Layout Advice

5 years ago | Unillustrated (Member)

I recently started writing a serial. While it's not listed yet I do have a (tiny) number of followers. However, I have yet to receive any useful feedback from them. At the moment I'm more concerned with how my site is set up than the actual story (just a couple chapters in). Anyone feel like taking a look? Wordpress veterans would be especially helpful. Thanks!

Read responses...


  1. Wildbow (Member)

    Posted 5 years ago

    Just going to put the commentary out there:

    'A barely begun web serial' isn't descriptive. You don't have an image, so you need a way to convey to the audience what the story's about. Using the byline to communicate this to the audience. On a similar note, the very first thing your 'about' page should communicate is what the story is about.

    The title (citadel) feels small. You should be able to make it larger by adjusting the settings under 'header'.

    The entire sidebar is empty. I highly recommend a 'New to the story? Start here!' link. You can create the link and then add the link plugin to the right sidebar under plugins. Delete the stuff that doesn't say much.

    It's hard to read. The text in general feels small (this might be me), and you've got gray text on a gray/black background. This is a pretty big deal, and I'd fiddle with settings until you had something clear.

    Spaces between paragraphs feel too long, this disrupts flow.

    Disable infinite scrolling under settings. Nobody wants it for a serial (especially since it shows entries backward), it increases page load time, and creates a very bothersome bar at the bottom of the page.

    Put together a proper table of contents for the sidebar, so it isn't so barren, perhaps. I find you can do it using categories. A story category (with nothing linked to it), followed by Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, etc. The category plugin can then go in the sidebar.

    If you have any questions, please do ask. Sorry to be blunt - I'm writing this at 1am after a long writing day.

  2. Unillustrated (Member)

    Posted 5 years ago

    Blunt? Nope. Useful response? Extremely.

  3. Unillustrated (Member)

    Posted 5 years ago

    Wildbow: Thank you for the commentary. Really good points and I think it'll help a lot as I keep fiddling with this thing

    Anyone else: More opinions are always helpful for this sort of thing. Does it look alright on a mobile? Again, I'm very grateful for any commentary, thanks!

    Ongoing issues:

    1) I need a better tagline / introduction - working on introduction, will have that up soon but I'm not sure about the byline

    2) Corrected title, size is much more appropriate now

    3) Side bar - link to first page added (really glad you mentioned that) but not sure what else I should have there. I know the stuff up at the moment doesn't add anything but it just feels empty. Maybe just some links and such?

    4) Visibility issues should be greatly resolved (size and color)

    5) Still experimenting with text layout, not sure how I want that in the long run

    6) Only the most recent post should be visible now

  4. AGreyWorld (Member)

    Posted 5 years ago

    It's not offensive to my eyes, which is a great start.

    But, it's a little too plain. I like dark themes (got one myself) but there needs to be *some* colour somewhere! Get some imagery in there, even if it's just the title snazzed up a little. Something to have some impact and catch my eye. Important it doesn't distract from the story.

    You've got to think of your title/site as a book cover. Its the first thing that gives an impression of your story.

    A tip for making things a bit different with fixed free Wordpress themes: You can change the background to a fixed image and go all out (Example with my site: Any good with photoshop and the like?

    Layout is good. What I'd expect. Home screen with description and "start here", most recent post, contents, and links. All good stuff, I'm not getting lost finding chapter 1.

    One thing: I think the contents' chapters could be numbered. This is probably only a little confusing when there's only 3, but I wasn't sure which of those was the first chapter, if it was organised as 1,2,3 etc. (When you have a big long list in future it will probably be pretty clear though). If you format it like the sidebar chapter list it would be more consistent.

    I agree with Wildbow on paragraph spacing, if you can edit that, I'd compress it a little. Font size is good for me. It could be a little lighter on the background, but I find it comfortable to read as-is.

  5. Unillustrated (Member)

    Posted 5 years ago

    Hmm. I thought I fixed the spacing issues yesterday but looking at it now nothing has changed. Annoying.

    Thanks for the tip about the background image. Not sure exactly what I'll end up doing but at least I know how I'll do it.

    Question, do you mean lettering should be a lighter/brighter shade or that the background needs to be?

  6. Khronosabre (Member)

    Posted 5 years ago

    First thing, it's not responsive which in this day and age drives me absolutely nuts. If you're not experienced in coding, there are plenty of Wordpress themes that are responsive. At the very least, it should default to Wordpress' ugly but functional mobile version (if you look at Worm or A Grey World or a bunch of others on a phone you'll see it). I don't use it myself so I'm not sure if that's a feature you enable with any theme or if only specific themes have it? Maybe someone else can speak to that.

    Second thing, some stuff with the UX. It's pretty good with the changes Wildbow suggested, but I would recommend a few more. It doesn't make sense to me that Links has it's own link in the main nav. That seems a lot more like a sidebar sort of thing. The only reason I'd click on it at all is out of curiosity. "Links to what?" If you put it in the sidebar, it'll just be there for people to see and use if they so choose and it'll clear up your nav of any confusion. I get the feeling the table of contents is something you're updating manually, which would explain why there aren't any chapter numbers. A much easier way for you and your readers is to simply categorize your chapters (you'd choose the name table of contents for the category name) and then drop a link to that filtered category into your nav bar. That way, it updates automatically with the full title! So much simpler. Also, I would add a 'first post' or 'first chapter' into your nav next to the 'most recent'. I know you have it in a couple other places, but get it right up there front and center so people can't miss it since that's really what you want people to see right away. Finally, this might be personal, but add an RSS button :P RSS is the best.

    So third. Design. The theme's alright, but I agree with AGreyWorld that it's a little dull. First thing's first, get yourself a nice big header. Something eye-catching that represents your story and its themes. At the very least replace the font of your title. Citadel is a beautiful looking word, set it in a nice bold sans or something. Spruce it up. Secondly, and this could just be me, I'm really not digging that grey line-y background, it feels very 2000's and cheap. This depends on what your header ends up as, but I would either go with a solid color or a subtle gradient. Just something that compliments the rest of the site more. I'm assuming by the dark colors you chose for the main elements that the story has a dark feel and mood to it. That's great, definitely use those colors to set the tone. But that background is so light and funky, it pulls you out of it. Cohesiveness is key!

    And that's my designer two cents :P Hope it helps maybe.

    PS I noticed your story's setting. SD represent yo!

  7. Unillustrated (Member)

    Posted 5 years ago

    I've changed the background to a simple gray for now. I definitely see what people mean about needing some imagery and I'll add that in, either as part of the background or header, maybe both, at a later time. I'm still not exactly sure what to use there.

    Got rid of the links and added a first post tab for the main navigation bar. I'm not sure if I need a fourth way to get there but needed or not Khrono was right, that is the basic point of the site so more can't do any harm. Also, that's now the second in a row to mention that the chapters under the table of contents weren't clear enough so numbering has been added there.

    How do you mean responsive? I've got a mobile theme in place, I think, but no convenient way to check it. If there's something really off about how the site looks on a tablet or phone then I'll have to go borrow one to mess with it.

    Also, RSS has been added.

  8. Unillustrated (Member)

    Posted 5 years ago

    Am I just missing the obvious method to delete your own comment?

  9. AGreyWorld (Member)

    Posted 5 years ago

    "Question, do you mean lettering should be a lighter/brighter shade or that the background needs to be?"

    Lettering, if you're going for light-on-dark. I think it's fine as it is though.

    I like the plain grey better than the lines. Khronosabre was right, looks a lot more modern now. Just need some nice stuff around/as the header and it will be really good!

  10. Unillustrated (Member)

    Posted 5 years ago

    Thanks for the advice everyone. I think, unless someone comes up with some major new flaw, that I'm as good as I'm gonna get it for now. I just need to figure out something for the title / header but that'll probably take a bit since, as the name suggests, I'm not a very visual person.

  11. Khronosabre (Member)

    Posted 5 years ago

    Definitely looks better with the flat grey :) Responsive means the site adjusts itself based on the size of your browser. For instance if you look at and you scale your browser down, it readjusts to fit better. That's responsiveness. We coded that manually so I'm not totally sure that any Wordpress themes natively support it but they should? As for mobile, I looked at it on my phone and it just shows the desktop version which requires lots of zooming and scrolling to read. So I actually googled this and Wordpress supposedly does default to mobile version regardless of theme so I don't know if yours got disabled somehow or ??? Here's the FAQ entry, check it out

  12. Unillustrated (Member)

    Posted 5 years ago

    Well that's disappointing. As far as I can tell my site is set to display the mobile theme. Guess I'll have to look into it further. Thanks for the heads up.


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