it look neat.


When a person reads through your text, can they understand it quickly, or do they have to read over it again to grasp exactly what you're saying? If you make no sense at all, most people would just forget about it and look for another site in the category that is the same as yours.

No one wants to squint to be able to read your font, really. No one wants to have to copy and paste your text into word so they can change the font size/color just so they can read it. Remember, not everyone can read a 5px font in a color that blends in with your background color. If your background is dark, use a light color for your text, and vice versa. Have a reasonable font size {8-12px font for normal text} and a common font. When using the font small fonts, use the sizes 7 through 9. And not everyone has Jokerman {or some other decorative font}, so if you want to use that font, make it a picture in an image editing program {such as Microsoft Paint, Adobe…


Photoshop, Corel Paint Shop Pro, etc.} and use HTML to put it in as an image.
This brings us to our next point. Only use complicated fonts in big sizes. If it's too small, all the details in the letters get mushed together into a blob of pixels that only you can read. Make your text legible!
Links should be neat as well. Normal links could stand out, but don't use a super-bright color. That's just overkill. It's better if you don't have letter-spacing changes on hovers for normal links, but it's okay to have them on navigation links. Always have simple hovers, and remember to mention the a:link, a:active, and a:visited in your coding.
a:link, a:visited, a:active{font: 9pt arial; color: #907860; text-decoration: none; font-weight:bold;}
a:hover{color: #C8B566; text-decoration: none;}end quote


If your word choices are vague and unclear, people will have to read over your text multiple times. No one likes to read the same thing over and over, so let's save your visitors the trouble and let them be able to understand what they're reading the first time around, okay? Use punctuation when needed, and don't sound like a n00b. If you don't know what a n00b sounds like, here's a sample from The Complete Newbie Guide:

quoteGIV ME SUM MONEY PLZ OR FREE STUFF PLZZZZZZ OPLZ OPLZ OPLZ…LOL stupid n00b... y ur so DUMB!!!!!!!!!!!!!!end quote

Yeah. Annoying, right? Don't sound like that. Also, don't use text effects {bold, underlining, italics, and strikethroughs} for every other word just because you feel like it. It could hurt people's eyes. Text effects are for making words stand out. If the whole page is covered in text effects, what's the point in having…



This is more of a personal preference: as much as possible, use proper grammar. Please? They bother me too much. Use the right "to"s {to, too, two}, "their"s {their, they're}, "your"s {your, you're}, "than"s {than, then}, and don't say "should of," because it's really supposed to be "should have." Your grammar doesn't have to be perfect; just do the best that you can.


Your content is probably the reason why people visit your site, and a bigger reason why they keep coming back. There might be so many sites that are the same category as yours, so what would make someone want to visit yours?

When thinking of what kind of site to put up, take into consideration what is easy for you, and how much time you have in your hands. If you have little time on your hands, think of putting up a guide or tutorial. If your schedule is empty, make a request site. If you're bad at making graphics, go for something non-artistic. If you're a coding genius, make premades for the coding-challenged that are out there, or make a coding help page. Whatever suits you and your schedule best is what you should go for. But if you're a busy bee with no creativity, but still want to make a graphic request site, no one's gonna stop you.

For more information on site categories and what skills you need to maintain them, refer to Apartment Nine: Phase 3.

needed content

You can't make a site without any links, or rules. Make sure you have the needed content! A sidebar contains all the important content that doesn't really relate to what your site is for. Got that? It sounds a teensy bit confusing, sorry about that. Example: You own a directory site and the main part of your page conatins the links to all the petpages you're listing, and maybe an intro. Nothing else. Your sidebar is where you have all the other content that you need: anchor links, link-back buttons, neomailing information, updates, affiliates, credits, etc. You don't need a sidebar on your page, but you might need the content that goes into a sidebar. {I, for one, don't like having sidebars on my pages. It does work for other sites, though. :]} If you have super-strict rules, like "NO EDITING AT ALL," then most people would probably want to get something that can be edited to their liking and find another site that has looser rules. But if you want the best for your content, put up some rules, and don't be too rude when explaining your rules. Examples:


Content by me, for me, and ONLY me. NO STEALING

I worked hard on the content, please don't steal.end quote

The first one makes the owner sound obnoxious. The second one was fine, except for the "…for me, and ONLY me" part, which just ruined it. Just say "me" once, we'll get the point! I don't think I've ever seen the last one, or something like it before {not even on my sites}, but I think it's the best one. It shows that the owner is nice, and it doesn't make the visitor scared to contact the owner because they think the owner might get mad at them for any reason. You don't need to be completely polite, just don't be extremely rude.


-When coding your layout, do it in a type program like Word, Notepad, or WordPad. This way, if any accidents happen while editing your page, you can just go back to where you saved it, and just paste it back. This helps a lot.
-Tell your visitors what you updated last so they won't have to search through the site for new stuff.
-Be friendly! Humor is also good when speaking to your visitors. No one wants to visit a site with a mean, boring owner.
-Don't be afraid to refuse an affiliate request! Everyone says "no" once in a while!
-Can you think of anything more to put up here? Neomail me!


Here are some things that can help you on your site. Credit is so very much appreciated, but not needed.

site names

If you use any, please neomail me with a link to your site, and which site name you used so that I can cross it out and link your site. If your site's name is up here and you didn't get the idea from here, it was only by coincidence. Just neomail me and I'll happily take off your site name off the list.
-Decode {maybe for a coding help site}
-Elevator Drop
-[The] Record Spin {maybe for a music codes site}
-Beautiful. Magical. Heartless.
-You Decide {maybe for a SOTM site}
-Whatever You Like {maybe for a graphic request site}
-No More 4OH!4 {maybe for a page directory}, from Juli
-Forever and a Day, from Juli
-Howling to the Moon
-[This isn't] Rocket Science! {maybe for a CSS help/guide site}
-Robotic Love
-Engine Wing
-Metal Hearts -Any ideas you want me to post? Neomail me, and I'll put it up and credit you! Also, if you need any help in thinking of one, don't hesitate to neomail me.



colour schemes

For your designs and/or layouts. Be warned, though. They might look good in some cases, but if applied to a bad layout or graphic, it can look bad. Really bad.
**I realized that the zeros (0) and Os (O) look exactly alike in the font I used (Impact). Please just use trial and error to figure out what it really is until I fix this problem (and find a new font).


Any suggestions of what I should add? Pls feel free to neomail me!

and finally

Whew. Long guide, huh? Hope it didn't bore you too much, and I hope it was really helpful! If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to neomail me at StarPBL. Make me proud and be successful with your site!

Site | Contact | Affiliates | Link Back | FAQ | Updates


This site layout was done by Violette Lam, starpbl, on Neopets. All content was done by Violette unless stated otherwise.

Site | Contact | Affiliates | Link Back | FAQ | Updates


Affiliate Request

Site | Contact | Affiliates | Link Back | FAQ | Updates


Unlike for my other sites, I will be extremely picky about my affiliates on this site. If I say no to your affiliation request, please don't be offended. I might suggest you to apply for affiliation to my other sites. {So maybe try those first.}
You must have an 88x31px button. If you don't have one, you may request one here, regardless of whether or not requests are open/closed. {Just remind me about this in the request form. I might forget. :D}

**Please note: I would like to limit my affiliates to only sites that can help site owners be successful with their sites (e.g. review sites, guides, etc.). With exception, of course.

My graphics site. My petpage directory. Don't know where to start on your site? (Site-making guide) Need feedback on your site? (Reviews) Need help on anything? (Several helpful tutorials) Need feedback on your site? (Reviews) Having trouble making a button? (Button requests) Spread the word and truth about your site! (Interviews) Need some more advice on your site? (Site tips)

Site | Contact | Affiliates | Link Back | FAQ | Updates

link back

Link back to my site if you liked it! Thanks!

Site | Contact | Affiliates | Link Back | FAQ | Updates


To ask any questions, please neomail me. There is a link to contact me below.

Site | Contact | Affiliates | Link Back | FAQ | Updates


1.20.10 It seems the big updates didn't come this year. Sorry about that, people, really!
And something very exciting: I just found out that I rank #3 at Top Hat! This means so much to me, really. This just made my day.

Previous Updates:
12.14.09 The thing I like most about owning a guide is how little you have to update it. Very suitable for a high school student's lifestyle. WELL Winter break is coming up, and that always means big updates on my sites!

10.05.09 Two amazing new affies! [link] and [link].

10.03.09 The layout might be messed up, I know. But right now, it's the only way to get past these stubborn filters! Sorry, and if you know how to get past the new filters, please contact me!!! Thanks so much!

10.02.09 New affiliate: [link]. And I have seen a sharp increase in this page's viewers! Thanks so much, guest and others!

9.26.2009 Great new affiliate: [link]. And my birthday's in 3 days!

9.25.2009 I noticed that I didn't put Site links on this page, so I added them. I have one new affie, who I planned on asking for affiliation since I planned this site [link]. And another affie: [link].

9.20.2009 Today is the day. SUCCESS makes its debut on Neopets! I hope my site makes sitemakers strive to make their site better and better. If the layout shows up wrong on your browser, please let me know and tell me what browser you use. Thanks so much!

Site | Contact | Affiliates | Link Back | FAQ | Updates