My Dream Site

4 years ago | Tartra (Member)

I've just stuck my toes into Wattpad, mostly because hey, it seems to be working for Aethernea, but it's got me dreaming about what my site could look like. I know, I know - it's all about the writing and 'don't put lipstick on a dead pig', but if I had a full design budget on my hands - and someday, I might - I can think of a few places I'd want to throw it at.

- Texture to the background

Right now, the bulk of my site's a big ol' block of pale yellow (or burnt cream, or curdled milk. Still thinking up a name for it). What I'd like is to have some sort of pattern at the corners. On my banner, I've got a smashed window, and you can see the broken bits of wall. I want that: a cracked wall effect, just to keep it interesting and in with the theme.

- Crisper banner

I really wanted both a fore- and background, and I'd love to get something that looks more photo-realistic. I like what I have now, but if I could get all of it AS the background and shifted over to the right, and then on the left in the foreground, have an abandoned stack of empty coffee cups (more theme stuff!) on a counter, and then almost floating over the stuff in the background like it's right beside the cups, have the title in hard white letters with a jagged black outline.

In my head, this looks fantastic, and I've been doing little things in the background to make that happen eventually (I've got my mascot for the cup, but now I need a very minimalist logo that would be cheaper for a major corp. to print repeatedly). There is groundwork being laid!

- Character Banners

Sooooo this is the Wattpad effect. Two days, and they're already pulling me into their over-the-top flash.

Each chapter over there lets you put up a picture as a mini-banner. At first I was like, "That's dumb," mostly 'cause everyone's using it to do overdramatic models for their characters, but then I started thinking I could put it to work. TOKoR changes POV with every click, so to start a chapter off with a little character banner of the new POV would be fun as all hell. I'd be orienting the reader faster, I'd get more art into my serial (I LOVE ART), and it'd be so cool to click on a new chapter and see a banner for a brand new guy. There'd be that, "Oooh, who in this?" moment. I don't know if I'd change them along with the arcs, but to have them would be great.

For the actual banner, what I'm thinking is commissioning art of the character's face, putting the whole thing in my site's art section, and then cropping the image to just be their eyes. That's even more theme stuff, because there's a lot of action surrounding people's eyeballs in this story. Or maybe it would just be something to represent the characters, in case the whole stare-into-your-soul idea makes the mood too stiff. But banners! I want banners.

- Font fixes

I don't know what it is about my landing lage, but even though it's short, those three separate typefaces look busy. Gotta figure out how to handle that someday. Some-day, not to-day.

And with that, I'm passing it over to you folks. Pretend you have $5,000 just to spruce up your site. You can't go absolutely insane, but you can do a hell of a lot. What's your plan? And I'm gonna just click on your site if it's in your signature, so just write everything assuming I know what it looks like already.

The Other Kind of Roommate — Like Fight Club meets X-Men meets The Matrix meets Superbad.

Read responses...


  1. Patrick Rochefort (Member)

    Posted 4 years ago

    I did on $160.00 Canadian and about 80 hours of work.

    Almost every piece of art on it is from or other free, public domain stock image sites, or else home-brewed by myself or Keith.

    The Content Management System I use is Divi Builder, and it's based on a WordPress engine.

    As it currently stands, your site might be simple, but it is clean and easy to follow, and already better than 80% of the WFG sites out there. If you feel the need to go to textures, then tread gently.

    If you feel the need to commission artwork, don't pay more than $100 per piece. A little patience with free stock art sites will probably pay off just fine.


    Texture to the background:

    Same color values, light patterning, something like this:

    Crisper Banner:

    Honestly? Your banner art is pretty great. If you needed to make it crisper, I'd suggest just darkening the text written on the wall, make it a more solid, dramatic black.

    Character Banners:

    Well, the obvious choice here would be commissioned artwork, probably via DeviantArt. But y'know what? There's some great, non-obvious choices out there. One of my favorites is to use websites that have databases of model headshots, usually haircut models! (Try for starters!) They tend to be well-cropped, pre-proportioned, and the search engines for them can be marvelously specific. Throw them through some suitable art filters and processes, you can step out the other side with a good digital illustration.

    Font fixes:

    Arial, courier, or times new roman. When in doubt, always Arial.

    From Winter's Ashes: A Detective with nothing left to lose, against a Necromancer with a world to gain.
  2. Dary (Member)

    Posted 4 years ago

    If I commissioned art, I'd commission at least three different artists with contrasting styles, so as to prevent enforcing a single "look" on the reader (whose imagination could very well paint a very different interpretation). That (and time) is why I stopped illustrating my work (I reluctantly cribbed together some old, unfinished pieces of art to produce some adverts, but I'm keeping my personal interpretations away from the site itself).

    And, since I'd have multiple versions of each piece, be it a banner or character, I'd set the site to pick one at random whenever it's used.

    It would cost enough just to hire a single artist, though, so chances of that happening are slim XD

  3. Tartra (Member)

    Posted 4 years ago

    @Patrick - I figured this would be a good thread for you, :D

    Oh, don't worry about pricing with me. I've ordered enough art to know where I'll draw a line, and it usually depends on the style. That's why artist portfolios are so important. I'll go over $100 CAD for you if you make it worth my while and also give me all the licences required to do whatever the hell I want with them afterwards. I just want to get the value and work I'm looking for. And Fiverr's been great for hooking me up with artists. I might branch into Tumblr artists next. DeviantArt's another good idea. I've got so many options - yay!

    No, not a full texture for the entire background. Something at the corners to breathe a little atmosphere into it that fades or cuts off before it touches the text.

    I like the banner too, but I want more of a 'scene' out of it. Definitely don't want it to be a dramatic anything. The story's not dramatic, and too much black is going to suck the fun right out of the air. The text should be darker but I can't change that myself thanks to my spectacular lack of know-how (and rationalization that the faded look of the letters builds on the mood). As for crisper, I meant in terms of style. The banner I have is cartoony, which would be great as an ad, but for the actual site, I want a more realistic-looking approach.

    I know a lot of people use models or actors but I'm going pure illustration for all my commissioned pieces. I really don't like the look of actual photographs being filtered and re-filtered to look like they were drawn. Just my preference. I don't even like it on those gan station romance book covers.

    Anything that's a serif should be for print. Sans-serif is the stuff of digital text. It's to do with the weighting of the letters and all that other crap my marketing textbooks droned on about. I think I have to get rid of the serif I'm using on the landing page, too. That might be what's bugging me.

    @Dary - Hey, that was another idea I was tossing around: multiple story banners! I don't know if I'd pick them at random, but I'd definitely want a few to cycle through.

    The Other Kind of Roommate — Like Fight Club meets X-Men meets The Matrix meets Superbad.
  4. Patrick Rochefort (Member)

    Posted 4 years ago

    @Tartra: Here, let me know if this might work for you. Couple play-arounds in Paint Shop Pro for ya. :)

    From Winter's Ashes: A Detective with nothing left to lose, against a Necromancer with a world to gain.
  5. ClearMadness (Member)

    Posted 4 years ago

    My site cost me:
    - $45 or so for the theme
    - $150 for the larger art pieces, the smaller stuff I made/edited myself, and the background is free use

    I sank many many hours into my first free theme when I was learning about Wordpress, but then only had to drop like a dozen to set up this new theme.

    Author of The Iron Teeth, a online dark fantasy story.
  6. Tartra (Member)

    Posted 4 years ago

    @Patrick - I'm trying to pick out the differences but I don't quuuuite see them. What did you change?

    And just quickly @everyone else, this thread is more about what your IDEAL site would look like if you had all the reasonable resources - and then some - that you wanted to get it there, not about how frugally you built your current site. I know some of you have been very cost-effective, but I started this particular thread to chat about what you'd want for your story's perfect webpage.

    I wouldn't mind seeing what you've spent so far, but that wasn't the goal of this thread. :P

    The Other Kind of Roommate — Like Fight Club meets X-Men meets The Matrix meets Superbad.
  7. Patrick Rochefort (Member)

    Posted 4 years ago

    @Tartra: If you put the images side-by-side, you'll see the key differences:

    1. Shadows have been brightened, midtones slightly brightened as well.
    2. Color temperature has been brought significantly into the yellows and oranges, losing some of the cold bleakness of the image.
    3. The contrast of the lettering has been boosted relative to the brightness of the image; now the lettering *looks* blacker to the eye, due to the increased light of the image.

    From Winter's Ashes: A Detective with nothing left to lose, against a Necromancer with a world to gain.
  8. Stormy (Moderator)

    Posted 4 years ago

    Site: I'm pretty happy with the site I've got at the moment: - I've just finished redoing it a couple of months ago, I think it's clean and crisp, no one has any issues navigating it, etc.

    Chapter Banners: I've been doing these for years - I use one per book (using the cover), so that you can always have a quick, visual reference of what you're reading. :)

    Art: Art is my vice. I always love, love, love getting character art done - I've got a bit of an archive here: - and I'm justifying the cost of the more complex pieces (eg: by the fact that they're going to be used in the board game I'm creating, based on the serial.

  9. mathtans (Member)

    Posted 4 years ago

    Honestly, if I had the money, I wouldn't use it for my site, I'd use it to hire editors or artists or give myself art lessons or something. I have no desire to go beyond the basics, and see using the artwork of others as something of a contract headache. "Don't judge a book by it's cover", and all that. (Except of course, people do, and so this may be one of those things that I need to bite the bullet about and deal with at some point.) The idea of a different graphic for different characters is a good one though, ChrysKelly is doing something like that (not with banners) with her "Sanctioned".

    Writing a Time Travel serial:
    Writer of the personification of math serial:
  10. Tartra (Member)

    Posted 4 years ago

    @Patrick - Alright, so I finally got to sit down with my laptop and do a direct flip-back-and-forth comparison of the two banners. The warmer one you made fits my serial better (hey, thank you! :D), but it makes the lettering harder to read. :/ So that's something I need to figure out how to fix going down the road, but overall, yes, you definitely made a good suggestion. And I'm assuming that by linking it to me, you gave me full permission to slap it onto my site, which I totally just did.

    Sooooo... I guess I should look into getting Paint Shop Pro for myself. I stand by being a terrible artist, but knowing I can make those little adjustments on the fly is pretty nice. :)

    @Stormy - You have got a lot of goddamn fantastic artwork. I am so impressed with your choices and the style, and I don't know how many people you worked with to get it to that stand-out level of quality, but it's paying off. I've never not been impressed with it, and it'll translate very nicely into a game. :D Keep me posted on how that goes, by the way! I'm getting really into game design these days (as a casual observer, but an observer nonetheless).

    @mathtans - An editor or whoever still counts as part of this imaginary budget. If it'll impact what goes on your site, I treat that as investing in it, especially if it's the raw content and not the bells and whistles dancing around the place.

    The Other Kind of Roommate — Like Fight Club meets X-Men meets The Matrix meets Superbad.
  11. Patrick Rochefort (Member)

    Posted 4 years ago

    @Tartra: Have at. I do a lot of professional work with image manipulation, so while I couldn't draw or paint to save my life, adjustments like that for an image are all of like, 2 minutes of work for me. If you wanted even blacker letters (I resisted, since you mentioned not wanting that), that's pretty easy for me to do. Or if you want to: Magic wand tool, about 20 Tolerance, click each letter, and then use the Erode function or other equivalent black-boosting filter, and you'll have a much higher contrast of lettering. :)

    If you're made of money you can go with Adobe, if you're made of time you can go with GIMP, but the 'just right' middle of the road is Corel's image suites, in my opinion.

    From Winter's Ashes: A Detective with nothing left to lose, against a Necromancer with a world to gain.
  12. Patrick Rochefort (Member)

    Posted 4 years ago

    Also, to get back to your original topic and what I'd do with thousands of dollars:

    1. Put half of that aside for a big blitz of advertisement.

    2. Put some money down in Shutterstock and Videezy for the best images+animation effects money can buy.

    3. Put some money down for Divi Builder and a developer to customize your theme.

    From Winter's Ashes: A Detective with nothing left to lose, against a Necromancer with a world to gain.
  13. ChrysKelly (Member)

    Posted 4 years ago

    Well, I'm qualified in website design so I'd use part of the $5000 to buy Adobe Mastersuite 5 so I could mock up my design in Fireworks, and I'd invest a little in some original artwork for my characters (my chapters switch POV, I use a different image depending on which POV, which Mathtans mentioned above).

    My actual desired design is somewhat similar to my current design, but I'd have the forum as an in-built part of the webpage rather than an external one. I have a section called Media which I'm going to be filling with fictional news paper articles - that would ideally be photoshop created newspapers available possibly as .pdfs or just as images on screen, rather than simple text pictures.

    I also really want to incorporate video and audio into my site design, rather than just using text - can't really do that whilst using the free wordpress site.

    I already pay for my hosting (which I don't use) and I have my domain name so I just need to get around to actually building the silly thing.


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