11:06 am EDT, September 22, 2015

Major Pottermore re-launch goes live: Goodbye Sorting Hat, hello Potter family history

J.K. Rowling’s Pottermore has re-launched with a completely new design and new content.

The new website has eliminated user accounts entirely and introduced an all-new user interface. The latter change means the site is now smartphone and tablet-friendly.

Rather than browsing the story by book and chapter, you now browse by searching. You can also visit “Writing by J.K. Rowling” and “Explore the Story” sections which present their respective content in a simple list.

Chapter-by-chapter browsing isn’t the only major change — the popular Sorting Hat and wand quizzes have been temporarily removed. In a post welcoming users to the new site, Pottermore says the Sorting Hat and wand experience will be returning soon, and that the Patronus test is still on the way. Commenting, fan art, dueling, and potion making were removed earlier this year.

To celebrate the re-launch J.K. Rowling has posted a lengthy piece of writing about the origins of the Potter family. It delves into Harry’s ancestry, explains how his grandfather quadrupled the family’s fortune and how the Invisibility Cloak became a family heirloom.

Rowling’s explanation of the Potter family history doesn’t disappoint. The author goes into a mind-numbing number of details as she brings us all the way back to the original Potter, a 12th-century wizard named Linfred of Stinchcombe, “a locally well-beloved and eccentric man, whose nickname, ‘the Potterer’, became corrupted in time to ‘Potter’.” The wizard used his magic to offer up cures for pox and ague. “[Patients] all thought him a harmless and lovable old chap, pottering about in his garden with all his funny plants. His reputation as a well-meaning eccentric served Linfred well, for behind closed doors he was able to continue the series of experiments that laid the foundation of the Potter family’s fortune,” Rowling writes.

As for how the invisibility clock moved into Harry’s family: Lindfred’s first son Hardwin married Godric’s Hollow witch Iolanthe Peverell, who inherited her grandfather Ignotus’s invisibility cloak.

Brief thoughts on the new Pottermore

I was afraid user accounts were doomed as soon as Pottermore unveiled a certificate feature a few weeks ago, allowing you to print your username, wand, and Hogwarts House on a piece of muggle paper. Indeed, the new Pottermore is a dramatic change from the old design. Pottermore has promised that this new design will be easier for them to add new content to as they begin to offer coverage outside of the seven Harry Potter books (namely Fantastic Beasts and The Cursed Child).

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I’m surprised they didn’t wait to press “Go” on this re-launch until the Sorting Hat was ready, because their quiz must’ve been one of the most popular features on the original site. I’m not bothered by the lack of user accounts, but it’s a bit of a bummer that users spent a lot of time collecting potions, galleons, etc over the years for seemingly no reason. At the beginning of Pottermore it looked like collecting items would be worth something in the long-run, but these things we’ve collected ended up being worthless.

We’ll have a new episode of MuggleCast up later this week where we’ll discuss the changes in greater detail!

What do you think of the new Pottermore?

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