The Lemures Files
  Guest Article: September 16th, 1998

Content VS. Layouts

By: Jackie Chiang

Sometimes I wonder about the future and history of Sailormoon webpages, and I ask myself what happened. I look back and I see that I miss the old days.

Many pages taking advantage of the latest innovations and trends in the world of HTML and SHTML, using Frontpage support and the newest versions of Adobe products, notably Photoshop. One of the most obvious significant 'ins' that I can recall is the table format; you split the page into two cells, one thinner than the other and running down the left side of the page, usually distingushed from its sister by its differently colored background picture. This set-up became extremely popular; it offered faster loading, neater methods of organization, and slews of other advantages for the Sailormoon webpage master. Now, many pages have moved beyond this stage and into the newer trend of using border graphics- having parts of pictures around the top and left perimeter of the page. Since I myself don't use this format, the only positive advantage over the prior style that I can see is that the border graphics creates a prettier page, and it is pretty easy to do for your own site. Other things that are now faddy- using the curled page edges and using colored table cells to create effects that add distinctive little touches that impresses all visitors except for, of course, those still stuck in the dark age with Netscape 2.0 or who prefer Lynx.

Trends haven't only stopped at the layouts of the page. Webpages have also done stunning things with graphics, namely thanks to life-saving PhotoShop, should you be lucky enough to have the income to purchase this program; if not, you must accept your fate with your trial period Paint Shop Pro, the 'lesser' of the two graphics programs. When faced with the graphics that can be churned out of expensive editors, it's hard to resist being drawn in by eye-candy, by the beautiful images that appeal to your aesthetic self. Better yet are the uniquely crafted icons that many pages boast- the buttons, the special lines, the detailed banners, even the images themselves. You can spend literally hours simply looking at the graphics pages present to you without even reading a single sentence typed out. With regards to graphics, the thing to do is to help the unfortunate souls who are unable to make images quite like you do; you offer to assist them should they need your help, you make separate icons for free use [provided they link to you] and you over all try to make the Sailormoon community a better place. Right?

Not quite.

There are some things that bother me about all these things. One question is clearest in my mind right now- have Sailormoon pages become so swept up in the desire to look good that they no longer care about the actual content?

I've noted several people saying they liked this page better than that one because this page had a better format, it looked prettier, even if this page had more contentwise than the second. So even if we have good content, we won't be recognized, not unless we have an outstanding layout complete all the signals that you're a part of this movement to be graphically enept and "in"? Perhaps the only page that doesn't suffer from this fate is Hitoshi Doi's page- he has the plainest, simplest format of all the Sailormoon pages. Our double standard maybe. Well, since his page is the one that everyone goes to for information, his is the one that is the first SM page ever, his is the definite resources, just because he doesn't have as good a setup as most other pages, we'll let him slide by. But everyone else? Since your page wasn't the first, since your page isn't the pinnacle at which to aspire information wise, you have to have a perfect set-up. That's as good a double standard as I have seen... And yet... Yet even this has come into question as of late, as I'll mention on later.

Graphics. Apparently everyone wants them. People will steal them, take them without credit, link directly to them from other sites. Everyone wants to be unique, yet everyone has to have the same graphics everyone else has. That doesn't make that much sense, really, but I've digressed. I have visitors from time to time emailing me saying, "Nice page, but maybe you should add more graphics." What? Maybe it's just me when I see the "but maybe you should add more graphics" stick out as a signal that someone thinks my page is somehow deficient because I don't have images littering each html and every HTML file. Are graphics that important? Is more eye candy better as opposed to more and better information? Have page visitors been so spoiled by the graphically intense, beautifully set up sites that they have seen that they expect everyone else to do the same? I'm extremely possessive of my graphics, but they are definitely not number one in my book of priorities when it comes to a page. Content first, images second.

Some people will try to deny this- no, content is better than images. Others like NeptuneSS, now member of Pretty Soldiers Dynamite which distinctly says that they offer the most in multimedia and graphics with "some" info, claim that graphics are always better than information. Maybe Pretty Soldiers is on the ball, as much as it pains me to say that. Maybe we should all concentrate on graphics, not info. Who reads info when we're all experts, after all...?

Something Sailor Yohko wrote struck me hard- when listing the "gods" of Sailormoon webpages, she listed several well known names: "Millenium, Pluto Planet power, the Kraiders, Apatt, Lunar Dragon, Grub, Evolution, SM Absolute." I've heard of most of these, and yes, they are good pages, but... Is the obvious flaw here apparent? Well, let's see... I don't see Hitoshi Doi's page anywhere and I reread the list several times over. Quite frankly, I think it's a bit astounding not to have Hitoshi Doi's page as one of the best resources, almost an insult to any decent Sailormoon fan. If you take a look at the list cited, what are these pages all known for best? To be fair, several of the sites have good content, yes, but that's not what everyone raves about. If these pages had the same content with plainer designs, you most certainly would not hear about them. There it is- everyone admires these pages' designs and layouts best. Everyone likes the graphics, everyone likes the icons, everyone likes how beautiful the pages are, everyone likes the nifty little things they can download. Yet Doi, for all his character profiles, items listings, milestones, synopsi, and seiyuu information, is left out of this list. Is this the double standard steadily declining? Have we finally reached the point where some people will discard any and all pages that don't look as graphically appealing as the ones listed? (The second flaw with the list, btw, is that all of the people mentioned are friends and work together on group projects and frequently thank each other on various pages, etc., and having a whole bunch of names as the "gods" is scarcely fair when of course all of them would be beautifully set up due to similar and shared interests.)

Some fads now-a-days are positive. People actually care about how their page looks, which is good. I'm not trying to criticize progress in using make-up to make yourself look more beautiful. After all, if every page had huge H tags, blinking JAVA scripts, a million big pics loaded on a single html file, then we'd have a problem. However, we should also remember that make-up can be used in two ways- as an enhancer or as a cover-upper. Putting the surface appearances of webpages as your top priority is a fallacy, content is still far more important- true beauty is skin deep.

Comments on this article can be sent to: Jackie Chiang.

Comments made on this page are opinions of the author. They are not necessarily shared by Tripod and the Amazoness Quartet.

  Current Lemures Top || Main || Email   
© 2002 AQ