I have been a member of deviantART for over 5 years now, on a career spanning three accounts. Will somebody get a me a damn senior status? If I get any more senior I'll be decaying in my tomb here...
All jokes aside, in the next few journals, I'm posting some reflections on DA, and thoughts I've had over the course of my time using the site.
First and foremost, please understand that I think deviantART is a great site. If this wasn't the case, I wouldn't have stuck around for all these years. I think they have done an immensely good job, and I'm sure the team is made up of some incredible people. I've had the pleasure of corresponding with some of them personally, and I promise you they truly do care about the community and have its best interests at heart, and work hard day in and out to help ensure its continued growth.
I have however, a few observations about the site that I will touch on briefly, one issue in each journal. These are minor problems or observations on a massive system that is without a doubt successful, so I won't be surprised if they are given zero attention and are not thought of as important. These are just things that as a community member, designer, developer, and dA creative wannabe, that I would like to see revisited.
Let me preface with the following: If I have overlooked something obvious, or am pointing out a feature to be added that already exists, forgive my ignorance, and please post in the comments.
So now that we have the above out of the way, let's get on to my inaugural reflection journal, 'deviantART Reflections: Search'.
It can be tough to find what you are looking for on dA.The problem:
This site is HUGE. I don't know the exact number, but I know its over 13 million registered users. There are over 100 million deviations. Therefor, in my opinion, the search tool should be incredibly powerful, with many advanced options, and it's own interface section or page itself. The current search system, in my opinion, is seriously lacking.How I would approach the issue:
I have two alternate approaches to how I would tackle this. I'll describe each.
1) Advanced Search Section / Page
deviantART has some incredibly talented and bright people. But sometimes, looking for inspiration can still be helpful. Why not take a page out of the stock-photography website handbook. Say what you will about stock photo sites, but it is their entire business and livelihood to make it EASY
to find what you're looking for in an image, and do it fast
. The quicker and easier it is for a buyer to find an image on their site, the quicker they get paid, and the more likely the user is to stick around.
So if I was designing a deviantART advanced search system and page, I would do the following:Integrate a color tag system for images.
I'd go with the first system, simply because of programming limitations. Although I'm a designer, I am also a developer, and thinking from a programming and usability standpoint, while an ajax color picker tag system would be fun to use, it would likely add to page load time, and could
also require too much database modification or addition to be done without slowing down the query significantly. However, if and when it could be done and done properly, I think it would be a great addition.
If I were to implement this type of solution for color tagging, I'd of course make it an optional feature.Arguments Against
The advanced search page might be more than deviantART is willing to do, for a number of reasons.
It could be that they are trying to keep ease-of-use as a primary design element, or it could be programming limitations.
I think having a color tagging system as an aspect of an 'Advanced Search' system and page would work incredibly, but there are of course limitations. I'm know for a fact that Ryan is 'picky' to say the least when it comes to design. I'm betting the other team members are the same. For this reason, advanced search may not be something that fits into the overall design strategy and architecture for the site. It simply might just be deemed an excessive, unnecessary, or over-the-top feature, which cuts at the heart of any great design. I haven't been into branding for much longer than 2 years, but as I've learned from reading extensively, (books, journals, articles, and the reports on why/when my latest logo was denied entry to Goodlogo); simplicity is elegance. Content may be king, but simplicity is queen. Although, if the only reason for not implementing this is for sake of design simplicity or programming simplicity alone, I would make an appeal to what some have called Einstein's Razor:
Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler.
Points to anyone who comments and knows what Einstein's Razor has been used to mean, optionally including a reference to Occam's or explanation for those who don't, since I'm trying to keep this as simple as possible and not confuse my massive collection of 1-3 readers.
Aside from the 'Advanced Search System' and page with color tagging, there is another solution I believe would work just as well. This alternative would keep in tact the ease-of-use and instant access to search as it is currently provided.
2) 'Search Filtering'Keep the UI, Extend the Functionality
In this approach, minimal modifications would need to be made to the UI, however extensive functionality could still be provided.
My approach for implementing a search filtering system would be as follows:
Why not keep the search inputs and buttons the way they are now, but after searching, instead of just seeing the 'search term' followed by an X icon to cancel it, do a breadcrumb system similar to that of pages.
This method should require little UI modification, however again, greater minds than my own at dA have probably considered this and gone against it. I would however like to know why, hence my post. Is it due to worry about users straining the db or backend? I'm fairly certain dA is a lamp environment, although I could be incorrect. If its not related to preserving search query time and limited database overhead, I'd still love to hear why this type of search wasn't chosen.
Finding things on dA can be difficult. Luckily, we have amazingly easy to use features available to use like Collections / Favorites, devWatch, and a host of others to ensure we will always have access to a special image, so long as we remember to mark it as special when we find it.
The two approaches I examined and discussed for providing a more user-centric and effective feature-rich search were as follows: a.) an 'advanced search system' with color tagging, either by existing tags, an ajax color picker, or automated script'
, and b.) the 'search filtering' system, using the same layout and ui but with search terms appearing as breadcrumbs, making filtering a breeze and easily navigated, all while offering extended functionality.
I also discussed possible reasons against these implementations, further considerations, and made an appeal to Einstein's Razor because I think I'm smart.
If you've made it this far, thanks for your time and patience in reading this journal.
Feel free to add in below with your thoughts, comments, critique, judgement, and whatever else you can think of.
Part 2 Coming Soon.