Pottermore launched their redesigned site early Tuesday morning with a message from author J.K. Rowling.
Gone away is the Map and chapter-by-chapter timeline, or even Diagon Alley and Wizard Duel. Pottermore as we know it has changed forever, embarking on a new era.
The new website comes with a handful of new features, revealed by the Menu on the right-hand side of the site. In the News section, the latest updates about all Harry Potter-related projects are reported on by the Pottermore correspondent, an anonymous source but professional journalist who was hired by Pottermore for the job. The correspondent writes with a strong grasp on the task at hand and a unique, personable voice, a refreshing departure from the monotonous tone of the Pottermore Insider.
On the other hand, the feature section displays listicles on the Wizarding World, like “5 Friendship Lessons We Learned From Dobby” and “The 5 Death Eaters You’ll Never Forget”, along with behind-the-scenes insights into the making of the Harry Potter films. This is light-hearted content but there inclusion is questionable when BuzzFeed does the same thing. The purpose of having an authoritative voice on this content is unnecessary.
At the heart of the site remains exclusive content from J.K. Rowling, discoverable in “Writing by J.K. Rowling”. The site launched with all the previously added content available, with more to come. To mark the beginning of the new era, Pottermore published a history of the Potter family, by J.K. Rowling, tracking their pedigree from the 12th century.
An audio message from the author also appears on the site upon the first visit, transcribed below:
Welcome to Pottermore. This is my magical corner of the internet, a place where you can explore my writing, both familiar and new, and where you can read features, articles and news from the Pottermore team. New information will be revealed about the characters, places, and magic you’re familiar with, as well as introductions to a few new characters, places, and notions. Pottermore is a place where you can unleash your imagination, and allow it to lead you on adventures. If you need a little magic in your life, you’ve come to the right place.
With this, J.K. Rowling redefines her project as the digital heart of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Pottermore was always meant to be just that, but in the long run it turned out to be more of a reading experience than anything.
Reactions to the site have been mixed; a lot of people praise the site for its accessibility, and others feel as though The mixed feelings are understandable; its very difficult to react to this because it is an extremely drastic, seemingly unreasoned change.
Pottermore 2.0 is “cooler” with its contemporary tiles, visual-heavy layout, and infinite scroll, but ultimately less imaginative as that idea of cool becomes generic and more visible across the web. By deviating from Harry’s story, going beyond Hogwarts, Pottermore became much less magical and all the more real. Its corporate, to say the least, and a visit to their “About” page will prove this point.
Pottermore’s Director of Product, Creative and Content, Anna Rafferty, in a Bookseller article prior to launch, discussed one of our issues with new Pottermore, teasing: “There are going to be hundreds of thousands of landing pages [on the new site].”
Indeed, there are a ton of landing pages covering nearly everything you could possibly think of in Harry’s world. But it’s too much to consume at once. Information is not presented in a succinct, organized manner. There’s no order in the content, no listed index, so visitors are left to click until they find something interesting, unless they know exactly what they want, in which case they can search for it.
Positively, the site is incredibly mobile-friendly. It works well on all devices. All content is searchable and shareable, which means more people can actively get involved with the community. Of course, J.K. Rowling’s new content continues to be the best part of the experience.
For now, Pottermore is still a work in progress. There is no registration function on the site, and the signature features of the site, the Sorting Hat and Wand questionnaire, are noticeably absent. The Pottermore team explained that they are actively working on incorporating these capabilities into the site, along with the long-anticipated Patronus test. Thankfully, Pottermore stays true to its original promise: more Potter.