Ah scrolling. The bane of webcomickers everywhere and the cause of sleepless nights to those who fear the mucky depths below the fold. Modern readers are willing to stroll, especially if you clue them in, but planning for the amount of scrolling your readers will do is just good manners. Creators of long form comics in particular struggle with how much scrolling to make readers do to.
It is avoidable? With the variety of browser sizes and devises available today, the short answer is No. But it can be minimized.
Sizing the Comic & Minimizing Vertical Padding
- Reducing your header size.
- Move site navigation to the side.
- Narrow your comic’s width to shorten the relative height. (But not too much)
- Skip top comic navigation for height,
- Or Include top comic navigation so your readers don’t have to scroll if they don’t want to read a full page.
- Keep in mind, a tiny amount of scroll (that hides just a sliver of your comic) may be more frustrating than a moderate amount.
Many webcomickers have made the switch to a horizontal page format to try and avoid scrolling altogether on their sites. A horizontal page typically looks like 2 “strips” placed together and conforms to the short height/wide width of most browsers. Sorcery 101 is a good example of this style.
You will still need to take into consideration width of your comic to avoid horizontal scrolling (which is an overall no-no), but this format can save you a lot of vertical space. Avoid comics over 800 or 1000 pixals depending on your readers’ most comic browser size and keep additional content (that you don’t mind readers scrolling for) below the comic and out of the way.
Alternative Device Browsers
There are several ways to read comics these days, including smartphones and iPad, and all of these alternative devices have smaller or differently shaped screens. Creating alternative site designs or websites based on the device can minimize both vertical and horizontal scrolling when using these devices. Building extra sites can be time consuming, however, so consider only creating alternative browsing experiences if a large percentage of your readership wants your comic on their iPad (or whatever).
Using a Flash reader to avoid scrolling on your comic is a bit like cheating. While you might avoid browser scrolling, you probably will create a smaller space in which to read the comic; not really the effect most readers want. In addition, moving the scroll function away from the standard browser location may create more confusion than it solves for your readers.