((I'd like to preface that I strongly believe WSJA can become a powerful and successful product that engages the online manga audience. If the community and producers strive to work *together,* we can all create a great online tool.
I also would like to say I hope I will be allowed to be blunt and outright in regard to scanlations vs official productions without fear of reproach.))
As major scanlation teams are targeted by official producers, the online community grows restless and angry. I would argue that this isn't because they are upset about their *free* manga being taken, but their *quality* manga being taken. Without going into debates regarding translation quality and cultural whitewashing, I'd like to address the viewer itself, which I believe is the issue which should be addressed first.
A) Resolution absolutely must be increased.
Readers are paying for this product, they should have high resolution. If the limit is imposed to encourage the purchase of actual volumes, I would like to point out that the WSJA volumes are already on a time limit that prevents readers from hoarding these digital copies rather than buying volumes.
Online readers who are used to scanlations were used to high quality, high definition in their images -- particularly from groups like MangaStream. In order to win over their support, SJ and VIZ Media need to provide the same, if not BETTER, resolution and clarity in their pages.
B) Zoom functions need to be revamped.
Sliding controls for zoom functions are nice, but standard "10, 50, 100%" options should be easily accessible to readers. Perhaps VIZ/SJ would be surprised to see how many of their readers would be willing to scroll down a page if it meant 100% zoom on a crystal clear image.
C) Single page view should be more easily readable.
Currently the "Page Mode" tool in WSJA is ridiculous. A vast majority of the online audience, particularly those coming from scanlation viewers, prefer to read on a page-by-page basis. As such, the product needs to raise its standards in this area if it hopes to entice these readers. The Single Page Mode should not simply place a single page in the same resolution as it does now. Instead, I suggest the width of a single page be comparable to that of the Double Page View and the flash module should adapt to a portrait style view rather than landscape to accommodate users who would prefer such a style.
D) Page arrows -- they are obnoxious and, unless I am much mistaken, unnecessary.
Especially in the Double Page View, the "next" and "previous page" arrows are large and distracting, covering up nearly a sixth of each page. I would argue that readers are not idiots. We know how to click to go to the next page while reading. Even if we didn't, WSJA has arrow buttons on it's mouse-over menu in the top right. The page arrows are utterly unnecessary.
E) Interactive Table of Contents
Instead of scrolling through manually to find a specific chapter, the table of contents should allow readers to click on a particular series to automatically jump to it. As a digital product, there is no reason WSJA shouldn't have this function. Honestly, I'm surprised it wasn't released with such capabilities in the first place.
A drop-down menu table of contents would also be something to consider. This would make navigation of the magazine infinitely more user friendly. The less frustrated your readers are as they read, the more they'll like your product as a whole, yes?
There are a couple of things that I highly enjoy, however, that I would like to express.
A) Speed between pages
There is hardly any lag between pages, which is great for reading. This may be a product of the low resolution, which is fine. (I would suggest a balance, if possible, though).
B) Fullscreen Option
Definitely something not offered by scanlation groups -- a definite plus when considering the competition with them. (Of course, fullscreen would be made much more useful with higher resolution...)
They help in the navigation and maintain a sense of personal choice in readers while browsing. (But it cannot be expected to substitute completely for a more useful Table of Contents.)
I look forward to WSJA's continued success.