rika's review examples, woop!
Hey Rico, Jenny and random stranger (idk what you're doing here), but here are 3 review examples! (I know I said I'd give you 5 but uhm, yeah, it's super long. But if you guys want a review of a specific site type, then tell me!) Sincerest apologies for the length, as you know I loved to ramble. I only hope my ramble is coherent.
You guys should also know that I tailored my rubrics specifically to the site's type. So I mean, you can't look at quality of content in competition sites and how amazing a layout is isn't as important in writing sites than it is in art sites.
I recently got my old main back, so this might be a helpful resource for you guys.
Lastly, I am hesitant in endorsing the idea of professionalism - only because professionalism and curtail the originality and personality e.xpressed in sites. Being polite and respectful is super important, but beyond that, is professionalism SUPER SUPER important? Food for thought.
But yeah, looking at long these reviews are... I hope you now understand why the thought of reviewing stresses me out a little! n_n; I was pretty hardcore. But don't let it stress you out!
review for trapped fairytales
trapped fairytales was a button site!
First Impression (3.5/5) - Upon entering your site, the impression created was not fantastic nor was it poor; the impression created was neutral. Before I explain why, the first thing that I saw upon entering your site was the white content box in the middle and after that and then my eyes moved to your navigation on the right. From this observation, the visual hierarchy has some issues that affect the impact your site makes.
If you look at other sites, you may notice that sites that make a fantastic first impression, or at least a great visual impact, are sites where the focal point of the layout is the title or the dominant image in the layout. In your layout however, although the layout receives some attention, the attention is not a great emphasis. My eyes are drawn to the content box because it stands out in your site; the very light gray stands out among the brown, which is the dominant colour of your site. More so, because the light gray box is light, this contrasts with the brown and because of this difference, the gray box is given emphasis.
However, if I was to elaborate more on what I saw upon entering your site, as mentioned before, I would first see the light gray content box, then your navigation on the right as it is the same colour of your content box- the same colour creates a relationship which links the two together- then I would look at the bow (or the front of the ship) and finally, the title at the top.
The problem is not that the gray box had a lot of emphasis- to be charitable, it can be said that this improves the functionality of your layout- but the problem is that your layout, I found, was given hardly any significance and acted more as something to set a colour scheme rather than a visual breathing space. More so, the fact that your title was the last thing I saw, and therefore does not rank very high in the visual breathing space can be a problem. From a visitor's perspective, since the gray box area that will receive the most attention for the majority of the time someone is on your site, if things such as the title are overlooked, chances are that it will go unnoticed for awhile. Remember that when people visit a site, they are here for the content; if your layout fails to create a lasting impression, it won't receive the attention that it deserves.
Therefore, when you request or make new layouts, be on the lookout for problems such as this. I will explain what can be done to fix or what to look out for in the future in the Layout section of the review. (Point deduction for the visual hierarchy issue will be done so in the Layout section.)
1.5 points deducted for average first impression due to lack of general visual impact (-1.5).
Introduction (5/5) - Reading your introduction, you seem to have a very clear and very concise introduction which is excellent. There's not much to comment on as your introduction is quite short, though I do have a couple of suggestions.
First, where you have written, a button request site run by sarcasticshman7 (call me Pip). I wonder if you could rephrase this. Instead of call me Pip in the brackets, why not change it to, a button request site run by Pip (sarcasticshman7). What I have suggested automatically implies that the visitor should call you Pip and by bracketing your username, it further implies that it is your username. This is a very minor thing and doesn't affect the quality of your introduction (and therefore points shall not be deducted) but this just avoids sentence clutter!
My last suggestion (again, this is very minor so no points will be deducted) is that you emphasis by bolding or italicizing button site as it is a key word in your introduction; by doing this, people who are not interested in reading the whole introduction will immediately get an idea of what your site is about.
All in all, a very clean introduction; good job, Pip!
No points deducted for this section.
Layout (12.5/15) - I have spoken a lot of your layout in the First Impressions section, so I will proceed to explain the fixes or what should be avoided (or what should be done) in future layouts. As a reminder, the problem with your layout was that the imagery of your layout didn't receive as much emphasis as it should have; it was left to be quite an insignificant portion of your site, which renders the purpose of your layout to be quite unfulfilling. This also caused a confusion as to what I should have looked at first; remember, I saw the content box first but generally, you want the image to be the first thing the visitor sees.
Therefore in the future, make sure that your layout is given some emphasis. You can achieve this by making the imagery portion of your site larger so that it is given emphasis spatially. In your layout's case, this would be the most practical approach since your colour scheme is quite narrow. Another way of looking at it is that the imagery in your layout is quite busy; there isn't one primary or dominant focus of the layout and there is no evident focal point. Therefore next time, make one thing in your imagery the main focus of the layout. Examples of where this has been done are in sites such as Nienke's Premades, where the image has been emphasized, or Utopia, where the title/text has been emphasized. You can see how the two layouts make an impact because there is one thing that is emphasized and there is one thing that sticks out in the layout opposed to many or none.
Lastly, I did not elaborate as much as I should have, but your title ranks quite low in the visual hierarchy and therefore can be easily overlooked. What you want is a title that really sticks out because, as well as the dominant imagery, it should be one of the first things the visitor sees when they visit your site. To make it more stand out, or as a note for future layouts, is perhaps you can manipulate the placement of the title so that it's presence in the layout is more evident. Another way is to also change the colour so it contrasts more with the layout but I recommend the latter.
The issue with this is that your site's name is a very important aspect of your site. You want it to create a visual impact because this immediately reinforces the visitor's idea of what your site is called. Remember, visual elements create more of an impact than text; although your title is text, it acts as a visual element as it is heavily integrated into your layout. In future layouts, make sure the title of the site is an evident and one of the primary focus of your layout.
Other than that, everything else seemed to be well executed. The colour scheme was effectively implemented throughout the text, headers, background and imagery and the background was a simple, patterned background and added depth to your site- which gives the site a third dimension, which makes the site generally more aesthetically appealing. Your headers were simple, clear and adhered the colour scheme- well done.
2.5 points deducted for visual hierarchy issues regarding layout as a whole (-1) and title (-1.5).
Rules and Service (6/10) - In general, your rules were easy to understand. I do, however, have some suggestions in ways you could improve your rules.
In the second rule, you've written, If you really read the rules, I suggest changing this to If you have read the rules; really, in this context, isn't very formal, which can move away from professionalism.
In the third rule, like Turnip from How to Improve Your Service mentioned, I discourage the use of etc. as this is vague. What if someone with an application approached you and wanted you to make them a button? They wouldn't know whether an application classifies as etc. You want to be as specific as possible so that there is no confusion.
The sixth rule struck me as quite odd. You've written, If you don't like it you don't have to use the button, but please tell me what the problem is and I will fix it. The issue I see here is that if someone doesn't like the button you make for them, they tell you and you are going to fix it for them, this implies that you'd like them to use the one you have fixed for the requester and suggests that they will be using the button. Therefore, you don't have to use the button is rendered quite unnecessary. I suggest rewording the rule so it is simply, If you don't like the button made for you, please tell me what the problem is and I will fix it.
I also suggest simplifying the wordings of the last rule. Also, bear in mind that one does not make a request because request, by definition, is the to ask and in the context should be to request for something. Avoid treating it as a noun. Instead of I will respond to any request telling them if I can or cannot make your request., I recommend changing it to When I receive your request, I will inform you whether I accept your request or not. I've also added When I receive your request so it is more specific as to when you will neomail them.
As for your last rule, which is Your site should have been open for at least one/two weeks., this discriminates newer sites that are in need of a button. I can understand why you've put up that rule, since newer sites are more likely to close than established sites, but bear in mind that a site older than a week or two also has the possibility of closing. Frankly it is not the site's age that determines when a site closes or not; it is dependent on the site host's circumstances and these circumstances are unique to everyone. More so, an experienced site may want to make a new site but this rule would also affect them. You can see how this rule may cause some conflict. Therefore, I strongly suggest you abolish this rule. You want Trapped Fairytales to be convenient to all site-makers and you want your site to be for everyone.
To sum, you have the standard rules for a button request site. They were easy to understand and generally concise. However, as mentioned above, there were some issues with the rules- most of them very minor phrasing issues. The last rule affects the service quality as this rule discriminates and excludes newer site-makers or newer sites.
4 points deducted for phrasing issues in three rules (-1.5), vagueness in rule #3 (-1) and discrimination of newer sites in rule #8 (-1.5).
Quality of Content (20/25) - Looking at the mini portfolio in your actual site, it seems to me that you've chosen the right buttons to showcase your ability as your site-maker. At a glance, all of your buttons seem high in quality, are eye-catching and look very impressive. Here are some of, what I thought to be, your best buttons:
In regards to the button for Mellie's CSS, what made a big difference to the button was the subtle border. The border was given a light rim, which created this embossed look. What was effective about this look was that it created depth, like the button was three-dimensional. The text was done very well and furthermore, the animation was done well also. The animation was smooth and wasn't filled in letter by letter, but there was a smooth transition of purple gliding over the text. More so, the button was composed well; the narrow colour scheme emphasized the imagery in the button and the significance between imagery and text was balanced.
The second button, the one for Dreams of Neopia, was probably one of my favourite buttons that you have made. This button was a fine example that excellent and high-quality buttons don't need imagery to make it eye-catching. You composed the button very well, with the text centered, and a light screened box within the button, which created emphasis on the text. The colours used were subtle and simple, keeping to a colour scheme, and created this serene and mystical sort of look. However, what I liked best was the animation and how it created movement across your text- or in other words, the animation led the viewer's eye from left to right. Well done with this button!
Lastly, regarding the button for Best Dressed, similar comments in the above apply for this; excellent colour scheme, well-composed, the lack of imagery (giving the text and animation more significance in the button) and the animation. Great job with this button also.
Looking at your larger portfolio, you've made some very impressive buttons. Here are a few of, what I believe to be, your best:
The buttons above were excellent in the choice of imagery, composition- basically everything was executed perfectly and were effective, eye-catching and aesthetically appealing buttons.
However, there were some buttons that weren't as high-quality as the ones in the above. Here are some of the lower-quality buttons:
The common issue with these three buttons (and I understand that Turnip has mentioned this already) are the button's image. The problem with the imagery in these buttons is that the images appear to be 'washed-out'. With specific reference to the buttons for The Pig Project, the Snorkle in the image appears to be quite blurred and a sufficient contrast that makes it eye-catching. The imagery has been treated in such a way that it looks like something that is in the background because it appears out of focus. The problem here is that the text and the image don't work together to create an eye-catching button; the text and the animation are the only elements that are the focus of the button and because it isn't supported by the image, the image does not make a dynamic impact. The imagery and text should both work together to create an eye-catching button; the text should not be entirely responsible to create impact. Both are equally important aspects in a button and should be given equal visual emphasis. Here are examples from your portfolio that demonstrated good treatment of imagery versus poor treatment of imagery:
The two buttons on the left had sufficient contrast and the imagery and text worked well together to create an eye-catching and visually appealing button. The Ranked at the Bookshelf button didn't need a hue applied to it to adhere to a contrast; the imagery was effective on its own. The Vote for me at Conquer was another effective button because Jacque's orange face, though small, contrasted with the majority of the button, but the contrast wasn't so overpowering that it took all the attention. In regards to the two buttons on the right, particularly the button for The Lunch Box, Dr Sloth isn't given any emphasis at all. This is probably due to the purple-ish hue you've applied over the image, therefore deducing the contrast to its minimum. In the future, be careful of using washed-out images that lack contrast or are blurred; go for images with higher contrast, minimize the hue you apply over the images (unless the image itself has high contrast) and are sharper.
Also, to elaborate on the overpowering effect of hues, remember that hues and colorization of images should enhance the image, not make it ineffective. Here are some examples of where the hues were too overpowering:
To contrast, here are examples of where you did well with hues:
In the buttons above, you've left some colour and the hue applied isn't too overpowering. With particular reference to the button you made for your own site, the yellow/orange hue created this sense of happiness which fit the theme of imagery. With the other two buttons on the right, again, the hue reinforced the mood of the imagery. The button for Corculina was particularly well done- look at this button in comparison with the buttons in the above. Even though a hue has been applied and the button is evidently blue, there is still some contrast there (between the very light blue and the very dark blue) which still makes the imagery eye-catching. In short, hues should enhance the image and create a sort of mood, not make the image look two dimensional and (too) strong in colour.
This only occurred once, for future reference, but be sure that you use images that are able to generate some interest. In the button that you made for Esteem:
Yes, you've included some form of imagery but the problem is that the imagery isn't interesting. If you want to bring emphasis to bits of detail in an image, I suggest choosing details that are interesting, such as the button you made for Ranked at The Bookshelf or Tightrope Directory. You also want to make sure that the subject in the imagery is obvious; you want visitors to recognize that the image is a close-up of an object; you don't want the subject matter to be vague or indistinguishable.
Lastly, be careful when composing your buttons. Here are three examples:
I was quite hesitant on the button you made for Pirouette; everything seems to be done nicely, with the colour scheme, animation, text, background, etc. but the issue here was that the image was cut off at the top and the bottom. When I saw this, I felt that the button was incomplete because the image was incomplete. When it comes to pixels, be careful of excluding parts of it from the main button. If you compare it to the other button you made for Pirouette, the one with the pie, you can see why the pie is more effective- because the whole pixel is included. Something I've learnt about pixels is that every pixel is important; every pixel is carefully crafted to make up the pixel as a whole. Therefore, in the future, include the whole pixel in the button or don't use the pixel at all and use another.
Finally, this isn't critique, per se, but when I saw your buttons with the typewriter text effect, they were very well done- I won't dispute that- but I felt that those buttons didn't really belong in your portfolio. Yes, they were high-quality and even though you personally made them, the buttons with the typewriter effect didn't seem to be your style. I see your style to be bolder, vibrant and text with the marquee animation. With that said, I do not condone the use of the typewriter effect, but I'd like to see Pip make Pip-style buttons, buttons that make your buttons yours.
5 points deducted for various issues concerning quality of image in button (-3), overuse of hues (-1.5), button composition (-0.5).
Grammar/Spelling (8/10) - As a note, I did not find many grammatical or spelling mistakes; just a lot of awkward or strange sentencing. I will provide the fixes/suggestions here and will elaborate on the effect of this sort of sentencing under Professionalism (points will be deducted here).
Again, updates will be not be assessed, introduction and Sitely will be assessed in its respective section.
In the second line underneath the first line of bold text, you have written, To make sure this doesn't happen ever again, claim your button within five days. I suggest changing this to simply, All buttons will be moved from Pickup to my portfolio after five days.
In the line underneath, you have written, The left is the oldest buttons while the right is the recently made buttons. I suggest simplifying this to Most recent buttons are on the right. as this entails that older buttons will be on the left.
In your larger, external portfolio, you wrote, Click the buttons above to escape the portfolio. I was quite hesitant on this- escape is not the right word. I'd reword it to something simpler such as Click the buttons above to return to Trapped Fairytales.
Avoid using a tilde (~) as this has unprofessional connotation. I suggest replacing it with a period or an exclamation mark- whichever you prefer.
In the second line of the first paragraph, you wrote, Here, I will show you the featured site and button. I suggest changing this to Here is where I feature a site and a button. Perhaps you can elaborate on this further and state what you look for in a featured site and button. Even if the reason is as simple as that it made an impact on you, it is worthwhile to include a small reason.
In the first sentence of the blurb, change best around Neopia. to best in Neopia.
In the second sentence, change judge the rankings based to judge each site based; you do not judge rankings as they are the outcome of your judgement. Or, you can change it to, I decide the rankings based on ...
Later on in the sentence, you've written, their vibes and impressions. I discourage the use of vibe as this is, one, vague, and, two, seemingly subjective. Of course rankings are always subjective, but you want to make it as objective as you possibly can whilst being subjective. I suggest rewording it to, the impressions they create and finally ...
After, proffesional should be professional.
Immediately after, I suggest removing and nice in how professional and nice they are with their guests. Again, nice isn't really the appropriate word to use as being nice isn't necessarily a professional means of judging someone's site. However, how professional they are with their guests. is more appropriate.
2 points deducted for the spelling error and various sentencing issues.
Organization (5/5) - I had no issues whatsoever with the organization of your site. Your site was very clean, very well-organized with the right utilization of tables and it was very easy to navigate through your site. Well done, Pip!
No points deducted in this section.
Readability (5/5) - I found all the text to be readable and had no qualms with the texts' sizes, colours or font faces. Good job again!
No points deducted in this section.
Visitor Convenience (4/5) - First, your neomail link in Request next to the request form should go to your lookup, not to a blank neomail. The reason for this is that it significantly decreases the chance of someone requesting a button but sending it to the wrong person; for someone who isn't familiar with your username, this is likely. Replace your current envelope with this code:
Under Pickup, the link to your portfolio does not take me to your portfolio. The problem here is that the link directs to /~pipsapher#3, not /~pipsapher#portfolio. I suggest fixing this error.
Although this overlaps with Sitely, since you have four link back buttons, I suggest that you move your link back buttons to your Sitely page. Although this norm has changed more recently, most people associate link back buttons as Sitely content as it has to do with external linking. In this sense, link back buttons don't really belong in the Home page since that is more for introductions and updates.
A suggestion I have regarding this is if you want a link back button to be visible at all times, perhaps you can squeeze your best link back button under your navigation since there is some room there. What you may have to do is decrease the size of your navigation link's text so that there is sufficient room for one link back button to be displayed there, followed by a More? which can direct someone to your Sitely page for more link back buttons.
Other than the issues listed above, your site was convenient to the visitor and I am inclined to think that it is also convenient to any requesters.
1 points deducted for neomail link issue (-0.5), portfolio link issue and link back buttons placement (-0.5).
Presentation (4/5) - Presentation of your site and its content was high in quality. Your site was free of blue link borders, which can appear to be quite unattractive, and, in general, everything was spaced and presented nicely.
In your rankings, you have many links that have not been updated. If you have a rankings feature, you have a duty to update them as frequently as possible and to keep it as updated as possible. The otherwise can reflect the level of attention that you put towards your site, which isn't entirely presentable. If you feel that you cannot update your rankings as much as you would like, perhaps state somewhere in the blurb that you only update them every Sunday or every fortnight, just so that if a visitor visits your site and sees and un-updated link, they can read that and think, oh, Pip hasn't updated the rankings yet because he only does so at a certain time.
In your current rankings, the sites that need updating are Otaku as it had closed, 49 Days as it is on indefinite hiatus and there is no content available on the site, Saranghae for the same reason as before and The Gazebo as it has closed.
Your portfolios were presented well, I have no qualms with them.
In your Extras page, I suggest stating somewhere next to Button Gallery that is not open yet- just to make things very clear to the visitor so they don't assume that there is a broken link or something is wrong.
In Featured! it may be more practical to utilize tables; have the site's button on the left (or right) and the text or your little blurb adjacent to it. The reason is because, since you have not written a lot for the blurb, the large space on the left and right of the button looks large, which can appear to be uncomfortable (in visual terms). If not tables, then I suggest simply aligning the button to the left or right using the style="float: left tag in the image code. This way, the space is effectively used and removes the awkward spaces.
Also, like Turnip said in the service review, place the buttons examples under Rules above the Rules header as your button examples aren't rules, per se.
Other than that, your site was presented very well.
1 point deducted for spacing issue in Featured! and un-updated rankings (-1).
Professionalism (4.5/5) - This is not a large issue- this is more of a warning so you are more aware of it in the future. Now, in regards to some phrasing of sentences in your site, be careful of the words you use as this can affect the presentation of you (the host). Remember, sentences are better off simplified so the meaning is easily conveyed opposed to longer sentences where the meaning is more difficult to understand. Also, make sure you use words in their proper context- though it may seem like a word may spice up the sentence, stick to formal words as this can be regarded as more presentable. Examples of this would be the text in your pickup section and portfolio- escape is not the correct word to use in that context. Next time you write something new for your site, read it over and ask yourself whether it sounds correct in its context. Also, ask yourself: if you were giving a tour of your site and you were to read everything you had written on your site, would you say that and would it sound natural?
Other than that, you seem to conduct site-related business in a professional manner.
0.5 points deducted for awkward phrasing.
Sitely (4.5/5) - Looking at the link back buttons you currently offer, the buttons effectively showcase your ability as a button maker and on the basis of those buttons, I'd be very much inclined to request from you! I had no qualms whatsoever with your link back buttons. All were aesthetically appealing, they showcased your ability as a button maker, they were attractive and eye-catching and just generally well-executed. Well done!
You have written a nice blurb for both your sister and brother sites and it's great to see that, through the blurbs you have written, you regard the two sites highly. More so, good and thoughtful blurbs are effective advertising.
As general comments for the two blurbs, instead of _____ is a site by _____, perhaps change it to, _____ is a site hosted by or run by ____. Having by on its own doesn't sound right since a site doesn't sound right to be by someone but is run by or hosted by someone.
In the blurb for Emblazoned, I suggest rephrasing the second sentence so there isn't a relatively new site, as this is due to change over time. Perhaps you could change it to Emblazoned is a strong, high-quality site and Kierron creates amazing visuals in his buttons. I'll leave how you want to change it up to you, though that is a suggestion!
In the blurb for The Studio, in the second sentence, instead of inspirations for bringing back button requests, I suggest changing it to inspirations for taking button requests or inspirations for starting a button request site.
In this sentence, The Studio creates some of the most unique buttons known to man.-- to be honest, I thought this was very cute and very flattering on Madeline's part! However, I suggest rewording it, maybe to just simply known to the site-making community or most unique buttons ever known.
In the sentence that follows, include a hyphen (-) in between handy dandy.
Some of your affiliates need to be removed or reconsidered due to closure or inactivity; whether you remove inactive/hiatus sites are up to you. Box has gone on an indefinite hiatus, Otaku has closed and Aurora is on indefinite hiatus.
Other than that, your Sitely section looks good!
0.5 points deducted for minor mistakes in blurbs (-0.5).
Overall score: (82/100)
Comments: Pip, you've done a fantastic job running Trapped Fairytales! I was very impressed to see how much you had improved (comparing your old portfolio and your newer portfolio). To summarize the review, you're doing an excellent job making buttons for requesters and all are, generally, high in quality! The only problems were several minor reoccurring errors in your buttons; yes, they were quite small but the problem reoccurred throughout the buttons and for that, I could not be too lenient. Nonetheless, with your skill as a button maker, I have no doubt that they will be a problem. Just be on the lookout for the problems I mentioned in the review and I'm sure you will be fine. Finally, just as a friendly reminder, be sure to read Turnip's service review; I had a good read of her review and although I reinforced some of her points in my review, just make sure you have a good read and possibly follow all, if not some, of her advice. All in all, you're doing a fantastic job and it was a pleasure reviewing your site. Best of luck with your site, Pip!
review for nienke's premades
we all nienke's premades! n_n premade layout site
Nienke @ Nienke's Premades
Tea Ordered: Green Tea
Reviewed on the: 21st May2011
First Impression (10/10) - Several thoughts sprang to mind when I entered your site. The first and most predominant of them was that I was impressed; your site has a gorgeous colour scheme and you've executed it in an effective manner and aesthetically appealing manner. The soft mixture of pink, yellow and peach was a beautiful, optimistic and, as you said in your updates, 'sunny' combination. The Ona (as a side note, it was my favourite petpet when I was much younger), as well as being adorable and therefore very appealing to a visitor, it also added a sort of gentleness and delicacy to the layout. The softness of the colours supported this feeling. You have successfully created a very positive and happy-looking layout and I think that is something that is very rare and hard to find as most tend to themes that are darker. As for my own personal thought, I almost thought the layout was like abstract of a dream- the clouds, the surrealism (due to the combination of the colours) and the lightness.
The second thought was that although your site, at a glance, was quite text-heavy, the fact that you organized the text with tables made it look organized and clean. Organized sites are more approachable as cluttered and seemingly messy sites dismay someone to read the text.
Overall, based on first impressions alone, the execution of the layout and the organization was very well done and clever. You've effectively implemented a visual hierarchy. The Ona on the left draws the most attention (or in other words, the focal point of the site) as the top left half of the site has the most colour in contrast with the white; even though they are quite close in colour, you further emphasize the Ona because of the colour of the sky behind it, which provides support. Furthermore, imagery is naturally eye-catching. Therefore, your minimal use of imagery (and also because the image was more dominant than the other aspects) was very effective as you didn't confuse the viewer with many images. After seeing the imagery, I was inclined to look to the immediate right of the imagery: the introduction. The reason for this is because the header, Welcome is the next thing to stand out. The colour you have used for that header is quite close to the outline of the Ona, therefore you've created a relationship between imagery and text, which is a nice link between the two.
Using a light peach was an effective way to hold the attention of the visitor. The contrast implied that the updates were important and therefore invited the reader to read your updates after reading the introductory text.
Overall, you've created an excellent and flawless first impression. The correct implementation of visual hierarchy, colour scheme and based on the layout you've made for your site, I'm very much inclined to think that you are very capable and skilful as a layout maker, which invites me to explore your site and have a browse of your premades.
No points deducted for first impression.
Introduction (4.5/5) - Reading through your introduction, it was written with fluid and clear prose. You emphasize important key words in your site, you have introduced your site, who you are as the host and you've also stated what you offer in your site. Better yet, it was straight-forward and didn't beat around the bush. I only picked up on three things that could be changed; they aren't necessarily mistakes, but they're just very minor things.
The first is on the second paragraph, you could add a comma after pages as, if you read it out loud, it sounds better and is therefore makes reading it (slightly) more comfortable.
The second thing was that I suggest you rephrase this sentence; you have written, I always make sure that none of my layouts are wider than 1000px. The way that this is sentenced is not grammatically incorrect, but if it was to be phrased like, I always make sure that my layouts are no wider than 1000px. In your original sentence, none of my felt to be quite strong and seemingly contradicted always. In the suggested change, I've made the contradiction seem slightly lighter and therefore easier to read and understand.
The third is in the sentence that follows the one I mentioned in the above, after browsers, the comma should be a semi-colon as the pause a comma implies is not appropriate in this sentence. As a semi-colon's pause is slightly longer than a comma, it sounds more appropriate. Another way of looking at this is that in the sentence, I also check my layouts in multiple browsers, they are compatible in: You can split the two sentences into two and they would still be complete sentences (though the second is a special case). Because a period implies a long pause as it is the end of a sentence, a semi-colon is an adequate replacement.
0.5 points deducted for the three various minor mistakes.
Layout (19.5/20) - I talked about your layout extensively in First Impressions, so I won't address the things I have already talked about.
I mentioned the imagery earlier- so I won't go into that- but the textures applied to the imagery were both subtle and effective. It successfully created a gentle and delicate look, which goes excellently with the Ona. (I had a difficult time finding the original image of the Ona, so if the textures are part of the original image, my apologies.) Furthermore, the subtlety of the 'wave' shape at the top edge of the content box was an effective alternative opposed to a straight, solid edge.
Another thing I would like to commend is the title of your site in your layout. First, you successfully integrated it into the layout by using colours of the colour scheme. Better yet, with the white glow around the text and the thin white outline, it stands out and betters the readability of the text. The best thing, however, was the contrast of the two fonts you used. nienke's was more of an informal and 'casual' font, which visually implies originality and a sort of 'creativeness', and contrasted with the more standardized and formal serif font. It was really effective as the contrast this emphasized the difference between the two type of fonts; overall, it was aesthetically appealing opposed to using one type of font. All in all, the imagery in your layout were effectively visual breathing spaces.
I often suggest to those I review to use a textured background if they choose to use a predominantly solid colour for their background as this would add more depth- in other words, make it look more three-dimensional- to layout overall. What you've done with the fixed subtle orange gradient at the bottom was an effective way of providing a sort of depth to the layout. Therefore, the gradient at the bottom sufficiently provided depth and a textured background isn't necessary.
I found a minor slip in your updates box. On Internet Explorer, the bottom line of the updates has been cut off at the bottom. Here's an image:
I checked on Firefox to see if it was a browser problem and it looks to be fine on Firefox. At the end of the update, I suggest adding a p tag so that the bottom line isn't cut off in Internet Explorer.
Your navigation was, like everything else on your site, executed at an excellent level. Similarly to the title in your layout, it was aesthetically appealing and fit the layout flawlessly. Despite it being quite light, I had no qualms with the readability of the navigation; the contrast between the peach and the shade of yellow was high enough for the text to be read with ease. The only issue I see with the navigation- and it is rather small, mind you- is that there isn't much of a visible and distinct space that divides and isolates each link, which usually helps imply that the links are different. Looking at the navigation as a whole, some may look at the links collectively rather than each link being one of its own and separate. This is not a major problem but it is more of an observation and something that can be taken into account in later layouts.
The layouts that contain your premade graphics are all of (consistent) high-quality. The imagery you've used was effective and simple- nothing that would deduce the significance of the content-, the presentation of the text in the layouts and the reoccurring theme for your titles was very effective and sustained a relationship, which creates a relationship and something that can be carried over throughout your pages of content and how you achieved aesthetic appeal through the simplicity of the layouts was very impressive. The AC Lookups layout was beautifully done; the image of the different Yooyus set the atmosphere of the Altador Cup and the grunge texture applied over the imagery was subtle but provided depth effectively. The text in the layout was well done; adhering to the colour scheme and the serif fonts you used gave a 'grand' look to the layout.
As a side note, I'd like to propose the idea of using a dark gray for your body text's colour. As your colour scheme is quite light, there is a great contrast and difference between the light and soft imagery and the black body text. Though this does not affect the quality of the layout, per se, but if you were to change the body text's colour to something less dynamic than a black to a dark gray- a gray that isn't too soft but light enough to harmonize with the layout as well as being easy to read. This won't be something I'll deduct marks for, but it is a suggestion.
0.5 points deducted for update box issue and spacing issue in navigation.
Quality of Content (20.5/25) - Since you have quite a hefty number of premades to review, I'll only narrow down the critique only to the suggestions and any outstanding comments of praise; if a premade has not been addressed, you may assume that it is because I have no suggestions to offer.
In World Negg Domination, I was slightly hesitant on the quality of the image. The placement of it was adequate as well as the choice of imagery. Looking at the image though, I notice you've applied a light grunge texture over the negg, but with the Meepit, I wasn't entirely sure. Looking closer, the grunge texture looks similar to that on the Negg, but if you look much closer, the pink and light pink (where the grunge has been applied) near the outlines looks similar to a low-quality JPEG image. Furthermore, the outlines of the image look slightly pixellated; perhaps due to over-stretching of the image? I won't suggest that you change the lookup because I understand that it may take a ridiculous amount of time to do, but perhaps in the future, be wary of the textures you use and that they don't create a low-quality look- even if it is just the textures and the image itself is high-quality, because it was quite difficult to differentiate between the two options, it's better to play it safe.
The second thing is that I found the colour of the link text to be quite light. The link text wasn't entirely unreadable, but if it was slightly darker, it would make reading slightly easier. A colour that I have taken from the negg is #fbac4d, which is a slightly darker variant of the current colour.
The only qualm I have with Flower Bomb was that the text was quite small and because it was light in colour also, it was quite straining to read the text. I strongly suggest making the body text and the bold and link text 1px to 1.5px larger. Also, since a portion of the imagery overlaps the box with text, some of the text may be partly covered or obstructed by the image. Furthermore, since the edge of the text is quite close to the edge of the box enclosing the content, it looks uncomfortably close to one another; I suggest using some padding so that there's an adequate space between text and the edge of the box.
Beautiful imagery and texture used in Baby Wocky; the textures you've used effectively created a 'water splash' effect and created distinct emphasis on the Wocky in the center. Same suggestion as the above; a padding between edge of the box and the margin of the text would make the text seem so condensed and uncomfortable.
The very dynamic imagery and the stretched smudge effects combined with the dark and limited colour scheme were really effective in the Xandra lookup. I have two suggestions; one, the text itself for the navigation could be slightly lighter since the contrast between the background colour of the text and the text itself wasn't high enough. If the navigation was more noticeable and if the text stood out more, it would draw more emphasis and attention to the navigation links. Second, since the body text is quite small and quite difficult when there's a large paragraph, I suggest either increasing the text size slightly or including a line-height of 1px to 2px more than the body text size; with an increase line-height, this makes reading much easier.
Very interesting execution of imagery in the lookup, Meep? The imagery was a very different and unique choice, which makes it all the more memorable and unique itself. The only suggestion I have is that black as the navigation's background is quite strong and solid; since the lookup is quite passive and not very dynamic in colour (it almost tends towards the vintage and 'country' style, a more subtle colour, such as the blue or a warm colour similar to that of the colour scheme may be more appropriate.
The different treatment of imagery in the Queen Fyora lookup was very effective. The background was very unique and strong in texture, but because of this, it almost acts like an active part of the imagery in the lookup. My only suggestion is similar to the suggestion for Xandra; the text for the navigation was quite dull and didn't stand out as much as it should; the navigation is an important component of the lookup. A more appropriate colour for the text in the navigation would be a light pink or perhaps the yellow at the base of Fyora's body (from the paint splatter brush.
The imagery and the background for Space Faerie was beautifully done and very dynamic, particularly the background and how it gave a space and stars appearance. A big problem was that I found the text to be very difficult to read; particularly since the background is quite dark and the opacity for the content box to be quite low. Since changing the body text to white doesn't seem to be effective (I checked myself), I strongly suggest changing the opacity of the content box so that it is light enough to read the body text.
Same comments apply for Illusens in terms of the navigation. I was also a bit hesitant on the header; the text that follows underneath is predominantly centred, leaving the header looking quite isolated from the other text; perhaps a header where the text is centred would be better and would appear to be more inclusive?
The only suggestion I have for Arkmite is that the link text is too light, particularly for links on the column on the left. I can see your dilemma since the column is quite light whereas the area where the general user information is located is much darker; perhaps a very dark blue would be a safe option?
Same comments for the above apply for Angelpuss; the navigation links were quite light also, therefore making the links quite difficult to read; a darker gold or the subtle orange to the left of the larger Angelpuss would be a better option.
I Spy With My Little Eye is probably the lesser of your lookups so far; a majority of your userlookups, from observation, have elements that integrate and co-operate with each other. In this lookup however, the aspects seem more divided, perhaps because there is a distinct difference between the imagery and the text directly underneath. My suggestion here is to perhaps remove the little space between the imagery and the table underneath, just so the two components look more related than isolated. The navigation was also slightly difficult to see; perhaps the text in the links could be made darker?
My only issue with Together We Cry is that the link text was a very bright yellow, which didn't go well against the light blue; the yellow is difficult to read against the colour because the two colours are quite light. I suggest using a different colour for the link text, perhaps the warm green or brown from the island on the bottom right of the image would be a better option than yellow.
The same problem occurs in Snowbunnies; the white text link is almost impossible to see against the light blue-lilac. I strongly suggest changing the colour to something darker, perhaps a cool colour from the image? Also, in the navigation in the above isn't as noticeable or evident as it should be; the white falls back in the visual hierarchy as it doesn't stand out in the layout. This would not be too much of a problem, but the navigation can be easily overlooked, unless the viewer actively searched for it. For this reason, I suggest making the navigation stand out more, perhaps by changing the background colour of the navigation (it is currently a cool light blue) to something darker so the contrast is more evident. Lastly, I noticed that the image seemed to be over-sharpened- this is particularly obvious around the eyes of both snowbunnies. The edges of their eyes seemed to be slightly pixellated and the outline slightly jagged. This is probably something not entirely practical to fix, but again, in the future, I advise being wary of sharpening or distorting an image by resizing it more than the pixels can handle.
A Pirates Life For Me seems to have some issues in terms of the image resolution; if I'm not wrong, if you look closely the image looks to be low-quality; I'm assuming this is due to resizing the image too much to the point the image is somewhat blurred. I'm not sure if this is the intended effect, but having the two in mind, I'm more inclined to think it is what I mentioned earlier. The bold text was also quite difficult to read; I suggest changing the bright gold to perhaps a dull/darker gold from Garin's hair or to a colour that can be easily read.
Just a minor suggestion in regards to Nightsteed: the navigation was executed appropriately and I have no qualms with the placement and such, but I do suggest making the numbers darker since the light blue doesn't contrast well against the white and the numbers aren't very clear. The dark blue from the Nightsteed's mane would be a suitable colour.
Fun Underwater has italic text that is nigh impossible to read because of its lightness; I suggest changing it to a darker colour so the text can be easily read.
I had a good think about what was wrong with Lonely; at the end, I concluded that the two halves of the lookup look quite detached and isolated from each other. The reason for this is because of the overall darkness (or lack of) of the two halves. The two half is predominantly light (achieved by the light gray in the background) where the bottom half is quite a dark gray. Below, I've increased the lightness of the bottom half to show you what I mean.
The image on the left is the original and the image on the right is my alteration. The one on the left looks more to be one whole layout opposed to the two halves in the original layout. By unifying the two, this creates an overall harmony within the layout and doesn't create this appearance of two halves constructed to form one layout. The problem with having two distinct halves opposed to the appearance of a whole, is that because the bottom half is just user information and doesn't have rather dominant imagery like the above has, it renders the bottom half insignificant and 'lesser' compared to the top half. Though a contrast does make something interesting and generally more aesthetically appealing, because the contrast is too great, as light tends to receive more attention than dark (particularly in this case), the top half receives more attention than the bottom half, rendering the bottom half insignificant, or more so unrelated, to the top half.
Before critiquing the actual layout, I just want to point out that I'd advise not to use names such as Indian as this is not within the Neopets world, per se. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but more of a warning in case this is discouraged. As for the lookup, the imagery is wonderfully done- the colours were very vibrant and the warm colours suit the theme, but the text was very small; I suggest making it 1 to 1.5px larger, since it was quite difficult to read.
For It Has Been a Grey Day and Floud; I imagine that if the user writes a hefty amount of text, the small text will become difficult to read. I suggest increasing the body text size, just to ensure easy readability.
As for Ice Skating, like the suggestions given for a userlookup before, I suggest making the text for the navigation at the top darker or make the background colour of the navigation darker so there is more of a see-able contrast between the text and the background, therefore making it readable; at the moment, the navigation is quite difficult to read. The bold text is quite difficult to read; I suggest making the bold text slightly darker also.
I have no suggestions for Hannah, but I thought I'd put a personal opinion out there: I thought the colour scheme was brilliantly done, particularly with the green and yellow against the red; this was effectively done and because the colour of the bold and link text stood out against the red, this brought out and emphasized the colour in the imagery. A simple but effective lookup!
The simplicity of Faerie Bubbles works effectively and in your favour; my only suggestion is to make the link text darker since it is quite light, making it difficult to read.
In Captain Scarblade, I suggest making the body text slightly larger so that the small text doesn't strain the eyes when reading. I also suggest making the bolded text lighter since the dark blue and black don't contrast well together, making the bold text quite difficult to read.
Fly High has a nice and unique feeling to it, perhaps because the content box takes the appearance of an old note or piece of paper. My only suggestion here is to, if possible, fix the problem as shown in the image below.
Drag image into address bar for full view.
I'm not sure why this problem is; even though it is a small issue, it may be worth fixing. Also, the cyan you've used for the navigation is quite bright; I suggest using a duller shade of the blue so that it can be easily read.
Dandan is definitely a lookup that deviates from your usual style- which is not a bad thing! The only suggestion I have for this lookup is to make the link text because it is too light in colour, making it very difficult to read.
Zafara Princess is very delicate and beautiful in its own way; the soft colour scheme and the treatment of imagery and textures made it a very aesthetically appealing lookup. My only issue here is how the space of the lookup is utilized. Earlier in the lookup for Lonely, I talked about how two halves of a lookup can appear quite isolated; in terms of Lonely, it was due to the contrast of colour. Concerning Zafara Princess, isolation was caused due to space. The imagery at the top and the user information at the bottom are separated by quite an unnecessarily large space in between. Although directly underneath the image is a more transparent reflection of the image, because it isn't dominant and, in a sense, particularly significant imagery, it isn't as important as the main image at the top. I imagine the Zafara has been reflected and the opacity of it decreased solely to create depth in the lookup. Despite this, I suggest moving the navigation as well as the user information closer to the top, therefore removing the large space in the middle. Here is a comparison to show you what I mean:
Drag image into address bar for full view.
The image on the left is the original while the image on the right is my alteration of the original. I've done a very poor paint job (but hopefully good enough so you get the idea). The image on the right appears to be more unified and the aspects of the lookup harmonized because the space is removed, making it look 'more together' and look more as a unified lookup. The one on the left, though the depth is evident, has an uncomfortable space in the middle, which ultimately isolates the two parts of the lookup. Therefore, I suggest, if possible, moving the two parts closer together, even if it is at expense of the reflection of the Zafara.
1.5 points deducted for reoccurring issues of text readability (-1) and image quality issues (-0.5).
Since your AC Lookups are quite standard, instead of giving the same suggestions over and over, I'll just give general suggestions for each category.
With the lookups with one representative of each AC team, the only suggestion I had was to make the body text bigger; at the moment, the text is quite small. As I mentioned earlier, if the lookup is text heavy, the text can be quite difficult or straining to read. Therefore, I suggest that you either make the body text itself larger by 1px to 1.5px or increase the line-height of the body text as this will make reading (particularly when you return to the start of the new line) much easier. However, I suggest the former as this would be more practical.
As for the lookups with the five members in the team, as well as increasing the body text, I noticed a very minor issue concerning some of the layouts (not all, but it's most obvious in the lookups with darker colour schemes).
Looking at the image above, you can see how the white blur/outline around the words for the cup look quite pixellated and rough. I'm not entirely sure what is the cause of it (it is irrelevant anyway) but I do suggest that you smoothen the white outline; since it contrasts well against the purple, it's quite noticeable in comparison to the other lighter lookups.
Also, just in case this is not fixed by then, the image for Krawk Island 2 is not showing (the image shows up as a red x). As a general comment regarding all of your AC lookups, I was thoroughly impressed by the quality of these lookups. All were aesthetically pleasing with the treatment of the imagery, the textures used in the lookup, the correctly and effectively executed colour schemes and also your unique way of turning very simple images into something very elegant and classy. Excellent work with these!
0.5 points deducted for text readability issue.
Note: Only petpages from Let's Celebrate to Snowickle have been assessed. Also, similarly to the userlookups, only suggestions and critique will be given as well as only outstanding praise; if a petpage is not addressed, you may assume that I have no suggestions to offer.
I had mixed feelings towards New Years in Faerieland. How you've made this petpage is both very interesting and very clever; the imagery, the 'bokeh' textures applied to the background created this mystical and almost magical sort of look. The blurred Faerieland in the background was particularly interesting but it was effective nonetheless as it implied that your layout was three dimensional or had depth. The thing I was quite hesitant on was this part here:
Negg Farm created a very nice and serene atmosphere, which I find to be quite rare in petpage layouts, so well done. The only issue I could find in this petpage was that, if the bold and link text was in the column on the left (with the green background), the bold and link text is quite difficult to see because of the colour. What you have done with your Italic text was a good idea (including a white background so that the text is readable) or perhaps you could change the colour to a dark brown from the tree in the image. I understanding finding a colour that is readable in both backgrounds can be quite difficult, so I do suggest going with the former suggestion- the only thing to be loss is that it may not appear to be as aesthetically pleasing and may place too much of an emphasis on the bold and link text; however, readability is more important.
The image for Easter isn't showing up- This image has been moved or deleted. This won't be taken into account nor will marks will be deducted for it.
In regards to Meepit vs. Feepit, first, the colour of the navigation's background was quite light, therefore making the white text quite difficult to see due to the lack of contrast between the two colours. I suggest changing the navigation to another colour- possibly to this orange, #f7c147- so that the text is readable. I was slightly hesitant on the choice of font face for the headers, but as it served its function well and effectively, I'll let it slide.
I was very impressed with Dreaming Out Loud; the colour scheme was effectively executed, the imagery was simple but well done- everything worked together to create a very high-quality petpage. I was particularly impressed with the custom mail link on the left hand side of the petpage; such a simple addition to the petpage shows you place extra care into the layouts that you make. Fantastic job with this petpage!
I'd like to specially commend Buzzin and Space Rangers; these two petpages were distinctly high in quality. For Buzzin, the navigation was extremely well done and definitely a very valuable 'extra' to the petpage. In regards to Space Rangers, I was impressed with what you did for the site title; it was very clever coding and allowed the user to personalize the petpage whilst effectively integrating what was customizable with the rest of the layout. Great job!
The imagery in Outer Space was very well-done and the background was well done also. A very big problem concerning this layout was the readability of the text; since the background is quite dark, the opacity for the content box quite low and the body text itself, except for the italic and link text, was quite dark, it made reading the text quite difficult. I do suggest changing the body text to a colour that contrasts well with the dark background- maybe a white or light blue?- so that the text is not difficult/impossible to read. Also, the title at the top is also quite difficult to read; I suggest changing the colour for the title also. Similar comments apply for Hannah; the black against red was quite hard to read, perhaps the gold from the imagery below or a white would be a more suitable substitute?
For Princess, the navigation was quite difficult to read; I suggest making the background colour slightly darker so that there is more a contrast between the white text and the navigation.
The only suggestion for Snowickle is that the italic text might be a bit difficult to read because of its lightness; I suggest making it slightly darker.
0.5 points deducted for text readability issues.
As a general comment regarding your pet lookups, I do suggest making the text in the description larger since it is too small at the moment; a good size would be 8pt to 9pt, rather than 7pt.
In regards to Chocolate, the same comment that I gave to Negg Domination earlier in the review about quality of image and use of textures apply here. The Cybunny, if you look closely, looks like a low-quality JPEG because of the undefined and therefore messy look of the pixels. This isn't a prevalent problem but as this has happened more than once, I do advise being careful of the imagery you choose!
In Glow, I suggest changing the colour of the body text as dark text against a dark background is very difficult to read. I suggest using a white as the body text colour or the neon green to further emphasize this theme of glowing pets.
In Electric, I suggest changing the link text colour to something darker; the light electric blue is extremely difficult to read against the white since they are both very light colours.
Same suggestions for Glow apply for Fire; the black is quite hard to read against the dark brown background. Perhaps a white or the orange from the imagery would be a more suitable colour.
The big images for Grey and Easter do not show up when I apply the lookup to my pet's lookup- I recommend having a look at why this is the case (or perhaps it's my browser or coincident image host issues). However, for Easter, I do suggest changing the colour of the bold text as well as the link text as both colours are quite light and therefore, clash with the white background, making reading quite difficult.
1 point deducted for reoccurring readability issue in lookup description (-0.5) and various text colour issues (-0.5).
As a general comment to all of your guild layouts, I suggest making the guild information column slightly larger since it's quite difficult to read. I do suggest making the text itself larger, perhaps 0.5pt to 1pt bigger than its size at the moment.
Cyodrake was very well-executed, had dynamic and eye-catching imagery as well as a well-enforced colour scheme. The navigation underneath the guild name was an effective and appealing subtly. The only suggestion I have regards the headers, which are crimson, was also quite difficult to read with the orange background, I suggest making it a lighter colour, such as the yellow from the smoke-like texture by the Cyodrake, to ensure easy readability.
For Space Faerie, as well as changing the guild information's text size, I also suggest changing the colour of the body text since purple isn't a very comfortable colour to read, particularly since the shade is quite dark (against a black also). I suggest using a lighter purple, such as #af94c6 or # 84699b.
I have no comments or suggestions for the rest of the layouts, though the general comment applies to these.
1 point deducted for reoccurring readability issue in guild information column (-0.5) and various text colour issues (-0.5).
In regards to the resources, I had no qualms with them. They were of a good size and were practical, high-quality resources (in a sense that they appear very usable, there was a good range of resources and high-quality in terms of resolution). I have no suggestions regarding your resources.
The only problem I noticed when I moved to my rather small laptop was that the bottom part of the black column on the left was cut off because of my laptop's ridiculously small resolution. This would not usually be a problem, but the problem was that I could not scroll up or down to view what came after your link back buttons without having to highlight the text and then pull the page down. This is just to bring this to your attention; no points will be deducted.
No points deducted for this section.
Quantity of Content (5/5) - There's not much to say when it comes to quantity; with 56 petpages and an extensive range of other layouts, I have no qualms whatsoever with the quantity of your content. You've done an excellent job providing a wide variety of premades to your visitors; great job, Nienke!
No points deducted for this section.
Text in your Introduction will not be addressed as it has been addressed in its own section. Updates will also not be assessed as they are subject to change.
Rules - Premades
In the second sentence of the first rule, I found the meaning of the sentence to be unclear and ambiguous. If you are implying that those who use your premades should leave the credit on the image as well as a link back button, then remove the at least in the sentence as this implies that the user should do one of the two options. If you imply otherwise, that they need to leave at least one of the options of credit, change the and between the two bolded words to or.
In the second rule, I advise changing Don't to do not. You have used do not in the other two rules and consistency and repetition are more powerful. Also, do not is more firm than don't since it is, in a sense, more formal. I also suggest rewording the sentence here. You've written, Don't use my codes or images for your premades. This is fine, but it could be reworded to be more clear and concise as it sounds (borderline) vague. My suggestion is to change it to, Do not use my codes or images to make your own premades.or Do not use my codes or images as a basis of your premades. or maybe, Do not use my codes or images and reproduce them for your own premades.
In the sentence that follows, you've written, You may, however, edit my codes to make a personal layout, but no matter how much you edit the codes, still leave the credit. I suggest splitting this sentence into two as this would sound better if the sentences were shorter and more concise. I recommend changing it to, You may, however, edit my codes to make a personal layout. No matter how much you edit the codes, credit is still mandatory. I've also changed the last part of the sentence as it wasn't as firm as it could have been (by a hair).
In the third rule, I discourage phrases such as or anything like that. Though a visitor should use their common sense to differentiate what is allowed and what is not, such ambiguous sentence blurs the line that shouldn't be crossed. State all of the common or most general things- don't ask the visitor to assume- that should not be done and remove the phrase.
Rules - Resources
I wasn't absolutely sure on what you meant by this question, Why do you only have to credit me on neo when used on petpages? My understanding is that if people choose to use their textures for userlookups or any sort of graphics that will not be placed on a petpage, it does not have to be credited. If this is the case, that's fine; I suggest you change the question into a phrase as the rhetorical question to avoid any sort of confusion.
For the answer to the fourth question, after graphics and positioning, add a comma.
In the answer to the fifth question, after page first at the beginning of the sentence, it would be better if the sentence ended there- so replace the comma with a period- and start a new sentence with If that doesn't...
In the following sentence, you've written, But please be specific. Tell me what's wrong and which browser you use (This make it easier for me to find the problem). I suggest rewording this sentence and changing its structure; my suggested change is Please be specific, tell me what's wrong and which browser you use (this makes it easier for me to find the problem). I've removed the But as it isn't necessary, uncapitalized the this and changed make to makes.
Under suggestions, a better word for gotten in the second to last line of the first paragraph is received.
In the second point, in, The instructions on how to use a layout is stated on the layout itself. it should be stated in the layout itself as it is within the layout's code.
This is not necessarily an error, but you have written, Don't neomail me before you've read and tried it. I suggest rewording this to something that isn't as direct as this may dismay someone completely to ask queries. Instead, you could say Please read and try 'using the layout (you can reword the part in between the apostrophes) before neomailing me..
In the fifth point, the comma after remove them is not necessary.
In the first paragraph, I suggest adding a comma after pages.
In the second paragraph, devided is spelt wrong, it should be divided.
In the fifth line of the second paragraph, the equals sign is not necessary and can be removed. On the same line, Brushes does not have to be capitalized.
Use the navigation on top to navigate around. is not necessary as your navigation is understandable, very visible and straight-forward.
There should be a space in between addressbar and offsite (which is in the second bullet point of the rules).
2 points deducted for various spelling errors, phrasing errors, clarity issues and some grammatical errors.
Organization (5/5) - Whilst navigating through your site, I had no qualms with your organization. In the homepage, you've placed things that made sense in a linear sense. You've also organized your content in a way where it was clean and systematic; same goes for your resources page also. Job well done!
No points deducted for this section.
Readability (5/5) - I understand that using Century Gothic is a theme throughout your site. However, though it is not difficult to read your text, because century gothic is more rounded than other san-serif fonts (fonts that don't have the flick at the end, such as Verdana, Tahoma, etc.) it isn't as easy to read the fonts I mentioned before. With that said, I do not ask that you change it since the text is perfectly legible, but just be aware that it is not as easy to read as the other sans-serif texts. I won't deduct marks for it; this is just something to bear in mind.
I had no issues reading the italic, bold and link text.
No points deducted for this section.
Visitor Convenience (4.5/5) - Whilst navigating through your site, I didn't see any problems that would conflict with a visitor's experience in your site. You seemed to provide all the necessary links for neomailing, the content was very easy to find and better yet, because of the immaculate organization, this really helped make the site convenient. The navigation at the top of each page was anchored and therefore made it easy for external navigation; great job.
In a sense, visitor convenience in your site is at the best it can be. However, I do have a couple of suggestions as to how you could improve it; whether you take the advice is entirely your choice.
On your userlookup pages specifically, you could include a link to the Edit Profile page so visitors, upon seeing a lookup they like, they can easily access the page without having to leave the page. Of course changing the lookup would entail that the person would have to leave your page, but this just allows people (like me), who may open the Edit Profile page in a new tab. More so, if after seeing the lookup more closely they find that the lookup is not for them, they can look for another. By providing the link to the Edit Profile page, you can see how it may psychologically make things easier for the visitor since by providing the link, it encourages people to use it. Better yet, it shows that you are being thoughtful of the visitor. In regards to where you would place the link, perhaps instead of the link Userlookups in the userlookup page, at the end (after Resources), you could include the link in the navigation. The same comments apply for Pet Lookups; I understand that Guild Layout may be slightly problematic.
Also, in your Resources page, there was no link that returned the visitor to your main site; for someone who hasn't finished navigating through your site, a link back to your main premades site would be most helpful and would certainly improve the visitor convenience.
The other thing that I may suggest that briefly touches with visitor convenience as well as presentation, is that for your previews of each layout, instead of cropping it to fit the size of the layout, a suggestion is to replace the preview with a screenshot of the layout in actual size and resize it so it fits nicely into the layout. From personal experience, when I browse for a lookup in a premades site, I try and get an idea of the layout the best I can before actually using it. Therefore, I tend to drag the preview image provided into the address bar to see if the preview is in actual size. I realized that having to replace and re-screenshot everything would be a very hefty and tedious task, so whilst I was reviewing the layouts individually, I took screenshots of each layout. I haven't uploaded the images yet- I've just saved it under your review file- so if you would like the screenshots, I'll be more than happy to upload them for you and send the links to you- just let me know in the feedback form! I also realized that the difference between you doing it personally and my screenshots is that the preview will have my name and not yours, so I've written underneath the blurb to make it clear that it is by you and not me. I hope this will help!
0.5 points deducted for not including external links and minor preview issue. (-0.5)
Presentation (9.5/10) - Everything in your site was beautifully presented and because it was exceptionally organized, this was a bonus for your site's presentation. I was also impressed by how you presented your resources; the previews of the resources were cropped opposed to scaling it down and therefore distorting the preview image. Needless to say, you have presented your site at a very high-quality.
Now, this is probably just me being very meticulous, but I do have one suggestion. In Userlookups and AC Lookups (not so much in Petpage Layouts and Pet Lookups), the spacing in between each layout and its code isn't properly done. At the moment, there is a p tag in between the layout's preview and its corresponding textarea including the code and a br tag in between the textarea with the header of the next layout. The problem with this is that you imply, visually, that the textarea corresponds with the header directly below it. The thing is that space is a visual indicator of what belongs with what or another way of looking at it is that space acts like a negative (space) divider. This little problem isn't absolutely quality-threatening, but if that could be fixed, you'll see a slight change in the presentation of your site; it'll be a transition from immaculate presentation to flawless.
0.5 points deducted for minor spacing issue.
Sitely (4.5/5) - You have an excellent number of affiliates and all are active and open. I have no qualms with your affiliates.
As a general comment regarding your link back buttons, you have a very high-quality selection; in my opinion, quite possibly the selection of the most consistent and highest quality. You've made all the link back buttons special in their own way, achieved by different borders, texts, animations, imagery and colour schemes, but there is also a common style evident in your link back buttons. You exhibit excellent button-making skill and I'd also like to commend that all of the link back buttons were made by you.
I won't analyse each link back button in detail but I'll just pick out a couple that I want to give particular praise to or give a suggestion.
I was particularly impressed by the second link back button (on the top row). The animation was gorgeous and the effect of it was different to that of regular text or imagery animations. The light passing through the link back buttons created this effect that the button itself was glossy and shiny. Furthermore, the hue/filter applied to the button was very well done; if my memory serves me right, the original image is quite cool in tone, whereas this button was given a warm tone, which I found to give a fresh look to the imagery and the button overall. The animation for the second button on the third row was also very aesthetically appealing and well-done; the magenta for the animation was very effective and brought out the magenta in the imagery, which proved to be very effective.
The only issue I could pick up on in your link back button was in the third button on the second row. The problem here is that I found the text to be slightly difficult to read in comparison to the other buttons. The reason for this is because the colour of the text (the light orange-peach and the mint green were quite light in colour, and against a light background, the contrast between text and background which makes the button readable wasn't there. The animation was well done, but perhaps if the text was slightly darker or if you could provide more visual support from the text borders, that would be great. All in all, the button is high-quality and looks aesthetically appealing- the text just needs to be slightly darker to help with readability.
Also, for the fourth button on the second row, the text that marquees the button is fantastic; however, the blue text border around nienke's was quite close in colour to the background. If you look at the animation, the pink stands out and contrasts well and is therefore easily readable. Because the text doesn't stand idle for too long of a time, reading the text isn't as easy as it could be. The suggestion I have is to alter the text border for nienke's; perhaps a dark blue, or change the animation so that it is idle for a couple seconds longer- just long enough so the viewer is given a sensible length of time to read the text.
All in all, an excellent and organized sitely section.
0.5 points deducted for minor readability problem in the buttons.
Overall score: (91/100)
Comments: First, I want to congratulate and commend you on having such a spectacular site it is without a doubt that Nienke's Premades has been an incredibly successful site; your layouts, I realized after reviewing your site, are seen everywhere which further reflects your site's success and, in my opinion, influence in the site-making community. As well as high-quality, you serve your content with quantity. You've done a spectacular job with your premades, offering over 150, which is an extraordinary amount of premades! I believe the only advice I have to give, as a final sort of comment, is to be wary of text readability, in both size and colour. I understand I'm very meticulous when it comes to readability and the like, but it can be rather disappointing when text becomes difficult to read after awhile and I want to help people diverge from making this sort of underrated error. All in all, you've done an excellent job with your site; despite the length of this review (8883 words, eek!) there wasn't much I could help with because your site, really is, of the highest quality. You take great care in your work (and it shows!) and I really admire that. Amazing job, Nienke! I can only expect greater things from Nienke's Premades in the future.
review for banner buddies
banner buddies was a guide to making banners
First Impression (5/5) - First things first, upon entering your guide, when I saw that it was very clean and organized, immediately I felt inclined to read more. The text seemed organized and spaced nicely; everything seemed to be placed in the right place, the text of an appropriate line-height, giving me the impression that reading your guide will be an easy and difficulty-free experience. It was also great to see that you maintained an evident colour scheme, which created a sense of unity between the different areas and aspects of your site's layout. I was welcomed by the banner; based on a quick glance, I could see that the banner was nicely done. It was simple and effective and clearly showed your site's name, therefore the banner served its function well. However, I wonder if the banner would be more effective if the text was emphasized more. I noticed that when I first entered your site, the Aisha was the first thing I saw; the reason for this is because the Aisha is in a rather vivid pink, a contrast against your prevalently passive and soft colour scheme of light pinks and oranges. Although the banner is of an adequate quality, if the text was emphasized more- perhaps the text could be enlarged or the colour of the text altered- then it would draw more attention on your site's name, which is more important than the Aisha. However, points will not be deducted as it doesn't affect the quality of the first impression per se, but this is just a suggestion!
Other than that, based on the organization and clean look to your site and was presented well, I was inclined to think that your site was high-quality. For a guide, you've created the appropriate impression and I'm very much inclined to read more. Job well done!
No points deducted for this section.
Introduction (3/5) - I noticed that your introduction wasn't the sort of introduction that most sites have; usually this would not be a problem, but there are some things that an introduction should address.
First, a guide, particularly one that is written entirely by you, should have some mention of the host or the writer of the guide; you want people to be familiar with your name and know that you are the writer of the guide off the bat. The reason for this is that you create an impression and people are more likely to remember who wrote the guide if you tell them at the start. Imagine someone telling a friend about your guide and their friend asks, Oh, so who wrote the guide? Upon further investigation, the only place that you told the visitor of who you were is when you mention your username at the bottom- if I had not known beforehand, I would have found it extremely difficult to know your name. I strongly suggest including your name in the guild- all you need is to simply introduce yourself as the writer of the guide, such as My name is Rica and I am the writer of this guide-- of course you could write a better introduction than that, but just remember to include your name and a link to your lookup. I understand that a guide's purpose is to simply inform; in regards to price guides, not including the host's name is somewhat acceptable, but with a guide that is written by you and, based on my skim-readings of your guide, when you personalize the content a lot, it calls for an introduction. Who is guiding through this process of making banners? That question shouldn't have to be asked!
Note: I noticed you had put the introduction I described above earlier but then you removed it again; I suggest you put the introduction back up.
Quoting An aesthetically pleasing banner consists of four parts: cropping, textures, brushes, and text... was an effective way to start the guide. By doing this, you give the reader a gist of what they can expect from your guide. However, directly underneath the block-quote, I suggest changing Intro to Introduction; intro is not a proper word, therefore I suggest using the full word or you can place an apostrophe after the o to indicate that the world has been shortened (though I strongly recommend the former).
In the text that follows the header, I suggest changing I have offered a guide to This is a guide. What I have suggested is more direct and immediately hooks a visitor in upon reading it. I have offered... can be quite passive and isn't as direct and powerful as This is. If you choose to follow this suggestion, I suggest that you reword the second sentence. You have written, It focuses more on the design aspect of banner making, not the basics. To avoid the pitfall of sounding too subjective or too personal in this sentence, you can reword it like, Design aspects of banner making will be a focus in the guide, not the basics of banner making.
Another thing I'd like to suggest is that I'd like to see you elaborate slightly more in this introduction. The introduction at the moment is slightly vague. To be more specific, when you mention design aspects, what is a design aspect? The answer may be very obvious, but a rule of thumb for any sort of guide-writers is to not assume the reader knows what you are talking about. Like when you are writing an exam, treat the examiner like they have absolutely no knowledge of what you are talking about, which means that you should explain things with more depth. With that said, don't define what design aspects means. Like what you did earlier on with the block-quote, give the visitor and idea of what will be covered. Yes, you mentioned it in the block-quote, but include an extra sentence so that they can create a link between design aspects and what is a design aspect.
2 point deducted for not introducing self as writer of the host (-1) and vagueness of introduction and passive voice of introduction (-1).
Layout (9/10) - First, having a linear layout was a sensible choice for a guide. This helps with readability and since guides usually proceed one way, the linear layout was practical. The navigation and the guide and content itself was separated clearly and everything seemed quite spacious; this is a positive thing as cluttered and very congested text can be quite off-putting to read. As mentioned before, the execution of colour scheme was well done and everything seemed to be interrelated because of this- good job. I don't have many suggestions, but here are the few that I have to offer.
First, in regards to your h1 headers, I do suggest that you make the text all uppercase. The reason for this is because headers tend to be quite short; they may consist of only one or two words. For this reason, it would be better if the headers were capitalized as it would create more of an emphasis and would stress its importance as a header. The problem with having one capital letter and the rest lowercase creates this sense of inconsistency and irregularity because of the general shape that it creates. Have a look here: Welcome and WELCOME. Which of the two looks the most regular in shape? The second one, simply because the heights are all the same (all reach the cap height), whereas in the first one, some letters such as e and ome only reach the x-height, which is the half-way line. Therefore, by capitalizing the text, as well as more emphasis, the header will be more consistent and this is generally more aesthetically pleasing.
The only other problem I have is the alignment of the headers. I can understand why you have the h2 headers aligned to the right; by doing so it may make the headers generally more interesting, rather than aligning it all to the right, but for practicality reasons, I do suggest aligning the h2 header text to the left. The reason for this is because the width of the area that holds your content is quite wide. When it is quite wide, it means more of a distance for the reader to look at your header and then return to the text. Contrast this with the headers in the navigation; since the width of the column is reasonably narrow in comparison to the text size, aligning it to the right here would be practical. I suggest aligning the headers to the left or perhaps centring it. However, if you choose to centre it, I strongly suggest that you capitalize the text for the reasons in the previous paragraph. (If you choose to align it to the left, capitalizing isn't necessary.)
Lastly, in regards to your h3 headers, since this does not have the underline, background or border style like your h1 and h2 headers have that helps separate two sections of text, I suggest aligning the header text to the left. Because the h3 headers' purpose is to just title a sub-section and isn't of great importance in comparison to your other headers, as said before, it would be more practical if it was aligned to the left so the reader's eyes don't have to travel that distance from right to left as it can be quite uncomfortable.
1 point deducted for minor header casing issue (-0.5) and header alignment issues (-0.5).
Quality of Guide - This section will be broken down as follows:
Clarity of guide (11/15) - As a general comment regarding the overall clarity of your guide, I think the guide, in this aspect, can be improved.
One of the reoccurring issues I had whilst reading your guide is that I found that you did not elaborate enough on your points. When I read your guide, I assumed the position of someone who did not know anything about banners or design. Even if this guide is a guide, not a tutorial, by limiting the guide in this way, the possibility of turning away potential banner makers or even potential readers increases and this is a shame. You want your guide to be as informative as possible; even so, the best banner maker may not know the terminologies and the absolutely technical things in banner-making. My rule of thumb in a guide is to never assume the reader knows what you are trying to say; always spell it out and make what you are saying absolutely clear so you minimize any sort of unanswered questions.
Here is an example; in the first section, you say not to center important visual elements in a banner. For someone who does not know much about banners, a question they might ask is Why? I see that you do mention that the aspects compete for attention and that the banner overall is not aesthetically pleasing, but you do not state why. Why is it the case that the text and imagery are competing for attention? What makes it so? Provide an explanation: The text was placed over the image, therefore there was no balance in the banner. Both text and imagery seem to be competing for attention because they are placed so closely together, there is a confusion of what should be emphasized and it is not evident which of the two is more visually significant.
In regards to your Texturing section, under the description for Grunge, in the last sentence, you write But try not to overdo the textures to the point where you can barely recognize the image. The question here is How do I know if I've overdone the textures? One can assume that knowing when something done is obvious, but in some cases, this is not. I do suggest that you include a sentence or two and explain what some indicators to a texture being overdone are. Perhaps you can make two examples- a banner or image with an adequate amount of textures and one that is overused and then underneath, explain why these it is enough or why it is too much. Leave no possible questions unanswered and you'll immediately see your guide's quality improve.
In the very first section of your guide, Getting Started; Step 1: Cropping, you speak of a focal point. What you did was that you implied the meaning of what a focal point is, but you directly define it. The problem with implications, no matter how strong, is that this can still be misleading, particularly if people misinterpret the implication or suggestion. Therefore, when you wrote this sentence, See how your eyes focus towards the skulls? That means that the skulls are the focal point. after this would be a good place to say, A focal point is the area in a composition that is the primary focus or has the greatest emphasis, therefore making the emphasized area the first thing to be seen. Again, although this may have been emphasized in the couple of sentences there, spell it out to the reader since the terminology may be foreign to them. A way to look at this is similar to how you would write in an exam; treat the examiner like they don't know anything about what you are writing about so you have to explain the content in a manner like you are teaching them; this entails that you may have to define some important key words. (Perhaps you could dedicate a section to explaining terminology, like a glossary?)
In the summary, you've written Try to have a focal point for your banner and keep it off to one side. The question here is keep what off to the side? The focal point? The banner? When reading and making sense of sentences, we evaluate the sentence word by word, therefore the ambiguity in the sentence due to the sentence structure makes the sentence itself unclear. Clearly explain what should be kept off to one side.
In the first line of Step 3: Brushes, you wrote You can view the image to see them in full size. This may be me being very meticulous, but I do suggest that you make it more specific. Perhaps You can view the image in full size by dragging the image into the address bar. However, I should note that in Internet Explorer, because those images are also links, by dragging them, it will take the visitor to where the image is linked to. For this reason, if you choose the drag and drop method, remove the links from the brush sets and include in the hover Brush from Foomanshu or Brush from The Stamps Co.
Further along in your guide, under the text from Wrong Places, what you wrote was inconsistent and quite confusing. Your position was that it was a lovely banner, then you say that the dashed lines stood out (I took the implication that this was undesirable) but then you say it makes it a better banner. Here, I'd like to ask, which is it? If you want to explain a common pitfall effectively, it would be sensible to use the banner as a clear example of the 'wrong place' dilemma with banners. Don't contradict yourself saying that this is done poorly but it looks nice anyway. To make your argument/point stronger, take one side and stick to it. I can understand why you said the banner was nice- it isn't yours and it wouldn't be right to use a banner that was not your own as an example of a pitfall. But because the point you make, at the moment, is weak because of the inconsistency, I suggest that you personally make a banner that (clearly) illustrates this pitfall.
Under Text, you've made a comparison between two fonts; the font that is in the Meepits banner and the font Never Let Go. Although the name is already quite suggestive of the theme and what the font would look like, I suggest, to further emphasize and to illustrate the differences between the two different fonts, I suggest making a banner with the text Never Let Go with the same imagery to show, visually, the effect a font can have on the banner. It is one thing to tell someone the difference, but it is more powerful and more effective if you show someone the difference.
Again, here, you use jargon such as monochromatic and Gaussian Blur; for someone who isn't entirely familiar with these terms, it can be rather confusing and made vague for them. Since this is design terminology and since you are covering design aspects of a banner, I recommend that you state, somewhere, the definition of those terms.
4 points deducted for not elaborating fully on points made, thus affecting clarity (-2), vague and ambiguous sentences (-0.5), inconsistency of sentences (-0.5) and not explaining design terminology (-1).
Quality of guide (10/15) - It was great to see that you had provided some imagery to illustrate your points in the guide. Doing so helps convey the points you want to make in your guide and it shows that you are, as well as providing explanations, are drawing on visual support to help explain your points. With that said however, particularly under Step 3: Brushes, it would be very helpful if you, perhaps, drew on the image with a red brush to draw emphasis of what the image focuses on. Captions underneath do help but can be easily overlooked. If you illustrated on your screenshots, perhaps circling the different brushes, drawing on what is important, using arrows, etc. then the visitor can see the image and immediately understand what you are trying to explain.
Under Step 2: Texturing, for someone who does not know much about textures, this section can be quite difficult to understand. I found that you assumed that the visitor knew what grunge, light and bokeh textures look like. Although the names already carry heavy implications, again, I discourage assuming that the reader knows what you are talking about. Therefore, I suggest including at least three to five different examples of grunge, light and bokeh (each) next to the sections and perhaps describe the characteristics of the textures. I know that you've already included images of the textures at the top, but if you place the images next to the text, this will enforce a 'visual relationship' between text and visual support.
One of the biggest issues I encountered while reading your guide was how you had written the guide, or in other words, the prose. Throughout the guide, I found that the voice in the guide was very personal and this inclined me to think that some of the points you made were quite subjective. Although it is perfectly fine to interject your own personal opinion and share your experiences as a banner maker, I do suggest including these sorts of statements to a minimal. Remember that this is a guide and it should move away from personal opinion because it loses its strength as an objective and serious guide if I statements become excessive.
Here are some examples:
- They usually result in a slightly "dirty" looking banner. However, I feel that these are one of the most versatile kinds of textures! They can make an image that much more interesting if you use the right texture.
The sentence above could have been stronger. The sentence in the middle was a personal opinion, but this could easily be turned into an objective statement. If you change it to a more neutral tone and remove the I statement, you'll get a stronger and more firm sentence; this will incline someone to follow the advice presented. Therefore, instead of the above, you can change it to, Grunge textures usually result in a slight "dirty" looking banner. However, grunge textures can be the most versatile kind of textures! They can make an image look much more interesting if you use the right texture.
Can you see the difference? By changing the tone and voice of the sentence, the sentence sounds much more objective and more neutral, which is the sort of tone guides should have. Remember, you are providing the facts and neutral and objective suggestions. Personal opinions should be kept at a minimum. Personal experiences are understandable and acceptable, but a good way is to separate objective statements from subjective statements by putting the personal experience statements at the end of the paragraph rather than amidst the facts.
- However, I find that reducing the opacity of the border is a good way to make the text more eyecatching.
Same suggestions as above; if we change the sentence, we'll get something that looks like this: By reducing the opacity of the border is a good way to make the text more eye-catching. Again, by simply removing the I, the statements seems stronger and more objective.
I strongly suggest you re-read and revise your guide and try and take out I statements that would render the advice given weaker. The examples I provided are some of the few that I spotted (I have not picked out all of them), so I do suggest you read your guide again and be very wary of such I statements. If you need help with writing objective statements, I have covered how to do this in Day 1 of Review Site Awareness (the third point).
Another thing I'd like to point out is that I found that your guide was largely a guide that stated what was good, what was bad, what the desired effects were and what the undesired effects were. This can be a good thing, as it clearly explains what a banner should or should not have. The issue is not that there was not in between, but it was that the points you made were not as strong as they could've been. What I found in your guide was that you made statements and assumed positions but you did not justify your statements and positions, which made the arguments weak. Remember, when you want to make a strong point, you should:
1. Make the statement. - Contrast in a banner is desirable
2. Explain why this statement has its position. - because contrast creates interest and is naturally eye-catching.
3. Justify further (perhaps provide an example). - As shown in this image, the black contrasts greatly with the white, because...
With specific reference to your guide, you can apply the suggestion above to, Likewise, too many brushes will give your banner a cluttered and crowded feel, usually not the best. In this sentence, you were quite vague with why it would look cluttered and crowded. You want to explain it from a designer's perspective so it will have more credibility- remember that 'not the best' is a somewhat subjective statement and that is what you want to avoid. I would suggest rephrasing it to something more like, Likewise, too many brushes will give your banner a cluttered and crowded feeling, which can deduce the emphasis or significance of the aspects in your banner that are important. Remember to give objective justification; I also suggest providing examples (so make some visual support to show what is too much) as this will convey your points better.
Here's another example, When using this method, you can try and give the border a Gaussian Blur, sometimes this looks slightly better. The question here is Why? The issue here is that if I can ask these sort of questions because the statements are vague, you're less likely to convince the reader. State (which you have done), explain and justify. You could elaborate on this point by saying, When using this method, you can try and give the border a Gaussian Blur. This looks slightly better because _______, opposed to ______. Furthermore, with this effect, the banner will be ________. (Of course you'll fill in the gaps!)
5 points deducted for poor visual support (-1.5), subjective prose (-2.5) and weak statements (-1).
Helpfulness of guide (8.5/15) - At the very bottom of your guide, I noticed that you had provided some links to some sites that may be useful to the reader. By all means, keep the links there because it may as well be a sort of helpful (external) links section in your guide. However, I suggest including these links throughout your site also. In the Brushes section, provide some links that can take the reader to some sites with the resources. For textures, include some links that'll take the reader to some resource sites. By doing this, you make finding things much more convenient for the reader, particularly if they are only looking for a particular section in your guide. More so, by having the links at the bottom means that these links can be easily overlooked- you want to readily provide your reader with links so that if they're curious, they can have a look at the links and get an idea of what you are talking about. Also, instead of including the links at the very end of the section without explanation, I recommend writing a little sentence saying something like, You can find a bokeh and grunge textures at Nienke's Resources or You can find brushes at Foomanshu. State what sort of textures the reader will find in those sites, so they don't have to dedicate time scouring through the links you provide to find the texture/resource they need. I know that you've done this once under the Brushes section, but I'd like to see the links throughout the guide.
As largely mentioned in the above, unfortunately by not elaborating on your points really affects the helpfulness of your guide. Ambiguity can lead to unanswered questions which can defeat the purpose of a guide, particularly if your guide is being consulted to answer some unanswered questions. The Textures section requires particular attention, since you did not elaborate on the characteristics of them, making the descriptions rather vague. Again, go through your guide and elaborate fully on your points.
What is considered to be a 'whole new level' in a banner? What does that phrase entail?
What is the effect of Screen?
What is the effect of Overlay?
How do I know if I've used a Light texture correctly?
Where should I position to bokeh texture to help emphasize the focal point?
How do I know if I've used brushes incorrectly?
Where can I get brushes (on-Neo')?
In Text, why does your talk of focal points suggest a definite no-no?
When you describe the white light drop shadow, I found it extremely difficult to grasp the overall point of what you were saying. Sometimes, the dropshadow isn't neccessary, but if the text blends in too much, you'll have to use it. What does this mean?
How do I create the effects or use the techniques as used in your guide (particularly in the Text section)?
Answer these questions and explain how to do the techniques you use in the guide or remove it altogether since without further elaboration or a method of how to achieve a certain look, it makes the steps unhelpful and therefore unnecessary/pointless.
Lastly, in your summaries, make sure that they are a summary, not 'extra comments', of the section that you have just written. In other words, a summary should not contain any new information that you did not speak about. Take how to write an essay for example; you have an introduction, body paragraphs and then the conclusion at the end. The conclusion is where you summarize what has been covered in the essay and should not introduce any new points that were not previously discussed. The same idea applies here. For example, under Textures, in the last sentence, you've written, Bokeh textures can add an "out of focus" look to your images, and can be used in a variety of ways. When I read this, I found this to be odd because I didn't read that in the paragraph about Bokeh textures- I felt confused because I felt that I had overlooked a sentence. Therefore, you should say in the paragraph, not in the summary, that bokeh textures create an out of focus look.
Also, define and explain what certain terminology mean; the terms are essentially semantically empty if you do not explain their definitions because to someone who doesn't know the terms, it'll be inconvenient having to go out of their way to find out the definition.
Overall, I'm afraid to say that though your guide had its merits, I did not find it to be as helpful as it could have been. You brush briefly on what should be done and what should not be done, but I feel that it lacks essence and after reading it, I felt quite unconvinced that the advice in the guide was objective enough for me to follow. Although in the introduction that you state that this covers the design aspects of banner making and not how to make a banner, you still have to explain how you can achieve an aesthetically appealing banner that adheres to the design aspects that you speak of. Go the extra mile to explain the techniques that you use and provide lots of examples using a variety of banners.
6.5 points deducted for not providing links throughout guide (-1), lack of elaboration in statements, thus affecting helpfulness (-3.5), minor summary issue (-0.5) and no confidence in follow guide advice due to quality of guide (-1.5).
Grammar/Spelling (4.5/10) - I will only correct straight-forward grammatical, spelling or sentencing errors; I will not be changing personal statements to neutral statements- I'll be leaving that to you. As a note, I suggest removing unnecessary words such as Well, so, usually or just as these words tend to clutter sentences. Also, remove rhetorical questions as they can be clearer when constructed as a straight-forward sentence.
Also note that line indicates the line of a paragraph itself (like how you would label 'lines' in a poem) and does not mean a sentence.
Step 1: Cropping
In the first sentence of this section, you've written, What must happen in order for an image to be considered well cropped? The way you have constructed this sentence is quite confusing; I suggest rewording it to What does a well-cropped image look like? The way it has been phrased has been simplified, but when writing a guide, try to reduce the amount of words to formulate the sentence as possible. You don't want to impress the reader with how you've written things, you want the reader to easily understand what you're trying to say.
In this sentence, Either off to the side, or maybe to the top or bottom. the meaning was very ambiguous. I suggest changing it to something more like, A focal point is located either to the side or maybe at the top or bottom of the image. Elaborate and be more concise.
In the first sentence underneath the skulls image, the emphasis has been placed incorrectly. Instead of italicizing (therefore emphasizing) focus, the emphasis should be on towards.
In the sentence, All good banners will have a focal point your eyes are drawn towards, after your text of course, but we'll get into that later. the sentence was worded poorly and therefore the meaning of this sentence confusing. I suggest rewording it to, All good banners will have a focal point, therefore your eyes will be drawn towards it. I have intentionally not included the last part of the sentence as this was what created the confusion. Either mention this in a new sentence or remove it altogether.
In the last paragraph before the summary, in the first line, remove basically as this clutters the sentence and isn't necessary.
In the second line of that paragraph, remove even.
In the third line of that paragraph, remove definitely or very or both words.
In the fourth line of the paragraph, change the period after attention to a comma and uncapitalize while.
Step 2: Texturing
In the first line, esential should be essential.
In between high quality should be a hyphen as these two words, when put together, have a specific meaning and are usually seen collectively.
After banner, instead of a comma, it should be a semi-colon as the pause necessary is longer than a comma.
In the last sentence, they're should be their.
In the third sentence of the description, remove that as it clutters the sentence.
In the third line of the paragraph, remove try and usually for the same reason in the above.
After textures, it should be a semi-colon, not a comma.
At the very start of the sixth line of the sentence, remove the But.
In the last sentence, remove the but or change it into However.
The first sentence, Frankly, I don't use these textures too often. does not contribute to the overall purpose of the guide and is therefore unnecessary- I suggest removing it as you want to get to the important information as soon as possible.
In the last line of this description, too should be to.
This sentence, These textures are very interesting, and I have only just started using them. But, they are quickly proving themselves very useful! is also unnecessary (as explained why in the above).
In the second line, remove the period after banner and uncapitalize Similar.
In the beginning of the fourth line, remove slightly and remove the comma after banner.
In the fifth line of the paragraph, change the comma after Lighten only to a semi-colon.
Step 3: Brushes
In the first sentence, types should be type.
In the second paragraph on the first line, remove exactly.
When you talk about the lasso tool, in that paragraph, remove kind of.
In the second line of that description, add a comma after left brush.
When you talk about how to turn the image into a proper brush, in the third line, remove trust me.
Remove this sentence in the next paragraph: It actually is harder than it seems, but don't worry, I'll walk you through it! It's nice to see that you are reassuring the reader, but technically that's what your guide is for, therefore the sentence is unnecessary.
In the next paragraph under the image (where you talk about saving the image as a GBR file, remove the So.
In the last line of the same paragraph, change would to will.
In Overuse, in the first line, add a space after the hyphens- when there is no space between a hyphen, it indicates that the words should be seen collectively, which is not the case. Therefore, instead of Some banner makers-such as myself when I first started-will want to pile on the brushes, it should be Some banner makers- such as myself when I first started- will want to pile on the brushes.
In the second line, remove we all know that.
In the third line, rather than, ... crowded feel, usually not the best, I suggest changing it to, ... crowded feel, which is usually not the best.
In Too Strong, again, add a space after the hyphens.
After 60%, add a period.
In the sentence that follows, too should be to.
After opacity, change the comma to a semi-colon.
In Wrong Places, in the second line, instead of rather, I recommend instead.
This sentence, So, putting brushes on the focal point is the right place? Well actually, this isn't always the case. was very ambiguous and I didn't quite understand what was meant by this. I suggest rephrasing it- don't make the sentence rhetorical as this can be easily misinterpreted- and make it a straight-forward sentence.
Under Brieta's banner in the third line, you've written, for me the focal point. The structure of this sentence seems broken; I suggest changing it to for me, the focal point catches my attention.
In the sentence that follows, you eyes should be your eyes.
In the first sentence, after Ah text, there should be a semi-colon as a comma is too short of a pause.
In the sentence that follows after, either remove at least or some.
In the last word of the second paragraph, there should be a period after Themes.
Under the Meepit banner, in the beginning of the second line, image should be font.
In the second to last line, conformed very well to it's theme should be conformed very well to its theme. There should not be an apostrophe as it's isn't it is in this context but suggests ownership.
Underneath the Snow Faerie banner, in the fourth line, after isn't the best should be a semi-colon, not a comma.
In the last sentence, I would suggest trying to have the border blend in more should be rephrased to I would suggest trying to blend the border in more.
Under the Shenkuu banner, in the third line, remove the comma after That is to say.
The last word of that paragraph should be eye-catching with a hyphen in between the two words.
After discovered in the next paragraph, there should be a semi-colon.
In the summary for Text, after your banner on the first line, change the comma to a semi-colon.
Rephrase this sentence, At least try more than one so you can see how each looks and pick the best. to At least try more than one so you can see how each font looks. I haven't included the latter part of the sentence as this seems to be the logical course of action and isn't necessary.
In the line before the text enclosed in the quote box, thoroughly read it should be read it thoroughly.
In the last line of the first paragraph, remove something like.
5.5 points deducted for grammatical mistakes, spelling errors, cluttered or awkward sentencing. (0.1points were deducted for every mistake made.)
Visitor Convenience (9/10) - It was great to see that you provided a Back to the Top link at the end of each section; good job! This inclines me to think that you are thinking about visitor convenience in your site.
In regards to the screenshots in Step 3: Brushes, I do suggest that you make them bigger. The size of the images at the moment is unhelpful because the visitor can hardly see them. Yes, they can drag and drop the images into the address bar, but when your guide has quite a large width, why not utilize that space? A good size would be width="75% or perhaps even 80%. With larger images, the reader doesn't have to go out of their way to view the image, thus making this more convenient for the visitor to read and evaluate the images.
As mentioned before, you use some terminology in your guide as well as mentioning some design techniques. It was good to include them, as this clarifies what the effect of these techniques do, but the problem is that for someone who is not familiar with these techniques, simply stating Gaussian blur or light drop shadow can be very vague and pointless. You have told someone what to do to achieve a desired effect but you have not gone forth to explain how to do it. Perhaps you can argue that it requires initiative on the reader's part to do some research of how to do certain things, but you want your guide to be as helpful as it possibly can be. Therefore, though it may require some work, I do suggest that you write a new section where you teach the visitor how to do certain design techniques, particularly the ones you mention in your guide. That way, the viewer will be absolutely clear on what you mean by Gaussian Blur etc. and more so, perhaps someone can learn something new.
1 points deducted for image sizing issues (-0.5) and inconvenience of vague terms (-0.5).
Readability (4/5) - I found all text to be readable except for the italic text- the italic text was quite light in comparison to the other text on your site. I suggest making it slightly darker, such as #E0427F or another colour from the banner, as well as making it the same size as the main body text.
1 point deducted for readability problems regarding italic text.
Organization (5/5) - Overall, I found your site very organized; everything was easy to find and it was organized well- I have no further comments.
No points deducted for this section.
Presentation (5/5) - In terms of presentation, I believe you have presented everything nicely. There were no issues regarding blue link borders, the quote boxes were an effective means of emphasis and were also a great way to present the important text, the section dividers were a neat way of separating each section and causing a little 'break' that was visually appealing- I have no issues with your presentation. Excellent work!
No points deducted for this section.
Overall score: (74/100)
Comments: Rica, you have done an excellent job in presenting your guide. The only things that I feel needs the most work is the quality of the guide itself and grammar/spelling, though the latter should not be too hard to fix, only tedious to fix. I've mentioned it many times throughout the review, but I was disappointed that you did not elaborate fully on your statements. As well as the statements and hence the guide becoming vague, this deduces the credibility of your guide as it seems almost subjective. Remember to back up all of your statements with examples and justification- convince the reader why they should follow your advice (in an objective manner, of course). Also, you may have noticed that I did not review the Banner Buddies section as I've only rated the guide aspect of your site (I also do not feel comfortable reviewing an event as this is more for fun). This review was quite difficult for me to write, so I do apologize if my advice contradicted itself or repeated itself many times. If you have any questions to ask or would like more advice, don't hesitate to tell me so in the feedback form! Overall, a great start for your guide; it has a lot of potential. Best of luck, Rica!