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Revamping the Comixpedia Website

There will be changes to the humble Comixpedia site next year - what do you love about the looks, functionality, layout, etc and what do you hate? What other great sites are there things we can "borrow" from? Post your thoughts here. Thanks.

Xaviar Xerexes's picture

Well the new site design is up. There will probably be subtle evolution over the next couple of months. A couple of things worth mentioning. It's extra work for me to create forum threads for every article and for now Postnuke (our backend software) doesn't support an automated way to do it. So even if it was the right thing to do (which I'm still unconvinced of) it's not happening yet. Second - we will be adding more comics to the site. Both a comic jam and a comic of the week will be starting up w/the Jan issue.

No top lists that I'm aware of :)

A members box - not feasible right now although something we could kick out to folks as part of a "premium member" package - although that's a really unfinished idea right now.

Please, of course - send me any bugs or questions about the new layout and new ideas are also welcome.

I run this place! Tip the piano player on the way out.

Xaviar Xerexes's picture

Well that link doesn't work for me so I can't see what you're pointing at.

As far as color I think we will be probably be shifting color schemes to go with the issue themes and/or seasons of the year so if this one doesn't work for you it won't be too long before it changes. So as far as color choices go I can't make everyone happy but at least it'll change at some point. Now if they are actual "readability" issues with the colors on anyone's monitor let me know - that's obviously very important to us.

Thanks for the feedback!

I run this place! Tip the piano player on the way out.

Xaviar Xerexes's picture

Those are good suggestions and I'm hoping Bill Duncan, Art Editor Extraordinaire, takes my reworked skeleton and adds many cool clothes to it over the year. There is certainly no reason why we can't have curved "menu boxes" and some of those "light" on dark effects.

As to the left side menus all of the functions should be still available - just in different places. The "sections" menu is now the "departments" dropdown menu up top. The "your menu" is scattered - there is a link to log in on the top right of every page - on the index page there is a quick login box right below the cover and above the headlines.

The link to your account page is also at the upper right once you've logged in. There is also a little "welcome user" box at the very lower left of each page that tells you if you have messages in your box and also how many people are on the site right now. If there's anything in particular you're missing let me know but I'm hoping the new placement is more convenient and intuitive to find things than the last design.

I run this place! Tip the piano player on the way out.

Bob Corona's picture

One happy side-effect of the site makeover seems to be that my login persists at last, and for that I am truly grateful. :D

Joey Manley's picture

Love the new design.

Joey
www.moderntales.com

Joey Manley's picture

Here's a good one, which I'm planning to use on WCN and the next rev of MT/slzr/grsm/GAM:

http://www.moderntales.com/menusystem/

The question is not whether it's good so much as whether it can be integrated into PostNuke -- a thing which is not known to me.

Joey
www.moderntales.com

Xaviar Xerexes's picture

I knocked out the red on grey in the headlines on the front page. I'll change it on the prev articles box too. Were there other places where it really bothered people? And don't say everywhere because I can't make that kind of global change with Postnuke's damnable theme system.

I run this place! Tip the piano player on the way out.

Xaviar Xerexes's picture

Underlining and the absence of underlining shows whether you've visited a link on the site or not. (Visited Links are no longer underlined).

I run this place! Tip the piano player on the way out.

"AlexanderD" wrote: Minor

Xaviar Xerexes's picture

AlexanderD wrote:
Minor quibble, but I'd suggest making the cover art a clickable link to the current issue. Once I discovered that articles were no longer on the index page, my first instinct was to click the art -- when that didn't get me anywhere, I had to search for a way in to the issue, and it took me a little while to find the little text link.
Otherwise, great job -- the site's looking much more professional now. Sends a great message about the direction you're headed in.

Love that idea - consider it done.

I run this place! Tip the piano player on the way out.

Xaviar Xerexes's picture

Pepius - that's just odd - I wonder why that's happening. I only have recent versions of IE and Mozilla to test the site with (according to our server stats that's nearly everyone who reads the site). I wish I could fix it for older browsers but I think it may be beyond my skills. Maybe if I can find a volunteer deputy webmonkey we can tackle it.

Any volunteers? :D

I run this place! Tip the piano player on the way out.

i think the new design is a bit cold. it doesn't feel welcoming for some reason. perhaps it's just because it is new and i will grow to love it.
the content is great though. kudos!

Another vote for "red on grey painful." It gives the impression of *oscillation* on my poor monitor, which can't be good. (No, the monitor doesn't usually do that.)

I like the idea of the red, just not the shade. Scaled down a smidge darker, it'd be perfect.

I go hide again now.

Will do, Xerexes. Might not be til tomorrow - art and writing and cooking, oh hell. ^_^

Xaviar Xerexes's picture

Wed -

good ideas, I'll see what I can do.

I'd like to bring a chat place onto the site but haven't found what I need software wise yet. The current channel at nightstar has been linked to from us all last year but I don't get the sense it's very active.

I run this place! Tip the piano player on the way out.

Xaviar Xerexes's picture

The archives - sorry! - are still being revamped - 2003 archives should be back up tomorrow.

I run this place! Tip the piano player on the way out.

Xaviar Xerexes's picture

Wednesday

Email me with your recommendations (IRC or an IM - which would you pick?) - xerexes at comixpedia dot com. I thought your last post was full of good ideas and I'd like to try to implement them.

I run this place! Tip the piano player on the way out.

Xaviar Xerexes's picture

Syke

I expect the colors will change with new issues so hang in there for January!

As for the news - it's still on the front page - only the weekly articles aren't on the first page anymore - but the cover and the list of those articles still is. I guess we could go back to putting them on the front page but they tend to get wiped out by the news updates on Monday pretty quickly. The nice thing about this new design (because the old one didn't have it) is that by clicking on the cover you ALWAYS get the most recent slate of articles from C/Pedia and moreover you can than navigate our issue archives from there.

Do you all want us to go back to putting the week's updates on the front page (again - they'll only stay there until pushed down off the page by news updates)?

I run this place! Tip the piano player on the way out.

Mmm. Classes or IDs. I imagine they went that way just to simplify the demonstration, and making the appropriate mod would be a piece of pie.

Mind, I'm no expert either. Nerd, but not expert -- figuring out how to compensate for padding/margin stupidity in IE always trips me up. And I'm also not looking directly at the blasted thing, but rather at the first mug of coffee.

kittykatya's picture

So far I like most of the site redesign, especially the navigation menu at the top. However, I will have to cast my vote with the others on the "red on grey" motif; it didn't bother me until I went down to the copyright section. :\

I really enjoy the content and the way the site works. That is, the backend is really strong. The news posts and everything works great. I like how you can comment on every post. The ad bar is unobtrusive (despite its large size) and actually appealing. I would have to agree with "guest" though about the graphics. I don't entirely dig the yellow and blues, I think something a little more reserved and spartan might be in order. Maybe change up the colors on the logo and run from there. Otherwise, I think the site is sharp. Just maybe needs a facelift.

Xaviar Xerexes's picture

This is all very helpful - I will take a look at different ways to implement the navigation bar. If anyone has any other suggestions for ways to tackle it post URLs here. Thanks.

I run this place! Tip the piano player on the way out.

Joey Manley's picture

The main (only) problem I see with the suckerfish menu system: *any* unordered lists or list items on the page will turn into menus. Is there a way to prevent this, perhaps by assigning the definitions of the styles to newly-named classes, rather than directly to UL and LI? I'm not much of a CSS expert. Of, um, any of a CSS expert.

Joey
www.moderntales.com

dunk's picture

I'm glad that people generally approve of the changes. There's lots more to be done, and I imagine that we'll get things smoothed and polished over the next month or so. We should be rocking and rolling by February, and from everything that X has brought up behind the scenes lately, I expect that there will be something to please almost everyone :)

Minor quibble, but I'd suggest making the cover art a clickable link to the current issue. Once I discovered that articles were no longer on the index page, my first instinct was to click the art -- when that didn't get me anywhere, I had to search for a way in to the issue, and it took me a little while to find the little text link.

Otherwise, great job -- the site's looking much more professional now. Sends a great message about the direction you're headed in.

PictureStoryTheater.com:Fables & Fairy Tales

TwentySevenLetters.com: Experiments

Well, put me down as a vote for "some LIKE it dark." Oh, and NO, Xerexes, PLEASE NO.

I honestly can't believe that if readers weren't already used to the cobalt blue look for the site, they'd still prefer it to this stealth-fighter look.

If it were up to me, I'd leave it the way it was for a lot longer than a month, and give people some time to start thinking of it as normal, before judging whether it was a success or not.

...FAILING that, though, please please PLEASE keep new color schemes fairly minimalist like this one. I got used to the blue eventually, but it was a stumbling block in the first few weeks, and I'd rather not see us go through a period of equally bright purple, or orange, or red backgrounds. Take it DOWWWWWWN a notch, Scotty.

As for the articles/headlines bit, articles are not headlines. I read the headlines section the same way I read a blog, but articles are a bit too meaty for that, and when I clicked on an article I'd mistaken for a headline, it was like thinking I'd eaten an M&M and then realizing I'd swallowed a chicken.

As an occasional contributor of pieces for Comixpedia, I rather like that my work has a place where it STAYS for a week or so. It beats the experience of watching it slowly go down the headline drain as new pieces come in. Glug... glug... glug.

And finally, I don't want to have to scroll past five articles to read: DIAMOND DECLARES WEBCOMICS ILLEGAL-- THEY WAITED UNTIL SUNDAY SO THAT COMIXPEDIA WOULD PROMPTLY BURY ITS ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE FACT IN ARTICLES.

Just my two cents.

Yeah, lichtenstein is a GREAT inspiration! I did a couple logos like that for my job, but I just worked out a comixpedia logo kinda in that vein if you want to check it out:

I like the site redesign overall, a lot of things are easier, particularly logging in. The one feature I have difficulty finding in the new layout is the archives. Are they still around? How do I get to them? This is something that could be a lot easier to find.

Sorry, the URL got corrupted with the text that followed, it looks ok now
Just a side note I've noticed right now. The menus on the left (site sections, oneself account and so), are gone forever or only temporary. I found them useful.
and another little thingie, is that maybe some "table borders" (you know, the typical little images used to round tables and so) would be cool. being small gifs, they are not big burdens bandwith-wise, and make things look a lot better (I was thinking in some light-shadow effect like the one in Megatokyo, or something like that, maybe something that looked like a panel border, or a SF screen border, I dunno)
Well, sorry to distrub again, and congrats for the hard work!

The copyright notice at the bottom of the page. Even worse, 'cause teeny tiny.

Honestly, I'm not convinced that red is a good colour for non-visited/active links in general; I keep getting the feeling that I've read the whole site. Okay, I probably have read everything but the board, but my history file doesn't know that! (It doesn't work on the board because everything else is blueish, but it's not actively painful.)

"xerexes"

xerexes wrote:
Underlining and the absence of underlining shows whether you've visited a link on the site or not. (Visited Links are no longer underlined).

...and overrides at least one browser's "don't underline links at all" preference. (IE5/Mac, BTW.) Which accomplishes the goal there, but may not do so for others, and leaves the state without a fallback indicater if it doesn't override.
I'm not sure that's particularly intuitive for readers who might well be accustomed to much stronger visual cues (eg. colour or text weight change) for link state. I can go digging through Jakob Nielsen for the hoary old arguments WRT this, if you'd like.

More tidbits:

The form-based navigation is going to be useless to someone who disables Javascript (or doesn't have support for it to begin with). I recognize that most people leave it on (particularly now that there are plenty of popup-blocking browsers 'n tools), but most isn't all. Perhaps a site map, linked to up top, by the "My Account" type links, if redundant text links to the primary categories aren't workable into the design?

It wasn't immediately obvious to me that "chat" meant "go hit up #comixpedia on irc.nightstar.net" right off the bat -- a bit more information there would be useful. (I should probably start idling there.)

[quote:6fb522bc6e="xerexes"]I'd like to bring a chat place onto the site but haven't found what I need software wise yet.

Web chat is ergy icky poo, and other childish derogatory noises, too. If that's what it takes, is it worth it? The net has pre-existing infrastructures for that sort of thing already, but more on that below.

Quote:
The current channel at nightstar has been linked to from us all last year but I don't get the sense it's very active.

If that's all the descriptive text it gets, I'm not surprised; the user really doesn't know what they're getting into. They don't know that they're being pointed at a Java applet (which, to be fair, isn't well-advertised on Nightstar itself) which serves as an IRC client; if they've Java disabled (or, if they're like me and they had the option, they never installed support to begin with), or their VM doesn't cope with the applet, they're just going to see a blank page and move on. How many of those people would be better suited to installing a more traditional client, or deploying Chatzilla? How many people are already using IRC for completely different purposes, and just haven't twigged to what the generically labeled "chat" really is? Or have Trillian installed for Windows-based IM, and just haven't got round to playing with the IRC bits?

I'd be happy to write up a sort of "Here's the channel and server information. Here is documentation about general IRC use, and here are clients for major platforms, including some you didn't know you already had. If you use fink under MacOS X, here are some interesting Unixy ones you may have overlooked. &c." thing. That and a bit of extra publicity might help kickstart.

That said, and I'm cringing as I write this, you might have better luck with a "room" on one of the major IM services. I suggest AIM, 'cause there's lots of third-party support for it (enough that any OSX 10.2+ user has an ad-free client bundled, for example) and the uptake seems pretty widespread, but there's probably no need to stick to that. A Trillian user, say, won't know the difference either way. And any bozo can use IM, bluntly (many bozos do), but that might be a counterargument.

For some strange reason, when reading articles at work (Old (Linux) Netscape/Mozilla, 4.81 or something like that), they appear "white on white", so in order to read them you have to highlight the whole article. I know I'm talking about an obsolete browser, but maybe it happens in other ones as well...

Man, I think we're killing the poor Xerexes with our incesant demands (myself the most annoying, I know) (U^=^)

Surlyben's picture

Woah! Dramatic improvement... I don't really mind the red, except where it's red on gray... Then my eyes freak out. But this is much better than the old blue site.

-
Ben Bittner

Erik Melander's picture

You seem to be about to start a throng of new projects and additions to the site. Could you explain the idea behind the webcomic database a bit? Is it related to the webcomic ecosystem that was mentioned last year?

Another issue with the form-based navigation:

If, for whatever reason, an initial attempt at switching sections using the forms botches (I get a lot of timeouts here in particular, and a lot of DNS glitches in general, for example), the user can't then simply reselect what they were after. Browser sees this as a redundant selection, and ignores it. The only choice is to pick another option on the form, wait for the new page to load, then try again. If you hop up to the category heading, you end up getting sent to a 404 page for no good reason.

Between that, the confusing inconsistency of using a different UI for only one set of nav options, the Javascript dependency, and the lack of control afforded the user in directing where selected pages load (you can't throw anything into a new window or tab), I've really got to step up my objection to this nav style a few notches. There's plenty of gracefully-degrading, CSS-based dropdown options (frequently employing Javascript, but not relying exclusively upon it) if this is essential to the design; I'm happy to go digging through ALA or Evolt for some popular ones, if need be.

Hrm. Seems kinda overkill for what should remain, essentially, static categories. The idea's pretty sound, though (yay exploded menus for Lynx users; bugger this hiding shite). Makes total sense for the Manleyverse, though, and I'm tempted to have a play with it myself.

If it's just a matter of broadly indicating a few major subsections, styling, tossing it into yonder template, and firing away thus: Video Girl Ai menus! (Oh, okay, not really; I just like saying "suckerfish.")

kittykatya's picture

Okeedoke, I'm in a definite minority with my opinions that toplists aren't the spawn of the devil, but that's another can of worms.

I think it would be nice if there were a place where people could submit their comics in the "Rookies of the Week" section; perhaps there's also a place for hyping anniversaries and milestones that could be linked from the front page? (Of course there would have to be some moderation to make sure some monkey-boy doesn't come along and post the "Here's my 101st comic... here's my 102nd comic..." etc.)

The site runs smoothly enough and I don't have a problem with the graphics, but then again I just read it for the articles. :D

Maybe a little box, much like Keenspot's newsbox, in which the members could post links to their comics, and such (for free). I mean a little box in one of the margins, so it won't compete with the ad banner. Also, a more "rounded" or "futuristic" look would be appreciated (rounded boxes, table backgrounds, and such), and yes, maybe a lees eye-tiring color scheme. I see the content fine...

Ah yes! a Comixpedia members top list, so we get to rate other forumers comics, maybe so only members can vote members (to avoid annoying my sparse readers), and definitely, a cooler logo. (I like the mouse, but it looks like it was done in MS Paint, no offense to the creator :) Maybe the other end of the cable could be a pen/pencil, or the cable itself warping like a text balloon?)

Aaaaaaaaaaaaand, that's it!

I'm sorry to inagurate the new design with critics, but, although overall it looks good, ther are a couple of color-related things that I don't like... First one, is the red Arrrgh! it hurts! Seriously speaking, I'm a "cold color-palette guy", but I don't like it a single bit. (Sorry, didn't want to offend/disappoint anyone, I just don't like it). The second one, is the Black/White thingie. I like the black design, but in contrast with the white windows of the forums and the like, It just doesn't look ok (to me, again). Maybe changing the white for a light grey, or maybe even leaving it dark. I know it would look cool, although maybe it won't look like what it was originally intended...
I'm thinking in something on the lines of, for example, this:
http://hem.passagen.se/replikant/index.htm
(Exploring Dystopia, I was browsing it right now), light over dark, a bit "tron like"

Well, that was my opinion, once again, I'm trying to criticise constructively, and I'm sorry if I offended the creators, not that it was intended.
Let's hear what the other fellows think

Erik Melander's picture

The only thing I dont particularly like is the width of the left column on the front page (the one with google ads and recent forum posts and such). It feels as if its compressing the headlines, although Im pretty sure I wont think about it in a week or so.

The new site design is pretty snazzy. Pretty easy navigation. But for the love of Howard and all that is Holy: LOSE THE RED ON GREY! My eyeballs are practically vibrating out of their sockets!:shock: The red everywhere else is allright, but I always equate red with corrections, y'know, proofreading and stuff. But that's just me.

To reiterate: That red on that grey is causing a painful osscillation that hurts my eyes. Please make it stop.

Now I'm just being bitchy and picky:

I don't get the new Comixpedia logo. Sure, it's one of those wacky three button mice (ahh the simplicity of Apple Mice), and you use one to navigate through the web(including comics), but what's it got to do with comics? Maybe if it was a speech bubble instead of a circle. Anyone elses thoughts?

That's me, making friends wherever I go!

Top lists will devour us all!!!! :o

The content is pretty great, I think efforts should be made to expand the stable of writers to give a more diverse view of the comics world.

Personally, I would like to see more structure. Each month has great stories but I don't get that consistant feel with Comixpedia that I get with print magazines, it feels kind of random each month (even though it often isn't)

I agree with the above saying that the graphics and colour scheme is bland and uninspiring. This is a web-zine about web comics, give the site a feel that says it! Give it a graphic feel, bold lines (like panel borders), contain entire rants in speech balloons, add half tones, and add some more contrast. I suddenly had this thought of Roy Lichtenstein paintings, you should check him out.

And for the love of McCloud don't even think of incorporating a Top List, I want mature unbiased views and analysis, not junior-high popularity contests.

I think I'll stop now.

No disrespect to those responsible for the current design, but it really looks kind of unpleasant, right from the blue-and-yellow-and-red-and-white palette, through to the white jaggies on the logo. I think a little tidying up, a less in-your-face colour scheme, and a light sprinkiling of custom graphics would go down a treat. A tighter treatment of the logo image would be good too.

As mentioned in previous threads, having the comments under the articles link to forum threads would be great. Having recent posts appear on the homepage has been a great help.

Overall, I think the site is structured well, it never seems buggy or slow, and I can always find what I'm looking for. I'd work on the details if I were you, as what you have already works fine.

I agree with damonk, toplists are evil. Avoiding them cannot be a bad decision, that being said I think the ideas about a webcomicecosystem were interesting.

Oh man, any other colour but red, I CANNOT READ THE HEADLINES.
Marone or a dark red would be fine, but seriously, I have poor eyesight and bright red text is basically unreadable.

Basically red on white is freaking painfull, but I can kind of handle it on the side bar.

I don't mind the red on black, i think the page looks really super sharp. Love the new logo, too. Good job, guys. I'm excited. :)

--Frodo
onlinecomic.net