Web Highlights: DeviantArt

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Web Highlights: DeviantArt

Web Highlights is an ongoing series showcasing some of the brightest and most useful destinations online, celebrating the imaginative minds that come together in web development to make the internet a more interesting place.

2015 is here, and a new year is the perfect opportunity to reflect on the years past, to grow, to improve, and to take on a clean slate. It's truly an exciting time! In the spirit of the new year, today's Web Highlights entry is shining the spotlight on a website that has been around since 2000 and just underwent a major, highly successful visual overhaul. We're talking about DeviantArt, and of course, killer design is something this team is entirely familiar with.

We've showcased Dribbble in the past and the baseline premise at DeviantArt is similar: the site houses portfolios of work for users looking to present their art, but unlike Dribbble's invitation-only service, DeviantArt is open to everyone. The result is a rich, saturated community of artists, writers, critics, and casual observers who are all participating in the creation, sharing and improvement of their own work and others'.

It's a great tool for aspiring and recognized artists alike, but it's not necessarily what we're highlighting today. Instead, today's Web Highlight is going to be a little different. Rather than point your attention to the destination, we're going to sidestep the norm and touch on the process that was DeviantArt's redesign.

Like web users, artists require tools that are consistent. For both, the moment that experience is disrupted bad things happen. DeviantArt happens to provide a service that caters to both of them, and a major visual overhaul required precision, awareness, and openness. It did just that, and now stands as a strong example of what a website relaunch can and should be: a portal to opportunity. 'This is the future of DeviantArt'.

'Boldy facing the future' are the words you're greeted with when you land on DeviantArt's stunning page dedicated to outlining what's to come, what's changed, and why. Of course, being (arguably) the most well-known hub for art online means that there's no shortage of jaw-dropping visuals as you go. Even if you're not interested in DeviantArt in the slightest, do yourself a favour and give their statement page some of your time. The lime-eyed redhead will be there to greet you, and she's quite lovely.

From here, the team at DeviantArt did everything perfectly. A brief editorial explains that 'change is not something we take lightly' and that the company's new mission is to 'bleed and breed art'. It was a redesign not to compete with rival companies, but to move closer to their goal is showcasing art in the best way possible. It's a bold undertaking, but an identity revision, executed well, is a good first step.

Part of executing well, however, means stating what you were and what you intend to be. Audcaious, magnetic, kindred, and inspired are the terms DeviantArt has opted to define itself by moving forward, and the explanation for each is not without its own stunning imagery and well written prose. Have I mentioned that the art here is out of this world? From there, they showcase the design process for the new logo, the colour palettes they have chosen (down to hex codes, secondary colours, the whole nine yards) and typography. In a nutshell, this is as close as users can get to the process without sitting in on the meetings.

What's really exciting is what comes next. With the past and the present all wrapped up, DeviantArt looks to the future and announces the launch of its new mobile app. If ever there was a perfect time to end on a high and announce a new product, it was now, and after a brief few closing paragraphs the entire announcement was opened to comments.

The reality is that successful websites have acknowledged their dual-ownership, in the same way DeviantArt has. Without the support of its users, a website will fail, and DeviantArt's redesign was inspired by the needs of the artists who visit the site daily. By mapping out the entire process, users were given a window into the motivations of the DeviantArt developers, and the ability to openly comment on any stage of the outcome. If you're in the market to redefine your branding or launch a new product on the heels of a significant announcement, this is a stellar case to reference. A tip of the hat to the folks at DeviantArt.