Well, these are not really guidelines that will be structured into judging. More so, just ideas on aesthetics and artistic balance.
Look at your page now.
Can you read the text? Do you have a photo coded in the middle that is stretched way out of wack? Does the header graphic match the body background?
Be subjective when looking at your page.
Just because you like a certain photo, setting it as a background and tiling it from corner to corner, doesn't mean much if no one can read any of the text on your page.
If people have to highlight text as if they were going to copy-paste it in order to read it, evaluate your choice of background. See Basics Thread.
Will a wildlife theme get you sway?
Not particularly, but this is a community that's provided by a wildlife conservation org.
Remember, when it's down to the Final 5, the members here will be deciding the winner from those Final 5. Since most (if not all) members are wildlife lovers, that may weigh in on THEIR voting.
Admin will NOT be telling people how to vote.
If you use a stock theme from Ning, that won't count.
That's too easy. If you go to another site and grab a pre-made custom, with no modifications of your own, we will know it (yes, we can read code.. lol). So don't go elsewhere and grab a design and place it here with no other effort. Many are good starts, and offer great ideas.
If you need help in modifying an outside theme page, just ask in this group.
Look at the threads Deighv is makes.
He is offering up good tips and advice on the more technical aspects.
Oh, also keep in mind that "moi" is on dial up.
If I can't see your page because the background is a bazillionMB file size, how can I weigh in with any input? Having your music player on auto-play won't be help either (even if it's one of my own songs playing, lol).
Clean look, artistic, fairly easy loading, originality, legible text, even personally reflecting your own personality. That's what an artistic community page is all about.
Feel free to ask questions here, and even start threads over something that is not working, or not explained well enough. Everyone else will benefit from your questions, and you will benefit from theirs.
The end result, will be a nicer, slicker looking WCN community, as a whole. That in itself helps bring new members.
One more thing, keep this in mind.
Flourescent green and pink don't match. Think of colors you would match together in clothes. If you put two colors together, and it makes you feel queasy, then it probably won't be a winning page. K?
Best of luck to everyone. ^5