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Revised Journal Portal Concept by danlev Revised Journal Portal Concept by danlev
A while back in a meeting we were talking about the Journal Portal and how there are some downfalls with it.

This is my concept to solve some of the downfalls and make the Journal Portal a better experience.

Existing Problems:
  • The Journal Portal displays tall Journals so that only two or three display at once, which makes it difficult to browse through a lot of Journals.
  • The Journal Portal displays user skins, which make the browsing experience jarring, inconsistent, and hard to identify the actual titles and author. In some cases, the author is completely missing.
  • Some Journals have large headings so that the content is cut off or, in many cases, not even visible.
  • The Journal Portal should help answer the question "What is the community up to?"
  • The Journal Portal is, in my opinion, unattractive and not visually stimulating.
Proposed Solution:
  • Creates a consistent format for all Journals
  • Headline, author, and article type is consistent and highly visible.
  • Easy to scan headlines
  • Fits many Journals on a single screen, with the ability to extend horizontally to more columns.
  • Provides a means to highlight/featured a Journal (official news, depthRADIUS article, official contests, etc.).
  • Provides illustrations for all Journals:
    1) If the Journal includes embedded images, it would use the first [eligible?] image
    2) If there are no images in the Journal, it would display the user's avatar scaled up and blurred as a texture (could also use some artistic pattern or other treatments).
  • Encourages deviants to use media in their Journals for a more visually appealing experience.
  • Format could be extended to other areas of the site (Message Center, Profile Journal tab, etc.)
Add a Comment:
Katy-L-Wood Featured By Owner Mar 4, 2014  Professional General Artist
Well, without repeating anything anyone else has said (most of which I agree with!) I do like the general feel of this. However, I would HATE having it in my message center. I think it could be fine in other areas, but not in the message center. 

Also, if it's carried over to the Journal Tab I think it would potentially be better to have it display part of the skin instead of an image. Or at least have the option to do it that way. The main reason is that I've seen a lot of people who frequently write articles/personal journals/contests/etc. have different skins for the different types of articles and having that visual distinction remain would make browsing the journal tab easier. 
danlev Featured By Owner Mar 27, 2014
Yeah, I don't think this exact treatment would apply everywhere, but it'd be good to have consistency with the way Journal thumbs look across the site.
Katy-L-Wood Featured By Owner Mar 27, 2014  Professional General Artist
:nod: True.
GillianIvy Featured By Owner Mar 4, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I like rotane 's thoughts on the 'journal banner' for non-image journals, or having them remain text-only previews.  I like the big image format as a preview image, but perhaps combine the idea by using the first part of the artist's description or first lines of text.  Since the journal title might be inadequately named to represent what the journal is about.

I enjoy journals which are written like a news article or magazine.  And I design journal skins to reflect that aesthetic.  For journals with skins it might be better to have the beginning portion of the skin displayed as they do now, but for the text only journals.

Otherwise, I like the layout proportions, has a good feel to it.  :thumbsup:
Krissi001 Featured By Owner Mar 3, 2014
I am not a fan of the scaled up icons (the pixel icons will look like crap). And I am also not a fan of the huge images, I would rather read snippets of the text that the deviant has written, just as the normal journal/literature thumbnails. Deviants would add "interesting" images that have nothing to do with the journal just to gain views. 
The preview text could be  from the artist's description (if the journal has been written with writer) or the first few lines of the Journal.
Journals by Krissi001

Encourages deviants to use media in their Journals for a more visually appealing experience.  This is silly.  I believe too many images can ruin the Journal. :no: And it can take ages to load if you have a limited bandwidth. I would rather use it for things I want to see than silly Journal previews.
rotane Featured By Owner Mar 4, 2014  Professional
In general, i agree with you. Especially on the matter of scaled up icons.

However, i do very much like the idea of one large image for each journal, as per danlev's mockup. (Despite the line "Encourages deviants to use media in their Journals for a more visually appealing experience" being pure marketing-bollocks. I'm sorry.) Because deviantART is a visual site after all, and a nice journal landing page would very much fit. If a journal contains no images whatsoever, it should fall back to a text-only version, however, rather than doing a silly stunt like upscaling one's avatar into ridiculous proportions. Alternatively, let people upload their own banners, similarly to the lit banner.

The fact that many are on limited bandwidth sucks of course, but i have a counter-suggestion for that as well: let people opt-out via their settings that gives them the option to browse all journals text-only.
danlev Featured By Owner Mar 27, 2014
Meant to respond to this earlier.

Maybe the idea behind the scaled avatars wasn't as clear because the image wasn't blurred enough. It was meant to be less of imagery and more of a "texture" or a treatment of color; a visual element that's unique to each user. Here's an example with my avatar, your's, Krissi001's, and GillianIvy's:

Screen Shot 2014-03-27 at 1.46.41 PM by danlev  

My goal was to make the process as easy as possible and not require users to add a custom image (that will only be seen while it's in this mode). A lot of features on deviantART are too cumbersome (uploading a preview image for a GIF, adding a preview image for literature, adding a preview image for Premium Content.) These features are confusing to newer users, raise the barrier to entry, and just require additional resources to upkeep. I wanted to design a smooth experience with little friction for users. "Oh, now I have to upload an image?". Sure, they appear as small tasks, but in the long run, adding more features makes the process feel so much more bulky and makes it more cumbersome. 
Krissi001 Featured By Owner Mar 28, 2014
I am still not a fan of it.
Maybe there could be an option in the settings which lets you choose which image should be displayed, just like the Literature Author Tag.

I know that I will have to use a userstyle that removes the images, if is going to be implemented. :shrug:
rotane Featured By Owner Mar 28, 2014  Professional
Some avatars will no doubt work better than others, but i think you're right, this could work. I would still like the possibility to add a preview image for my journals, if i decided i wanted one – regardless of the resources it would take. (I'm talking as an end-user here.) I do totally get your reasoning behind it though, as to lower the barrier for users.

But again, i think this concept has merit, i'd like to see this on dA in some form. In fact, i'd even play around with a crazier grid of journals, something maybe akin to this landing page:

Or to use ASCII art…

(This would mix things up a bit, and it would also have the added benefit of using the scaled-up-avatar versions only for the smaller [--] journals.)
GillianIvy Featured By Owner Mar 27, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
:D  I do like blurry things.  Amazingly, my avatar is still fairly recognizable.
Deathbypuddle Featured By Owner Mar 3, 2014  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
I agree!
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