First, mandatory listening:
So, as most of you probably knew before I did, DeviantArt Eclipse, the new version of DA's site layout is out for beta testers now, and frankly, I'm thrilled. The site's needed a visual update for a long time, and an early form of this was on the docket even back when I still worked here. Having said that, I think they fixed a lot of the things the original mocks needed work on, and did a lot that went well beyond any expectation that I'd previously had for a site revamp.
Not least of which being this new journal editor, hello? These editing tools are fantastic. This is basically everything we'd originally wanted Stash Writer to be as users, but cleaner and more efficient. Granted, I'm still trying them out for the first time as I'm typing this so bear with me, but keyboard shortcuts all work exactly the way I'd expect them to, and highlighting text prompts the exact menu I'd expect to see in Google Docs (and I don't have to click an Add Media button to use it!), so thus far, I'm stoked.
I'm getting a little off topic, though.
First impression: I hate dark backgrounds. I've always hated dark backgrounds, and my biggest fear when the rebrand originally happened was that the whole site would go dark. Bring on the light background. It's easy on the eyes, the navigation is simple and easy to figure out without being terribly far from what the average user would be used to, and most importantly (to me), I don't have to strain my eyes trying to read anything here.
Side note, it took several tries to get that image where I wanted it. So, maybe not as instantly intuitive as I would've liked. I wish I could drag the image around once I have it in the document also, but I digress. These are small issues in the grand scheme of things and are easy enough for me to adjust to.
The new deviation page is stellar for images. I love not having the page adjust (sometimes twice) whenever I want to see an artwork at its original size. It's clean, it's fairly consistent as far as I can tell, puts very solid priority on the artwork, and makes for an overall great viewing experience. On the literature side of things, I think the deviation page could use a little work, most notably that the title takes up a good chunk of page space, but actually reading the text itself is super easy and, although I haven't tried it out yet, I suspect formatting literature's going to be easier than it's ever been here on DA.
They're working on literature thumbnails and having preview text, so no need to comment on that as of yet. Also, DDs are in the subnav bar on the home page now, and although they were always in the left column of the home page before, having the menu option appear right under the main nav should hopefully help with visibility.
It's so easy adding art into Journals now. Two clicks. Love that. I'm really digging how easy it is to share things in Journals now, it's very fluid and simple and low-hassle. I do wish I could select which image showed up in the header with a click, rather than it automatically being the image that first shows up in the journal, but I suppose that's a minor gripe in the grand scheme of things.
So, that leaves one major concern, which is something that goes beyond a visual update of any site and is a problem every site faces, but especially one with the background DA has: where do we go for community engagement? As someone who has admittedly fallen out of the community just by proxy of not having the time to be around, I don't know that I'd know how to navigate the site in a way that would help me find like-minded people, outside of searching for a topic and hoping for the best among the art results. I'm really only mentioning this because I feel like it's something other people will bring up, but I'm gonna be real here: I feel that way about the state of the current public-facing version of DA, too. It's an issue that's gotta be tackled on its own and can't be fixed with a visual overhaul.
But at least once we get to that part of the conversation, we'll be able to have it on a sleek and user-friendly version of the site.
I'm excited for this. Can't wait to see it roll out to everyone.