How to... NES Site

Following in the footsteps of some other NES webmasters, I've decided to throw together a list of things to do if you want to create a great NES site. Turning modesty aside for a second, I think I have created a pretty decent NES site over the years. I will not. however, tell you how I did it. I believe that I did a lot of stupid things and don't really know how things worked out this way. I will tell you what I believe makes the best NES site, from my experiences as both a webmaster and a web viewer. I do believe all of these techniques are important, even if I don't use them all. If you can utilize all of these hints effectively, your site will easily eclipse mine or any other site out there. The secrets fall in order of most important to least important. If you don't agree with me, don't yell at me or anything. Just ignore my advice. After all, the #1 rule of making a site is to never listen to anybody... ironic, no?

1) Never listen to anybody
Regardless of what I or anyone else says, make a site on your own terms. The only people I ever listened to were people I considered friends, and their suggestions were always taken under advisement. I still have ideas given to me from fans over a year ago, some of which I may use one day, if I feel the urge. With that in mind, everything I say here can be shrugged off if you think it's irrelevant.

Real Example: Nobody liked this site when it was first created. I didn't listen to anybody, and kept working on it. Look where I am now.

2) Nobody's perfect... but...
Try your hardest to get your site to read well. Spelling and grammar errors are okay. Everyone makes them (as a metter of fact, I make at least one spelling error per page that is painfully obvious). The odd mistake can easily be overlooked. I can't use a keyboard for the life of me, but I still try to spell correctly and use my full knowledge of grammar. Not being able to type is no excuse. In other words, don't break out a thesaurus just to sound smart and don't use semi colons if you don't know how. Read your stuff a couple times after you've written it and make sure that it's all okay. Hell, even get your mom to read it if you're unsure.

Real Example: Willyman (of Willyman's NES site) has a site similar to a lot of older popular sites which focus heavily on reviews and editorials. But, he has made a name for himself through excellent writing. Other review and editorial sites have fallen because of poor writing.

3) The road less traveled
This sort of fits into the "Never listen to anybody" area, but it is a little different. Think of something no one else has done, and do it. Don't worry about who will like it and who won't. Once you have a bit of beef on your site, nobody will care about what sucks on your site, as long as you have a fair amount of good stuff. All of that 'good stuff' should be completely fresh and original, unless secret #2 applies to you. In that case, write lots of reviews, and wallow in the praise of everyone with an 8th grade reading level.

Real Example: This site. Absolutely everything I have written, I had never seen before on any other site (sometimes I see a site that focuses on something I had previously written; IE the SMB2 Worship. I wrote Doki Doki panic long before I saw that). A lot of it is shit, but it's still revered because of it's originality. I still don't even see anything exceptionally funny on this site. People's opinions often confuse me.

4) Images, young one
You might not believe in emulation if you're a "hard core" NES fan. I applaud you for sticking to tradition, believe me. But, you really can't keep any interest in your site without images. I am very passive towards stealing images from other NES sites. If you stole some images from this site, for example, I wouldn't get my panties in a bunch. But, it is better if you create your own images. Put your morals on hold, and get an emulator and some roms. I never play my emulator save to get screen shots (and in the case of Bard's tale because my battery is dead on that game). By the way, it really sucks when your battery dies.

Real Example: NEStopia. This site is an excellent site. The webmaster put in a lot of work before he released the site, and it shows. But he has few images because he's against emulation. I fear that he'll not get as far as he should because of it.

5) Marry your image editor
You have to know every image editor you use inside and out. This is one of my personal secrets to making my own site great, and I would put it higher up on my own list. However, if you don't make your own images it is irrelevant. I use 5 programs to make the images for this site (Paint, Imaging, Gif Construction set, Adobe Photoshop and GIMP). Each program has it's own use, and you should learn each in detail before even bothering to make a site.

Real Example: This site. First, I take a PSX still with Nesticle. I open it in Imaging. Depending on what I want to do with it, I take it to Adobe Photoshop, GIMP, or Paint. I often bring the image in between any two of the aforementioned three. At the end, I use Gif construction set to turn the image into the smallest file possible. At the end, I end up with images like this...

This image was made with Adobe Photoshop, Paint, and Imaging. It just so happens I exported it to a .gif file in Adobe Photoshop in stead of using Gif Construction set, but I could have used either.

6) Make sure everything works
Nothing pisses me off more than broken links. I try to avoid these at every turn. Even after I update my site, I make sure to check every new link and every new page. If it doesn't all work, I fix it right away. Trust me, people will be turned off as soon as they see your newest update does not work.

Real Example: NES Smackdown. This is a very well respected and well put together site. But, if you bother to browse it in detail, you get a lot of bad links. This is a big damper on your day, huh?

7) Never ask for help
The only way to learn is to do things for yourself. Before you even bother to start your NES page, become familiar with 4 things. The best NES sites, image formatting, web design, and NES games. If you are a fan of the NES (which I'll assume you are) you should have no problem with #1 and #4. NEVER ask for help with html or images. The only way to learn is to do it yourself. Look up html or image editing on the internet. Read some short articles. When I started this site, I was unfamiliar with everything on this list except for NES games. The only sites I really knew were Gromit's NES Wasteland , NES Enshrined and NES Nation. I couldn't edit html for the life of me, and my image editing skills were very limited. I sort of threw this site together in my spare time for shits and giggles. That really isn't the best way to go, but it can be done (proven by this site).

Real Example: Willyman's NES site. This guy wasn't kidding around when he got started. As I recall, I never heard any requests for help from him. I have offered him my suggestions in the past, and they all have been taken under advisement. Textbook NES webmastering. He still knows how to do some html that I don't.

8) Be you
The best thing about running your own site is that you get to see your own personality leak into it. Even if you want your site to look as professional as possible, even if you want to make a site based only on information, even if you want to have an alternative site, your personality shines through. If it doesn't, make sure it does. Nobody wants to be bored by a robotic ste.

Real Example: NES world vs. NES Nation. Which site is better? If you remember NES Nation, you will undoubtedly say NES Nation. But why? NES World has survived longer, has more information and will likely remain on the internet as long as the webmaster breathes. The answer is: personality. NES World is great for information. But it's kind of boring, isn't it?

9) Bite off more than you can chew
You never know your limits until you push them to the brink. Always try to take on a little bit more than you think you can handle. Offer to help out on other sites, and try to run side projects. Make sure you always have some project that you can afford to pitch. (I failed to have something I could pitch when the paNESian press came along... do what I say, not what I do!) The best way to learn your limits is to go beyond them, and see exactly where everything falls apart. I did exactly this with the paNESian press. I was working harder than I should have. Unfortunately, a very bad experience kept me from continuing on with the newsletter, but it taught me a lot. I could likely run both this site and the paNESian press and write for the NES Triforce and NEScrophilia 2k at the same time. But something would suffer if I did it all, so I stick to running this site, and writing for one other site. Someone else may be able to do more. Or less. It depends on who you are.

Real Example: NES World Wide. NWW was a colaberation of many NES webmasters. In my opinion, NES Mart, I Like NES, NES Dungeon (etc) were better sites made separately by the webmasters behind NWW than NWW itself. Hell, NES Mart was never hacked by a pissed off staffer...

10) Make friends
You can have a very good NES page without making a single friend. But, how far do you think you can get without having at least one pal in the NES 'scene' thing? I didn't have any friends here. One day, I e-mailed Quizzle, and was effectively 'discovered' one year after I started. There are sites out there that aren't even one year old that are already more popular than this piece of shit. If you are smarter than me, you'll hang around a bit more than I did, and make some friends. That way your site will get noticed sooner because you can get your friends to tell all of their friends about it. Word of mouth is still the best method of advertisement.

Real Example: Every NES website that came after the first. Think about it.

11) No feedback?
Don't worry. if no one e-mails you, you should assume you are doing a good job. Someone is more likely to send you a 'you fucked up' mail than a 'good job' mail. I might be wrong on this one, but I'm pretty sure no news is better than bad news. Enjoy every praise e-mail you get, and ignore the fact that you don't get any praise if your site gets a lot of visitors. After all, if people keep visiting your site, it must not suck too bad.

Real Example: Personal experience.

12) Sek--shuns?
I get a lot of criticism because I have a lot of sections with very little actual stuff in them. I guess this is because I'm not a fan of maze sites. I can't really stick to writing the same type of thing over and over and over again. So, in stead of making a page labeled "other stuff that doesn't have a place", I just throw it onto the main page. I think things work better that way. I think of my whole site as one big section. NES World is another section. Clay's NES page is another section. See what I mean? If you don't feel like doing something as trivial as keeping your site organized, don't. Think about what this site would look like if I had only major sections for a second... yeah. I'd have about 5 links on my main page, and that would lead to a maze of other pages and stuff. (Just like TSR's page. Whadd'ya know?)

Real Example: Refer to "never listen to anybody".