Bookseller: Pottermore Relaunch Geared Towards Older Demographic

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Sep 12, 2015

Posted by: Catherine

J.K. Rowling, News

Pottermore released a press statement yesterday, addressing some of the mystery behind the site’s overhaul. The press release focused on making Pottermore mobile. It was confirmed that Pottermore would be expanding to include Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, as well as the Fantastic Beast films. It appears the site is going to become a new Harry Potter news source for fans:

Pottermore will continue to have at its core new writing by J.K. Rowling, and will feature significantly more original content. This includes commentary and timely news items from the Pottermore Correspondent, a professional journalist hired by Pottermore especially for this role. Pottermore will showcase news relating to the Wizarding World, including the Warner Bros. feature film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, based on an original J.K. Rowling screenplay, and the stage play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child based on a new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, and written by Jack Thorne, which is set to open in London in 2016.

Before yesterday’s press release, Pottermore CEO, Susan Jurevics, sat down with Bookseller and revealed additional information, including stills of what the new site will look like. The site is set to be geared more towards older fans–those who grew up with the books, rather than an interactive experience for younger fans.

The Pottermore CEO confirmed to Bookseller that Pottermore will “drop the gaming elements, focus on its core audience of young adults, and allow its content to be indexed by search engines”. It appears that days of dueling and potion making may be over for good. Bookseller reports:

The move sees the website shift its focus away from introducing new readers to the brand, to “delighting” those users who have grown up with the books and who now wish to explore more facets of the growing franchise.

Jurevics said the changes had been driven by identifying the core users of the site, how technology had developed since its original launch (in April 2012), and the need to reflect that the Harry Potter universe is no longer confined to the original seven books.

Jurevics said Pottermore also needed to give author J K Rowling a more accessible platform on which to showcase her new writing about the world. The relaunched site will feature a new logo, written in Rowling’s own handwriting.

Jurevics said the Pottermore team were conscious of the timing of the switch, with a small audience very devoted to the gaming elements within the current site. “We are working through this, but it is not an arbitrary decision. We have very carefully architected what we are doing. We won’t please every single user out there, but we are making sure we are transparent and communicating.”

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The new logo, J.K. Rowling’s handwriting across a background of Phoenix feathers, is incredibly more colorful the the more adult color scheme Pottermore has chosen for its new site. Above are examples of the darker, more “professional” or “serious” adult template Pottermore is adopting. Jurevics explained to Bookseller the need for drastic changes after discovering the age demographic of most Pottermore users were not children, as Pottermore had initially anticipated:

“When Pottermore first started, it was positioned for the next generation of readers, and that next generation was almost by default tagged to be children. So the current site gamified the content, making it very simplistic in terms of collecting things and casting spells. That was appropriate for children, but that wasn’t actually the core audience.” Jurevics said that the user base was “overwhelmingly young adult and female”, something she discovered “pretty quickly”…

She also addressed why Pottermore was moving away from casting users as Hogwarts students in order to access the site. She did say that, though the gaming features are gone, the site will still respect the original version of itself, and continue releasing parts of books. Bookseller wrote:

Perhaps the most significant shift is the removal of the central concept behind the original site, which required users to become students of a virtual Hogwarts in order to progress through the books and experience the site. Jurevics said the change reflected the way the Harry Potter series had now evolved outside of the core seven books.

She said: “[J K Rowling] finds these corollaries in the real world and evolves the magical world through a lot of the new writing, for example when she created the Quidditch World Cup.

But in the very linear narrative—focused on the books—that we had, there was no place for that. She can now write content that is about the wider wizarding world, but is not anchored to books one to seven.”

“We are respectful of what was built in the past, it was revolutionary. But we’ve had to change everything to address those key points [of who the users are and how they access the web], so the skill sets are different and some of the employees are different. You don’t change this overnight.”

“We are opening up all that content—this world is expanding and we want people to have access to all of that, whether they are superfans or not. It is no longer a linear experience. It’s not a book. You don’t read a website from the home page to chapter one to chapter two, and we needed to reflect that. There are going to be hundreds of thousands of landing pages. It’s an immersive world, but one you can rummage around in.”

There will also be greater opportunities for Rowling to add more content more visibly. Rafferty said: “We want to give [the fans] more and we are now able to get this to them faster. It will become a real hub of information—and the authentic heart.”

 

Please read more of this very lengthy and informative interview by Bookseller, here.





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