Sometimes the indie web can seem super intimidating. I get it. But there's more to the internet than rage-inducing algorithms and Tumblr's rapidly declining usability. Browsing the indie web (or, more specifically, NeoCities) is actually super easy. Come with me as I show you the beautiful world of deciding what you see!
Note: Some sites aren't designed with mobile users in mind (including mine, sorry!) so you may want to hop onto a PC to do this. This can be annoying, I know, but that's just the price you have to pay, sadly.
Okay, first we're going to go to the browse section of NeoCities. (Here's a link for your convenience. Don't worry, it opens in a new tab!) And you'll be faced with this screen:
Now, if you like you can type something in where you see the "filter by tag" bar (This can be anything from "blog" to "pokemon" to "sports", just try different terms out, you might be surprised by what you find!) but we're not going to do that right now. What we are going to do, however, is scroll down this page until you see a website that catches your eye. It doesn't have to be too deep. Maybe the thumbnail has fun colours, maybe the name caught your eye, maybe it has some interesting tags. Just pick a website, any website.
The one I'm going for is right at the top of the page, it's Melonking's website! Melon's site is exactly what I think of when I talk about the indie web or NeoCities and there's even a page about making your own site!
So, anyway, head onto the website of your choice and explore it! Just click on different pages, read them, scroll around! Go and explore the page of your choice, this is someone's website where they've created it just for people like you to explore! Go and have fun with that and, when you're done, come back here and I'll show you how to find more.
You're back? Good, I hope you had fun! Now I should mention now that being free to choose what you see also means you may see something you don't like sometimes. That's fine! Not everything is going to be to your tastes, variation is what makes the indie web so exciting! If you do see something you don't like, just hit the back button.
Anyway, back on topic. You're done with that site and want to move on. Where do you go? Well, you could go back to NeoCities and scroll that list of websites ...or you could find a link! There are two main ways to find a link to another website: buttons and webrings. People will usually make links easy to find, if they have them. The main places to put a link is on the homepage, or on a dedicated "links" page.
Melonking's site has them on a sidebar so they're visible on every page! Since his sidebar has buttons but no webrings, let's talk about buttons!
What are buttons? Well, they're little images (usually 88 by 31 pixels, but not always) that people use to link to your site! They can look however you want them to! You can animate them, or not. They can have your site's name, or not. You could put your favourite character, or your favourite animal, or just a cute picture. It's your button so you can do whatever you want! Some people even have multiple buttons so people can pick which they like best. This is my button, if you want an example:
So now that you know what buttons are and what they look like, look over the buttons on the site and see which one jumps out at you. Does one have cute colours, have you seen it before on other sites, does it feature something you like? Just pick one that you like the look of! Got one? Okay, now click on it. You'll be whisked to a new site, with all new stuff to explore! I ended up going to lu.tiny-universes.net
Once again, go explore and have fun on your website of choice, then come back here for a tip on how to find more sites.
You're back? Great! My tip this time is webrings!
What is a webring? Well, put simply, a webring is a group of people with something that connects them all. These people all have the webring's widget on their site which links to each other in, well, a ring! Webrings can be about lots of things, from being trans to being a furry. Here's a masterlist of a bunch of different webrings. It's by no means every webring out there, so you may stumble across more in your travels through the indie web.
Now that you know what a webring is, see if the site you're on has any! Not every site will, in which case you can click on a button to find a new site to explore, but if it does that's where it can be fun! This site has a couple of different webring widets (which, in my experience, are usually kept on the site's main page) but I'm going with the Melonland Surf Club webring because I'm a part of it! (I promise I'm not being sponsored by Melonland/Melonking, I just think Melon's cool). All you do to go to another site in the webring, is press one of the arrows on the widget! Some webrings have a "random site" button so you could press that instead or, if you wanted, you could click on the webring's name (that's usually where they put the link, anyway) to be taken to the webring's homepage. Most of the time, these will contain a member list so you'll be able to scroll through a list of sites and find somewhere new to explore that way!
And those are all of my tips! I hope these helped you to explore the indie web a bit better! I've never really made a tutorial like this so I hope it was helpful. And now, I must go! (Becuase I have a seriously bad habit of making blog posts late at night) Goodbye!