Comic Non-Sans: Hon, the site needs redoing again.

Oh God.

I am writing this well in advance, as I am a little concerned that I may catch the Cataclysm Flu on the day this is meant to go up — symptoms of which include nausea, fever, and making Worgen druids.

I talked a couple of weeks ago about how truly multimedia projects take a variety of people with a variety of skills: people who know how to write and draw, compose, handle code, etc.  And I’ve talked even longer ago about individuals who try to handle everything themselves, down to maintaining their websites.

Well, this week you’re catching me trying to do just that, and I’m discovering that it’s not just a matter of cleaning up my blogroll.

Websites can become “disasters” fairly quickly now, because the Internet is evolving so quickly that organizing networking tools and fansites can be just as difficult to keep on top of as the network updates themselves.  That, and when you’re so wrapped up in the actual updating of the comic, you lose track of what surrounds it (literally).

So as I take stock of what needs doing on my site, I encourage you to play along.

1. Needs to be more aesthetically pleasing. Yes, ease of movement around the site (especially paging through the updates themselves) is far more important than anything else, but it’s not too great if everything’s couched in an awkward-looking site.  More and more people are putting character art at the top of the page, and honestly if it can be worked in smoothly, this looks fantastic.  (I’m not even going to touch on navigation buttons and the fiddly bits.)

2. Make links easier to update. I find new webcomics constantly, and I want to pimp a lot of them, but I’ve set things up in a way that makes that exceedingly difficult to do well or consistently.  There are a lot of things that could use “foolproofing,” but this most of all.  And seeing as link-trading is a huge part of comic exposure, it’s only fair.

3. Ad banners somewhere less stupid-looking. I don’t sell ad space myself.  I go through a middle-man.  But either way — especially if you do multiple ads — there needs to be something less intrusive and less prone to knocking the layout even farther down the page.

4. More unity throughout the site. I do multiple projects.  I want people to read my multiple projects.  But I haven’t made it particularly easy to find them all.  I was told many moons ago that my site needed visual unity (similar layouts across the board), but practical unity is, I’m learning, just as important.  I’ve grown to dislike surprise among readers, in that “Oh, you have other projects?” category.

5. That whole networking thing. Facebook, Twitter, deviantART, whatever else you kids are using that I still haven’t heard of.  Fortunately they offer a lot of make-your-own-banner thingies, which may or may not aid visual unity, but damned if they don’t get the job done a bit more quickly.  The trick, though, becomes putting them somewhere where people won’t later go “Oh, I didn’t know you had an RSS feed.”

6. Actually update your site’s content. Ah-ha. Now this is where things get tricky.  If your site is anything like mine, you don’t just do the comic.  You have a gallery of your own, spots for fanart, character profiles, possibly technical specs, who knows what else.  And if you are anything like me, those fall by the wayside.  I’ve done one comic for going on five years, promising a coherent archive setup and some information on technobabble used throughout the story, and it’s still not up.  “Coming Soon” pages are rather unattractive if they’re up longer than they need to be.

I have no idea why, when I make a list like this, the last item is always fairly obvious and intuitive.

And much like a clean house, it becomes a matter of keeping it that way once you’ve done everything.  And on that front, I can’t even pretend to be an expert.  In the end, it becomes an exercise in efficiency — and an exercise in how long you can go before a reader finally asks you why you’ve not updated your character page in five years.

Posted on December 7, 2010 at 01:30 by Kara Dennison · Permalink
In: Columns, Webcomics · Tagged with: , , ,

4 Responses

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  1. Written by arkonbey
    on 2010-12-07 at 14:33
    Permalink

    As a web/print designer, I don’t have a real problem with the site visually. I come here for the content. Since all you need is a white center section to highlight the content, all else is unnecessary to me. I actually had to look again to see if you even had a banner. For the record, one of my favorite blogs has the most boring design I’ve seen since 1998, but the content is so compelling, I keep reading ( http://mimismartypants.com/ ).

    I can ignore the ads and I’ve been ignoring Tweet sections since I stopped tweeting last year (why does it seem that I am the only person bored with 140 characters about what someone’s having for lunch?). I also very, very rarely use tag clouds; it’s much easier to search.

    My only gripe is the weird hoops that Disquis makes me jump through to comment, but that’s just me.

    • Written by Kara Dennison
      on 2010-12-09 at 00:12
      Permalink

      Um … I’m speaking from my own webcomic’s site’s perspective, not this one. But I’m sure Trisha appreciates the feedback.

      • Written by Trisha Lynn
        on 2010-12-09 at 01:15
        Permalink

        That is actually indeed correct in that I appreciate the feedback.

        And speaking of a site redesign, we’ll hopefully be launching one next year as it’s in the finishing stages.

  2. Written by arkonbey
    on 2010-12-09 at 03:30
    Permalink

    Oops.

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