The build up to DAv5
would lead one to expect the site to have undergone some radical, far sweeping modifications which would revolutionize the way that art is viewed online. All the propaganda that was presented to the community prior to "the launch" painted DAv5 as the single vital upgrade to deviantART that would make browsing art fun again; that we, the community, would finally be able to be at ease and once again enjoy deviantART for what it was truly built for viewing and enjoying art.
Was the deviantART team successful in accomplishing the goal that was described to the community? In short, are the upgrades that the community has been so graciously provided with really so revolutionary that they will change our art browsing habits? Will be finally be able to be at peace with the art?
What follows are my thoughts on DAv5 thus far. I have been "playing" with it for a few hours now, and am quite certain that I have a fairly good understand of the new functionality.Front Page
The new front page is really not all that different from the previous design, though some startling alterations have been made. Popular art and prints fill the majority of the "above the fold" portion of the front page, along with the famed "Daily Deviation" section being added as a new row of art. News no longer resides on the front page; the only true content on the front page is art. To the direct right of the art is a vertical column dedicated to user functions, such as "submit art," "update journal," "manage prints," etc.
The header title font for the various rows of art displayed on the front page looks out of place. It almost appears as if it was thrown in as an afterthought.
Overall, the front page modifications are worthwhile, although I am not sure I see the entire point of wasting the amount of vertical space that has been allotted to the "me" section. I understand the intent of this column to make it easy for people to locate important functions immediately. I do not see the point in squandering this much space away, merely for these functions.
There are really 3 sets of color schemes residing within DAv5 now. Two of the three are DAv5 specific; the final scheme is the throwback "minimal" colors for pages that have not yet been updated to accommodate DAv5.
The first of the two new schemes is used on the front page as well as the various art browsing areas. It is bright and vibrant. While still retaining the basic green undertones, the color scheme has been updated to something much more mainstream. This color scheme is almost white, while not being completely white.
The second is the darker scheme being used on user pages. It is much more reminiscent of the pre-DAv5 color scheme that everyone has come to love over the course of the past 6 years.
Ultimately, I think the new "white" color scheme is nice in terms of color usage. It is pleasing to the eye and refreshing. However, I find it to truly distract me when browsing art. It just appears to be too bright, especially because of how the background color that the art resides on contrasts with the site header and background.
Compare DAv5's use of a bright background to Flickr's complete use of white. Since Flickr makes sole use of white, there is nothing to really distract ones eye when browsing, other than the colors from a photograph. This is not the case with DAv5.
The user page color scheme is very functional; it really works because of the lack of the bright/dark contrast found on the aforementioned pages. It works perfectly, and is ultimately only a negligible modification from the pre-DAv5 design. Browsing
Clicking the "browse" button that everyone is so familiar with allows for perusing of the various art submissions. The new "categories" drop-down is quite nice, and is a worthwhile and much needed functional change. Though filled with an overwhelming plethora of categories to choose from, it sure beats the pre-DAv5 methodology of selecting an area to browse.
The new main browse page depicts "popular" art, rather than defaulting to presenting the most recent art submissions. I suspect that this is going to cause a lot of heartburn within the community because, ultimately, who and what decides what popular art really is? Most people do not change defaults; the vast majority of deviants will be sifting through what is considered "popular" and possibly missing worthwhile submissions while they "browse" deviantART.
Much of the previous search granularity has been removed in favor of ease of use. While I applaud many of the design decisions with respect to the browsing of art, the loss of functionality is going to be frustrating.
Browsing has not really changed all that much. The defaulting to "popular" for arguably the most widely clicked button on the site is going to prove interesting to watch. I think it is a bad move, though only time will tell what the consequences will be.Deviation Viewing
The deviation details and view page underwent some major modifications. To the left of a deviation is a menu of sorts, depicting the most basic functions. The details of the deviation reside underneath the deviation in a completely revamped container, with embed and thumb links so that the art can be displayed anywhere on or off site.
The addition of the ability to embed art off site, reminiscent of YouTube and Google Video, is a welcomed feature. It will certainly help off site blogging efforts, among others nefarious reasons.
An additional "mood" column has been added, which basically lists all the moods used when commenting on the art. While this is a fun feature, it ultimately is meaningless though will most certainly be the cause of many a Help Desk case.
I think the best addition to the details page is being able to view the full size image without having to reload an entire page. This is a godsend, though is surely going to send deviantART's page views in to frenzy. I am actually quite surprised to see a change of this magnitude take place, so it should prove interesting to see how this affects statistics.
Overall, the modifications to the browse page are quite welcomed. They are mainly functional and truly worthwhile.
DAv5 is not without bugs. It should be understood that a new version of a highly intricate system like deviantART will come replete with bugs. However, there are some glaringly obvious bugs which I am surprised to see that made it in to the production environment.
I will cover the DAv5 bugs in a future post.
Much of what is called DAv5 appears to really have taken place behind the scenes. What the community has presented with thus far are mostly cosmetic modifications. The new color scheme, the updated header, minor modifications to the browsing, changes to the front page and the alterations to the deviation details page are basically aesthetic. If we are to believe the DAv5 hype machine then we must consider that the radical changes were done on the underlying engine that offers the service. Maybe there is some master plan?
Ultimately I am unimpressed with the changes that DAv5 offers, mainly because the transformation offers nothing truly revolutionary. The updated color scheme is fresh and visually appealing, though overpowering and distracting for viewing art. The design of the browsing area is way too contrasting, which naturally diverts attention away from the art.
There have been a variety of necessary functional design changes that are welcomed. Unfortunately they are overshadowed by other odd functionality decisions and bugs. I think the largest and possibly most aggravating aspect of DAv5 is the areas that have yet to be updated to conform to DAv5 standards. They are out of place and stick out like a sore thumb. I realize the team had an overwhelming desire to launch DAv5; I think some better project management would have allowed the site to launch completely, rather than partially. There are just too many untouched areas that do not fit in with the rest of the site.
I think the deviantART team did a wonderful job putting DAv5 together, though like I said, I am unconvinced that DAv5 is really going to revolutionize deviantART in the manner that the propaganda expected. Do not get me wrong, because I enjoy the freshness of DAv5, like I enjoy a fresh Apple every now and again. It just has not yet lived up to the hype surrounding it.