Hi there. My name is GrungeWerX
I've been a member of DeviantART for over 15 years. I've seen this website evolve dramatically since the early days. I've never complained. I've always remained optimistic and hopeful, because DeviantART has always striven to be the best it can be, while maintaining its individuality from other sites. After all, we are Deviants here, are we not? But as a beta tester of the new DeviantART Eclipse
, I've felt compelled to share my honest thoughts to my friends and fans and hopefully the DeviantART community at large. I want to reach others who are genuinely concerned, perhaps even a little afraid, at the new changes, and hopefully share some thoughts and feelings they may be incapable of expressing for fear of being lumped into the category of whiners and complainers.
In an effort to keep this journal short, I'm going to omit quite a bit of personal thoughts and try to focus on the ones I think are the most relevant at the moment.
I came to DeviantART as a budding artist around 2002-2003. Prior to that, I'd been using art forums on different fan sites. When I came here, I was immediately drawn to its simplicity, its uniqueness, and most of all, its community. The interaction here was unlike any other site. It provided a platform that bridged the gap between distinct and vastly different art communities: fan artists, pixel artists, professionals, writers, photographers, models, RPGers, etc
. I learned about so many different subcultures right here. It connected me to fans of different genres that I might never have interacted with before. It fostered collaboration.
And then there were the profiles. I discovered beautifully decorated pages, journals adorned with headers, GIFs and stamps; custom boxes and flashing animations, and so much more. I was mesmerized at the distinct customization allowed to artists and how many unique and different ways individuals expressed themselves. And this awakened something in me; a call to higher forms of expression, things I'd never considered or even dreamed about.
Without DeviantART, I wouldn't have wanted to learn about CSS + Html. It encouraged me to study web design and I built my first website in Dreamweaver MX. It helped me create a platform for a life-changing commission business. I say life-changing because I've met people here that would go on to be intimate friends, people as close to me as family. People that would grow beyond clients; that would help me weather so many difficult times in my life, dark storms and fearful times. It would be through this site that I met contacts that would give me my first professional jobs, connect me to individuals working at famous toy companies like Hasbro, become friends with popular website owners, and so much more.
I think what's made DeviantART so special is how it allowed individuals the freedom to express themselves without limitations provided they were willing to put in the extra time, effort, and yes...sometimes money. But being a member, being Core, meant you were giving back to the community that has done so much for you, and while I couldn't always afford it each year, I always strove to contribute whenever I could.
DeviantART has never been perfect, and it probably never will be. There are changes that users have been asking for over the many years I've been here that still haven't been implemented; and a fair amount of them that have. Implementing those ideas might have been a challenge because of its "dated" design, as some might suggest, and perhaps that is truly the reason behind Eclipse. It's an effort to modernize DeviantART in a way that allows a more effective implementation of the requests people have made, while providing a simplistic, structural foundation upon which to grow. I think this could be true, and perhaps we'll see over the long run. Starting over from scratch sometimes means losing the comfort of things we've grown accustomed to, and that can be, at best, mildly uncomfortable, but at worst devastating. Watching your home be demolished with the promise of a newer, greater vision isn't always something people can accept; that's why many people prefer renovating their home rather than seeing it completely overhauled. And some are happy with things just the way they are.
Each of these perspectives are totally understandable, but unfortunately completely out of our control.
I really like the current DeviantART. It has a great notifications center, one of the best rollout updates DeviantART's done in years. I've been here for 15+ years and I realize it needs some new polish in certain areas. Heck, I've been wanting them to get rid of this green for some time; at least providing us a dark gray theme, one simple update that could make this site nearly perfect for most people.
But perhaps an overhaul as jarring as this one isn't the best idea. The beta version takes away so much of what makes DeviantART the place where people call home. It provides us the expression we never knew we needed, and gives us that individuality as a community that sets us apart from the rest. As many have pointed out, Eclipse is par for the course, as it were. Aesthetically, it looks like just another art site. And to some people out there, that's just fine. Perhaps even desired.
But for others that have built their livelihood here, stripping away journal customization and CSS from profiles is the equivalent of bulldozing people's homes. And I feel very sorry for those people.
Eclipse has some great ideas, but I think it's going about it in the wrong way in some areas; it's sending the wrong signal. Implementation had to start somewhere, but it should reinforce confidence that change will be upward progress. There are two types of change in the world: Progressive and Regressive
. Not all change is progressive. I've watched entire industries created because a business took away features from their customer base under the guise of "forward change", only to alienate a considerable number of their patrons, facilitating other entrepreneurs the opportunity to take that disgruntled customer base away from them. In that regard, I think Eclipse will be the ultimate determinant of what DeviantART's future will truly look like. If it builds upon the powerful foundation of its predecessor and enables the individual maximum expression, it will grow to become one of the greatest art communities in the world.
However, if it alienates a large portion of its user base by sacrificing its individuality, in an effort to modernize itself alongside other similar sites, this will be the moment when DeviantART truly "dies", and will give rise to a new competitor site that will steal away its users by facilitating the features they've lost. This isn't necessarily a bad thing; it's all a part of business evolution. It's what gave rise to the Android system, and so many competitive phone carriers. But this should be what DeviantART strives to be; the "Android system" of the art community (to use cellular as a comparison).
My point is, don't lose what makes you so special in an effort to be like the other "big" guys. You're one of a kind and we love you just the way you are. But if you must change, I think a lot of people would prefer a makeover to significant plastic surgery.
Far too often we find that, In the latter case, the end rarely justifies the means.Please share this journal to everyone you can. I would love to hear everyone's feedback and comments.
Peace and love.
P.S. I've already submitted the survey and feedback to DeviantART's Eclipse. But for those interested, here are a few of my general suggestions:
- Retain/Add Profile customization (this is a hallmark of the DeviantART experience, and what sets it apart from other sites)
- Variable height Profile Header
- Adjustable header (you should be able to adjust what portion of a deviation the header focuses on. At the very least, be able to slide it up/down)
- Smaller text/thumbnails (currently, everything's too big)
- Left-Justify comments section like current DeviantART (the comments section beneath artwork is centered on the page. This makes the text look like it's floating there)
- Better spacing (too much dead/blank space. It makes it look like a mobile site expanded on a desktop screen)
- Keep journal customization (the new, "vanilla" journals are too plain)
- Fix notification system (having to remove every notification individually is far too time consuming)
- Add dark gray theme, particularly around the text areas. (the white-on-black has too much contrast potentially causing eye strain for a number of users)
- Fix gallery glitch (images resize for an instant when choosing the Next/Previous image in gallery)
- Remove/Fix the About Me section (this space can be used to include the classic DeviantART Journal or enable customization. The information provided is too mimimal, and could be included on the top bar, or it can be displayed by hovering over a small icon near the username. As it stands, it's a big waste of space)
- Remove/Fix Profile Comments section (provide option to hide profile comments, or disable this section entirely as it's mostly used for thank yous for faves and watches anyway. This interaction can be relegated to the notifications area)
Some additional suggestions:
- Add a dark gray mode
- Add a light gray mode
- Add a Classic mode
- Left-justify comments section like current DeviantART
Examples of the suggestions above provided below: (please excuse the blurred text, this is a hack job I whipped up quickly)
I'll update later w/more suggestions.