8 best grid websites

OpenSim grid owners are busy people and, sometimes, the website is an afterthought.

Many grids simply go with the default website created by the Diva Distro or New World Studio, which is usually the grid stats, an image, and links for creating accounts. In fact, you don’t need to have a website at all if you have a grid, and there are a couple grids that don’t.

Both of these options tell me that the grid isn’t focused on marketing, or don’t need to attract new users. School grids, or group-owned roleplaying grids, for example, might not need or want an influx of new users.

But there’s something special about a grid that makes the effort to create a really nice website.

The following are some of my favorite sites, in no particular order. Click on the images to visit the sites themselves.

FrancoGrid

This is a French-language, non-profit grid with a unique and minimalist design on its home page.

FrancoGrid website

The center images rotate through a gallery of amazing snapshots that illustrate the creativity available on the grid.

Big, obvious buttons at the bottom make it easy to register, login, connect a region to the grid, or visit the forum, with more links in the menu bar up top for events, map, help, partners, and search. The home page is kept clear of statistics, which are easily accessed via the “Infos” link in the top menu.

Even though the design is minimalist, is uses all the space available to maximum effect. The gorgeous images are particularly powerful in this layout. They’re big enough to really have an impact, and the rest of the site is low-key so it doesn’t distract from the snapshots.

My only concerns about this site is that the donate button is buried below the fold — visitors have to scroll down to see it, which could hurt donations — and that most of the images chosen, while beautiful, are devoid of people, making the grid feel like a lonely place. In addition, the keys icon next to the Register button — “Inscription” — could be a bit more colorful, to attract attention to it, since getting new users to sign up is probably the top focus of the website.

Virtual RP

I don’t usually like designs that have white text on a black background, since they are harder to read, but I make an exception for this grid because the decision works.

I also normally recommend against using several different colors on one page. It usually looks better with just one main accent color. But, again, this particular design makes it work. It helps that the colors are well coordinated, and the black background helps pull everything together.

Virtual RP website

This is a small French-language roleplaying grid, with just 16 regions and just over a dozen active players. But the home page looks great, showing that even a small grid can look good on the web.

The light gray text on a dark gray background with a small font is difficult to read however, especially on text-heavy internal pages. And the images chosen, like those on many other websites, are devoid of people.

Miki Kiti Tiki

I’m including this site because it really stands out from other grids.

Miki Kiti Tiki

Miki Kiti Tiki is a four-region grid that is just a bike ride trail over mountains and under water. I’ve brought people here to show off OpenSim, however, because the landscapes are gorgeous.

You can see some of them in the images at the top right, which rotate through various scenic spots.

FleepGrid

This is another grid website with a dark background, but the text areas have dark text on a light background, which makes it easy to read.

FleepGrid

FleepGrid is actually a personal grid, owned by Chris Collins, who works at the Center for Simulations and Virtual Environments Research at the University of Cincinnati, showing that even a small grid website can be well designed and informative.

The home page includes all the key info, such as the grid’s hypergrid address and the latest news from the grid.

The color scheme and design elements are echoed on the grid itself. The grid is also very useful — FleepGrid is on the hypergrid and is a great place to visit to pick up some education-related freebies.

Avination

This is my favorite of all the big grid websites.

Avination website

It looks professional and trustworthy, which is a major factor if you’re looking to attract people willing to invest $60 a month for a region on a closed grid.

All the key information is there, without an overload of statistics or technical details. The photo carousel highlights the important features of the grid. And, as an added bonus, most of the images include people.

My only concerns are a lack of contrast between the background image and the site itself, which makes the background a little too distracting. In addition, it’s hard to tell what you’re supposed to do first, as the “Join Now” button at the top left of the image carousel is easy to miss.

Worlds End

This is another small grid with a great website.

Worlds End website

Worlds End is a small creative grid owned by a couple of German artists. It doesn’t look like the site has been updated since early 2012, but it’s a lovely design.

If the goal of a website is to make you want to visit the grid, this site definitely works because I visited the grid right after I saw the site.

The lack of updates is a problem, however, as well as the zero visitors in the last sixty days statistic, which you can see below the fold if you follow the link to the site. I’ve seen some grids showing zero visitors even though there were actually people on the grid, due to a programming error, and that could be the case here as well. My recommendation is to leave that stat off the site until you get it fixed.

The Lost Castle

This is another one-man grid. The home page of the website is basically just a slideshow of photos from the grid.

The Lost Castle website

It’s effective, because the grid itself is a showcase for a historic recreation.

The gray text on a black background is a little hard to read, especially with the thin and cursive fonts chosen. But otherwise, it’s a memorable site that stands out whenever I visit it.

JokaydiaGrid

This is an education-oriented grid, one that hasn’t been as active recently as in the past after moving hosting providers.

Jokaydia website

What I like about this website is its casual, personal feel — and the fact that the black-on-white text is easy to read.  The site is also very focused. Visitors can immediately see that they can sign up for an account, rent a region, or hire JokaydiaGrid to do design work for them.

The selection of photos highlights the different kind of activities and builds available on the grid.

My only quibble is that the three Polaroids are a little too big, and distract attention from the main photo slideshow, which could be a little bit bigger vertically to really give these images the room they deserve.

maria@hypergridbusiness.com'

Maria Korolov

Maria Korolov is editor and publisher of Hypergrid Business. She has been a journalist for more than twenty years and has worked for the Chicago Tribune, Reuters, and Computerworld and has reported from over a dozen countries, including Russia and China.

  • AviWorlds

    Ops….check out our new site too.
    http:://www.aviworlds.com

    • theDoctor

      -_- really?

    • RodneyDangerfield

      Waaaaaaa!! (stamps feet) Everyone ignores us! Maria never puts US on here!! We are always mistreated and overlooked even though we are the greatest and everyone elses grid sucks!! It’s not our fault that our grid is offline more than it’s online, or that we tell people we are closing the grid every few months, that’s everyone elses fault!! We are still the best!! Everyone just mistreats us!!!

      • Joe Builder

        Rodney I blame you for making spit up my coffee all over my monitor reading this. lol

      • http://www.v-lifeonline.com/ Chrisx84

        and shitting on everyone else is very mature how? I find your comment very unprofessional for representing a grid that is trying to be professional.

    • TomMcMill

      Aviworlds, I think where your web page fails is all the advertisements you have on it google ads etc they make it very ugly and it makes your grid feel cheap.

      • AviWorlds

        Thanks for the comments guys. or….Are you kids? Cause it looks like a bunch of bullies here…
        Anyway all criticisms were noted.

      • AviWorlds

        Well Tom. As a commercial grid and a business where making a profit stands as an important factor; a website cannot only have beauty and great designs. One must apply both beauty and also business and that will make the website a complete tool for the grid.
        If you only have a website with nice pictures; in my opinion it is incomplete.
        What happens is that the website instead of being a money making tool for the grid it becomes an expense.
        It is not a matter for making the grid feel cheap. It is a matter of creating space that will bring money for the grid also. The FREE mentallity is not always the best way to go. One must have a balance FREE and PAID.
        AviWorlds website as far as Im concern fulfills both beauty and also the money part of a business.

        • Joe Builder

          Web sites are extremely important, That’s the first thing people see when coming to a new grid rather than HG.
          That’s where you want to make a huge impression what your all about.So basically if the web site is shabby than the first impression inside the grid is the same. And running a grid is a expense free or not, so the choice has been made already

        • TomMcMill

          AviWorlds, you need to look at the facts. Your website was not even mentioned in this list. I believe your website is very beautiful but when I visit it and I see advertisements pertaining to Anti-Aging creams of 2013 and Click here to view your arrest record now advertisements that have nothing to do with Virtual Worlds they really make your page not look well together. These advertisements are not very appealing at all some people when visiting may even think of your website as some sort of a scam, as most of these advertisements go to pages that are not even 100% legitimate. Do you see advertisements on any of the grid web pages featured in this article? I sure don’t. Now lets say you had advertisements pertaining to your own in world commerce or for other type of virtual world related ads and you leased out these spaces and blended them in with the page then yes that could work. But as it sits when I visit your pages I get the “Anti Aging Creams of 2013″ and would you like to view your “Arrest Record” which both adverts don’t even match the page style or even the colors and just look so out of place they make the beautiful part of your page looks trashy. There is a right way to do things and a wrong way to do things and you my friend have not even went in there and picked advertisements that have anything to do with virtual worlds.

          Now I will say this second life does have advertisements on their page but at least they pertain to something around the same lines as second life like virtual world games etc.

          The funniest part of the advertisements is when I visit your Terms of Service page I get presented with a LLC in 3 easy steps advertisement for a company named LegalZoom.com for applying for a LLC what does this pertain to your Virtual World?

          And no Im not trying to bash you just tell you the facts.

          • AviWorlds

            Tom the ads will adjust to your internet experience. Every user or person that opens up our website will see google ads directed to their own search experience in google search. AviWorlds has no control over what you see in ads.
            And only when you enter the website pages you will see the ads.
            These ads are now generating around 300USD per month. I dont think it would be a smart idea for me to take them down.
            And I really do not see that it makes it look bad.

            Now creating my own ads and all…that is something I am looking into later.
            Alot of new stuff will be coming up after january.

            Again our google ads adjust to each individuals internet search expirience.
            If you were looking for anti agin cream for example using google search the ads will TARGET that for you.
            Now again. Its google its not aviworlds doing this.
            Alex

          • Joe Builder

            When you use a free web site template that’s where the ads come from. When you invest a couple bucks into a ad free site the shopping ads will disappear. Takes a little effort, but again speaks volumes of what’s inside. This is a bad example again I haven’t paid a nickel for it. Last I touched it was 8 yrs ago. Bandwidth runs out fast seems Still gets a lot of visitors so it may load. http://www.crotonmania.net/ and not 1 outside advertisement.

          • AviWorlds

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VBmCJEehYtU
            For all to enjoy and also what I think about all this ….LOL

          • Joe Builder

            Don’t tell us that’s your day job? LOL kidding. Being it has really nothing to do with nothing, Nor a web site. Anyways the clown is funny he does pity parties (Everyone picks on me) and the song is from the Royals a Girl who see’s someone with a shirt says Royals and sings a lame song about it. I don’t see the mystery or the funny part of the video. Other than you may be looking for pity from the party group.

          • RodneyDangerfield

            Speaking of childish. Is this the best you got? You used this last time. Get some new material. If you didn’t care about all this, you wouldn’t post all your whiney candyass replies.

            Since you like YouTube how about this one.
            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-JFfN5pKzFU

            This is what we think of your grid… and you.

          • Joe Builder

            With all the jokes and stuff about Aviworlds and Alex aside, Got to give him a bit of credit, He does try, Just lacks the knowledge of how it needs to run is all. Virtual Worlds is a tough nut to crack, best have a game plan before even considering opening a grid. Like your going to get a lot of feedback on every move you make, And the past never leaves ones reputation.

          • TomMcMill

            AviWorlds, For your information I have never looked at anti aging cream nor have I looked at arrest records so tell me again how these ads tie to me? :)

            Really curious on your theory on this one.

          • Alex

            Hey tom in the background, yes you listen to me.
            I might FAIL then I will retry again then if I FAIL! I WILL TRY AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN! I will never give up my dreams NEVER!!
            AVIWORLDZ we are wieners! my HEART and Soul is in the grid you got this!
            You kids run off and play now and let us grown ups handle things.

          • RodneyDangerfield

            Yeah, you are wieners alright, that’s the first accurate statement you’ve made here. LOL!! Us kids? You mean all the people and grid owners that actually KNOW how to act professional, not lie to people, not be big crybabies, and know how to run a grid?

          • Vanish

            facepalm.gif

          • AviWorlds

            Tom why dont you ask google adsense then? I am telling you what I know and have experienced. The ads target your search experience so if it showed you anti aging cream or whatever I dont know… Not my problem. I got other more important things than be here explaining tem thousand times to a person like you that seems to be engaging in only discrediting me and aviworlds. So please go hunt big foot…Might make you famous!

          • http://www.v-lifeonline.com/ Chrisx84

            and that statement is professional and mature how? Also alex you already discredited yourself months ago.

          • AviWorlds

            Well you guys discredit yourselves way before then. I only posted something here and you and all the other bullies came here and started it all.
            Just leave me alone please and stop the bullying.

          • http://www.v-lifeonline.com/ Chrisx84

            says the bone head who comes on here and starts trashing everyone and putting everyone in opensim down before we all can defend ourselves. Says the guy who’s grid has a uptime of 15% and has blocked very popular viewers because you think they are copybot viewers. Think before posting again alex.

          • guest

            Time to close the doors and find another activity, Your no good at operating a grid or dealing with a little criticism.
            I’m real curious how old are you in RL? You act very childish, and insecure. Over the years how many times have you closed and opened you grid? And complained everyone else is going about things wrong.

          • TomMcMill

            AviWorlds, you are the most unprofessional grid owner ever your ass really shows in the way you write and what you say. Now I see why everyone says not to go to AviWorlds I think I now see the light and understand what others mean when they say how bad and unprofessional your grid is. I think the only way you will do well is with a rebranding as you’ve tarnished a good grid name. Good luck

          • AviWorlds

            Well you guys come here and start attacking me left and right and when I tell you off you dont like it. Incredible….! If you can read on he top here I only placed my url. You guys started all this. I did not go to your posts and started anything.
            Look you dont want to go to AviWorlds dont go…geesss..Now just leave me a my posts alone. Unless you have a real criticism not bullying.
            Thank you.

    • Vexx

      What you website need is a “Close Account” option! Please give me this option and i think every grid owner can give me the option to close my account when i want! Have a great day!

  • http://www.virtualworldsgrid.com/ Myron Curtis

    :-) ok, ok, point taken. I’ll get mine fixed up ASAP. You are, as usual, Right.

  • http://minethere.blogspot.com/2012/10/region-creations.html Minethere

    I do agree that many grid websites should pay much more attention to the design, and the message, they send to the public. Especially to those unaware of this virtual grid stuff who happen across it.

    There are tons of awesome websites on the web and it is not difficult, and even does not have to be very expensive, to find someone who can do really good ones.

    I don’t agree with this sentiment, “OpenSim grid owners are busy people and, sometimes, the website is an afterthought.” as that is an excuse that some ppl might use, and do use, to say they do not have the time to do what is needed.

    Busy people, and I have known some “real” really busy people, always can find time to do what they find important enough to do. Even you, Maria, know this as you are, I think, a pretty busy woman.

    Back in the days when I was what some would call busy, I found time to do all sorts of things based upon relative importance to my life.

    I think there are several core problems here.

    One is that most of these grids are not really run by marketing people, even the so-called commercial grids.

    Most do not know how to do a proper website, hire friends to do them, or simply think other things have a higher priority for their time.

    Most of the grids are not run by business people, in that, you have Artists, you have Academics, you have people who just want to try their hand at running a business.

    But any proper business person who has any sense about the net will make sure their front line view by the greater net will spend time, or hire the proper talent, to do a good website…it isn’t rocket surgery by any means.

    The ones you mention above, and others who do likewise in such regards, likely just have someone they know, or they, themselves, who are good with such things.

    And for many, as you say in so many words, it does not especially matter.

    I love the FrancoGrid one for it’s sheer beauty. This is their focus, so it does just exactly what they want to show the greater world. So many just don’t “get it”, and if a commercial grid, this says much about their own work ethics.

    I won’t point out the ones I think are badly done, and the reasons I think this is the case, but ppl can see for themselves.

    Good article-))

    • RodneyDangerfield

      You talk alot on these forums about how other people should run there grids. Where’s your grid?

      • Reina Benoir

        Actually she’s discussing web design which is separate and distinct from actually running a grid. Way to hijack the conversation to get in a snide remark for no reason.

        • http://www.hypergridbusiness.com/ Maria Korolov

          I missed this question earlier! But I do have a grid. It’s Hyperica, and it’s a hyperport of gates to other grids. It’s a companion grid to the Hyperica website: http://www.hyperica.com.

          The Hyperica grid is pretty utilitarian right now, but all the gates scripts have recently — finally! — been upgraded to work with the latest version of OpenSim (we went from 360 gates on three regions to just 120 gates on one region). And we’re in the process of a big redesign.

          The Hyperica site is based around functionality — people come to find destinations. So it’s focused around that. Kind of a directory site. We don’t want people to join our grid, because the Hyperica grid has no local avatars – just visiting hypergrid travelers.

    • http://www.v-lifeonline.com/ Chrisx84

      if grid owners are to busy to make a website they can always ask for help from someone like me who is at least self taught with php, mysql, html and bootstrap to make a website for them. Or use Joomla and install the joomla plugin for opensim that someone made and released.

    • http://www.hypergridbusiness.com/ Maria Korolov

      I agree with you in that for a commercial grid, a good website is an absolute must. For other types of grids, though — probably not so much. That’s why I’m particularly happy when non-profits, schools, or individuals create really nice websites to go with their grids.

      Here’s my checklist of things that I think a website for a commercial grid should have:

      * Very clear and obvious way to create an account. This should be the focal point of the site.
      * Demonstrate that the grid is a busy, fun place. This could be done with a great choice of snapshots, social media fees, previews of upcoming events (most grids drop the ball in this area because it takes work to keep the site updated, but events are a great way to bring in people).
      * Very clear and obvious way to rent land. This is where the grid makes its money, so the worst thing they can do is hide the rental page several levels deep within the site, or behind a login wall. Make it as easy as possible for people to give you money. Then, once they’ve given you money, they’re as committed as it gets, and you can ask them for all the annoying-but-necessary info like region coordinates and master avatar names.
      * Easy way to subscribe to grid news feeds. This could be via Twitter or Facebook, or an email newsletter. Keeping users posted about grid events and activities will help keep old residents coming back, and, with greater engagement, comes more land purchases and more in-world shoppping.

      • http://minethere.blogspot.com/2012/10/region-creations.html Minethere

        I also like how they do theirs:

        http://www.hypergrid.org/metropolis/wiki/en/index.php?title=Hauptseite

        It is a simple matter to do slideshows, even with my past knowledge of html 4 [I know, that is dated, and I am becoming a luddite, quickly]. And, really, none of this takes all that much time.

        It could also be easily shown to others how to do the update in the html so people could do a team effort to keep it all updated.

        None of this is difficult, at all.

        Yes, of course, it is cool to see the non-profits, such as Metropolis is, doing nice layouts, but since the all-mighty dollar factor is not their raison d’être, but only incidentally by way of donations, to see them take the effort, as in your examples, is really cool, to my thinking.

        It all just goes back to who is running those commercial grids, do they even know how to market in the first place, and do they use friends, or friends of friends, rather than professionals, to create and maintain them.

        It seems to me this would be something any of them would see as a critically important thing to do, but many do not, or if they have a website, it is dated and not kept current with such as html 5 and other modern website creation tools, such as Kitely does in the MP, for example.

        Heck, they can even get very good templates, for free even, to help them along.

        • http://www.hypergridbusiness.com/ Maria Korolov

          I use WordPress for all my sites, and there are some wonderful free templates out there for the platform. Plus, it’s a blogging system, so it’s easy to create accounts for your grid managers and volunteers so they can update announcements, add in new photos, and so on.

          I just posted an article with some ideas for themes: http://www.hypergridbusiness.com/2013/12/nice-wordpress-themes-for-a-grid/

          • Joe Builder

            WordPress is a very good alternative, I have used it also in the past.

  • Gomaz

    Worlds End grid show me virus. And there is many other grids
    that have great web page too, its just opinion on the one who make article.
    So check out http://jopensim.com web page too.

  • Merrie Schonbach

    I could use some help with a grid website, any clever designers out there to add in the diva Wifi with a basic web design. I can create the website but adding in the wifi account bits is where I stumble. (AKA Andress Renault)

  • http://iliveisl.com Ener Hax

    i’d say that the Kitely website is very well laid out and highly utilitarian – most everything is only one-click deep and it is very clear what you can choose from

  • http://minethere.blogspot.com/2012/10/region-creations.html Minethere

    btw, I know splash screens are not the focus here, and have been discussed before, but I also really like this http://chat.hypergrid.org/ that Metropolis did.

    It is a webchat login client they did, but shows the splash screen. In the top right side you can click the little gear symbol and set the page to show only the information you wish.

    I would love to see more splash screens that give ppl the option to personalize their experience.

    [notice HGB is one of the default websites to watch-))]

  • hack13

    It really saddens me to not see any of the above sites using HTML5 makes me very sad and disappointing. The only site above I really think outdoes itself is The Lost Castle using some nice CSS techniques, the rest of the sites just do not seem up to date by new web standards.

    • http://www.v-lifeonline.com/ Chrisx84

      i think alot of people dont know about bootstrap. For those who dont know about it here is the link. http://getbootstrap.com/ and it is now android and mobile phone compatible by default.

      • ssm2017

        most of the websites using bootstrap look the same.
        our website (FrancoGrid) is old (2010 and redesigned during 2013) but we have a responsive design even if not using bootstrap (but i agree that bootstrap is a good start even if most of these grids websites are using already made customized themes).

        i agree with hack13 about creativity and we are waiting for the day when webgl will be democratized to offer some new 3d features.

        special designs are good for artistic oriented grids but making a completely artistic design for a community website is difficult because most of the users would like to be able to easily find what they need with their browsing habits.

        except the front page, one of the important thing is the organization of the content and a community website should try to keep it simple because some people are always asking to add features (wiki, forum, regions list, map etc…) and they want these features to look like the ones they have the habit to visit.

  • ssm2017

    hello
    Thank you Maria for your good words about the FancoGrid website.

    The website is using Drupal and Corolla base theme modified with the opinions of residents and the OpenSimulator link is made with d4os.

    The front page slideshow is taking snapshots directly from the asset server in a resident folder inventory and pictures are given by residents.

    Thank you for the info about the donation button but as you may know, we can put this button anywhere, it will not help to have more donations.

    Actually, one of the goal of the grid is not to show people everywhere, but to be a pleasant place hosting beautiful creations and where french speaking people can find help to build their universe and why not finding help to build their own grid too.