Remember that people can heart pens up to 3 times each, so if it looks like a Pen lower down the list has more hearts than one higher up the list, it’s because of the density of hearts. The number you see on the card only reflects the number of people that have hearted not the true number of hearts.
“Full page” layouts were quite a trend on the Top 100 this year. That is, Pens that look like complete websites with widgets and cards and navigation and sidebars and the whole nine yards. That’s opposed to some past years where more minimal small-yet-surprising Pens were more dominant in the Top 100.
Advice for those shooting for the top? Talk about your work. Almost nobody on the list creates work and then never shares it. Share it on social media, blog about it, make a video, re-promote it multiple times. Be part of the community by liking other people’s work. Remember, your hearts come from other CodePen members. Also, feel free to update and revise your Pens. Many of the Top 100 are updated and improved even after their initial wave of popularity.