Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Webcomic Site Optimization

                                                     Optimized, and not. The beauty of web site optimization is it only improves the look of the site, if it changes it at all. You can still look cartoony, but you can run like the fastest car in the world (above).

Changing car oil doesn't give me value. It prevents me from losing value. That's not as much fun. Gaining excites more than retaining.

Working on my web sites gives me value, and quickly. There are so many ways to improve the function and design of a web site, it's an ongoing processing to make it perform at optimal levels.

That's why I like to talk about Site Optimization instead of SEO (Search Engine Optimization). I'm not optimizing Google -- they have people who get paid to do that. I am optimizing my sites, and part of that process is creating optimal interactions with search engines.

It also includes optimizing it for reader experience, optimizing it for performance, optimizing it for stability, optimizing it for expense, optimizing it for commerce and many more.

Blogs pay heaps of attention to this stuff. Webcomics don't. I know, because I can tell pretty easily when a site has been polished and when it exists just to hold the webcomic.

This tells me a lot about what comics are going places and what ones are not. The driver who wins a car race has every component of the vehicle working at maximum performance. I like machinery that works well, and I'm not beneath tearing an engine apart to make it better.

With all the skill and time demands that come with making a webcomic, it's no surprise that most people's sites are filled with gum, including many of the sites that look terrific.

What's a shame is to do all that work, then fail on the details.

Right now you can hire people to optimize your site, but that's out of budget for many. An opportunity exists for platform design to improve in this regard, but there will always be significant human involvement in optimizing a site.

Optimizing works best as a daily or weekly event, because your site needs to adjust to a changing world. After learning HTML, Photoshop, Illustrator, graphic design techniques, drawing for the web, writing and plotting, coloring, lettering and all the other skills comickers use, I understand that it's tough for people to get the mud out of their sites. But like it or not, I think it's essential if you are serious about what you're doing.

If you have a site that isn't optimized, and you'd like to take a nibble at improving it, drop me a line. I'll not charge anything, since I'm learning myself, but I'll appreciate a link to one or two of my sites if you feel I help. The rewards often come rapidly, so it can really be quite fun.

It's probably best if you are comfortable with email back-and-forth. I know some people don't enjoy typing out messages, and they might find it a drag.

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