Reviewed By: Kaz
What I think::
I was relatively surprised when I saw your site, because you don't see many places providing Neopets' themes, so point there.
Your layout is decent. To the point, neat and simple. I would definitely have loved to see more graphical talent showcase, such as perhaps customizing the header a little more. For example, right now, I think all it does is basically look like a cropped image with text on it. Maybe, instead of a flat top, you can think about expanding it into other shapes, such as maybe a circle, the top half of a cloud, or something. Think out of the box. ;D On the other hand, I think the patterned background is actually quite pleasing.
I would try to stylize the headers and the links more, such as making the links blocks, and maybe underlining the main header. Also, I'm not sure if this is a browser thing, but I realize that the bottom of the credits (Neopets) are slightly cut off. Also, because of those credits, I can kind of tell that the column isn't aligned in the center. I'm a person of petty details, but that gets to me a little.
On to your content. I'm not trying to be mean here, but I do think it would be a lot better if you could perhaps improve on your graphical skills. The themes are honestly very plain, just a background made to fit the page. While it is true that they are special in a way that not many people provide them, I wouldn't actually go out of my way to use them, mainly because they are not very eye-catching.
Quick suggestions on things to do when designing:
Try to spice things up with blending (the combination of two or more images together), or perhaps adding textures to the image. Textures can be found in large amounts on the Internet, just give it a search, and most of them are free to use. If you're not using Photoshop, GIMP is a brilliant program to download free, and can achieve pretty much most of what Photoshop can. Brushes, also, when used in moderation, can help you spice up an image. Another suggestion is that you could perhaps kind of make your own image - cut out the pictures from Neopets' backgrounds, and use other textures or backgrounds and form a new image. Something fresh, something new.
Also, another quick suggestion - I know a lot of users on Neopets are probably fans of TV shows, or Anime/Manga and stuff like that. Perhaps, when you get the time, you would like to expand onto those areas as well. Maybe you can increase your audience.
Tutorials are done rather well, I like how you provide detailed steps for each of the browsers. Helps people if they get confused.
I'm quite fond of your last button, actually, but I think the fourth one can be better. I can't really read the words, and I'm not a big fan of the background with the diagonal stripes either. I also really fancy the links you have at the top right hand corner of your page. It's interesting. ;D Introduction is short and sweet, nicely done.
Name - Neothemes. I get the impression that this site only has Neopets themes. :P I know you probably mean it to be themes for Neopets, but yeah. If other people get the same impression I do, and they're not fond of Neopets themes, that might deter them. Maybe a more interesting name? Just as an example, maybe.. Spicing It Up or something? I'm not brilliant at names, but just a point I think can be considered.
All in all, not a bad idea, but I think the content can be improved upon. Keep it up, and I'm sure it'll be awesome. (:
Reviewed By: Grace
What I think::
I found a few common technical flaws in your layout - marked on the screenshot below. There is an area opposite the pink star symbol and off to the far right which looks very empty on my screen, especially with that grey background behind it. I'm thinking some kind of banner would benefit the layout? Also, the pink star means the text below it can't be selected, as shown on the screenshot image. You should also make the background of the Neopet's bar transparent:
Sometimes simple layouts can be a good thing, but this layout is very
simple and gray, and I seriously think you should take advantage of your site theme and jazz it up with brighter colours to make it feel more exciting and competitive like a contests site.
Your introduction works well, as you highlight the main important points that people want to know about when browsing your site such as why you chose the name, and who you are. You still should link your name to your lookup, or at least bold it so it stands out from the rest of the text. You can also remove the Christmas related things, and the snowman pixel since the season is moving on into Spring. You haven't updated for about a week, so I strongly suggest you keep updating, and don't leave it any longer than a week, especially with a high maintenance site type such as contests.
I notice that entering AND voting is open for everything at the same time. Some people might think this is unfair - you are collecting votes even when you are still accepting more, so the newly added work doesn't get as long to get votes, and therefore could get MORE votes than the other work if given THE SAME amount of time as them. Why not have the best of both worlds? People could be able to enter the SOTM for half a month, whilst the graphic contests are open for voting for half a month. After about 15 days, OPEN voting for the SOTM, and OPEN entering for a new contest. This cycle seems more logical, and if people don't want to enter the contests at least they can still vote, as opposed to at the moment where people may just leave if there is nothing for them to do.
Your rankings section is a great added bonus, but maybe you should settle on a certain number of sites to rank for each category? (5, 8, 10 - however many you think is best to offer a good selection of the top sites.)
You could also resize all the banner entries so they are all the same size, and put something like 'drag each image to your address bar to view the full size'.
They aren't very many entries for anything yet, apart from the banner contest where there are a few entries. Maybe Kaz or I will try entering a banner! I think you should keep trying to advertise your site. I can't see how long entering has been open, but I truly think that if nobody is entering after a while, something is wrong. I think you should have a think about what you can do to make this site more ORIGINAL and use the theme of vanity in creating your own type of original contest, like other SOTM sites.
This doesn't really make any sense to me: I need examples of your work before you enter, because I do not want you holding a spot someone else could be using. Is that so you can choose to either accept or reject work to enter the contest? If this is the case, I think you will get more people by accepting everyone and letting the public vote to decide the best. I don't you need to worry so much about this 'rule'. You have a LOT of spaces anyway, which aren't full up yet, so how about just closing entering when you have enough people?
You really need to find more contestants. I don't know if you do this already, but personally Neomailling site owners inviting them to enter could help bring in more visitors to your site.
You have organised everything including the sitely section really well, but I think it would look more organised if each line of buttons had the SAME amount, eg 6 or 7 on every line of the affies, because you could definitely fit at least 6 buttons in, and it will give you more space. Line them up!
Overall, I do think this site is bare and could use some serious work, including a new banner. In fact, a whole revamp with a new layout could help spread the word about this site, but at the moment, the competition doesn't look as though it has started. It looks rather dead, but I know you can bring some energy into Vanity with some work!
Thank you for reviewing at YBOU. I hope I helped. We would like to offer you one banner request for this site, since we think this might help your site improve. Just send one of us the form below. We are also advertising your site at the top of ours, because we think it could use some advertising.
Neomail to: Grace or Kaz.
Reviewed By: Grace
What I think::
The layout you are using is quite a simple style, but it is fine for your type of site. I do suggest shortening the main content box, since at the moment it doesn't appear to end. Also, when I click your navigation links, the page jumps down. This is most likely because the main white box is too long. Your banner could be more eye-catching, interesting and intricate, as at the moment it looks very simple and does not 'wow' me on my first glance of the site. You should also make sure that if you request a banner, you check the correct size in pixels that you need it to be to fit the width of the content box, because your current banner isn't wide enough and could look out of place and disorganised to your visitors.
Your buttons are not of a high quality compared to that of button request sites such as Buttoness and Sparks of Magic. Firstly, take this button for instance. The animation of the text is moving so quickly that unfortunately I can't make much sense out of the letters until it flashes on the full site name. This is a little inconvenient, as I know some people won't bother to wait till the button flashes to read the whole text.
Slowing the animation down on this button above wouldn't really help me to read it easily, but if you made the whole site name visible and then animated each letter in a calm shade of the similar colour, at a normal pace, I think it would be clearer to read.
On some buttons like the one above, the image you use is so small and therefore pixelly that some people with eyesight problems could find it difficult to work out what the picture is of, if they weren't familiar with the Neopet species, Aisha. The blue blend you have going on in the background works, but I suggest adding a dark blue (or another colour) border of 1px around the button, with another 1px of WHITE inside it. A lot of your borders are quite messy. You should really try outlining the inner border with 1px of white, as just this can make a button look so much more professional. If you don't know quite what I mean, see our link back button in the sitely section.
The button above is an example of where you choose a really contrasting colour to 'highlight' the text with when you animate. The colours lilac and orange/yellow that you have used on this button clash, which is why I often try to stick to using the same colour but a different shade to animate with. GIMP has a great colour picker, as do most versions of Photoshop, with hex colour codes available, so you can use these to find the main colours in the image.
You often use the same fonts, like Silkscreen and Handy. I know people get a choice. but I still think you should try to vary the fonts you use, maybe expanding to others such as Redensek, Skinny and Sevenet etc. You often make the text colour WHITE, which is of course a good idea, although you don't outline any of your buttons with a border. I really recommend adding a border to your button text AND button base to make the whole button look clearer and the text stand out more.
My favourite of your buttons is the button above, because of the nice bright colours and easy-to-read colours.
Overall, I don't personally believe that your buttons are of a good enough standard yet for you to be taking requests just yet, so I strongly recommend spending some time to learn how to make professional, neat and nice to look at buttons by possibly putting your site of a hiatus/revamp. I suggest trying this excellent tutorial using GIMP:
If you don't use GIMP or Photoshop to make your buttons, (which I truly recommend), search the sites at Soroptimist Directory to find a tutorial for button making with a program you have.
Finally, your intro looks very long - I think you could shorten it by just keeping the important bits. You could take this bit out, since I think it belongs in the Rules section or the Request section: When you are requesting make sure to add any special effects or anything you want to tell me in 'other' section of you request neomail. I hate messing up peoples buttons due to a detail that was a failed communication between us. In your intro you could add why you called the site 'Meow Buttons'. You should also link to your lookup when introducing yourself, and try to bold/underline/use italics in the intro to put some stress on key words to pick them out from the sea of text, which could look quite off-putting from the visitors' point of view. This happens again in the Request section. Some people often won't read loads of text. If it is all really important, split it up into shorter, clearer blocks of text, or use bullet points.
Thank you for reviewing at YBOU. I hope I helped. We would like to offer you one banner request for this site, since we think this might help your site improve. Just send one of us the form below.
Neomail to: Grace or Kaz.