Digital Manga’s multiple imprint web pages were hit or miss in the past but since their recent upgrades and redesigns, they’ve risen to the cream of the crop status for manga publishers on the web. Their new websites are visually attractive and full of colour, and the usability of the sites has seen a huge improvement. Overlapping databases between the different websites ensure all information is the same and is updated simultaneously. All sites also share one blog with imprint-specific posts appearing on their individual front pages.
Blog + Forums
Book info (searchable)
All book information, release dates and blog posts are compounded on their company’s index site, DigitalManga.com which also includes job postings, surveys and corporate information. This hub site also includes links to all the imprint pages as well as other Digital Manga properties such as Pop Travel Japan and Akadot Retail.
*Note: At the time of this writing, 801Media.com had not yet received it’s intended overhaul. It’s design and function will not be included in this review.
All the individual Digital Manga imprint pages, with the exception of 801Media*, share the same layout structure – a 3 column layout with a large header banner. Past this each one has its own set of graphics and fonts that serve to make each distinct from one another, while still maintaining enough consistency to well utilize many of their shared features such as the blog and book information. All sites use artwork from their licensed books, making them both appealing to the eyes and the site’s focus immediately recognizable.
Dokidokibooks.com looks the most flat visually compared to the others, using much more solid colour space. It isn’t an unattractive design on its own but held up to the more multi-coloured and detailed Junemanga.com and DMPbooks.com, it falls a little short on the glamour scale. The rotating images on the header are a nice touch though most images suffer from rough editing work that leave them look rough around the edges, appearing a little rushed.
The front pages of June, DokiDoki and DMP’s sites are all very image heavy with several ads and feature promotions. It’s a little overwhelming to the eyes and causes the blog to look squished between the multiple image areas. Fortunately this is restricted to the front page and sub-pages open up to a two-column layout to best utilize the space.
DigitalManga.com is the simplest of the designs, which suits being the corporate hub website along with having the most information as a conglomerate of the others. It’s more about facts than flash which makes it an excellent alternative for those who would prefer to go without the extra images and imprint-centric design work.
As primarily a manga publisher, Digital Manga hits a lot of good notes with their sites’ usability when it comes to promoting their products. Visitors are easily able to find titles they’re looking for, with books organized in a variety of ways from alphabetical to by date of release. There is also a handy search feature that easily pulls up series by their title name and all results are shown in the form of both a title and a thumbnail, furthering ease in finding a specific title.
Sections of the websites are clearly labeled with easy to find links on every page so visitors won’t need to take forever finding the page they’re looking for. Slightly different layouts between websites do cause some variance in this, with some links larger or more swiftly locatable than others.
Interaction with the website works smoothly including an easy to sign up for newsletter and blog commenting that doesn’t require any sort of an account. The forum requires an account to post but the process of signing up is quick and simple.
Digital Manga has a very strong online presence. The websites are frequently updated with new book listings and blog posts that provide both professional and casual looks at the production process and other fun company related info. They frequently send out review copies to spread knowledge of their products and include links to multiple websites’ reviews on the relevant series’ pages, showings a keen attention to peoples’ opinions, both positive and negative. This offers up an incredible resource to site visitors interested in their books.
The staff of Digital Manga is also one of the most interactive with their fans. The forums are well moderated to keep spam under control and they always have at least one staff member designated to the forums to keep an eye on things and answer fan questions and concerns, often shortly after they’re asked.
Digital Manga also maintains a regularly updated Twitter account as well as LiveJournal accounts for several of their imprints. They have a YouTube channel where they post video previews of their books as well.
Digital Manga’s recent site overhauls have made a huge difference when it comes to their digital impression. With bright, eye-catching websites and up to date information, they do a great job keeping their consumers up to date and in the know. Their consistent and honest outreach to fans is an appreciated gesture that combined with well-tended websites shows an attention to both detail and their readers that hits a good balance of fun and function.
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So what do you think? Is Digital Manga on the ball with their online work or is there something you as a consumer would like to see done differently?