I’ve been a big fan of Google Chrome as a browser since it launched back in 2008. They put together a really solid browser, and they included a number of nifty features that were incredibly useful to designers and developers. It’s served me very well for the past several years. This past weekend, though, it suddenly started running incredibly slowly and was acting buggy. Sure enough, a CPU check showed that Chrome was using north of 95% of my processing power all the time.
My first thought was that some malware had gotten into my system, and was working through the browser. I ran a couple different programs to check that out, and my system was clean. So I checked the internet to see if there was a recent release that included documented problems. Turns out that it’s not an uncommon problem that users have been complaining about for the past couple years. Most responses that tried to solve the issue suggested removing or disabling various extensions or plugins; and most of the responses to those suggestions seemed to include the phrases “tried that” and/or “didn’t work.”
Beyond that, most of the responses were either of the “I’ve had a lot of problems too” or “Switch to Safari.” After a grand total of about two hours messing with it, I said that I have more important things to do and I’m not so in love with Chrome that I feel obliged to work this out with them. So this installment of Wednesday Webcomics is the first one being written in a Safari window.
My little rant on browser tribulations isn’t strictly self-indulgent here; I’m using it to showcase the ephemeral loyalty tied to a property. As I said, I’d been using Chrome for about six years and when I hit a seemingly unsolvable issue, I had no compunctions switching to a competitor with no such problems. I don’t have time to muck about with fixing an issue that a lot of other people have tried (and failed!) to fix already, and it’s certainly a significant enough issue that I am not willing to just live with it. Time to move on something else!
Now how do you suppose that translates to webcomics? If, as a webcomic creator, you (hopefully only inadvertently) make things more difficult for your readers, how soon will it be before they move on to the competition? Will they tolerate your RSS feed not working? What if the mobile version of your site doesn’t render properly on iPhones? Is your comic being hosted on a server that regularly crashes? Do you forget to pay your domain fees every year, and the site goes dark for a week every July while you scramble to get it back online? Do your advertising partners get too intrusive with the reading experience?
The beauty of webcomics is that there’s almost no barriers to start making your own comics that anyone in the world can see. But the downside to that is that no one else has those barriers either, and you’re now in competition for eyeballs with a huge host of creators. Readers know this, and can easily drop your comic knowing there’s another couple dozen that readily available that they might enjoy just as much. And for the same price of free. But without the hassles of whatever issues you might be forcing readers to deal with.