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So what don't you like?
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rcar
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 19, 2001 8:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Things have been quiet here so I thought I would start a new topic.

In another forum they are talking about what they do first with a new web cartoon, look at the art or read it. For me I look at the art. I always read it and if it is good I usually come back. But I definitly look at the art first.

Also what do you like and don't like about sites? I don't like site where it is difficult to find the art. I have been to sites where four to five clicks in I still have not found a comic to read. I will give up by then and leave the site. Also a very poorly put together site I usually won't stay with.

What I also don't like is looooooong downloads. I have a DSL line and some sites take forever to load. I don't go back there again. That's what I don't like about some of the long format sites. It takes a while for the art to load, then the story continues to another page then another looong download.

Well that should be good enough to start a discussion.

Randy
http://www.mermbut.com
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Jack Masters
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 19, 2001 2:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I say the same, for the most part. I also have DSL, and I do not run into long downloads, but I recognize that some people do, and have attempted to keep my site as uncluttered as possible. I have the comic, the forward and back buttons (although I recently reconfigured it so you can click the comic to advance as well) and some plain text at the bottom explaining things. I plan to add more, but I will put it on a seperate page.

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John2two
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 20, 2001 8:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Along the unnecessarily-prolonging-the-download vein, on my list of annoyances are daily pages weighted down with awards, and large header art that guarantees that the comic strip will fall below the window boundary.

I read several strips frequently that have these characteristics, so they're not enough to make me drop a strip. They just make me wish every day that the creator was a little more considerate in their page/site design.

Re: what I notice first. Art makes the initial impression when I come to a new strip, because I've already gotten a sense of it before I can even start reading. But the writing is what matters to me. If the writing connects with me (my interests, my sense of humor, etc.) I keep coming back. If it doesn't connect, I don't care and won't return.

John
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Max Leibman
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 20, 2001 11:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I go back and forth on the art first/words first thing -- it really depends on what is going on in the story. Even when I read one or the other first, however, I'm still peripherally aware of the other right away, so it may as well be simultaneous. I also have to agree with what John said -- the art may attract me first, but the writing is what sticks. That is one of the many reasons that I tell people who argue whether art or writing is more important that there is no right answer -- the very question is false. A comic which does poorly on either score is, by definition, a poor comic (although it may still be a fine story or a lovely piece of art).

As for what I hate about webcomics, it's poor usability that usually gets me. Comics that are too slow to load (and don't need to be -- some works are just that complex and large, and I won't begrudge them taking the time to download. I'm talking about slow downloads due to bloated site designs), sites that are missing key navigational features (try finding a single, specific strip in a comic like Nukees that has been running for years and years), and comics that design their layout without accounting for user goals.

The latter could include any number of things, but John's complaint (above) would certainly fall under this category; after all, nobody is coming to your comics site for a fucking logo! Give them the comic (or the first panel of the comic, if it's vertically oriented) on the first screenful, as that's probably the main reason they're visiting you in the first place!

By the way, I'm not a human factors expert or anything, but Zwol strikes me as a webcomic with very good usability.

Later,

Max Leibman
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Greg Stephens
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 20, 2001 9:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
By the way, I'm not a human factors expert or anything, but Zwol strikes me as a webcomic with very good usability.


I'd read a lot of Jakob Nielsen before doing my site design. Does it show?

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Scott McCloud
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 22, 2001 10:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, it shows. This is a very well-designed board.

Great meeting you at SD, Greg! Thanks for the great work.

--Scott
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Greg Stephens
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 23, 2001 2:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, Scott. (Though I can't take all of the credit for the board in general- the folks at phpBB deserve most of the functional credit) I do keep making modifications to the base code and layout, and the rest of the site is entirely my own design. Enough of that, though- I've got some on-topic comments to make...)

I guess it's easier to point out specific examples of sites that have things I don't like so, even though I don't like to point fingers, I'm going to do that just a little bit.

OK, first thing is that I think it's important for a daily comic to display the date (or the day) that the comic being shown is for. Example is PvP where, on the index page, there is NO indication of what day's comic you are viewing. If I hit his site around midnight, I don't know which day's comic I'm viewing, and if I suspect he hasn't updated the comic right away, there's no way to confirm that without going into the archive and checking those dates. I'm not sure my solution on Zwol is the best (both the current site date and the comic date are shown, but not next to each other), but at least the information is there. Comic sites with dynamic content need to let you know when they were last updated.

We all know Magic Inkwell but, Cat, how about some links from the images that appear in the main frame on your index page? I know that the menu bar on the left gets you where you want/need to go, but it would be so much easier if the text that reads "Weekly online comics" would take you right to the comics in question (actually, the current first page is better (and more attractive, in my opinion) than the previous one, which featured images for Whimville, and Daily Comics, but were likewise un-clickable). Images and text that describe content should be links to that content.

This next one is a pet-peeve- Look at Bruno and please explain to me why all the text links and contact info below the comic is an image map rather than plain text? I know, I know-- it's to keep the font nice and make the layout rigid. But images (even those as small in file size as these) take longer to download that text and if your image IS text, then it should BE text. Many, many reasons for this, but just one that comes to mind (other than speed, speed, speed) is that if your image fails to load for some reason, then all of your links are useless. Plain text in HTML rarely has this problem. So-- Don't use an image when plain text will do. (Incidentally, I had to mangle the code a bit to get the RC forum to display that Reinventing Comics logo-type thing in the upper left. It used to be text; I'm now using an image. Why? Because I wanted this forum to stick out somewhat- I wanted it clear to new visitors that this is the RC forum and they'd come to the right place- if the Zwol logo at the top of the page was the only graphic, I thought it might be confusing and draw attention away from mere text that read "Reinventing Comics", no matter how large that text might have been. This was a choice I made in an attempt to "brand" the forum. Otherwise, I try to obey this rule.) (Oh, and it should go without saying that it's OK for lettering within a comic to break this rule, though with CSS they don't have to!)

Hmm... What else? User Friendly's comic page and archives use different files to show some of the same images. Please, no! If the image is exactly the same, then use the same file, because users will have the first one in the cache of their browsers and won't waste their time and your bandwidth downloading an identical image twice. Re-use images as much as possible.

I was going to point out that Scott's Zot! Online installments need to be linked from one to the other, but it seems that since I first checked them (after they were moved to his own site from CBR's), he's made this addition, so that's one less thing for me to put on this list (except that I just did). Serial comics need to link to previous and subesequent comics. Actually, I can't think of any examples that don't do this, but that's probably because I don't frequent sites that are that difficult to use.

OK, enough of that. But one final thing that I don't like-- advertisements.

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Edited to fix a couple of typos-- there may be more.

[ This Message was edited by: Greg Stephens on 2001-07-23 02:06 ]
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Jack Masters
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 23, 2001 1:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmm. Good point about the date. I just tried putting it up in a bunch of different places, but none of them really looked any good. I guess people won't mind QUITE as much with my comic, because if you missed a day, you go forward to read it rather then back, and the continuity stays preserved.

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ragtag
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 23, 2001 2:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

When I re-wamped my page a month or so ago, I removed my html based comix and replaced them with PDF files. As my comix are old fashion page based, I find PDF to be the best viewing format...easy to view one page at a time, and I think Acrobat keeps downloading the rest of the comix as you read. It also makes it easy for the reader to just download the whole thing, and read it later. What do you think about PDF for comix?

All my comix can be found at www.ragtag.net/comix (hope that HTML thing here works). Any and all feedback welcome, both on the comix and page.

Secondly, this is my first post to this board...so a big hi to you all.

Ragnar
http://www.ragtag.net/comix
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Greg Stephens
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 23, 2001 3:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As you say, for a comic that's designed primarily for the printed page, the .PDF format is a great delivery method. The Adobe Acrobat Reader is free to download, and the Acrobat Distiller isn't out of the price range of self-publishers (And there are even shareware or free alternative PDF creation applications, though with far fewer features).

What's good about your site is that it's very easy to navigate and each comic gives an idea of (a) what it's about and (b) roughly how large a download somebody might expect based on page count (though a file-size might be useful, too).

Though I haven't tried it yet, after some of the discussion at the San Diego con, it would be interesting to see how an ebook comic might read as well.

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rcar
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 24, 2001 9:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I used to do my comics in acrobat. I thoought it was a good idea and still do. It's a free plug in. I made a button to turn the pages, but what you can do is make an invisible button to turn the pages that covers the whole page so readers can just click the image for the next page. You can use the arrow keys too, you may want to point that out to your readers.

I also remebered another thing I really don't like on web sites. Having a page that opens with a large image to tell you you are going to enter the site, then you have to click it to enter the site. Who in the world thought this was a good idea? And then who thought it was such a good idea that the imitated it? It really bothers me when I come across that stuff.

Randy
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Kevin Pease
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 25, 2001 7:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:

I also remebered another thing I really don't like on web sites. Having a page that opens with a large image to tell you you are going to enter the site, then you have to click it to enter the site. Who in the world thought this was a good idea? And then who thought it was such a good idea that the imitated it?


There was a specific book, Desgining for the Web or something like that, that is responsible for the "splash page." It's also responsible for most of the other atrocities that pass for web design paradigms, like the big ever-present frame with five buttons even when there aren't five different things to see on the site. Once enough corporate managers bought into it as the authority on web design, there wasn't much anyone could do about it.
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rcar
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 25, 2001 12:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ahhh, so that's it. Thanks Kevin. I always wondered, but that makes sense.

Anyway, do to the comments on this thread, I updated my site to a newer healther site. I got rid of the java, big images and made the whole thing tighter and more streamlined. If anyone has any comments I'll be eager to hear.

Many Thanks,
Randy
http://www.mermbut.com
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Greg Stephens
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 25, 2001 1:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The site design is quite streamlined now (and I'm sorry to say that even though I have visited before, I don't recall the former design clearly enough to compare), but don't let anybody's opinions force you into a design you don't like. Just because I say "use text links rather than images" doesn't mean it's law (though if speed if your goal, then it's worth considering).

I'm glad that Kevin just posted, because it gives me an opportunity to point out that his site is one I find quite appealing in design- it's easy to navigate and doesn't suffer image-bloat. You might see some similarities in my original design for Zwol.

As to corporate design sense, the company I work for used to have a very 1994-era web page- grey background, some images, mostly text. About 2 years ago, they redesigned it (or rather, paid a PR firm to redesign it) and it now resembles a typical 1998-era corporate design- logo at top; navigation buttons down the left side; advertising content in remaining area (for it really serves no purpose other than to say, "yes, we have a website." True, we do post patches and updates to the web, but you can't get to those pages from our main site. Sigh). The thing I find amusing, though, is that when our main competitors redesigned (or paid to have redesigned) their site in a similar vein, many otherwise intelligent people at my company thought that they had deliberately copied our redesign. To me it only illustrates a lack of imagination on both companies parts.

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rcar
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 25, 2001 1:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I usually am not one to follow the herd. In fact I would normally go in the opposite direction of what is said one should do. But I was looking for a way to streamline the site because bandwidth is starting to get to be a problem for me. As for the old design, unless you went to it earlier today and had a really keen memory you probably wouldn't notice much of a difference. I just made images smaller and got rid of the roll-over that I never really liked too much anyway. Also I added links to all the comics on the home page rather than going to each comics site.

Randy
http://www.mermbut.com
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Greg Stephens
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 25, 2001 2:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Those are all really good changes. Rollovers are cool, but cost bandwidth, as views have to download twice as many button images, and adding links for each comic (as text links anyhow) costs you next to nothing in bandwidth.

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 27, 2001 8:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I also remebered another thing I really don't like on web sites. Having a page that opens with a large image to tell you you are going to enter the site, then you have to click it to enter the site. Who in the world thought this was a good idea? And then who thought it was such a good idea that the imitated it? It really bothers me when I come across that stuff.


Actually, they had a fairly good reason for creating the splash page. It was a way for surfers to see what the web site was all about in one quick downloading page. It also serves as a lure to reel in new comers and eventually get rewarded with a big catch- a regular visitor! (Excuse me for the puns but I couldn't help it!) If they liked what they saw, they would click and move to the main page. Otherwise, they go somewhere else and never look back. From there, regular visiters are advised to bookmark the main page so they don't have to see the splash page anymore.

This is an optional web design trick that you can follow especially for those of you who have lots of graphics in your main page (or your whole site for that matter) particularly those who've set up a flash site. It can also be a warning page of sorts too- this site uses flash, this site uses a lot of graphics, this site has adult material, yaddy yaddy yaddy.

It seems like you've encountered bad example's of splash pages but you know, for every single great splash page there are out there, there are at least 10 times as many bad ones. Just look at web pages- there are the hideously multicolored links with matching background color that happens to be neon colored to boot. Ugghhh. Then there are the clean, easy-to-navigate -- well, just look at zwol! (No I'm not smooching. ...Really! )

Here's an example of a splash page I found on short notice nolaflash It's a decent splash page, imo.

[quote]Rollovers are cool, but cost bandwidth, as views have to download twice as many button images, and adding links for each comic (as text links anyhow) costs you next to nothing in bandwidth.
[quote]

There is a way to get the rollover effect without using any button images at all...
you just have to use CSS (cascading style sheet). It works the same as a rollover pretty much (no colorful pictures or anything)- put your pointer on the link and it changes color, take it off and it reverts back. Simple but works just as well.

Here is an example of a simple link rollover.
This one, though, is what happens if you change the font size of the link being hovered. It creates this pretty neat effect of bumping the other links upwards and downwards as the link becomes bloated.

For those of you interested, here's the CSS text of the simple rollover effect. You may use it if you like.

Oh yeah, hi everyone! I'm new to this forum.

Anyways, here's a little trick I picked up that you might use... or not.

Put an image into a page prior to the page where it's supposed to show up. In other words, the first page doesn't show the picture to the viewer's while in the next page, the viewer will see the picture in the page. In the first page, the picture is coded into the HTML doc but the width and height are reduced to 1 for each. (e.g. img src="picture" width="1" height="1")When the viewer clicks on the next page, the picture will already have been cached and will load up faster. ...Did that make sense?

I think this is particularly handy for posting your comics especially those of you who churn out daily comics. I haven't tried it personnally but if any of you try it out, post up here please, I'd like to see how it works out.
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Rio
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 27, 2001 8:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oops, I didn't log in.. That was me who posted above.
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Max Leibman
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 28, 2001 11:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Using a splash-page to warn of Flash, give other warnings (i.e., age restrictions for porn sites) or give options on the type of site (Flash vs. No Flash, Frames vs. No Frames) isn't so bad of an application, because you are conforming to user needs in that case. However, using a splash page in pretty much any other circumstance is counterproductive.

The fact is, a single graphic and an "Enter" button will only go so far in communicating what your page is about. Moreover, the Internet is a very goal-driven phenomena. Many (if not most) users will be coming to your site looking for something in particular -- a specific article or type of article, a comic, an image, whatever. The more pages you put between the user and that goal, the less likely the user will stick with your site long enough to reach the goal, and the EXPONENTIALLY less likely the user will ever come back.

As an alternative, I would say make your main page a quicker download (fewer graphics, more straitforward HTML, less bleeding-edge technology on the front page), and making sure that IT communicates exactly what your site is about in a glance. For all users, but especially for those with slow connections (i.e., most users), we need to avoid giving them any extra garbage to click-through if possible.

-Max Leibman
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rcar
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 29, 2001 9:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sites with a splash page warning about content or giving you a flash non-flash choice make sense. It's those sites that have a big logo saying, " click here to enter my site" that drive me nuts.

And yes, a simple home page is by far the best. If I go to sites that cram every trick in the book on their home page I leave. Also make it simple to figure out. I've been to some comic sites that I was never able to find their art. Yikes! On the web, the faster the better.

Randy
http://www.mermbut.com
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damonk13
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 31, 2001 10:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

in response to John, I know that my site forces the reader to scroll down a tiny bit to get to the comic, but I do so on purpose because I am trying to help spread the word about other great comics with my readers by pimping them in my "spiffy Discoveries" section...

I always fear that people may miss out on these if they were posted below the comic, and I have been told by more than a few readers that they like seeing it there because any new comics listed will catch their eye so they can check it out!

Aside from that, I'm sure that my site isn't the most efficient or "good looking" but that's 'cause i'm not very good with HTML... I just hope that it's navigable enough for everyone ^_^

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