Viz Media is starting the new year with a brand new website! And that is sadly where my enthusiasm ends.
I’d stated a short while back that I’d be continuing with my publisher website reviews, a longer than intended hiatus previously taken after several companies requested I wait. Viz Media’s website, or their old one at least, was my newest completed review, a rather frustrating irony in that so soon after I finished did this new site go up. But I digress, this is about the new site and naturally after finishing a review of their old site, and thoroughly going through my likes and dislikes of it to myself, I had presumptuously high hopes that I may see some of my complaints already addressed in this version when I saw it was live.
Alas… Viz Media, what were you thinking?
The worst part, worth noting right off the bat, is that the majority of links clicked on lead to a maintenance page:
Page Under Maintenance
This page is currently undergoing maintenance. Please check back soon!
All previous links to Viz Media’s website now lead to broken pages with no redirectors put in place. Search engines have become almost entirely obsolete in finding the website or information specific to anything they offer and it’s unfortunately guaranteed to cause a plummet in their page rankings making it even harder to find their site once (we assume) it does finally does get off the ground.
Graphically the pages are fairly openly laid out, mostly light on text with a scattering of gridded images. The black backgrounds make for a richer looking appearance than before but the exact same layout on every page is stagnant. Regrettably their use of large graphics, which animatedly shift between different pieces of artwork, is a distracting eyesore, engulfing the entirety of the screen but offering little substance. All links on the artwork leading to what we assume is information pertaining to them is either not yet functional or broken. The majority of the pages themselves also aren’t probably sized to different screen sizes and cause cut-offs on the right side with scrolling to dead space. The bottom of the site also has blank white space for an inch or so which looks more like a mistake in coding than an intended design element.
When you load it up, the main page of the website looks like this (with different images rotating in):
It promotes one series at a time with a single graphic, definitely a domineering feature when you load the page so it’s effective at marketing a single volume or DVD at any rate. Any further information on the site however, such as recent release information, requires users to scroll down to find it. There’s also nowhere on page that introduces Viz Media as what they are or what they provide – no ‘About’ Viz Media with the exception of short introductory paragraphs on the Anime and Manga specific pages.
Navigation on the top of the site has been reduced to three specific headers – Store, Products and Company. Though tidy it also imbues the notion this site has very little to offer. Hovering the mouse over each one yields a drop-down menu with more options including links to different site imprint pages. The coding is a little choppy on this and flickering happens easily when trying to use them (plus they crashed the page out twice when trying to use them via Safari on my iPhone).
Upon using the navigation links to go to a specific imprint page, you’re greeted with a two-option page banner – the first a graphic heavy promotion of key titles under Features (which again sport no working links) – and the second is the option to click Series Listing which prompts an inline frame that has a list of all the series published under that name. Currently none of the titles on the list are linked to anything and provide no information past the title.
At the bottom of every page there is a New Releases and a Coming Soon section which have click-through lists of just what the sub-sections would indicate. Information provided is thumbnails, title, volume number, release date, imprint, age rating and a Buy Now button leading to Viz Media’s own store – all of which are great to have. It’s too bad though that this information is pushed down at the bottom of each page, and with no links leading to be in-depth information such as a synopsis or prior volume information, there’s a serious hampering of their effectiveness. Navigation of it also isn’t entirely clear, requiring button clicking at the bottom to move from Next or Previous which then utilizes an animated scroll screen to view more titles.
The top of the site has a large easy to find search feature and the results of which are the most promising of this new design. Typing in ‘Bleach’, as an example, returns a long page of thumbnails for all existing volumes of the manga, DVDs from the anime and the art books. It loads fast and is very thorough and tidy. Unfortunately the links either lead to the Viz Store or to another Page Not Found site.
Past missing the information itself, the site also lacks any reference to their submission policies and no more blog on the front page, adding to the Under Maintenance contact page to make this is a completely cut-off site communicatively with consumers. Thankfully all of Viz Media’s previous imprint specific websites such as ShojoBeat.com and ShonenSunday.com remain intact and provide the information their hub website now lacks.
All formalities aside, this is a rather big stinker of a website. The navigation is poor, the graphics and needless animations distracting (and really hurt my eyes I must admit) and the lack of information is mind-boggling. What’s worse though is why Viz Media would put such an unfinished website up in the first place – was the idea of starting the New Year with a new website more important than ensuring the quality of the site itself? This website may be framework for something better, but as it is it has no place live to their customers, providing little more than dead ends, broken links and a veritable style over substance approach to marketing.
My diagnosis – bad site. My recommendation (and hope) is that Viz Media puts the old site back up and offers this new one as a beta for preview purposes only in the meantime. They should get user feedback on the new look and keep adding new content and working out the bugs until it’s fully ready for the public.
Don’t get me wrong, this can be a good site but right now it definitely isn’t.