Optimizing Serial Site Setup

7 years ago | mathtans (Member)

It has been suggested to me that my serial site is non-optimal for views, so here's a thread to tell me what you prefer in website looks/navigation and Wordpress sites in particular. Feel free to get specific to my site, https://mathtans.wordpress.com. In terms of what to expect there:

(1) I web surf pretty much exclusively on computers and laptops, so if the layout looks weird on a phone, I'd need more than "fix it". (How?)
(2) I use posts, not pages (aside from 'About Me' and the like), and would need a good reason to change now.
(3) A couple months ago, I decided to use the "featured image" feature (and dammit Jim, I'm a writer, not an artist) so if that's a hangup, I can return to how it was for the first year when I also wasn't getting views. Or if anyone knows how to simply resize the "featured image", that'd be cool.
(4) If there's any order or choice for side widgets that everyone knows about and prefers, feel free to clue me in. Same for fonts.
(5) The site does house two serials simultaneously. Only one is running at any particular time. Ideally I don't want to redesign everything whenever I need to switch from T&T to my stand-alone... but hey, beggars can't be choosers.

So, thoughts?

Writing a Time Travel serial: http://mathtans.wordpress.com
Writer of the personification of math serial: http://www.mathtans.ca

Read responses...


  1. ClearMadness (Member)

    Posted 7 years ago

    I'm honestly not sure how you could have such low views. Try looking at other people's sites to see what they do. Here's what I came up with after looking over your site.

    To get more visitors:

    -If you don't have a TV Tropes page then make one. http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/WebSerialNovel

    -Get some votes on TopWebFiction and put in some obvious links right to the vote for you page

    -Post in some forums, reddit, web serial archives, etc. A lot of forums have promotion areas.

    -More advanced. Get the Yoast free plugin for Wordpress. Go through this guide using keywords like Time Travel Fiction. https://yoast.com/wordpress-seo/

    These are more for keeping people once you have them but they don't hurt:

    -My personal opinion is that you should have as professional looking a page as possible to keep people interested. All that art everywhere screams amateur to me. I would put most of it on it's own art page.

    -I would get social media sites up and link to them.

    -You need a much more obvious link to the first chapter right there when people first see the site.

    -Consider a more interesting wordpress theme.

    Author of The Iron Teeth, a online dark fantasy story.
  2. a_chiba (Member)

    Posted 7 years ago

    Hi again! I started reading T&T a bit ago and I think maybe the way that the navigation is set up is a bit difficult for readers who are just starting. I found it pretty hard to get to the first arc from the front page. Clicking "index" brought up the chapters only from the second. I had to poke around a lot to get started and always have to go through the same when I pick up where I left off. Because each link opens in a new tab, I also usually end up with a bunch of tabs open that I don't need. If you had one page dedicated just to a list of all chapters for all arcs and it was displayed prominently for first time visitors (and repeat offenders) to find, that might help people. Good luck!

  3. Billy Higgins Peery (Member)

    Posted 7 years ago

    Couple things.

    First of all, I agree with ClearMadness that the images aren't helping you. I might remove them entirely. Barring that, I would definitely minimize their presence.

    Second, the light blue background isn't the way to go, in my opinion. Personally I think a white or white-ish background is best, with colors added in the header/sidebar/what-have-you to give things a bit of color.

    For the subject tabs, I would replace "Story Catalogue," and "Current Story Index," with the names of your two stories. I would then post story descriptions and table of contents for the respective stories on their respective pages.

    In general, I'd look at the sites of people who have a degree of success (I definitely looked at Worm when I was creating the sites for both Kinda Super Gay and Godpunk, even though my stories were wildly different than bow's). Think about what works and what doesn't work, then apply the bits that DO work to your website.

    That make sense?

    Anyway, wish you the best in your serial endeavors!

    "Any number of hitlers, are still not my problem." -Tempest
  4. mathtans (Member)

    Posted 7 years ago

    So, seems like the worst problem was Navigation. So the "Catalogue" now has a drop down menu for each serial containing all chapters to date. With one sentence summaries. Maybe I went overboard there. I don't know. (Incidentally a_chiba, the reason the old link went to the second index was because T&T Part 2 had only three hits in six months and it was depressing me and I was vaguely hoping people might start with Book 2. I'm not sure why I hoped that.) Also, I won't use the "featured image" option any more. (Why am I drawing a webcomic on another site? That's pretty sad, isn't it?)

    As to the rest...
    -I put the background back to white. I couldn't figure out how to colour only pieces of the background, like the sidebars (though I did find the information to view in phone format, so huzzah). If anyone knows how to adjust sidebars in Wordpress, or how to access the css, feel free to clue me in.
    -I'll have to look up my old TV Tropes info from a couple years ago before trying there, and it feels weird to trope myself. (But I did once create the "Being Erica" page, now THAT'S a good time travel TV show!)
    -Doesn't TopWebFiction have some sort of minimum requirement to get a listing?
    -For social media, Twitter, FB and Tumblr already take up most of my time, I'm not sure there's a point in joining a system if I'm not going to be able to engage... am I wrong in that?
    -I did look at a few other sites and themes; not sure I want a radical redesign yet. I'm kind of at the point where sinking even MORE effort into something that's going nowhere feels non-cost effective, throwing good time after bad.

    Again, thank you SO much for the feedback, it's the most I've had in months. One hopes I was doing something right in there too. The 11 hits off this thread for the weekend also mean there's a very good chance I'll ultimately reach 100 views for this month, which I would have declared impossible at this time last week! Wheee! Just have to keep telling myself this could always be worse. Granted, I'm not entirely sure how, but maybe I'll know how by the end of the year. ^_^

    Writing a Time Travel serial: http://mathtans.wordpress.com
    Writer of the personification of math serial: http://www.mathtans.ca
  5. ClearMadness (Member)

    Posted 7 years ago

    Much better.

    Author of The Iron Teeth, a online dark fantasy story.
  6. mathtans (Member)

    Posted 6 years ago

    Yep, things can always be worse! Actually, December wasn't bad when compared against November or September. Just thought I'd post back in here for a couple reasons:

    1) An interesting article making the rounds by Hossein Derakhshan, one of the original bloggers in 2001, who recently spent 6 years in prison (due to what he was blogging). He has an interesting perspective on how the web has changed over that time; variations on the article have appeared in the Globe & Mail and The Guardian the last couple months. The TL;DR version: Hyperlinks have been devalued. "No matter how many links you have placed in a webpage, unless somebody is looking at it, it is actually both dead and blind, and therefore incapable of transferring power to any outside web page." (Given ClearMadness's initial remarks above, that would seem to fit.)
    Here's the Guardian piece: http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/dec/29/irans-blogfather-facebook-instagram-and-twitter-are-killing-the-web

    2) I've done a 2015 stats roundup of all my webpages (personal, blog, webcomic, serial), for anyone who wants to potentially feel better about themselves. My serial site in particular had 74 new posts and 2 new pages (52 weekly entries, plus bonuses) and got 2,200 views. Total for the year. And a number of those views were for old efforts from back in 2014. So if there's anyone out there lurking, feeling like they don't have the numbers to speak up, I'm gonna say you do, because I sure babble on endlessly despite evidence to the contrary!
    Post is on my Blogger site: http://mathiex.blogspot.ca/2016/01/five-webpages-one-post.html

    Incidentally, the title of my serial "Time & Tied" will finally get explained in Part 42, coming later this month. Woot.

    Writing a Time Travel serial: http://mathtans.wordpress.com
    Writer of the personification of math serial: http://www.mathtans.ca
  7. ClearMadness (Member)

    Posted 6 years ago

    Just looked over your site again. It's much better looking. One thing I would really do if I was you though is add a sticky post to the front page with an introduction and flush out your introduction page. There's basically no information there except that the story in some fashion involves time travel. Write a paragraph or two designed to hook people on your story and stick it right to the landing page.

    Author of The Iron Teeth, a online dark fantasy story.
  8. Billy Higgins Peery (Member)

    Posted 6 years ago

    Funny you say that, Mathans. Derakhshan posted a similar-looking story on Medium: https://medium.com/matter/the-web-we-have-to-save-2eb1fe15a426#.56uj1out8

    I thought about bringing the Medium article up because of what it says about the web. In particular, I think it's interesting that many of the complaints about nonfiction blogging -- regarding commercialization and the stream, if memory serves, it's been a while since I read it -- don't really apply to web serials. Makes me wonder if web serials will be seen as an antidote to some of these practices down the road.

    That said, the guy also just seems bitter. You know, he was the top dog of Iran's blogging system, and now that he's out of prison, he sees that his methods don't work as well anymore. That sucks, I guess, but it makes me wonder if the thinkpiece isn't fueled by motivated reasoning.

    (idk about the Guardian piece. It looks very similar to the Medium piece, but I think it's been edited to be slightly different. Don't really feel like comparing the two articles that closely.)

    "Any number of hitlers, are still not my problem." -Tempest
  9. mathtans (Member)

    Posted 6 years ago

    @Billy: Wow, the summer? Okay, so that article has been making the rounds for longer than my cursory research implied... the two are pretty much the same. I'm not sure I agree about it not applying to web serials though. Because (1) getting to any webpage outside the "mainstream" is trickier now. Search engines are more inclined to produce content based on past searches. Even targeting on social media sites seems geared more towards "reality" and "review" based material - though that could simply be the search bubble I'M in. If people search more for to find like-minded articles, or reviewers that they can complain about, as opposed to new fiction, it's harder to be seen (unless you're already in a mainstream genre, like superheroes, or have something go "viral").

    Also (2) volume of posts means nothing if no one's looking. You'd think 100 posts is harder to ignore than 10, but when they're equivalently reduced to a single hyperlink that only exists on 4 or 5 sites, your chances of being seen pale in comparison to someone who actually spends on advertising, or even has a bunch of friends willing to share links with greater frequency. And even those are no guarantee, since the implication is people don't click anyway! I'm not saying the guy's piece isn't motivated by bitterness, that's possible, but I feel like there's something to it as well. (Would it be getting all this press if the guy wasn't well known? Maybe not. Though I also find it interesting that what we may have seen as subtle shifts over time, can be a large change from an outsider perspective.)

    @ClearMadness: Thanks for the thought; maybe I'll implement it in the summer. I've kind of given up on T&T, partly because it's so close to the climax/end now, partly because work is always busy as hell in January, and partly because my math webcomic is actually achieving 50+ views in a week, so why not focus there. But there's a fair chance I'll relaunch closer to the summer.

    Writing a Time Travel serial: http://mathtans.wordpress.com
    Writer of the personification of math serial: http://www.mathtans.ca


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