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What makes for good webcomics website design?

This forum looks lonely.

So what makes for good webcomics site design anyway?

I like a simple, uncluttered design. I think that the most recent update to webcomic should be the first thing people see, followed by any ads, blogs, stores, whatevers, and I designed my site accordingly.

In general I don't like seeing a banner ad right at the top of a page, and I don't like sites where you have to click through a title page, or click over to the comic. Of course there are plenty of webcomics that do exactly what I don't like (pvp, penny arcade, order of the stick...) and those guys are makin' the big bucks, which tells me how much my opinion is worth.

Actually I think the PVP site is a model of clarity, considering the number of ads on there. And when you think about it, if you are going to run a banner ad, putting it at the top of the page is probably the most effective and least likely to interfere with your site design...

Unrelated to that, I'm not sure how I feel about background images.

 

Re: What makes for good webcomics website design?

Ninja-bot's picture

Pear-pear.com's site is the one I think is most tightly integrated with the comic's concept. Simple, and bloody brilliant.

I personally think my site is awesome, but I'm biased. I've been tweaking the sidebar for some t ime now (got it pretty streamlined) and I'm begging for plugin updates for the Facebook sharing...

Still, I think the best webcomic design is to have the latest strip of an awesome comic (that being the most important part) fron and center on the main "dot com" page. If the comic's really g ood, I'll struggle through the worst of archives to read it.


 

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Re: What makes for good webcomics website design?

I know this could probably be considered thread necrophilia, but I recently came across this newish webcomic called Dreamleak. I thought the website design for it was pretty good. The strips sort of blend in seamlessly with the simplistic background but yet stand out enough and the general mood of the site keeps with the mood of the comic. It also has animated buttons which don't annoy me which is a first!
IMO more sites should be made like this one.

Re: What makes for good webcomics website design?

Sounds worth a look. Do you have its address?

Re: What makes for good webcomics website design?

Sorry, I probably should've said in the first place... it's at http://www.dreamleak.co.uk

All words must be crystal

All words must be crystal clear and sharply contrasted against the background! If I have to strain to read things that is a serious point against my returning to visit a site. This is especially true in the comic itself. If your lettering isn't clear, do yourself a favor and visit Blambot or any other of a huge number of font sites. Â

Avoid, above all things,

Avoid, above all things, white text on yellow background.

I once saw a ten page

Joel Fagin's picture

I once saw a ten page document-slash-booklet which was flourescent yellow on lime green.

My eyes ached after reading half a line.

Actually, as a blanket recommendation, just bounce everything off a friend or two. They'd pick up unreadable text and lurid colours easily enough.

 - Joel Fagin

Banners are generally better

Joel Fagin's picture

Banners are generally better at the top of the site somewhere particularly if they're animated. Movement of any sort on the webpage is a distraction but even non-animated tower adverts take up valuable white space. There does need to be a buffer of the stuff on either side of the comic otherwise you're readers will get distracted by whatever's there instead. Side bar menus create the same problem there. I like to leave the space either side of the comic nice and clear.

The one big thing that ruin comic websites is putting obstructions in the way of readers - such as not having the comic on the main page, or supporting lower resolutions, not supporting dial-up, having the comic read right to left and so forth. New readers will be looking for reasons to leave rather than reasons to stay. Best if you don't give them any.Â

I've got a tutorial on this stuff, actually, and I can't possibly not plug it. The subject is just too perfect.

http://www.between-worlds.com/tutorials/comic_website_design.shtmlÂ

Anyway, that aside, I tend to like simple designs which show off more design skill than artistic skill myself. More like Apple than Leonardo DaVinci. I could say that greater skill is best represented by having less to work with but it's probably just because I'm a better designer than and artist. Tongue out

 - Joel Fagin

That tutorial is excellent.

Surlyben's picture

That tutorial is excellent. I had some trouble getting to it though (link seemed to be broken last night...) Anyway. Good job on that, it should be required reading.

I especially found useful the part about the archive pages, since that's the next part of my site that I'm putting together.

[edit: Your other tutorials are also quite good. Bookmarking...]

Cheers!

-
Ben Bittner

-
Ben Bittner

Thanks

Joel Fagin's picture

[quote=Surlyben]

That tutorial is excellent. I had some trouble getting to it though (link seemed to be broken last night...) Anyway. Good job on that, it should be required reading.[/quote]

Thanks! There was a bit of a glitch on the ISP a little while ago. First time in ten years that I know of, though.

[quote]I especially found useful the part about the archive pages, since that's the next part of my site that I'm putting together.[/quote]

I have a bit of a personal crusade on that one, actually. I really don't like the date-based system. Tongue out

- Joel Fagin

I had changed my website

I had changed my website design at one point from it's original to the current style. When I did it I gave some space to add banners and whatnot to the page and I'm even thinking of adding another bit of banner space on the bottom just before my Weblog.

 The important thing you want to try to go for is going to be clarity, if you can read the comic and it's not difficult, you're doing good. If you can put banners up there and it's still working, you're doing good and able to make money.

I try to just focus on keeping the strip clear and having fun, since that's my reason for making the strip.   Â

 

 

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And I can say from

Surlyben's picture

And I can say from experience that loading a huge single archive page with several dozen big strips on it is no fun if you're on dial-up. (It also feels clumsy even when it's loaded - it's the digital equivalent of reading printed comics on big scrolls instead of bound pages.)

 Several dozen is probably too much, but I like a certain amount of scrolling. Scrolling in a browser has advantages over real-world scrolls: there's no awkward curling paper to deal with and it is much easier to go directly to the content that you want, especially if the author has provided links within the page. Downward scrolling also has advantages over the beloved "next" button. The most obvious of these is that you don't need to click on a specific location to get it to work. Also, it is easier to go back and reread something you just read.

Say I want to reread for updates earlier. If the updates are all on one page, I just scroll up, probably only once. On the other hand, if they are arranged one update to a page, with the traditional next/previous buttons, I have to hunt around for the "previous" button and click it twice. Probably I accidentally click on the "first comic" button instead (a mistake I make more often than I would like).Â

Of course, the point about dialup is well taken, and dozens of comics on a page is probably a bit much, since few people bother to provide links within a single page and also the navigation links tend to scroll away (or else they don't but that causes other problems). If you are in the middle of a hundred strip scroll, it'll take a lot of scrolling to get to the navigation link... and what happens if one of the images fail to load.Â

 I think there is probably a sweet spot between 5 and 10 updates per page. (I'm looking at blogs and the number of updates they tend to have per page... I'm going to guess that webcomics probably follow similar rules...)Â

-
Ben Bittner

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Ben Bittner

That sounds reasonable.

That sounds reasonable. Narbonic's archives are in weekly blocks, with separate pages for the Sunday stuff. (Another no-no for me is taking the blog format too far and having a page of strips reading upwards from the bottom. It's the only thing I don't love about Panda Express.)

...

Far as banners are concerned, I'm really only annoyed by animated vertical banners on the page side - those can be horribly distracting. Horizontals I can usually ignore. But I don't think you can expect webcomics to go without banners - there are too few ways to make them pay as it is. Background images can look a bit tacky if they're tiled over the window behind the strip.

The worst design flaws I can think of are in archive navigation. A couple of otherwise good short-run comic sites have no link to the latest strip in the story, so that you have to click forward from the beginning just to see the new update. And I can say from experience that loading a huge single archive page with several dozen big strips on it is no fun if you're on dial-up. (It also feels clumsy even when it's loaded - it's the digital equivalent of reading printed comics on big scrolls instead of bound pages.)

Just this morning I

scarfman's picture

Just this morning I discovered myself thinking, "I've just lost all respect for Chris Onstad," because I was looking for a link to the previous strip and couldn't find one.

Paul Gadzikowski, paul@arthurkingoftimeandspace.com
Arthur, King of Time and Space New cartoons daily

you know

tynic's picture

I should check dates before I reply to stuff.

 

Idiot.

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