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Author Topic: Webcomics 2.0 - The Social Revolution  (Read 4179 times)

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Offline Rob

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Webcomics 2.0 - The Social Revolution
« on: August 02, 2010, 02:01:48 AM »

Short blog this week guys but I think an important one.

Obviously social networking has become a huge part of webcomics. Most of us have Twitter accounts. Many or us are on Facebook (I have been resisting but when I get some time I'm probably going to take the plunge); The Webcomics List, Stumbler, Tumbler, Top Web Comics, I could go on and on.

And obviously it's important to our websites to have these social networking tools all lined up and ready for our users to get at. Why it's even a category for the reviews Dragon does for us here on the site.

But lately I've had a bit of a beef with the placement of the SNT (I'm calling Social Networking Tools this from now on and you'll like it!) on the web page.

Recently two webcomics I occasionally frequent started using a tool called Wibiya.

Go ahead... check it out.

Back?

Ok. Here's my problem with this thing.

My feelings about comic presentation on the web page are pretty strong. The comic should be front and center with as much of the comic itself above the fold as possible (excepting the header, which is kind of needed so people know where they are). A splash page is obviously a necessity for comics with certain content but for the most part this is a rule to live by. Your comic is king. Everything else is in support of the comic.

Both of the aforementioned sites using Wibiya had alerts turned on. This created pop up alert messages telling me what was in the store for sale or the next convention the creator would be attending or... I don't care. The point is these pop ups blocked part of the comic. You know... the reason I came to the site in the first place?

One of the sites had 2 pop ups. One blocked part of the comic and the other blocked part of the navigation beneath it. I had to close them both to see what I came there to see and do what I came there to do. Want to guess how much I'm looking forward to my next visit?

What's really maddening is that both of these sites still had their regular SNT links on their page. Presumably in case people have Java or Flash or whatever Wibiya is using blocked.

And that really made me think. What the hell is the point then? And Wibiya isn't the only program like this. Skysa, Meebo, Conduit, Gigya and probably a bunch of others are performing the same tasks. I really don't get the purpose of this tool. Yes it looks nice but it blocks part of my page. Even when it is fully collapsed (and you can shut off the alerts... I complained about it to one of the two sites and he turned off the pop ups... but at first replied... "it's only blocking a little bit of the comic!") it is always going to block part of my page.

And what's more, I have all these tools built into my website. If Wibiya did something that I couldn't do on my web page I would ask Chadm1n to change my web page so I could do that thing. But it seems like the primary function of Wibiya and sites like it are to facilitate the use of SNT and alerting readers to what's going on at the site.

My SNT's are built into the site and my blog is there for me to communicate with my readers (not to mention the forum). So I just don't get its value. Yet I'm seeing this tool pop up on site after site and a lot of Webcomics people are really singing its praises. So I put it to you Webcomics Community.

What do you think of Wibiya and other SNT tool bars and such? Wave of the future or fad for people who crave more site functionality than their coding skills can handle?

Offline mcfadyn

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Re: Webcomics 2.0 - The Social Revolution
« Reply #1 on: August 02, 2010, 12:32:35 PM »
I just finished check it out.  It's really not the worst thing ever.  I don't find it takes away from a comic, its just a small bar on the bottom of the site.  Technically, it's no different than having the address bar on the top.  It's a nice little tool I find
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Offline Dragon Powered

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Re: Webcomics 2.0 - The Social Revolution
« Reply #2 on: August 02, 2010, 03:27:51 PM »
Yeah, actually I don't like wibiya much at all.  It's an annoyance, but when it's passive it isn't too terribly bad.  Still, it's an annoyance, which is never good for web visitors.

My first experience with it was on Ran's website, which I just did a review on.  Believe it or not, I intended to take points off because of it, but I was called in to my second job ( aka: my daily nightmare ) and I forgot about it.  When I came back to finish the review the following day there wasn't any pop-up notice and it was passive, plus the only thing it blocked when passive was the footnote that the site was made with Wordpress.  So again I forgot about it. My bad.

Anything that pops up, pops out, flies out, or flies over content is a bad thing.  That includes not only animated advertisements, but those wonderful menus that expand over the content at the slightest touch of the mouse, with submenus upon submenus.  You know the ones.  You have to position your mouse pointer in the far right bottom corner just to see the page.

An annoyed reader equals a lost reader.

Unless your website is designed specifically with sliding and popping widgets and what-nots in order to entertain the visitor in an interactive way, keep those things off your site.  You don't want to ask your readers to decide whether your content is worth the annoyance they have to put up with in order to get it.  Yes, they can just click the little red x to close this thing, but you've broken their concentration and lowered their interest.  Now, if by clicking that little red x I'm assured the annoying toolbar or popup will never return, then that becomes a different story.

Offline Rob

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Re: Webcomics 2.0 - The Social Revolution
« Reply #3 on: August 02, 2010, 05:54:44 PM »
I'm actually glad you didn't mention it in the review because if you had you might have stopped me from writing what I wrote here (if I felt the territory had been well covered) and I think it needed to be said.

McFadyn... I don't mean to get technical on you but technically it is very different than having the address bar on the top. In fact, I'd say that nowhere does it differ more than in the technical department. Wibiya isn't part of your website. The tool bar exists as an addition to the site and therefore it simply cannot exist anywhere on the page without covering something that is native to the page up.

Even as Dragon pointed out in its passive state it still has pop up menu's that, if you accidentally cursor over them (and I seem to do that on every page that has those cursed pop up menus) cover over other things native to the site... and depending upon the location of the Wibiya bar at the time... it could easily cover large portions of your comic. And in it's most egregious state it has pop up alerts and news boxes that cover up native parts of the site (again depending upon the location of the bar at the time) as soon as the page loads requiring the user to click to close them to see what is underneath.

Not to mention that... if you have the SNT's on your site in native programmed form you are adding an unnecessary redundancy.

Personally my above the fold real estate is very tight. I wouldn't want to give up an inch of it to something like Wibiya. If you could alter the settings so the bar was fixed below the fold and only popped up with it's alerts when someone scrolled down on the page (and like Dragon said if the user could shut it off permanently with one click that would be good) then it would be... better I guess? But still redundant for me since I already can alert my readers through the blog and my SNT's are already on my page.

If you don't have a blog or SNT's on your page I can see what value it would have there. But if it covered up the comic in any way I still wouldn't use it.

Offline mcfadyn

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Re: Webcomics 2.0 - The Social Revolution
« Reply #4 on: August 03, 2010, 04:04:06 AM »
Yeah, I understand what you're getting at, but I was moreso talking about the amount of space the bar takes up.  I understand the pop ups can be annoying, which is why we probably wont be using the thing.  We like to keep the LtB as ad free as possible and that includes that bar.
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Offline operationremie

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Re: Webcomics 2.0 - The Social Revolution
« Reply #5 on: August 03, 2010, 04:36:00 AM »
I actually saw this on Ran's site and was kind of confused by it. I feel that buttons on the actual site are a better, like how Rob has it. i honestly don't like a tool bar across the bottom of the site. it definitely deters me from wanting to look at it and want to close it out.

Offline Largento

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Re: Webcomics 2.0 - The Social Revolution
« Reply #6 on: August 03, 2010, 09:23:47 AM »
I added Wibiya to my site awhile back and think it works fine. I don't find it to be obtrusive and it highlights the links to those important social networks. Our traffic is still on the small side, but if you have some one "like" your comic in Facebook, then your comic appears on the newsfeed of all of their friends. That's a lot of potential exposure and it's free. Why not make it easier for readers to do that?


Offline Gar

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Re: Webcomics 2.0 - The Social Revolution
« Reply #7 on: August 03, 2010, 09:46:31 AM »
I've got the AddThis toolbar for Neko (and there are little social network buttons in the default layout for the new SmackJeeves mirror, which is a nice touch. Don't know if they see much action though.

Anything that blocks the comic image is a bad thing, but little unobtrusive buttons floating below the comic or embedded in the site navigation bar are fine. We do want people to show our comics to their friends, after all.
« Last Edit: August 03, 2010, 11:14:31 AM by Gar »

Offline Rob

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Re: Webcomics 2.0 - The Social Revolution
« Reply #8 on: August 03, 2010, 10:16:13 AM »
Largento, we did just create a Facebook account and soon we'll have the "like" button on the site.... but we'll have it coded on there... not in a tool bar. So while I agree with you that the option for the readers is important I don't think Wibiya or any of the other tool bar solutions is the way to go. I'd rather just have the button there on the site where it has it's own space and won't bork anything else up.

Offline wendyw

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Re: Webcomics 2.0 - The Social Revolution
« Reply #9 on: August 04, 2010, 04:35:23 AM »
I personally dislike it.

It's not a huge issue for me, but I do know people that are completely put off by it.

Even if you don't find it intrusive yourself the conversations I've seen about it elsewhere suggest that a lot of other people are put off by it and although it's unlikely to put off your existing readers, at least not the type that are full on fans, the ones that are going to buy your tshirts, print editions and so on, it will put off some new readers and those readers may well become the next wave of those fans. They have no emotional investment in your comic yet so their tolerance to annoying things on websites is going to be much lower.

If some element of the site is known to drive some people away on the first visit you shoule really have a good reason for it being there and I do know people that clicked straight off of a comic site when the Wibiya toolbar popped up a message the first time they visited. As Rob said if you can put those links somewhere into your site design itself that is a much better idea.

Offline klingers

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Re: Webcomics 2.0 - The Social Revolution
« Reply #10 on: August 05, 2010, 12:59:30 AM »
I've always found this kind of thing distracting and kind of pointless.

I've achieved a happy medium between social functionality and a clean site by using an AddThis on the left-hand side beneath my comic and a separate Facebook "Like" button underneath that.

All together I'm probably using something along the lines of 100x250 pixels worth of screen real estate, it's prominant and easy to see (and hopefully encourages people to share comics!!) but it hopefully doesn't put people off.

I've also some big links to my Twitter feed and Facebook group "below the fold" next to the our blogs, which I figure is fine because I've worked it into the design.

It's all about how you design your site. I think a lot of people out there in reader-land can generally be put off by anything that can be classed as a nag screen or a plug. Not everyone of course, but enough people to make a difference.