J.K. Rowling’s website changed over time since its initial launch, and it is not possible to present everything at once. We’ve chosen to go with how the site looked prior to August 2009, but with some slight changes to maximize the amount of available content. However a lot of the other versions are still worth checking out. Note: You may need to clear your cache before loading a different version.
Initial Launch – May 15th, 2004
When the site first launched there wasn’t much content. Most of the sections were there but they were pretty empty. For example there were only seventeen FAQs and twelve Rumours at launch. The Rubbish Bin section and Diary didn’t exist yet, and a lot of the graphics were different to what they would later become. Only four scrapbook extras were unlockable and the reward screen didn’t allow one to zoom in.
The secret door had yet to open, and the first FAQ Poll was still taking votes.
- Over time, more content was gradually added to the different sections. The Wizard of the Month updated each month, making the old one unavailable. The door opened three times — on June 28th, August 16th and October 31st — teasing content from the sixth book.
- In July the first FAQ Poll closed and the second one opened.
- Starting with Neville on July 30th, a birthday message would appear on various characters’ birthdays.
- On September 16th, the Rubbish Bin section was added and three more scrapbook extras became unlockable.
- In December 10th, the site was decorated for Christmas, the third FAQ Poll opened for voting, and the secret door opened for its fifth time, announcing that the Half-Blood Prince had been finished.
- Not much happened for about a year. New content continued to be posted and the third and fourth FAQ Polls were both answered.
- The landing page was updated twice, On July 18th and on December 14th, to add options for the accessibility version, and then the multilingual text-only sites. (Previously the only language with a “text-only” option was English).
- On December 19th, Christmas decorations were added (different than last year’s) and on December 25th, the welcome message was removed and replaced with a gift wrapped diary from Jo. The fifth and final FAQ Poll also opened for voting.
- New content and Diary entries continued to be added, but each new Diary entry replaced the previous one making it no longer accessible.
- The final FAQ Poll was closed and answered on February 21st.
- On March 9th, the entire look of the site was changed. All the portkeys on the main desk were switched to different objects and the backgrounds were all redone. Five new scrapbook extras were added, and the zoom feature was added to the scrapbook.
- The Door opened two more times in March and September to unveil the first two WOMBAT tests. A wombat business card was added to the desktop on April 5th to view your scores.
- In December the site was once again decorated for Christmas, and the Door opened for the seventh time unveiling the title of Book Seven.
- More updates and door openings continued to happen over the next two years, but by the time 2008 began they had become very infrequent.
- On October 31st 2007, the final two scrapbook extras were added and an archive of all past Wizard of the Month entries and door openings were made available. The WOMBATs available through these archives were a bit different than before. Instead of giving you a usercode to check your scores with, they would immediately show you your score upon submitting the test.
- For the most part this is the version we have used for this project. However, to maximize the experience we have made a few changes that are worth noting.
- As said above, the diary entries were originally all unavailable after the next entry replaced them. Although an archive was eventually added of old WotM entries and door openings, no such archive was made for the Diary entries. We therefore concatenated all fourteen diary entries (and the original welcome message) together so they’re all viewable.
- When the WOMBATs initially appeared they would give you a usercode and you would enter it into the card on the desktop to see your score certificates a few days later. When they reappeared later as part of the door openings archive they instantly gave you your grade after finishing without any way of redeeming the certificate. We have here combined the two methods. You get your score upon finishing and the certificate automatically unlocks in the mailroom. It will still ask you to type in a code, but typing in anything will get through.
- Three articles were deleted from the original website at various points. Here we have kept them. (FanSites: Godric’s Hollow — News: The Title of Book Six: The Truth — News: Companion Books)
Final version of the website – February 22nd, 2012
After book seven came out, the updates slowly dwindled down to just the occasional news article. After an article was posted in October 2008 there was about a year or so where no new content or changes happened to the site. Then starting in August 2009, several changes happened for the worse.
- In August 2009 the Diary was completely removed and replaced with a collection of basic info about JK Rowling titled “Everything you might want to know”, and about half the links on the bookcase were removed and replaced with unclickable book titles.
- In May 2011 the Press and Publicity section was removed and replaced with a notice saying not to contact Rowling.
- In June 2011 a brief news article was posted announcing Pottermore.
- In August 2011 the Christopher Little link was removed and replaced with one for The Blair Partnership
- On February 23rd 2012 the entire website was taken down.
These changes all arguably make the site worse, or in any event decrease the amount of canon information available. They also ruin the consistency of the site by focusing in events after the site was no longer active. (This is especially prevalent with the Pottermore News article and the “Everything you might want to know” section, as both of these are prominently visible on the front page.) Additionally, with the exception of the Pottermore article, none of these additions seem to be written by Rowling. (They all refer to her in third person unlike the usual first person tense of the rest of the website.) The Pottermore article causes an extra problem in that people already tend to mix up the old jkrowling.com with the old pottermore.com. Having the word “POTTERMORE” on the front page in all caps isn’t helping anyone. For these reasons we have NOT to use this version of the site, despite its being the most recent.