Monday, December 17, 2012

Top 10 Survival / Prepper Websites on the Internet

Caution: please judge yourself!

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If you are anything like me you have a long list of favorite survival/prepper websites that you visit everyday.  Each site has its own qualities with respect to appearance, community of followers and specific techniques for trying to reach the public.  With that in mind I decided to rate as many of these sites as possible in order to come up with a top 10 list.  Before I get into the criteria I should mention what made me immediately rule out any of the contenders.  If I logged onto the home page of any one site and was immediately greeted by an annoying pop up ad it was off the table.  I hate pop up ads, and by that I mean I despise them.   That being said let’s get on the with the criteria which I used to review each site.

Initial Appeal:  This happens within the first 3 seconds of visiting a site.  I formulate an immediate impression as to how good/bad I think a site will be mere seconds after visiting a site and you do it as well.  Are the eyes greeted with a pleasing color?  Is it possible to identify within that first 3 seconds what the site is about, or must one dig around through a bunch of strange links and banner ads?  Did someone get overzealous with widgets in addition to .gif ads (bombarded with flashing images) or is there a nice conservative mix of images and text? Like the old phrase goes, you never get a second chance to make a first impression.   There might have been a site out there with ridiculous amounts of information, a prepper’s dream website, but if I couldn’t get past the first 3 seconds it didn’t have a chance.  Think recruiter with a stack of 500 resumes to go through, each one gets about 3 seconds of consideration before going into the “take a second look ” pile or the trash.

Layout / Navigation:  When you load a page on a site your eyes naturally move from the top left of the page to the right.  Additionally what’s “above the fold” (what you see before you have to scroll down) is most the important content on the page when considering what type of  initial impression it leaves on the visitor.  That said what I’m looking for is ease of navigation, does the information on the page flow or is it a jumbled pile of links and images?  There is nothing wrong with ads but are they placed neatly on the page and are their sizes consistent, or did the website owner not even take the time to standardize the banner sizes (thus leaving the page looking sloppy).  Does the page render properly in IE, FF and Chrome?  Links to other pages or categories should be laid out consistently and easy to find, in the world in which we live if someone cannot find what they are looking for withing 3-5 seconds they are off the page and onto something else.

Relevant Content:  Not only related to survival / prepping, but also as far as variety is concerned.  There should be a good mix of all topics, not just homesteading, or guns and ammo.  Posts should be informative and not random, i.e.  ”I had Applebees for dinner!”  The website NAME should be relevant which alludes to what the site is about.  I should also mention if I click on a link and it gets redirected to yourwebsitename.blogspot.com that’s a no-go right off the bat.  The domain name should correlate with what is displayed on the home page.

Post Frequency:  Preferably there would be updates or new articles daily, but 3-4  times a week still gets a decent score.  If not daily there should definitely be a consistent manner with which updates are made (i.e. every Wed and Sat).  Posting at random is the best way to lose readers because you have to keep them guessing as to when the next post will be.  There are some sites that are more a repository of information rather than daily blogs, and depending on the relevance of the info (and scope) they indeed have a shot of making the list (and some do).
Speed Test:  This one purely data driven, no subjectivity.  I simply went to IWebTool.com,  typed in all of the website addresses I was grading and waited for the results.  A load time was displayed in seconds, which helped to drive the score.  Click here for a screenshot of the test results (note that the order is random).

The Top 10 Survival / Prepper Websites on the Internet

1-Survivalblog.com:  The standard by which all other sites are judged.  JWR’s site is updated daily and his published writing contests bring in a variety of experience of knowledge from all around the globe.  The design is a bit “plain jane” but the information is easy to access and the layout is pleasing.  New and seasoned preppers could visit this site and literally spend hours learning and downloading relevant information.  While this site did have the slowest load time of the bunch, I can only speculate that is because of the sheer amount of data stored on the server and possibly because their server is located in Sweden.

2-SHTFBlog.com:  Another three column blog which loads quickly, has a clean layout and immediately lets you know what the content of the site is about.  Three contributors to the blog give it some great variety and all of the other relevant information (there is lots of it) is easily accessed from links on the right side of the page.  There are quite a few ads but they aren’t “in your face” and are all standardized when it comes to size.

3-TheSurvivalistblog.net:  A very clean website (think google), very minimalistic when it comes to colors (black and transparent) but it works well.  Lots of great information on the site which is very easy to access, and a very active community which contributes in a way which is productive (no internet fights and insults allowed).   Content beyond what is displayed on the main page is easy to access, and the ads are clean and standardized.

4-AmericanPreppersNetwork.com:  A combination website, blog, forum, store and gathering place for preppers from all around the USA.  Tons of relevant information is available via articles written by members, podcasts and videos.  Additionally if one would like to link up with like minded individuals near a specific area this site can help to facilitate that.

5-OffGridSurvival.com:  One of the few sites where a dark theme/layout works well.  Drop down menus above the fold allow the user to quickly access information, with relevant links to the latest articles a popular topics flowing down the right side of the page.  The main page of this site is great, although it doesn’t follow the typical blog (daily update) format it has snapshots of articles from many different categories (outdoor, survival, news, off grid, hunting etc).  I like not having to dig around for information and this site delivers nicely.

6-SurvivalCache.com:  This site is very similar to offgridsurvival.com in that it does not follow the traditional daily update format.  However the sheer amount of information available on the main page along with a very orderly and pleasing layout make this site worth visiting.  I love the fact that on the main page there are no banner ads, very nice indeed.  The site also has a newsletter you can subscribe to and a forum community.

7-GreatNorthernPrepper.com:  A very clean website with an awesome collection of dropdown menus right below the main banner.  You don’t even have to scroll down on the page to find specific articles by category, simply hover over each main topic (e.g. food preps) and a drop down menu is displayed (sometimes with subcategories) which allow you to quickly access information.  There is a link titled New Preppers which is a great thing to have considering how many people are “waking up” these days.  Some of the ads did not render properly when I had the page up (or show up at all), small deductions there but nothing major.

8-TheSurvivalMom.com:  It’s quite obvious that someone with website design skills put this site together, the layout is great and the colors compliment each other nicely.  While content is king this site goes about pleasing the eye quite nicely as well.  Once again dropdown menus are utilized to help the user quickly access relevant information, with recent posts updated quite often just below the fold.  I like the link to “the basics” which is a great place for any new prepper to start.  The ads are clean and out of the way, although one image showed a broken link.  If I had to be picky, I’d wonder why the contact form was displayed in the footer, but that’s just me.

9-SHTFPlan.com:  A great site which offers a mix of survival/prepper articles in addition to daily news (heavy on the news).  This website is updated many times a day with articles and videos.  A clean layout which is easy on the eyes and tons of relevant links down the side of the page to other great websites are a bonus.  The *only* downside to this site is that specific survival/prepper categories (e.g. food storage, water, guns) are not displayed on the front page, but since there are so many articles all you have to do is a search and you are bound to find something worth reading.

10-PrepperWebsite.com:  Not a blog and not particularly at the cutting edge of website design, but nonetheless it’s place on the list is well deserved.  A no frills website which won’t win any design awards however the sheer amount of data compiled on this site is quite impressive.  Think of it more like an information portal where you can not only see the best daily updates from around the web but also access other relevant sites (which are divided by type).  There is also a link to The Preparedness Review (TPR) an insanely popular eReview put together and published by the owner of Prepperwebsite.com.

So there you have it, the list in its entirely and the criteria which was used to create it. What are your thoughts? Do you agree or disagree and did I miss one of your favorites?

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This article appears courtesy of Prepper-Resources.com, one of the premier prepper/survival blogs online today. Whether you are a new or experienced prepper feel free to visit and check out all of the other valuable information posted there.

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