My eternal wrestling with UI continues apace, but I think the current iteration of Bad Gods/Loresjoberg.com is a step forward, if also a bit of a step backward.
I realized that one of the problems I was having with the redesign was that I was listening to my biggest fans. That makes sense, I appreciate having fans and I want to make their access to my future and past work easy and pleasant. However, it was also kind of fucking me up.
I realized that I was trying to create the site for power users, and then fold it down into a format that would be clear and not intimidating for newbies. My realization was that that's the wrong way to go about it. It's like trying to put an unfolded map in your backpack before folding it.
So this relaunch starts with the basics. You can see stuff. You can go back and forth. You can search. And...that's about it, for now. My plan is to do some testing, actual in-person testing, with this design, and see if it needs adjustment before I start to add features.
I did manage to fit in a couple refinements, although I'm not sure if they should be called "refinements" so much as "things that are blindingly obvious in hindsight."
First off, I realized that whenever possible a continuous narrative should be displayed in a single page. The impetus for this was realizing that Wikipedia has some truly massive articles, but they're presented in a single page, and nobody complains about that. So my expectation is that putting a major Sean and Wormwood arc all on one page probably won't bother people. Certainly it will bother fewer people than having to click "next" over and over would.
The second realization was, well, it requires a bit of backstory.
I'm very concerned with the first impression that the site makes. If someone gets directed here to check out a particular comic strip, I want to give them every encouragement to take a look around and even bookmark the site.
So I've been agonizing over how best to present the material. If someone visits to view a Lore Brand Comic, do I want them to see another Lore Brand Comic? What if they look at the comic, click "next" and come upon some dry essay about UI design, like the one you're reading right now?
I'm still giving that some thought, but my big breakthrough was realizing that the "funny/not funny" divide is the most important one. You know how you sometimes read The Onion, and then go check out Google News and you keep trying to figure out what's funny about a headline like "Press Weighs Up Cameron's EU Gamble"? I want to avoid that. Also, I think my humor material has the widest appeal.
So I've separated the site into "Humor" and "Blog," where "Blog" is essentially everything that's not humor, or at least not mainly humor. The bare URL, badgods.com, just shows the humor stuff, because that's the main focus of the site.
It's a little weird, I suppose, that the same comic strip could be accessed via either badgods.com or everything.badgods.com, and the previous/next buttons will lead to different articles. But I think the mapping of URL to content is a dying artifact anyway. If the interface is clear, it doesn't matter all that much if the URL is badgods.com/visionquest.html or badgods.com/?xmm=98fdJ9J.012. At least that's what YouTube has taught me, we'll see how it comes across in the real world.
One more thing: There's a rudimentary RSS feed functionality. You'll probably want to use http://hellafeed.badgods.com/view/rss/ -- eventually that will be the most complete version of the feed, including Twitter, Facebook and other material from outside Bad Gods.