Okay, before I get started on this, yes, I know the blog looks, um, not great. I have no taste when it comes to colors and I really haven't played with the layout commands and such. So as I give my thoughts on the layouts for COMIC pages, remember that any godawfulness of this site has nothing to do with the topic at hand.
Let's talk about laying out webcomic pages.
Having gone through and visited so many webcomics pages, it's time I offer some thoughts on accessibility and presentation of a comic and it's archives. Will this break a comic? It could, if it's as godawful as this blog, but generally it just makes it frustrating to read if done improperly. So let's go down the list.
1) The comic should be the feature of the page, not a side bar. Until recently, Wapsi Square had this problem, the layout pushing the comic down into the corner of the opening page. It made the comic seem small and inconsequential. Since the change, Wapsi seems bigger, fuller, and better than it had been.
2) Hiding the comic can work, but don't bury it too deeply. Our Time in Eden places the comic page separate from the main page, but it's easy enough to see the comic on the main page and promptly get to it. Really, this works best for comics that display multiple pages at once, like What Birds Know, or if you have multiple comics like Nuklear Power, which has 4 comics including 8-Bit Theater.
3) No, I don't WANT another window open. Gods and Undergrads suffers this painfully. Click on a chapter and it opens a new window. Click on a 'page' and it opens a new window. STOP! I only need one window open at a time, I really do. Very annoying.
4) Either use the same previous/next button system as everyone else or label them clearly. Normally, in the list of navigation the order is FIRST, PREVIOUS, NEXT, LAST/CURRENT. Makes it easy to navigate the comic with this, but some comics don't do that. Just Another Escape fails here, with the previous button being on the OUTSIDE while the first button is on the INSIDE. Oddly, the opposing pair (Next, Last) are actually in the proper order, but these two are not for some reason. Never understood that.
5) If you have a cast page, update it. My method of reviewing comics means I don't read the cast page until after I read the archive, but typically when I do, the cast page is usually out of date, by a lot. Update it once every few months please. Lots of comics do this, so I can't pull out a specific, but trust me, they're out there.
6) Oh, I could go into so much more, but I think the best way to sum this all up is to KISS it and make it better. KISS meaning Keep It Simple Stupid. Don't go crazy with the layout, simple really the best option for a comic. It makes it easy to navigate, find the comic, read the comic and enjoy it.
Alright that's enough of that. I'll be skipping next week (Christmas, ya know?) but I will work on a something for the New Year. There will still be a review update, but the article will wait a week. Until then kiddies.