< Piro >
Wednesday - December 4, 2002
Looking back at a lot of the rants that I've done over the past few years, there always seems to be this conflict between checking off bullet points of information and getting on with some sorta freeflowing braindump about whatever is rattling around in my brain. With all the stuff that's been going on in the world of MT these days, my list of 'things to inform people about' just keeps getting worse.
If you have ever worked on designing a webpage or two, you know about the conflicts that come up when dealing with the real estate on a webpage. There is battle between look and feel, navigation, readability, providing content effectively, providing information effectively, and the ever onerous issue of space for advertisements to help pay the bills.
I don't know if many people realize this, but the layout and design for the webpage you are looking at was done over the course of a weekend without any concept that it would be as widely read as it is today. The side by side rant thing worked pretty well, i guess. I've tweaked and pulled and pushed here and there to fit stuff in (like the 'status' bar section), and spent an entire weekend trying to make the forums match the flavor of the base website. People seem to like the site, and maybe this lack of polish is part of it's charm. I've seen plenty of sites where the re-design changed the site so drastically you wondered if it was the same website. Personally, I prefer re-designs that are more derivative that completely changing.
I've often considered re-designing the site - starting fresh, working out the bugs, giving it a new look and feel. There is pressure to provide 'skyscraper' ad space on the page - to push the comic to the side to allow for advertising space that actually sells. This, of course, is one of the problems with advertising. The advertiser wants readers to pay attention to the add. The website visitor is not interested in the ad, they are interested in the content they came to see. On a lot of websites, the solution is to smack big ads right in the middle of the site content, or use the dreaded pop-up windows.
Well, I don't have any plans to make those kind of changes. I will not compromise the content of this site just so i can sell advertising. Of course, if I could figure out how to provide effective advertising without resorting to 'intrusive' methods, i certainly wouldn't have any worries about paying the rent next month. ^_^
This doesn't mean that I'm going to give up on advertising, mind you - it just means that it's more of a challenge to provide effective advertising while at the same time not compromising the integrity of the content of the site. Patch and I have a lot of ideas that I'm going to look into trying out over the next few weeks to see if any of these ideas can work. Solving this requires not only respect for the content and the readers, but understanding the nature of megatokyo readers as well.
The status bar piece of space is the most ripe for better development. The days of missing weeks worth of comics is (hopefully) behind me for the most part, and i just think there are better ways to use the space. I want to create a combination news / information / status / webcomics to check out / this week sponsored by / newsbox thing to sit there that can provide a lot of info in a very small space, and leave the rants open to what they should be left open for - mindless prattle. I'm going to look into designing that today.
You'd think my email woes would have been solved by suddenly having all this time to work on MT, do email, etc. Heh. Well, the big thing about email is, if you let it slide for a day or two, suddenly, you are facing a huge backup. I'm spending today to try to clear that backup and start my new 'treat email with respect!' program. Speaking of email - if you emailed anyone here within the last three weeks, at either megatokyo.com or fredart.com addresses, and it bounced - please try sending it again now. It turns out that we had a DNS problem crop up that was directing a lot of mail into oblivion. It's all fixed now, and things have been working fine since Saturday.
Kei, my publisher from I.C. Entertainment, put together a bunch of Frequently Asked Questions to help reduce some of the email load they are getting, and I've made that list available here. It answers a lot of questions about the MT Book, AmeriManga, and other MT Merchandise issues, including stuff about the Kimiko Blanket and Megatokyo Plushies. I'm starting to put together some general FAQ material, as well as work on the character and story pages. My goal is that by the start of the new year, it will be easy to find answers to most of your questions from the site itself.
Ok, i'm going to go sit down and get back to reading the 520 emails left to read in my mailbox. Oh, the rant image above is actually a picture out of my window at the snowfall we had on Monday. I did a lot of writing for 'warmth' on Monday - the heavy snow that day was actually perfect weather for it - even though i did freeze my ass off next to that big window.
Speaking of 'virtual' real estate, I want to mention that we are still working on the megatokyocity.net webhosting project - it's behind schedule because the backend is taking us longer to get together than we planned (please don't try the link, the site is not up yet). Thank you for all your interest in it, and I'll be sure to provide more information as soon as it's available.