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The Tiger Roars 

5 Suggestions for Your 40K Website
When you're new to the Internet the number of 40K websites you find initially delights you. But then you actually go through some of these sites and your delight quickly fizzles, because--like most pages on the Net--a lot of what you find is, sad to say, crap. If you have a website or you're thinking of starting one, here are five suggestions for making your site one people will want to bookmark and return to over and over.

1. Don't make a website just to stroke your own ego
This is the original sin, the foul misdeed that is at the core of all bad websites. Self-expression is a theoretically wonderful concept and the God-given right of every American but it doesn't necessarily carry over into a good 40K website. There has to be something in it for the person that visits your site. It's not enough to post your homemade codex and your army list and some photos of your miniatures for the sole purpose of showing us how clever you are: after all, there are thousands of 40K sites out there that do the same thing. You have to offer us something we can't get anywhere else (and no, your homemade codex isn't so wonderful we can't enjoy 40K without it).

For example, look at Portent. Why is Portent so popular? Because whoever is running Portent has obviously sold their soul to the Dark Powers of Chaos in return for inside information about upcoming GW products and events. That's their angle, that's the advantage they have over most other websites: you're not going to get reliable previews of GW goodies anywhere else.

When I was creating this website I decided that the angle I would take would be to discuss topics in-depth. I am firmly convinced that nowhere else on the net will you find any site like this one that beats a topic into the ground, then digs it up and gives it a few more whacks for good measure. If you find anyone more verbose than me, please let me know and I will dispatch my rival (or at least crash their system) by e-mailing them my 20-volume dissertation entitled, "Why Squats Weren't That Cool Anyway and Why You Shouldn't Miss Them."

Seriously, though, what angle is YOUR website going to take? How will you set it apart from all the others? Why should anyone besides your friends and your mom visit it?

2. Don't keep us waiting (or make us jump through hoops) to access your website
There are some websites that are just so technically beautiful that when you access them you find yourself sitting before your monitor with that slack-jawed expression that  Keanu Reeves has made his trademark. You know the sites I'm talking about: they have all kinds of custom-made graphics and multimedia and animation and bells and horns and whistles and such. One site I've bookmarked has little animated flies ("cursor squigz" they call them) that follow your cursor around as you navigate the page. Cool huh?

As every book on webpage design will tell you though, don't get carried away. I am in awe of people who can put all these cutting edge elements into their websites, but I would caution you not to go berserk. The more stuff you put on your page, the longer it takes to load, and recent research shows that people will wait only about 30 seconds, tops, for a page to load before going on to another.

Another thing you may want to avoid are frames and other elements that work best with certain browsers but not others. There are several websites I've found that seemed very promising but just gave me constant error messages and didn't load properly. Eventually I just gave up on them.

Even worse is asking us to download some software to view your site: most people, myself included, are probably going to skip the extra hassle and go find another site.

3. Don't reprint stuff from the books
I'm not talking about blurbs or quotes, or even a rule or two to lead off a discussion. No, I'm talking about someone reprinting, say, the entire Codex: Space Marines. What, I need an online version in case I lose my copy? I need to have an online version so I can read it at work without the boss seeing? I need to have an online version because it's so much easier to whip out during a game? I think not.

Even worse is when someone uses up valuable web space reprinting the promotional copy GW uses to introduce 40K to newbies ("Space Marines are humanity's finest warriors, genetically-altered superhumans who fight in 1000-man armies called Chapters"). What, this is to explain what 40K is to someone who accidentally stumbled across your site? Just about anyone looking for 40K sites has (at least) the basic idea of the game, and if they don't, wouldn't it just be easier to have a link to the official GW website?

4. Don't present anything but your best material
Too many 40K sites (and websites in general, for that matter) treat the Internet like a landfill: just spread out all the garbage and let the rats pick through it if they want to. This is terribly disrespectful. What you're saying, in effect, is that you don't care enough about whoever visits your site to provide them with quality material. You just post it on your site to masturbate your own ego and if anyone likes it fine, and if no one likes it that's fine too.

Let's be brutally honest: not everyone can be a game designer (I know I can't). But at the very least you can make sure that what you put on your site is the very best you can do. Some questions to ask yourself:

    Codices: Yeah, YOU think your codex is cool, and your best friend thinks your codex is cool, but is it really? What differentiates your codex from all the others out there? What new ideas do you have to offer? Not just a bunch of special rules that no one other than your best friend and your mom will let you use, I hope.
    Rules: Does your new rule solve legitimate problems not addressed by the main rulebook? Or does it merely give your army some unfair advantages or restore your favorite Rogue Trader/2nd Edition elements that were eliminated in 3rd Edition ("Now you can terrorize your opponents with virus grenades again!")?

    Stories: Does the story add anything meaningful to the 40K universe? Does it have fleshed-out characters, good dialogue, interesting plot? You're not just writing a fictional account of your last game, are you?

    Miniatures: Do your miniatures pretty much look like the ones in White Dwarf? If so, why post them? Do you have something new or unique that you can show us?

    Artwork: Can you draw well? Because I can't and I admit it (so any Fighting Tiger artwork you ever see in the Gallery is going to be from other people).

Self-assessment can be very, very difficult and is often painfully ego-deflating. It sucks to realize that what you've been working on for hours or days or even months is not as good as you thought and you'll have to start all over. Try to have a friend give you a brutally honest critique of whatever it is you're working on early enough to keep you from spending a great deal of time and effort on bad ideas ("An Imperial Guard army without tanks? That's damn stupid, dude. No one's going to like that").

5. Don't bash Games Workshop 
There are whole websites devoted to describing, in exhaustive and often histrionic detail, how evil GW is for its multiple crimes against humanity. Usually the accusations on these sites boil down to:

    A. "GW charges more money than I want to spend on my games--and I'm pissed about it;" OR

    B. "GW changed/eliminated my favorite rule/army/figure/vehicle/whatever and now I have to adjust how I play--and I'm pissed about it;" OR

           
    C. "GW's rules are unrealistic/unbalanced/poorly written--and I'm pissed about it;" OR
           
    D. "GW charges too much and changed my favorite thing and the rules suck--and I'm pissed about it."
I am not a GW cheerleader. Yes, I think the game is expensive. Yes, I sympathize with people who played Squats. Yes, I understand why some people prefer using the "Rogue Trader" or 2nd Edition rules. As an American, I fully support your right to put up a webpage and kvetch to your heart's content. 

But I also believe in complaining only if it will do any good. You might--MIGHT--get GW to lower its prices, but you'd need to spend a lot of effort creating petitions and organizing boycotts and getting arrested at public demonstrations. And you might-- MIGHT--get them to make a minor rule revision or re-release an out-of-production figure, but that too might require a great deal of time and effort. 

But you will NOT get them to bring back Squats as you knew and loved them, or have them repeal 3rd Edition and "go back to the good old days," or hire you as UberFuhrer of Product Design. And the more you rant about it, the more you will sound like those crazy people who stand on street corners and scream conspiracy theories at passersby, oblivious to the fact that no one is listening to them.

Think about what I've mentioned and if you have any comments or additional suggestions, please let me know.
 

Related Pages
Building Your Own 40K Site
 

Like what you've seen? Then vote for the Jungle in the "Top 100 40K Sites"

© copyright Kenton Kilgore, February 2000

Top

Fighting Tigers:
Codex <> Tactics <> Gallery <> Allies and Enemies <> Tales of the Tigers

Other Pages:
Main <> What's New <> Site Index <> The Tiger Roars <> Themed Army Ideas
Events and Battle Reports <> Campaigns <> Terrain <> FAQ <> Beyond the Jungle