Hello, I'm Angelo Sotira ($spyed), and I'm the CEO and Co-Founder of deviantART. I like to reintroduce myself here and there, because many of you are so new. Our delightful community here grows by 400,000 new deviants every month, so I'm always a stranger to someone! For all you n00bs, if you want to know what's going on, be sure to tune in to our official staff group at #hq. There you will find many other staff members, so you can get feedback on any specific concerns, questions or suggestions you might have to contribute. Also, I'd like to offer you an official WELCOME! Thanks for being a part of our humble little community. We hope you'll open your heart to the wonderful folks you will find here and share your creations and your feelings. That's a huge part of what we're about, so don't be shy!
And now, down to some official business. DeviantART v7 was released just a few days ago and I wanted to personally address some of the concerns that were voiced with it and also to explain some of the changes.
First --I want to apologize for not releasing an article letting you know that dA v7 was coming out so you could be braced for it. As a Co-Founder, I'm very emotionally attached to deviantART, how it looks, and how it functions, so an hour prior to the release of v7, I loaded up v6 and browsed around for a while with a heavy heart. It was my way of saying goodbye to a chapter in deviantART's life...and then I approved the launch and off we went. As dumb as it sounds, I thought then that this was something only I wanted to do. But I realize now it was completely insensitive not to allow each of you to say goodbye in your own way, as well. So to those of you who care for deviantART like that: We love you. My team and I are blessed to have you. I am so grateful you are here, and I want you to know that we won't do that to you again. I promise.
As a tribute, here are some screen shots of v6 for you to view:
Second -- Some of you raised very good points regarding issues with deviantART v7 that you'd like addressed, explained, or fixed, and I want you to know our team is hyperactively working around-the-clock to smooth this transition and to make sure v7 is functioning as intended for all of you. While we beta-tested the product for nearly 3 months, a few things were not caught, and that's partially due to the way the beta-program is structured, so we'll be taking a look at that, as well. All known issues are documented and are being resolved in order of scale, so the bugs that affect the largest number of people are being resolved first. All of this at a rapid pace, and the list is not very long. For an update on what is getting fixed, what's been fixed, etc., please visit the devious Technology Group. (#dT).
Third -- Search! Where is it? Why isn't it on every page? It's hard to understand how much effort goes into a new version, but I assure you we analyze and discuss every pixel on a new header or new interface with painstaking detail (seriously, it can be painful). The search being removed from the header is not an oversight of any kind. It's an entirely intentional thought process with an appreciation for the gravity of the change.
Our UX (User Experience) philosophy for v7 was to reintroduce the Browse area, and emphasize that deviantART.com is where you go to Browse for artwork. In our previous versions, we had redundant search boxes. Take the front page of v6, where you'd find a search in the top area, but then another in the Browse area, and they both did exactly the same thing only a few pixels apart. What's worse is that we couldn't use the search at the top in place of the search in the content body, because it was disconnected from the content and it felt unintuitive that it searched the content below. So while having a search on every page seems like a good idea, it in fact leads to clutter and confusion. But wait, there's more.
Search in the header adds extra complexity to the User Interface that reduces the prominence of other buttons, and we wanted to simplify deviantART with this version, making it much easier to use. By removing clutter, you emphasize many aspects of the header, but you put a great deal of emphasis on the actual (beautiful) logo. It's just sitting up there, daring you to click it. So, we felt usage patterns would transition and you guys would simply visit deviantART.com more frequently in order to perform searches and check in.
That was our bet, but as of right now, the removal of the Search Box from the header has decreased Search traffic by 35%, indicating a far sharper drop than we anticipated. This does seem to validate the concerns being expressed, but it's too early to tell. But, yes, we are actually asking you to change your usage patterns and begin to click the logo more frequently in order to visit the Browse environment to search. It will take about two weeks to see if we recover the traffic as usage patterns change, and we're probably going to stick to our guns to see if this new UX approach does what we think it should. We will keep you posted, but in the case that we do add a Search Box back on to deviantART we've already mocked it up, take a look!
In general, changes you should anticipate over the next few days will be enhancements to search on the front page, including a cursor that is already selected inside the search box upon loading deviantART.com. This modification will actually make searching just as many clicks away as it used to be. Here let me show you:
To perform a Search in v6:
- CLICK inside search box.
- TYPE search term.
- CLICK search or hit ENTER.
To perform a Search in v7 (once this change is implemented):
- CLICK deviantART logo.
- TYPE search term (box already cursor blinking.)
- CLICK search or hit ENTER.
Same CLICK distance. But with an added page load. Mmm...but less visual clutter. HEY! We're testing! And thinking! And perfecting the product! Wax on, wax off! Just let us do our thing. We'll come around full circle on this, and if it was dumb, we'll change it back. Gotta let us try stuff out to make the place better. After all, mistakes are how you learn, but new features and ideas are how we make the site even better.
Speaking of which there's a quote by Colin Powell that reads, "'If it ain't broke, don't fix it' is the slogan of the complacent." -- Ever try using v6 on an iPad? It's terrible. Check out v7 on an iPad, use your fingers... swoosh... two fingers to collect... I ask you personally to evolve with us, even though it is painful we must grow with one another in to the future. Change. It's ok. Deviating is what we're here for, embrace that! And the little stuff? We'll make it better.
Fourth -- Regarding message types - you guys are totally right. We wanted to simplify the header, and for new users we're going to stick to the combined message types. But we have taken a close look at the interface for more hardcore members (me included!) and I came up with exactly how I wanted this to function for me; hopefully you'll agree. I worked with $starvingartist to produce a new mode for the message menu called Splintered Mode which you can see demonstrated below. You should expect this live shortly.
Fifth -- Browsing with Big Images turned on! This is a substantially easier experience with a Premium Membership to deviantART, because as you flip through images while you're browsing it won't trigger going back to the smaller version each time you zoom in and click "next." However, full views push advertisers below the fold with v7, and I refuse to push the art down on the page by re-adding the top banners. Soooo....buy a Premium Membership, and we'll likely allow you to LOCK the full image loading in an update sometime soon. Free Members are going to have to be sad about this one. We're sorry! Ads or Premium Memberships, gotta pay the bills somehow, kids!
Sixth -- The wisdom of v7 is best illustrated by the following comparison of v6 and v7 side by side. It should speak for itself, but I'll gladly speak to it.
If you count negative space, the v6 header has 13 horizontal lines drawn prior to viewing a work of art. In v7, there are only 3 lines. This is what I'm talkin' about! Also, some have said the advertisements are more intrusive; I disagree. If you look at User Experience studies, the new version brings far more attention to the art work, and makes the advertisements secondary. The ads have moved, so you notice them a lot at the moment... but for new visitors coming to view your art, v6 of deviantART had far more intrusive advertising. Here with v7, it just fits in.
For a little User Interface geekery, you should know that people browse websites like they read books, left to right and downwards. So, look up above at v6 and I'll help you interpret some of what your brain is doing when you read its UI: "hello username, there's an advertisement for you to read, you're on deviantART, and by the way here's a title for a work of art you haven't seen yet, in a category you have no context for, and finally here is a work of art so you now know why you're here. Please look up again at the title, now that you've seen the work of art for the first time, to comprehend why the title was displayed to you first, then reverse your way back up the page so that you feel comfortable about where you are." -- That's approximately how a new user of deviantART would interpret that page on their first visit.
The User Interface language of a v7 deviation page reads, "Welcome to deviantART, here is a work of art, and there are more works to see here. You can add this to your favorites, or visit the artist, the title for this piece is as follows and was created by this artist, and here is a description for this work." This is much like how we've all been trained to look at art through art galleries. When you visit an art gallery you are always presented with the large, beautiful pieces of artwork up front, and the info about the work is relegated to a small placard on the wall nearby. We didn't want to get extreme with the way we handle artist's comments, but we do know that the artwork is definitely worth focusing on.
Starting to see how much better this is, and why we made such big changes?
Here's more. Lets take a look at how many pixels are saved on the Browse environment, and how many more thumbnails are able to be promoted because of the savings v7 provides:
So I'd argue, deviantART was very broken, and unable to move into the future. It was complicated, taking attention away from art work, and incredibly difficult to port to platforms like tablet PCs, iPads and mobile devices.
Now this doesn't mean there aren't issues beyond the ones mentioned here, so please continue to comment on articles like this one with feedback for what to improve. We're here to help, and we're happy to do so! Meanwhile we'll be implementing changes and continuing efforts to resolve bugs and bring forth resolution to the transitional problems we've been having. The key thing we want you to know is that we're listening, we're here to serve, we're working hard, and we're sure that version 7 was the right approach in the end even though we've had some glitches.
I could probably geek for another few paragraphs about how incredible this undertaking actually was and how few glitches we're actually having considering the sheer size of the code release we just committed ... but that's a war story for another day.
Peace folks. Sorry to cause any turmoil at all, I know in this world today there are so many challenging things going on and it would just be nice if some stuff didn't change and the world just stopped moving for a darn second. But, that's life. For what it's worth, I'm happy to be living mine with all of you.
Angelo Sotira, aka $spyed
CEO and Co-Founder, deviantART, Inc.