It’s website design 101, but faced with the huge blank canvas of a browser it can be easy to forget that the website doesn’t exist for you. It exists for them. Your readers. If you can’t make your website easy to navigate, accessible, and attractive, you will miss out on visitors who might otherwise stay and become your fans. Your webcomic is the star, but your website is the stage. Spend some time fine-tuning your backdrop.
In this series of “Keep it Seriously Simple” posts I will discuss the ideas and research behind making your site easy to use, and maximizing familiarity for your readers from the perspective of a webcomic site. This isn’t new information for many an experienced creator and some will seem like common sense, but it matters. If you’re new to webcomics, consider this a crash course in what readers are use to seeing. If you’re a veteran, I hope you’ll take it as a reminder and share your own experiences.
In each of the following articles I will discuss usability in the context of webcomic websites and provide some live examples. At the end of each article is a suggested activity to encourage you to think about usability and what works for your site and your readers. A resource and references list will be complied at the end of the series if you’re interested in doing some further exploration as well.
- Welcome to the Stage: Webcomics & Expectations
- A Rotating Stage: “Above the Fold” & Scrolling
- The Playbill: Site Navigation
- Scene Change: Comic Navigation
- Act 1, Scene K?: Comic Archive
- Props: Pages & Extras for Webcomics
- Books & Websites on Usability
A special shout out goes to Joel Fagin who wrote the first webcomics tutorial on this subject that I ever read. It was written a several years ago now, but the basics still hold true, even though some conventions have trended away from the ones listed here. Enjoy!