The Great Site Redesign of 2012

The tags on this post represent the tiny voice in my brain screaming that no good will come from this, but I have to do something.


My current site management strategy is a mess. I have three separate websites (eviscerati.net, ubersoft.net, unexploredhorizons.net) that are managed from a single interface. Which is better than having to manage three sites separately, but lately trying to sort the information between sites has become really difficult. So I've decided the only thing to do is to combine them into one large mixed-media content site.


I'm not sure how good this is from a marketing perspective. Generally my webcomic readers aren't interested in my fiction, and... I don't have enough fiction readers to actually know if it works the other way or not. So they might be turned off by suddenly having everything right there. Which is why I've worked out a way to a) consolidate everything into one site while b) still allowing people to use the "old" domain names to filter out everything but the content they want to see, more or less.


From a management perspective it will be a huge relief. From a reader perspective... well, I don't know. That's the part that has the DANGER WILL ROBINSON DANGER DANGER klaxon alarm set on repeat.


It does, however, give me another chance at trying to design a web interface Chris hates less. ;-) (In all seriousness, though, the redesign *will* have the advantage of removing at least one of the layers of branding on each site, and probably two, which I remember was one of Chris' critiques of my current design.)


Wish me luck! Or, you know, try to talk me down. I need one or the other. :D


I hope it works out well! This kind of thing can be such a stress and such a headache, but it's usually worth it in the end.


So the sites are now all consolidated into a single domain (eviscerati.org). But -- clever me -- the old domains are still working. ubersoft.net redirects to eviscerati.org/comics, and unexploredhorizons.net redirects to eviscerati.org/fiction.


The layout hasn't really changed too much (sorry Chris) because this effort was mostly focused on smooshing the three sites together, but I did remove one layer of branding. So there's that.


When I move up to Drupal 7 I'm going to be switching to a more modern template (HTML 5 compliant, etc) that has built-in support for mobile devices, and at that point I expect some more significant design changes to creep in.


I like the webserial part a lot. The font (on my screen) against the white background is really pleasant and a good choice.


Where I think it's harder for me to follow is the comic. A lot of webcomics tend to also place their image in the middle and stay away from the need to scroll to see the entire page. Their comic begins as close to the to of the screen as possible (usually under a fairly modest banner). They keep as much as they can "above the fold" or above that bottom line.


What I noticed is that your comic itself doesn't begin until halfway down my first screen. You want to have most of your image contained within that first screen but because of the complex stack of site name/branding element, project wonderful ad, and a menu bar I do more scrolling than I would for the several dozen comics I currently read online. This gets tiring if I start going through your archive.


I think the other thing that is a bit hard to follow is the use of multiple columns on the right side of that comic. Think about putting one column to the left, center your image of your comic, and then put the other column to the right. As we read left to right, keep your navigational/social networking stuff to the right so people are likely to click out to something that is "your stuff".


Hope this feedback is helpful. Incidentally, if you ever decide to chuck Drupal, Wordpress does great stuff for comics. Most everyone else seems to be using wordpress plugins to manage their comic websites.


I started with WordPress. I switched to Drupal because of all the stuff I do with taxonomies. WordPress isn't a bad CMS but the things Drupal can do with taxonomies are incredible.


I could place the comic at the very top of the page and it would probably still require scrolling on most monitors. It's designed vertically instead of horizontally (i.e. all panels are stacked on top of each other) so if it goes beyond 3 panels it cuts below the page line on most monitors.


Thanks for the feedback!