April Fools follow-up

Have you checked out my redesign of Queer Earthling yet?

Just in case you haven’t figured it out yet: April Fools! ♥

So, this didn’t actually start out an April Fools thing. I just thought it would be fun to make a site the way I used to make sites. No templates, no neat and pretty blogging platforms, just some HTML that might not work and some mediocre homemade graphics. And then I realized that, since I was building this in March, I could just…well. This.

A screenshot of QueerEarthling.neocities.org

I discovered the Neocities community on Stumbled.to, the heir to the old StumbleUpon engine, and it was immediately obvious that this was the best place to build such a website. And then I, uh, realized I don’t remember shit about building a whole site in html, so I did a crash course with the help of the old, old, OLD resource I learned on, LissaExplains, which is amazingly still functional. And then I…just…set to.

What I really wanted wasn’t so much the crappiest, cheesiest Web 1.0 experience possible; I wanted to build the version of Queer Earthling I’d have actually tried to build in the early 2000s, if in the early 2000s I wasn’t a young teen making Petz, Sailor Moon, and dragon-themed sites. I wanted cute (but unpolished) graphics, so I made the buttons, a background, and banner in Paint.Net using some old pixel art I’d done, and also used some of my pixel dolls for graphics, though I also found some 90s/early 2000s-esque graphics for decoration and authenticity. I tried to make sure to credit all the places I found them but, truth be told, even those sites presumably just harvested them off of old websites without credit; still, they’re fun places to browse. I also had to have a guestbook, as any respectable early 2000s site had, and I was delighted to find that the old standby, BraveNet, was still functional, so that was a no-brainer.

My other priority was having a few fun things to do. I wanted my vintage site to be more than a front page to laugh at before moving on with your day. I included a find-it game, which were especially popular in the Petz community back in the day. (Have you succeeded in finding the pizza? Don’t spoil it for anyone!) But I also made the adoptable Pride dragons!

A slightly clumsy full “chart” of the Pride flag dragons, available individually at the link above.

The dragons were my favorite part of this project. I scribbled the shape of original dragon in Paint.Net, cleaned it up, colored it in red so I knew how to shade and highlight in any color, then spent several days recoloring it in interesting variations of Pride flags. They aren’t perfect but generally I’m pretty pleased with how varied they look, especially given they only have one pose. Adoptables used to be a BIG thing in some corners of the web; I have a not-that-secret hope that at least someone will take a couple for themselves, if only to save in their files.

I considered and rejected the idea of having a midi playing in the background. First, I wasn’t sure I could find one or if it would still function, but also, while making a vintage site, I also wanted it pretty accessible. I tried to avoid really dramatic flashy gifs, or the hard-to-read-on background images that were VERY popular back then; I also made sure to use alt text on everything for anyone attempting to use a screen reader on this mess. I admit, I was not able to make this page particularly mobile friendly, but that has more to do with my HTML skill limitations than anything else. However, I couldn’t resist a big clonky custom cursor.

All in all, this was a really fun project, and I hope you had as much fun with it as I had making it! Make sure to take a dragon on your way out.

If you were active and online in the 90s or early 2000s, what sorts of sites were you looking at or building? Are there old Internet skills you kind of miss, like making LiveJournal icons? Tell me all about it in the comments!

Like Queer Earthling? Check out my Support and Affiliates page to help support my work!

Want me to review or promote your book or product? Work with me.

This post isn’t sponsored or anything, just silly.


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