As anticipated the new version of the official ABBA site was launched on Wednesday 4 March.
ABBA The Official Site, as it is now known, has been online for a little over 24 hours and fans have had the chance to look it over, poring over the content.
The new look is very crisp, clean and modern, with predominantly golden brown tones. Many features carry over from the old version – The Story (biographies), Articles (In Focus and News), Music (discography of albums, singles and DVDs). Pictures is an all-new photo gallery. Happily the old In Focus and News items remain.
The Store features the merchandise that was available previously – including CDs, DVDs, solo material, clothing and more – plus some all new items including exclusive t-shirts. A new digital music store and ringtones are currently available only in Sweden, but there is a link to open your local iTunes ABBA store. There is also a link to the official YouTube ABBA channel, featuring ABBA videos and commercials.
Another new feature allows fans to submit their own “Picture of the week”. Visitors can sign up for a newsletter that promises “exclusive ABBA news, all the fun things, special offers and competitions”. Time will tell how successful these features are.
Some features have not (so far) carried over. Song lyrics are gone, as are the downloads (wallpapers and screensavers) and the Worldwide links section.
New interactive features such as the “Media” music and video player can be slow to load. The video clips are still the same unremastered clips from the the 1992 VHS masters used on old site. The fixed width is actually too wide for the popular 1024×768 pixels resolution.
What’s surprisingly missing is any reference to the Mamma Mia! musical, aside from a couple of the old articles. The old version had a permenant banner.
Fan reaction has typically been split. Many praise the new look, but others complain that it doesn’t look typically ABBA (though just as many thought that the previous version was too blue, too cold). Others argue that it’s too commercial, just to make money, as if making ABBA music available is somehow wrong.
Compared to The Beatles‘ site, with its focus on The Beatles Love Cirque de Soliel show in Las Vegas and emphasis on new releases (including a Rock Band video game and overpriced nick-nacks, but half of the catalogue and the film Let It Be remain unavailable), the ABBA site is very fan friendly.
A poll on the front page right now shows that 65.54% of visitors like the new site, 22.28% prefer the old site, and 12.18% have no opinion.