Review of

 |  Interwebs, Review

I am in the unfortunate position of being due to give birth today, and yet have had not so much as a twinge. This means today will undoubtedly drag, and I have to find some way of occupying my time. Rather than do something constructive — such as responding to the increasing backlog of emails — I am instead choosing to write a review. I probably won’t have the time to do another for quite a while, and so I’d like to get one in somewhere.

Sarah, owner of, added her site to and received some good mixed feedback, and yet somehow derived from this that she is “the most hated person on []” (links to a comment she left on As people go, she barely begins to tickle the dislike meter, let alone “hate”.

Still in the comment, Sarah refers to reviewers as being inferior because “Their layouts are not even made by them” despite owning a hosting site which use[d/s] a premade template. She also states:

I think I will just stick to people who actually KNOW what they are doing to review my website rather than have people who do not know how to code whatsoever review my website.

…after having dismissed Rose‘s excellent (albeit brief) point about using an unordered list over <br />s for the sake of semantics. Clearly sticking to the advice of people who “KNOW what they are doing” only applies if Sarah agrees?

Throughout both the linked comment, and Sarah’s “rebuttal” to Rose’s review, Sarah makes reference to the supposedly superior coding skills (and thus tutorials and articles) of Georgina; (with whom I have no problem, for the record). Given that several of Georgina’s tutorials are derived from tutorialtastic, and therefore my coding skills, I consider Sarah’s request for a review from people who know what they’re doing an indirect request from myself. And so we begin…

I’m unsure what the site name actually is. Is it “the sound of music.” as dictated by the title tag, “sarah” as dictated by the subdomain? Perhaps even “PartyOfMe” as suggested by the copyright notice? A worrying inconsistency straight from the off.

One of the first things I spotted about the site was its total lack of a coherent colour scheme. You don’t need a degree in design to notice 6 totally different colours of varied saturation, only 1 of which is used more than once (the background stripe and link hover colour are the same… I think). I’ll let an expert back me up here but I’m pretty sure that one of the key components of good design is about sticking with a few colours and using them multiple times to hold everything together. Janet Lynn Ford shares a colour tutorial based on her thesis from university.

Sticking with colour, but changing course slightly to accessibility (something I know a little more about), I noticed a series of basic failures. For starters, the links are far too low contrast on the white background and I have to tip my laptop screen significantly to read link text near the bottom of the page. Second but ultimately related to the first is the grey copyright text sharing the same hex code with the links, confusing the visitor into thinking its clickable. Thirdly, there are multiple colours used for no apparent reason for text emphasis, including a nice shade of blue which I cannot seem to resist clicking. Last but not least is the ‘meta’ information associated with each entry sharing the text colour and size with the main body, making it virtually impossible to distinguish between the two.

Going back to the home page footer, I notice some old buddies: CSS and XHTML validation links (I can’t believe it was over 6 years ago when I first used them myself!) Both the CSS and XHTML validate here but a swift look at the source code shows that this is not down to an understanding of the concepts; typical validation for the sake of it. As well as the aforementioned use of <br /> to mark up a list where <ul> and <li>s would be more appropriate (see the semantic vertical navigation tutorial over at TT), we have the repeated use of the target attribute, tables used to display the list of friends (floated <li>s in a <ul> would be more appropriate), <br /> used purely to create gaps/spacing and an unnecessary set of <b>.

Structurally the mark-up is ordered in a nonsensical manner, with the sidebar and <h3>s appearing before the content and a <h1>. There’s also a sad case of divitis infecting the blog but this is down to FanUpdate rather than any contribution from Sarah. Aesthetically, aside from the obvious colour scheme issues, all linked images should have their borders removed (we are no longer in 1996) and the easiest way of achieving that is with img { border: 0; } in the stylesheet. In an ideal world the navigation should also be clarified as links such as “Artist” and “WWW” are meaningless.

Content-wise I struggle to see the point of Sarah’s discussion about Paypal and bank accounts in the 2nd and 3rd sentences of her about page, and feel it’s a crying shame that she has to declare herself “not against homosexuals and bisexuals“. Oh to live in a world where this was a given. There’s irony in the “Dislikes” (“Those who are illiterate with words” followed by a typo) and “Network” is a redundant title… a bunch of social networking links does not a network make.

“Site” states quite plainly “Current layout has been validated.” despite an unescaped ampersand on that page resulting in error, and I feel somewhat disheartened that “Donate?” is an option on website that offers very little value. Quite why you would donate escapes me. I’m struggling to see the difference between the Advertising section and Affiliates, apart from the fact that those who wish to advertise seem to be able to do so with an image link for no financial contribution whereas affiliates must engage in discussion and get only a text link? Affiliates seems to be a repeat of the list of Friends in the sidebar; entirely unnecessary for them to have a separate page.

Sarah seems to offer reviews through her website (can I be credited with starting that trend, seriously? :D) and somewhat amusingly states “my review is my opinion” as if that somehow makes her different to those on, smattering hypocrisy all over the place. Unfortunately she doesn’t seem to have completed any reviews, although given the length of mine already this is probably a saviour.

In Visitor, we’re offered brushes which seem to be nowt more than .png images, which confuses me as I was under the impression that brushes were little packs you could import into programs like Photoshop? Missing a trick here to explain what the brushes are and how to use them. The Fonts page is entirely ridiculous as it contains only one link and that is off site. I don’t support the usual distribution of fonts that seems to occupy tween personal sites, but fail to see how this is any better! The available graphics are poor quality and covered in crappy credit notices, how boring.

Finally, under WWW, the only page worth mentioning is Awards. It seems to be an entire page dedicated to linking pointless images to This is where I think I’m missing a trick… why haven’t I got people adding pointless shitty pages to their websites linking to me numerous times for no good reason? What a waste!

All in we seem to have low quality content, an inconsistent design and basic mark-up errors that could easily have been fixed after her previous reviews. Sarah seems like a nice enough person so her attitude to Rose, and to other reviewers, bewilders me. Hopefully feedback from someone who “KNOW[s] what they are doing” (that’s me) will inspire a little more creativity and a lot less of this one-sided “everyone who’s not Georgina sucks” bullshit.

Jem Turner +44(0)7521056376

31 comments so far

  1. Aisling said:

    I went to look at the site, and upon scrolling to give it a once-over, the background blinded me, made me dizzy, and I almost vomited. It… like… flashes. D: So, I’ll just take your word on the rest. :P


  2. Mumblies said:

    No sign of baby yet then, perhaps leaping up and down a lot, running around the garden whilst eating a hot spicy curry and being chased by Karl with letcherous eyes may help? *giggle* Never mind Jem, babies come when they are good and ready, and nothing I ever did sped any of you lot up either so I know what you are going through and sympathise with your predicament.

    With regard to your latest review, where Sarah states "not against homosexuals and bisexuals" I am somewhat confused, does this mean that she has a problem with heterosexuals? After all, she doesn’t mention them at all….One would think that having mentioned both gays and bisexuals but leaving heterosexuals out may suggest that? If this is not the case, why bother to mention it at all?

    Good to see you back, even if it’s only a short while until this baby arrives and finds you both wondering how on earth such a small person can cause such total havoc in your lives. :D Keep on smiling.

  3. Amber said:

    I agree with Aisling..The background is just a horrendously snot colored green and constantly flashes when you scroll down her page, and can definitely make one dizzy :S

  4. Hev said:

    I even put mine on the block if you make it to the 15th, lol. Now that is an offer to take, Jem. I don’t think I have ever put Amarantine on your block before.

    I scrolled a little & it looks to much like a bloody strob. It doesn’t even look good. Even I know how to code better then that & I am horrible at coding, lol.

  5. Michelle said:

    I like when you scroll down a site and the background flashes. Since I don’t know anything about computers/not a graphic designer, I don’t know if that’s my fault or hers. It’s really exciting, though, like I’m out dancing. Oh, wait. I’m pretty sure it’s not supposed to do that.

    We’ll all be hoping for baby’s safe delivery at … some … point. Maybe baby is just stubborn, but would that be surprising? :P When my nephew was born this summer, he cried for a little bit, but then adjusted and decided it was better if he just sat and looked around. It was kind of creepy because we all knew he couldn’t see us even though he was totally making eye contact. Here’s hoping yours is as peaceful. :)

  6. Mimi said:

    Ahh, flashing background when I scroll! I didn’t even know you could do that with backgrounds, or the fact that anyone would want to do it and blind their poor visitors.

  7. Vera said:

    Well at least she was consistent… unlike someone who consider "superior" coding knowledge to equal lack of life ( while simultaneously complaining about reviewers’ lack of coding knowledge).

    What I wonder though is what her comment had to do with Georgina’s entry? I mean the post was about something completely different than reviews… *scratches head*

    By the way, my favorite part of your review:
    "Given that several of Georgina’s tutorials are derived from tutorialtastic, and therefore my coding skills, I consider Sarah’s request for a review from people who know what they’re doing an indirect request from myself."

    Hehe. So you :D

  8. Lilian said:

    I was worried I would miss the moment today, as I have been in uni all day :) I’m glad I haven’t!

    Just noticed that the cursor change disables my ‘Grab and Drag’ add-on in Firefox. Curious.

  9. Jen said:

    I personally don’t want to give up my linebreak coding…..I sort of don’t get the ordered and unordered list thing. I mean, what makes it better than linebreaks? I stopped owning my own site for a year, and I came back to everyone validating their website code. I don’t know the point. I mean, yeah it’ll be more accurate ?

    When I was younger, I got some reviews of a site I had, and then I automatically hated everyone that had an opinion….so maybe she’s just lashing out at difference of opinions. Or people who don’t comment on her site all the time with agreeable comments.

    To this day, I don’t ask for what I don’t want. I don’t want to be reviewed. I guess more people should think before they ask for opinionated opinions…

  10. Josh said:

    Typed a comment with 243 words in it according to my admittedly over-excitable Firefox Word Count Plus extension. Was told ‘your session has expired’. Couldn’t recover it. Just thought I’d mention it. Maybe it’s just being held for moderation. Certainly not typing it again. Wasn’t THAT awesome I suppose, but it was pretty good. Shame.

    All the best, and that.

  11. Stepherz said:

    Lol, "…I consider Sarah’s request for a review from people who know what they’re doing an indirect request from myself." Amazing.

    But are you absolutely sure you’re qualified to review her? I mean, you didn’t even recommend that she use more headers or make her text smaller.

    Even though these people annoy the crap out of me, I’m glad they’re out there. What else would I be laughing at on a Tuesday afternoon?

  12. Kaela said:

    Man, hope the baby will come soon! Best of luck!

    I love to read what you write, it’s always so funny and makes me laugh. No offense to Sarah though. But I agree with you on all points. If she thinks she’s so great. Then WHY does she have all these issues. Huh?! Huh?!
    Kind of ironic how she has no complete reviews. :P

    And did you notice the background flashes too? I noticed when Michelle said it, kind of cool. Even if it’s not supposed to do that and practically blinds people. Even so, I think it’s cool. But that could just be my lack of sleep talking, lol :P

  13. Rosemary said:

    Your reviews always make me smile so much :)

    For those of you wondering about the flashing background: it’s the background image. Because it’s all horizontal stripes 1-pixel in height, when you scroll down the page it tends to do this "jumpy" look (or the "flashing", if you will). It gets quite annoying if you don’t really feel like getting your eyes adjusted to it.

  14. Anthony said:

    I’m not sure is Stepherz was being sarcastic or not. I’m pretty sure Jem is "qualified" enough. However, I don’t think that this Sarah girl even knows what the definition of the word "qualified" anyways. People post on sites like in hopes that people will praise them for their "AMZING AND AWSUM" work. Only to realize that they’re shit and have no idea what they’re even doing. They then go on and insult those who criticize them because they weren’t given what they wanted. Sigh, the Internet these days.

  15. Georgina said:

    Ah… an explanation to all the referrals I’ve been receiving from Snark and numerous other places.

    I’ll admit that Sarah has been very nice to me and in that comment on her site she did mention being "hated" and disliking the reviews she received on I didn’t bother looking into any reviews and simply took her word. Despite that, I have to agree with a lot of what you said in this review. She awaits a review from me and I suppose it would be in good faith to point out what you have said (I laugh at the days I excessively used line breaks because I had no knowledge of paragraphs).

    Jem, you did make me look at my snide habit of continually siding with my friends but in this case I’ll be honest – Sarah is a nice person but does seem to react negatively to reviews with attempts to show she is in the right. Vicky ( reviewed her website and Sarah wrote a rather lengthy comment on the review with numerous "proofs" that Vicky was wrong. It seems to me that she does this on a lot of reviews. :S

    You are most certainly a qualified person in my opinion, even though you can be harsh in your reviews. :P

    "…will inspire a little more creativity and a lot less of this one-sided "everyone who’s not Georgina sucks" bullshit."

    I actually have to agree on that one. XD

    Best of luck with the baby. I was a late one. :P

  16. Vanesa said:

    Just looked through some of the brushes and "scratches" are just a bunch of scribbles! Even I could make them for myself! I’m not even sure what you would use them for, anyway… Even if you think you need some random lines on your graphic, you can just… make a bunch of lines?

    Oh, and I’m not sure why she links all the "you found the red/green/blue ______" awards… I just keep them bookmarked until I find all of them. (Sadly, I did not.) I would also wait until I got an "affie award" or I applied for an award and got accepted to put that page up. Those don’t really count…

  17. Antoinette said:

    After reading your review and all the above comments, I’m not even going to visit the site but get right to the point :)
    My eldest was spot on, my youngest 14 days late… so there is still hope! As it’s the 11th when I’m writing this, I visualize you huffing and puffing and hope that we won’t hear from you in a while – apart from THE announcement, that is.
    Enjoy the little one Jem!

  18. Anna said:

    In Photoshop, there is in option to convert images to brushes. So all you do is paste the image in their and make it into a brush.

    That’s why she only has it as an image.

  19. Anna said:

    And, sorry for the double post, but,

    "and feel it’s a crying shame that she has to declare herself ""not against homosexuals and bisexuals""."
    This seems pretty… useless to review. She said that because she said she was a Christian, and a lot of people think Christianity = gay bashers.

  20. Louise said:

    Anna there is an option in Photoshop to make a brush set it saves it as .ABR when you create a new brush set. And I largely agree with your review, quite annoying when people can’t take criticism.

  21. Lauren said:

    I was just about to ask what happened the the images of pants you used to give out, then realised this is a review, not a pants award. That’s a shame, Sarah seems to enjoy collecting awards. I know I’d display one with pride :p

    Looking at Sarah’s site I think she has an awful lot of potential, if she can take advice. There’s a few things I’d fix up but nothing that screams "YOU SHOULDN’T BE DOING THIS" to me.

    I’m keep my fingers crossed that everything goes smoothly for you and the baby. Best of luck with everything!

  22. Vira said:

    LOL! I would be honored to have my website ripped to shreds by you, Jem! But not right now, as it’s not finished! So I’m not even going to link it here right now!

    Ninjababy FTW!

  23. Nile said:

    The design oddly reminds me of one I have done before, though the backend was far cleaner…and believe me, I learned. I am not perfect. I do not wish to be nor to be associated.

    Apparently she is giving up by the looks of her most recent blog post. I would say "GROW SOME BALLS" or tits, or a spine…whatever, because even Jem reviewed my site in the past. I was miffed. I evently got over it otherwise I would not be commenting or visiting from time to time.

    "Another one bites the dust?" *now humming song*

    By the way Jem, good luck!

  24. Olivia said:

    Semantics and nice people, eh? Oh the days when there was real material for unrequested reviews. I’ve come back to find the Internetz nearly snuffed out.

    P.S. Hope your baby has (or will) come safely!

  25. Christine said:

    I’ve been living in the land of the crochet hooks so I’m a bit late, but Congrats on the beautiful little one!!! I’m so happy for you guys. :) I kept meaning to finish a little something for you and I never got around to it cause i’m lame -_- But happy day! ./cheers

    Also, thanks for this amusing review to tide me over while i count the minutes until the end of my shift.

    And I second the pants award nomination! That much attitude when you’re sporting a site that has blue borders on your links?!? I mean… even if she’s not going to add the code to the CSS, the least she could do is add it to the img tag. I just hope that she can learn from al the good advice and let her self grow from it.

  26. Eta said:

    Yeah, that girl was really annoying. I love how she closed her site after she got so many terrible reviews. Anyway, I hate that she was rude enough to rate other sites with such negativity when her site was obviously a piece of junk.