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Big Page Loading Problems (Grouse alert)
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Tim Tylor
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Location: Cornwall, Great Britain

PostPosted: Fri Jun 25, 2004 5:27 pm    Post subject: Big Page Loading Problems (Grouse alert) Reply with quote

Does anybody find problems downloading big comic pages with large numbers of separate image files? I find very large pages usually come up first time with a dozen missing pictures, and take several refreshes to appear complete. I originally put this down to my old computer, but I find the same thing with a new 512MB RAM PC. I don't mind it for good infinite-canvas comics which know how to use Bigness*, but I'm starting to get a little riled at all the Graphic Smash comics that dump a year's worth of archives into one page. Takes a geological age to download over dial-up, too, and I often miss pictures entirely since they don't all finish loading in order of position on the page.

* I don't have any trouble with McCloud's big comics such as the Zot story, strangely. They usually download first time fine. I guess he's good at the game.
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losttoy
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Location: Ann Arbor, MI

PostPosted: Sun Jun 27, 2004 3:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You know, just recently I was having a conversation with the guy who was a hunter. Being a web person myself (both professionally and artistically) he asked me to look at his hunting website and tell him what my opinion was.

The index took five minutes to load. He had three or four columns of text and you had to both scroll down and right to get all of the information. This is bad. Most people would not want to wait that long, would not want to read that much and would not want to scroll that much.

On the web you have people who are surfing and for the most part do not want to sit around waiting for something to load. You really have to think of your front page as a commercial. You have thirty second to grab their attention. If it is too cluttered they will go to another site.

This is the importance of proper linking. Give a short overview and if people want to read more, let them click. You notice that news sites only have the headlines with maybe a brief description of the news on the front page and lets you click to read more. In the example of the hunting site, he had the full stories and half of them were old news, which meant I did not read it, only skimmed. You do not want people to skim your site; you want them to navigate through it.

This site also brought up the scrolling issue. For the most part I am not talking about infinite canvas comics because I do think there is something great with those. However, for the most part the majority of people on the web do not like scrolling. They tolerate up and down, but never left to right. For an index scrolling left to right might indicate that your page is too busy or cluttered. Scrolling becomes a distraction and makes it so you do not see the full picture at any time. You as a web designer have to start thinking about the monitor as a frame, not a window.

Let us come up with a hypothetical situation: you go into a museum and there is a big painting. Instead of making a big frame, they use a regular small frame in front of it with pulleys and wires to move the frame over the canvas and you can only look at the painting through the frame. That would be insane because you would never get to see the whole picture, only pieces put together by memory. As an artist you want people to see your work at its entirety.

The monitor to the computer of the reader is a frame. Some people have different size monitors and different screen resolutions. General speaking there is 800x600, 1024x768, and 1280x1024. There are others but the people viewing my site tend to view it with these screen resolutions. While the majority views my site with the middle size there are still a good-sized percentage that use with the smaller size.

If you are putting together a site, you have to think about yourself as and artist and your page as a piece of art. If you realize that people will have the smaller frame, you create your art to fit that frame. If people view it larger, you page can be matted within the frame. Just as with any piece of art, if it is too cluttered and busy, people will not want to look at it.

Two reasons why you should build your site at 800x600: You have 30 seconds and if people want to read more, they will click for more AND you want your page to be small and able to be viewed in it's entirety.
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ragtag
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 27, 2004 4:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have to agree with just about everything losttoy said. There are a lot of websites out there that are just a pain to navigate.

Personally I'm a bit old fashion when it comes to web design. Good ol' HTML and simple tables work with just about any browser, can load fast and get you just about any layout (even though it can be a pain at times). I'm no big fan of Flash, as most Flash sites don't support propper bookmarking, back and forward controls of the browser and stuff. Some Flash sites feel like your entering a different OS, where you have to learn a new interface. As an experiment in style and presentation or a game it can be okay, but as a site to get across information or present comics it stinks.

A lot of people are browsing the web on old computers with low resolution and slow connections. So you want the first page of your site to load quickly, maybe under 128kb or less. And you should probably let them know the size of any big download on your site, such as a quick time or a flash comic.

For the next update of my site (which will happen sometime in the not to distant future I hope) I'm considering offering each comic as a downloadable .zip file. That way you can decide if you want to browse it screen by screen while online (fine if you have a fast connection), or you can just download the entire thing to your local disk and view it later without any waiting for a page to load.

To get back to the original thread. I haven't had that happen to me. Then again I'm usually browsing the web on a very fast connection with 1gig of RAM using Opera.

Cheers,

Ragnar
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losttoy
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 27, 2004 4:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ragtag wrote:
For the next update of my site (which will happen sometime in the not to distant future I hope) I'm considering offering each comic as a downloadable .zip file. That way you can decide if you want to browse it screen by screen while online (fine if you have a fast connection), or you can just download the entire thing to your local disk and view it later without any waiting for a page to load.

Actualy an unquie and good idea!
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Tim Tylor
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 27, 2004 5:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

losttoy wrote:
ragtag wrote:
For the next update of my site (which will happen sometime in the not to distant future I hope) I'm considering offering each comic as a downloadable .zip file. That way you can decide if you want to browse it screen by screen while online (fine if you have a fast connection), or you can just download the entire thing to your local disk and view it later without any waiting for a page to load.

Actualy an unquie and good idea!


It sounds a great idea. The only drawback I could think of would be if you were raising banner-ad money from the site: you'd lose the page views you'd otherwise get from readers browsing the online archives. I do know of a few webcomics that keep zipped archives, such as The Bohemials and Freefall. Those two do bring up presentation issues: the Freefall zips just contain the gif files of the comic, whereas Bohemials includes html files which must take up more space but make viewing and navigation more straightforward.
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ragtag
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 28, 2004 4:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think I'll include the HTML files. Plain text compresses very well, and they would be small anyway compared to all the image data. My guess is at the most they'll add 1% to the total file size of the .zip. If the images .gif or .jpg are organized and numbered in one directory the user can choose to either browse them using the HTML pages and a web browser, or simply read them in their favorite image viewing app, such as ifran view.

I don't have any advertising on my site and don't plan to put up any (I may try to sell future comics though), so lack of page views would not be a problem.

Cheers,

Ragnar
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Eric F Myers
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 28, 2004 8:25 am    Post subject: Re: Big Page Loading Problems (Grouse alert) Reply with quote

Tim Tylor wrote:
I find very large pages usually come up first time with a dozen missing pictures, and take several refreshes to appear complete.

Depending on what browser you are using you could always right click on whatever image isn't showing up and select "Show Picture." Then you don't have to wait for the whole page to load up again.
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William G
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 28, 2004 9:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've always been told that my side scrolling webcomic loaded lickity split. I must be good.

And I've always found myself not caring if someone is too damned lazy to move their mouse a few centemeters to read it all.

That is all.
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ShadowCaster
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 28, 2004 9:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As long as it's Horizontal scrolling only or vertical only, I like to switch back to Internet Explorer : You just have to middle click once on the page and then smoothly scroll by moving the mouse. One of the few points where IE is superior to other browsers IMO.
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Greg Stephens
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 28, 2004 11:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Firefox can do that. You may need a plug-in extension, but it's there.
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Tim Tylor
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 28, 2004 12:12 pm    Post subject: Re: Big Page Loading Problems (Grouse alert) Reply with quote

efm wrote:
Depending on what browser you are using you could always right click on whatever image isn't showing up and select "Show Picture." Then you don't have to wait for the whole page to load up again.


Thanks. That's a command I'd overlooked. It should help when it's just a few pictures missing.

For vertical scrolling I'm fond of the type of mouse with a wheel you turn with your finger. You can scroll up and down with the wheel, at least in Internet Explorer.
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losttoy
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 29, 2004 10:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

William G wrote:
I've always been told that my side scrolling webcomic loaded lickity split. I must be good. And I've always found myself not caring if someone is too damned lazy to move their mouse a few centemeters to read it all. That is all.

William, in your case your comic works as a horizontal comic. In fact I can not see it being done any other way. I was previously speaking general especialy pages with text that you have to scroll back a forth with each line. Or when there is more then one column speading too wide. A horzontal comic were one has to side scroll is not as much of a problem as a stair step comic where you have to change dirrection for no other point but for changing directions.

And you comic does load rather slow on my dail up, but it is worth the wait for me.
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ShadowCaster
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 30, 2004 1:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Diagonal linear stair comics can be delt with javascript : simply scan the current horizontal and vertical offset in an endless loop (technically speaking, it should be a single path program that scedules it's rerun for the next fraction of second at it's end), if they H offset changed from last scan, adjust the V offset, if V offset changed, adjust the H offset.
This way, the diagonal scrolling can be delt with either the horizontal or the vertical scoll bar.
It should works also with mouse weels since it's just another way to change the V offset.
I'm currently on another comic related project but might develop it later if people are interessed but don't want to implement it themself.
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