This week, aside from releasing the final chapters of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Pottermore also made some major changes to the site. Here’s a complete overview of the new changes, and thorough review as well.
- The Map – the Map is your new homepage once you sign-in. It takes the place of the former Gateway. From the Map, you can explore the different areas of the site and visit the different locations in the Wizarding World.
- The Story Navigator is a completely new feature that allows users to explore the stories effortlessly by showing thumbnails of each Moment. You can use the little marker with the Lightning-Bolt on it to switch to different books/ Moments.
- The Discovery Bar – While exploring a Moment, the ‘Discovery Bar’, the gold bar at the bottom of every thumbnail, to see the progress you’ve made in the Moment. Once you’ve explored a Moment to its fullest extent, you will hear a “ding” and the Bar will be full.
- The Side Bar – The Side Bar is the boxes on the right side of the site. When your on the Homepage, it displays community news, the latest arrivals on the site, and an advertisement for the Pottermore Shop. Whilst exploring the story, however, the Side Bar features the content to read (J.K. Rowling entries included), Moments that relate to the one you’re exploring, and a link to the specific Moment’s comment section.
- The Top Bar – The Top Bar, seemingly situated at the top of the page, takes the place of the Padlocks on the old Gateway. By clicking on each icon, you can visit, in order, your profile, House Common Room, Trunk, Badge collection, the homepage (via the PM logo), your notifications (via the Owl), friends, favorites, and settings.
CLICK to read about the new features on the signed-out Homepage
Overall, we think these changes were an improvement from what we previously had. The Story Navigator makes it easier to explore Harry’s story, and the little “Journey” marker is a good to use when you need to quickly jump from different parts of the books. The Map interface was a smart idea, too. What better way to travel to different areas than to use a Map? The drawings on the Map are very nice too, and we love the old-fashioned look of it. We like the Side Bar too – it’s a great space to display the latest community news and we think a lot of people will enjoy this.
Now, that’s not saying that the new site doesn’t have its weaknesses. The Story Navigator, although good for navigational purposes, makes the site a lot more crowded. With the Story Navigator, we can’t see the whole Map or the Moments. It is especially a problem on smaller screens. We suggest Pottermore adds a minimize button to the Story Navigator or even the Side Bar. Even this would make a big difference.
Another problem is that the site is a little bit glitchy at the Moment. Some earlier Moments have not transitioned fully to the new interface, and take a while to load. This isn’t a huge problem, but there’s room for improvement. The other thing people have been complaining about is Dueling. With the new system, it’s been harder to score high, like in the 130’s and 140’s. While this may not be a setback so to speak, Pottermore may have just changed the based numbers (meaning, getting a 5 in the previous system means getting a 1 now). Either way, it is hard to tell.
There’s one final downside I wanted to mention is the accessibility for blind/vision impaired users. According to an avid blind reader of our site, the new changes to Pottermore make the site less accessible and less manageable if you’re using a screen reader. Because the thumbnails aren’t activated by using a space bar or the enter key, this particular user often finds she cannot log-in. Also, there is no button she can click to continue on with the next Moments (yes, there are the tumbnails, but a blind person would not be able to see this). The only way she can continue on is by physically changing the link from “/moment1” to “/moment2”, etc. Hopefully Pottermore will create a separate, more accessible site for the disabled in the future.
That being said, besides the problems with the Story Navigator and the site being less accessible to the disabled, there are not many major problems. Overall, we love it; it’s fantastic.
Therefore, we don’t really agree with this certain petition to bring back the old Gateway. While they claim Pottermore’s reasoning behind the changes is not clear, they are generalizing opinions within the Pottermore community. Yes, people actually did complain about the Gateway. Their claims that the new changes are not “magical,” “welcoming,” and “uncomfortable” cannot truly be justified either, and are merely a person’s opinion (and yes, we realize that this is our opinion too).
Nevertheless, I do agree with the petition’s author’s point that they should’ve surveyed the community before making the changes, and ask what we wanted first. However, I really think, believe it or not, that the changes were done with the community in mind.
From the beginning, we were constantly told that Pottermore would evolve — and it has. But I think the old layout was much more constricted, leaving very little room to grow. The main page was filled with the Gateway, and there was only one Padlock left on the top bar. It was obvious that they went back and forth on what the should do with it (remember how the CEO said that it would be a Games hub last October????), clearly never reaching a final decision.
So, I’m glad that they chose to just scrap the whole thing and start fresh. With the new Map, they can expand the site’s areas. Has anyone noticed the little village above from Diagon Alley? Perhaps this could be Hogsmeade in the future. They would’ve never have been able to do it with the Gateway. I think that the new layout really opens the doors for Pottermore and we can’t wait to see what they have in store for us.
Images courtesy of Pottermore. None of the opinions expressed in this piece are those of Pottermore, as we are not affiliated with Pottermore, J.K. Rowling, The Blair Partnership, Warner Bros., publishers of Harry Potter, companies associated with Pottermore or any of the individuals or companies associated with producing and publishing Harry Potter books and films. All Harry Potter characters, names and all related indicia are trademarks of and © Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. Harry Potter Publishing Rights © JKR