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Formatting your Storefront [Guide]

A meeting place where national storefronts can tout their wares and discuss trade. [In character]
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Maltropia
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Formatting your Storefront [Guide]

Postby Maltropia » Thu Feb 28, 2013 3:15 am

Hi there! I'm Maltropia. You may or may not know me, but I'm a reasonably regular GE&Ter whose greatest advantage seems to be my knowledge of forum formatting - BBCode. I tend to be pretty hopeless with the actual content side of my storefronts, but people see my nicely formatted threads and assume I know what I'm doing. I don't, but I know how to give the impression that I do.

You see, the thing that binds together all the really good storefronts, the ones with hundreds of posts, isn't what they sell or who they are. Yes, being well-known or selling arms is always a help, but the most important thing is having a storefront that looks good. I know there are people who'll kill me for saying that, but in all honesty I rarely give a second glance to anything that just consists of a few pictures thrown around the place and maybe a line of plain text next to each. Anyone can make a storefront look presentable with just a bit of time and patience, and the end result can be something that looks very sleek and professional and will draw in customers without effort.

In this guide, I'll be describing some of the most useful bits of coding for when you're building a storefront. You'll be surprised just how ugly it looks when you're typing it up, but when you press the Preview button - and eventually Submit - it will look amazing.

So, without further ado, I'll move onto the actual guide and stop using these [align] and [tab] tags that I love so much.



"Wait, you were using codes there?" say you. Yes, that's right. Notice how each paragraph starts with an indent, like when you're writing by hand? For that we have the [tab] codes, which look like this:
Code: Select all
[tab=30][/tab]-Your text goes after the tab-

and looks like this:
-Your text goes after the tab-

The number in there is how many pixels the line will be pushed to the right. If you're using tags to align the content to the right then the [tab] will go on the right of the line.
I usually only use [tab] for roleplay, when I have long blocks of text, and for letters, where it can look very professional especially when put it before your "Dear sir". Play around a bit with the size of the indentation to see what suits your own needs for each occasion.


I also mentioned [align] tags earlier. Without a doubt, these are some of the handiest tags around, as they let you put text anywhere you want it to be. The ones people know best are the right and center, which do exactly what they say on the tin. Here's an example of how to format it:
Code: Select all
[align=right]Look at me, I'm way over here![/align]
[align=center]Right in the middle - can't miss this.[/align]

And it looks like this:
Look at me, I'm way over here!

Right in the middle - can't miss this.

The third one - my personal favourite - is justify, which makes the text stretch a bit to fill the line. I won't provide an example since it's essentially the same as above, but you can see the results at the start of this post.


So now that content text formatting is out of the way, what next? Well, I should probably have started with headers, so we'll get onto that now. Many storefronts go to the trouble of making out a separate picture for each header, so that they can have a nice font, shaded lettering, a picture, or whatever. While that definitely helps with the overall image, they're not strictly necessary. What matters is that it stands out, which can be accomplished simply by making the font bigger or recolouring it.

The basic style of header is the "bigger is better". Often this is just bolded text, but that hardly stands out at all. Let's try making it bigger.

Our Products

A definite improvement, but let's see if we can't make it even better.

OUR PRODUCTS
Code: Select all
[size=150]O[/size][size=125]UR[/size] [size=150]P[/size][size=125]RODUCTS[/size]

Now the font looks more distinct from the rest of the thread, since it's all capitalised, but it can be varied as much as you want. You may prefer an even larger font size, or you might try italicising or underlining the header. Colours work well too, but make sure you're consistent throughout the thread and that they actually look good.


In the larger storefronts, which sell many different things or have separate threads for their catalogues, you'll frequently see a Table of Contents towards the start, so that's what I'll move onto next. The most basic form is a plain list, but we can do better than that with some judicious code magic. The Table I'll use for this example comes from my most successful storefront.

The first thing I advise is the use of the [box.] tags. Some storefronts, especially my own, go a bit overboard with these, but one or two can be put to great effect. You'll also notice it tends to fill the page, so put [floatleft.] tags around it and it will stick to one side. Let's see what our Table of Contents looks like in a box:












Not too bad, but there are a few things we could do to improve it. It's a list, for one thing, so we can make use of the [list.] tag here. Since it's an ordered list, you can put =1 to make each bit appear with a number and =I for Roman numerals. I also like to make the box's header stand out; not a lot, but enough that it's noticeable. Finally, [hr.] tags will put in a horizontal line which can be used anywhere you want and is coded like so:
Code: Select all
[hr][/hr]

and looks like so:

A second one can be used for added effect.

So, let's see how it looks now, shall we?







Code: Select all
[floatleft][box][size=115][b]Contents[/b][/size][hr][/hr][hr][/hr]
[u][list=1][*][url=http://forum.nationstates.net/viewtopic.php?p=8296164#Hist]History[/url]
[*][url=http://forum.nationstates.net/viewtopic.php?p=8296164#Faci]Facilities[/url]
[*][url=http://forum.nationstates.net/viewtopic.php?p=8296165#Dests]Destinations[/url]
[*][url=http://forum.nationstates.net/viewtopic.php?p=8296165#Gates]Gates[/url]
[*][url=http://forum.nationstates.net/viewtopic.php?p=8296165#Airs]Airlines[/url]
[*][url=http://forum.nationstates.net/viewtopic.php?p=8296166#AAF]Airline Application Form[/url][/list][/u][/box][/floatleft]








Does the job, I think, though of course it's up to you to decide what goes in and what doesn't and how the whole thing is presented. Something to keep in mind is that your text will appear directly adjacent to of any float tags you may be using, so if you want the text to appear below you'll have to skip a lot of lines. There may be a better way, but I don't know it.

If you've looked at the coding for the table, you'll have noticed a few interesting bits to the URLs. Most specifically, the p=8296164#Hist and other such endings. When you're looking a post, its specific link can be found by clicking the Post icon in this bit:
Image by Maltropia » Tue Jan 22, 2013 12:26 am

and copying that. You can, if you like, link to the post specifically with [post] tags which give this: A storefront and are formatted like this:
Code: Select all
[post=12621915]A storefront[/post]

But why the #Hist? That's one of the things I find most useful. Normally the URL will say p=12621915#p12621915 at the end, or something like that, but you can make the bit after the # link to a subsection of a post by using [anchor] tags. Basically, you take the text/header/picture you want to link to, drop a tag around it that says
Code: Select all
[anchor=yourtexthere]Whatever you're linking to[/anchor]
and then stick the anchor text after the #. The only tricky bit with this is that you won't obtain a post's URL until after it's been posted, so anchors will only work once you've edited in the correct link.
Last edited by Maltropia on Sun Aug 04, 2013 3:17 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Maltropia
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Postby Maltropia » Thu Feb 28, 2013 3:15 am

Other Resources

  • An extremely useful resource for BBCode is this thread, which, all things considered, probably outdoes this guide by a mile.
  • Crystal Spires has a very good guide on formatting for International Incidents and general RP uses, which I would wholeheartedly recommend.
  • Tippercommon's formatting guide, which addresses the use of BBCode in storefront design, is a guide which any serious storefront-owner should read.

For an example of what you can do with a storefront with the almost exclusive use of coding, check out ViZion's Pratt & Ronn Oil or my own Maltropian Cargo International. There are many other examples, of course, but this is propaganda.


This Guide is still a Work in Progress, so all criticisms and comments are most welcome. I hope that, even in its current state, it's of some benefit, and I'll be expanding it in future to include other codes - for there are many. :p
Last edited by Maltropia on Sun Aug 04, 2013 3:21 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Crystal Spires
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Postby Crystal Spires » Thu Feb 28, 2013 6:32 am

Brilliant Maltropia! gave a homage to you and an expansion on the guide that I had been working on, because the format questions made in the II RP Questions on forum.

So I preemptively snuggle your guide. <3
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Reino do Brazil
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Postby Reino do Brazil » Thu Feb 28, 2013 6:36 am

Thanks, need to try it tough to understand.
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Crystal Spires
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Postby Crystal Spires » Thu Feb 28, 2013 6:40 am

If you need any more help, feel free to telegram Maltropia or myself, we're always willing to help!
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Maltropia
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Postby Maltropia » Thu Feb 28, 2013 10:09 am

Reino do Brazil wrote:Thanks, need to try it tough to understand.

Yeah, it can be tricky to get used to a lot of the codes, but once you understand them it's amazing how helpful they can be. :)

Crystal Spires wrote:Brilliant Maltropia! gave a homage to you and an expansion on the guide that I had been working on, because the format questions made in the II RP Questions on forum.

So I preemptively snuggle your guide. <3

It is a snuggle-worthy guide. :p As is yours, have to say. Very nice.
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ViZion
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Postby ViZion » Thu Feb 28, 2013 11:09 am

Beautiful! Great job Malt! To those of you new to GE&T or NS in general, Malt is a fantastic resource for creating storefronts. He's also being a bit humble on not know how to great a storefront beyond design. lol

A couple examples of storefront headers I've used just by coding, no images...

General Industries Corporation
Changing The Way The World Works





And...

Majors Construction
A Division of General Industries Corporation
Last edited by ViZion on Thu Feb 28, 2013 11:15 am, edited 2 times in total.
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San Leggera
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Postby San Leggera » Thu Feb 28, 2013 11:15 am

Your use of anchors is a little inefficient, Mal; for example:

This is how you've used them:
viewtopic.php?p=12345678#X
viewtopic.php?p=12345679#Y

It's more efficient to do something like this instead:
viewtopic.php?t=12345#X
viewtopic.php?t=12345#Y

I'm not sure how this would translate across different pages, so your method would probably be better if pieces of a storefront span multiple pages of a thread.

(And dammit, I suck at wording things)
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Maltropia
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Postby Maltropia » Thu Feb 28, 2013 11:32 am

Thanks for that ViZion, you're someone I'd consider an expert on this stuff. ;)

San Leggera wrote:Your use of anchors is a little inefficient, Mal; for example:

This is how you've used them:
viewtopic.php?p=12345678#X
viewtopic.php?p=12345679#Y

It's more efficient to do something like this instead:
viewtopic.php?t=12345#X
viewtopic.php?t=12345#Y

I'm not sure how this would translate across different pages, so your method would probably be better if pieces of a storefront span multiple pages of a thread.

(And dammit, I suck at wording things)

I didn't actually know you could do that, but yeah, a lot of storefronts do have several posts in them so that they can have catalogues, application forms, information, etc., so I'd say the version I've given is fine.
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Postby Coalition State » Thu Feb 28, 2013 11:35 am

u
Last edited by Coalition State on Wed May 15, 2013 8:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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ViZion
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Postby ViZion » Thu Feb 28, 2013 11:42 am

For anchors, you can do same thread, same post, or completely separate threads. For example, let me direct you to a section halfway down the post of one of my companies, Majors Construction, if you wish to have a custom build house. Click here!

But wait! How... how did you do that?! you ask?

Simple... there's two bits of very easy coding to do.

First is the anchor... that is, the spot on a page (usually a header for a section of your products and services, such as my individual houses section.

The code I used on that page?

Code: Select all
[anchor=individualhomes][b]Individual Homes[/b][/anchor]


But change it for whatever you need... Your anchor ("individualhomes" in my case) should be related to your header ("Individual Homes" in my case) so it's easier for you to remember.

The second part of the coding? The link. Which is easy... You simple use the URL link code, but at #individualhomes or whatever your anchor is. So in my case...

Code: Select all
[url=http://forum.nationstates.net/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=227438#individualhomes]Click here[/url]

It's the link to the post with #{ANCHOR NAME} added to it.

Hope that makes sense!
Last edited by ViZion on Thu Feb 28, 2013 11:48 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Euroslavia » Thu Feb 28, 2013 1:29 pm

Tossed to the top of the forum (stickied)! Great guide, I'll look it over tonight (Would now if I didn't have to rush to work, d'oh).
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Maltropia
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Postby Maltropia » Thu Feb 28, 2013 1:34 pm

Euroslavia wrote:Tossed to the top of the forum (stickied)! Great guide, I'll look it over tonight (Would now if I didn't have to rush to work, d'oh).

Wow, stickied. Didn't expect that. :p Awesome Euro, thanks; hope it gets people's attention up at the top.
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Radiatia
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Postby Radiatia » Thu Feb 28, 2013 4:16 pm

Nice job, Maltropia!

I've been here a while and I still get stuck with formatting/BBCode stuff/them there newfangled computey things.


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Postby Pharthan » Fri Mar 01, 2013 2:27 am

After an hour or more of work, thanks to your guide, my storefront has been revamped. Thanks! I made sure to give you credit.
HALCYON ARMS STOREFRONT

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Why haven't I had anything new in my storefront for so long? This is why. I've been busy.

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Arianien
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Postby Arianien » Fri Mar 01, 2013 9:22 am

hey, great guide.
i just have a question: i don't know how to insert pics at all ,what do? :?:
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San Leggera
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Postby San Leggera » Fri Mar 01, 2013 9:24 am

Arianien wrote:hey, great guide.
i just have a question: i don't know how to insert pics at all ,what do? :?:

viewtopic.php?p=4718985#p4718985
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Maltropia
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Postby Maltropia » Fri Mar 01, 2013 9:29 am

Thanks again for all the compliments. I'm glad to have been able to help. ;)

Pharthan wrote:After an hour or more of work, thanks to your guide, my storefront has been revamped. Thanks! I made sure to give you credit.

Credit's not necessary, though I'm happy to know that this guide's already been put to good use.
Arianien wrote:hey, great guide.
i just have a question: i don't know how to insert pics at all ,what do? :?:

Ah, yes, I meant to do a bit about the use of pictures in storefronts. Hope San Leggera's link helps you with that.
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Arianien
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Postby Arianien » Fri Mar 01, 2013 9:30 am

San Leggera wrote:
Arianien wrote:hey, great guide.
i just have a question: i don't know how to insert pics at all ,what do? :?:

viewtopic.php?p=4718985#p4718985


Thanks!
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ViZion
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Postby ViZion » Fri Mar 01, 2013 2:21 pm

For images...

Image

To do that, see the code below.

Code: Select all
[img]http://www.nationstates.net/images/banner3green.png[/img]


All you use is the [img] code, and put the URL of the image (must be uploaded to the internet, not from your computer as nobody else would be able to see it) between the open and close code.
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ViZion
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Postby ViZion » Fri Mar 01, 2013 2:35 pm

A few of my favorite ones are blocktext, box, sub, and sup.

Blocktext is ideal for tightening up a message. For example, it looks great in letters, or if your post is a bit on the short side of things and you'd like it to appear a little longer. It is fantastic for eye tricks like that.
Example: (exert from a RP I posted in)

President Lamor,

Hello. My name is Tommy Hillenson, Chairman for the International Medical Foundation, based in ViZion. A non-profit, privately run organization that is among the oldest of its kind, we are dedicated to helping those in need around the globe. Your situation is something we would be pleased to assist with. I have already contacted my team, and we are currently getting two aircrafts prepared with volunteers, food, water, and medical supplies. These planes will be ready within a few hours.

We are also preparing a ship to bring in additional food, water, and medical supplies, as well as additional tent equipment to ensure we are able to help keep people under cover. I do hope that this will be of assistance, and do not hesitate to reach out to me with any needs, questions, or concerns.

Thank you, and God Bless.

Tommy Hillenson
Chairman, IMF


Code:
Code: Select all
[Blocktext]Insert text here[/Blocktext]




Box is another great way to send letters, or use for bills, quotes, and what not. In my actual post, I used blocktext around the box to tighten it up a bit and grow the side margins a bit. You can but don't need to do that.
Example: (A bill from one of my storefronts)
Armstrong Bill

For: The Federal Office of Naval Intelligence, Fayt2


Thank you for selecting Armstrong Construction! Please send this bill back with your payment so that we can begin on your project. If you need setup a financing option, please see the second attachment for a loan and fill out the application.

Billing Date: 2/28/2013
Project: Large-scale Naval & Airforce Base
Balance Due: $12.6 Billion
Balance Due By: Upon Receipt

Signature: Alexander Smith Date: 28-2-2013

Code:
Code: Select all
[box]Text goes here[/box]




Sub and Sup stand for superscript and subscript. These are great for accenting your logo or a product title, but can be used elsewhere too.
Example:
Superscripthello!
Subscriptgoodbye!
Code:
Code: Select all
Regular text[sup]superscript text[/sup]
Regular text[sub]subscript text[/sub]


I hope this is helpful to some of you.
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Maltropia
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Postby Maltropia » Fri Mar 01, 2013 2:47 pm

You may as well write your own guide, ViZion, I'm sure it'll be better than mine. :p
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Samozaryadnyastan
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How to bump and be cool.

Postby Samozaryadnyastan » Fri Mar 01, 2013 2:54 pm

This is something I worked out best part of two years ago on my old-ass storefront, and try to tell new people when I see them.

You ensure that you have the final post in the thread. You want to bump the thread - but you'd be double posting.
Well...

Hit edit post.
Copy all of the text from the editing window and any formatting to the clipboard.
Delete the post. This will move your thread back to the date of the previous last post in the forum.
Go to post a new post. Paste the contents of the clipboard. Post.

You have now bumped your thread, stealthily.
It looks so much more professional than just;
bump
bump
bump
*order*
bump
Sapphire's WA Regional Delegate.
Call me Para.
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Malgrave wrote:You are secretly Vladimir Putin using this forum to promote Russian weapons and tracking down and killing those who oppose you.
^ trufax
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I unfortunately don't RP.
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ViZion
Powerbroker
 
Posts: 8494
Founded: Antiquity
Anarchy

Postby ViZion » Fri Mar 01, 2013 2:55 pm

:lol: yours is quite fine, I'm sure mine wouldn't be any better. :)

I just figured I'd toss a few more ideas out there for people who want to get a bit more creative with their storefront. The whole bill thing is actually something I only started a day or two ago, but I also have used the box code for checks for my Compass International Bank & Finance for quite some time.

Example:
Check No. 0000000XXX

OFFICIAL LOAN CHECK - Compass International Bank & Finances - Verification
ACCOUNT NUMBER: XXX-XXXXX-XXXXXXXX | NAME: XXXXXX
TOTAL AMOUNT: $XXX,000,0000
TO: XXXXXX
FOR: XXXXXX


See it here without all the X's.
The Constitutional Federal Republic of ViZion

[ Angola | Zambia | Tanzania | Antarctica | ViZion Island | Northern South America | Central America | Astyria | Coulter Bay | 18,546,524.5 sq mi ]
(Founded June 14, 2003)
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