Today we’re going to take a look at a tool mostly used for blogging or forums. I’m sure you can find other uses for it as well, but this is sort of Blogger Bling™ if you will. We’re talking about two websites that are signature generators, sites that link to the WoW Armory to get stats from your characters that you can tie into a picture to generate an image for use on blogs, forums, and so on.
The first time I saw the Zetbit signatures was on some forums for PvP twinks that is no longer in business. When I saw them they were amazing and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on them. Lucky for me, most players just left the links as they were, so when you clicked on them they took you to Zetbit’s website. That kind of sucked for me because I was there to research twinks and seeing all of these toons I wanted to be able to go to armory links to find out the juicy details like gear, talents, glyphs, enchants and so on.
When I went to the site myself I made a few of them, copied their info over and then looked at the html code to see what all was going on. The pictures themselves were stored on the site, so I couldn’t just play around with the numbers in the link to change things however I wanted, but the code was broken into a URL and an IMG tag, so I could make the main change I wanted myself at the very least. Instead of having the URL point back to Zetbit, I just throw in my character’s armory link instead. The Zetbit images have the website URL written on them anyway, so no credit was taken away.
There are three different image types that you can get from Zetbit: framed, unframed, and mini. Framed and Unframed are basically the same thing, except for the obvious presence or absence of a frame around the image. These images offer you up to five stats from your character that you’re able to choose when you set it up. They also show the icons for both of your specs if you have purchased dual specialization, and the background image and font colors can be changed as you wish. The Mini option shows how you’ve spent your talent points in the two specs, but the rest of your character information (except for level) are hidden.
Below are examples of all three types of images that Zetbit generates. I have also replaced the zetbit link with my armory link as usual for each.
Of the Zetbit images, the Framed is my preferred look. The frame is a fairly new addition to the site, so you may not have known it was available if you use Zetbit but haven’t updated in a while.
This is the style that I used for my My Characters page on the blog, though I’ll likely be updating that page soon.
The mini is what I’ve used on forums myself. I don’t like seeing large signatures on forums, but on ones where this kind of signature is appropriate this is the style I like for its size and simplicity.
[Zetbit Update: A feature that I overlooked in the Zetbit options is the option to crop your own images to use as your background. There are step-by-step instructions for how to do it. You'll have to register for an account there to use that feature, and that's also the only way to customize your avatar as well, but the option/feature does exist.]
I just recently found out about Magelo within the last week or so from a couple of people I talk to every day on Twitter. Magelo does basically the same thing that Zetbit does, it just gives you more options to choose from while you do it. Using the same character and the same attributes to show, here is the same style of link from Magelo, with minimal custimization.
This is the default signature, which shows the most information as it is of course the largest. I like that my professions are added in here where they aren’t on any of the Zetbit images, but I would like to have my dual spec shown as well.
The mini-signature follows the same basic guidelines as the larger one and shows most of the same information. A couple of the attribute fields are dropped, as are professions, but the critical information is displayed.
The Avatar pic gives very little information about your character except for the class and level. But, it does show your characters actually portrait in the gear they’re currently wearing via armory, and it’s perfectly sized to be used as an actual avatar if you want to use it on a forum or similar setting.
There are a lot of things that these two sites/services have in common. They both link to the armory to get your characters information and in so doing are able to update themselves whenever something changes about the character. They both show your name and title, your guild name, and your server information. They both show your race as well, though Zetbit does it only via character portrait while Magelo does it with both a portrait and text. Both of them also offer a level of customization in the background. Zetbit allows different images while Magelo offers colors or images.
The one thing that bothered me about Zetbit was the character portrait on the left. It’s always generic, and while it is suited to your class, it’s not really suited to your character. For instance, the picture there would work fine for an Arcane or Frost Mage, but while I was running around with a Fire spec it didn’t really fit in and was kind of lame. It also shows the mage wearing some pretty cool looking shoulders, which just didn’t fit when I was level 12. But, since I’m using Arcane/Frost right now it really works just fine. Really that’s just me being picky. If you register at Zetbit’s site they do give you the option of loading custom images that you can use for both your background and avatar images, so while the default avatar bugs me at times, the customization options are a perfect solution.
Magelo fixes part of that because it actually shows my character as he is. The picture itself doesn’t indicate which spec I’m in (though the information in the signature does), but it also doesn’t indicate that I’m a spec that I don’t have to begin with, so there’s no contradiction.
When it comes to customization
there’s really not much of a competition here as Magelo blows Zetbit out of the water the two are very well matched, with Magelo coming out slightly ahead. While Zetbit by default links back to it’s home page, Magelo defaults to linking you to its own version of the armory. And, when you set up your Magelo image you have a lot of cool options such as adding a custom background image, setting font, setting the opacity of your profile, choosing between a 2D and 3D model, showing/hiding your helm and cape, and also applying a musical URL that will play when the page is viewed. Zetbit doesn’t have the fancy armory thing built in, so a lot of that isn’t there, but it does also provide you with the ability to use a custom background and avatar by loading and cropping your own images.
There are things that I like about both options. For instance, I like that Zetbit actually shows both of my specs so that you know from a quick glance what my character is set up to do. Similarly, I like how Magelo includes my professions so that you can quickly glance to see what they are.
Comparing the two I think that Magelo’s additional features would make it the winner if this were a competition, but at the same time I would like to be able to combine some of the functionality of each to get an overall perfect collection of information. The top of this list are professions and dual specs. Magelo shows you one while Zetbit shows you the other.
If I were to take a collection of these signatures while looking to recruit someone to my guild though, I would not have all of the information I wanted from either option at a glance. For instance, I need to know what both of your specs are and what your professions are at. I know you’re into min/maxing when I see that you have two crafting professions that work well together, and I know you like to be versatile when your dual spec allows you to fill multiple roles in a raid. I can also see whether you’re strictly a raider or if you’ve got one spec that’s clearly a dedicated PvP spec.
Update: Taking the extra functionality of Zetbit now into account we’re on a much more balanced scale. If you want to keep your signatures up to date and as accurate as possible to what your character looks like, then Magelo is the one you want. If you want it to be more personalized/customized then either one will work for you. Magelo offers just a few more customized options than Zetbit does, but I would gladly suggest either site to those looking for a signature generator.