Websites Through The Years: The Leaky Cauldron

The oldest (and best) Harry Potter website, The Leaky Cauldron, has just updated their layout today. It seems like a good opportunity to feature them on Websites Through The Years.

February 1, 2001

That, friends, is what Harry Potter news used to look like. Not very good, is it? The Leaky Cauldron started out as a news blog covering the Harry Potter niche. Eventually they made contacts in the book publishers and with Warner Brothers.

December 13, 2001

Well, it’s a bit better. It still looks very ’90s-ish.

December 08, 2002

Isn’t this a bit of a step backward? Though I started reading Harry Potter in 2001, I’m glad I didn’t get seriously involved with Harry Potter sites until 2003… Even then, I used the site Mugglenet, though I switched to The Leaky Cauldron back sometime in 2006. PotterCast is what really got me to switch (along with the slick 2005 design and their longer more-detailed articles).


For the year of 2004, TLC had this design. It’s a bit better than their previous ones, but it’s still not spectacular.


This is one of my favorite web designs ever. From 2005-2007 this was what The Leaky Cauldron looked like. The header is very cool, and I like their four column approach. The most recent news article is featured at the top, with a scrolling list below it. An image cannot capture how dynamic this site is, you really have to see it live. See that scroll marked “Scribbulus”? If you hovered the mouse over it, it would unroll. And did I mention that all of the site’s content is loaded through AJAX?

July 27, 2007 (Present)

Alas, the design introduced in 2005 is no longer in use. Today, they introduced their new design. It’s still pretty darn good, but it lacks the dynamicism and cool look that the old one had. They stopped loading pages with AJAX, which is arguably a good thing. I like the new design, but I’m still mourning the loss of the previous one. The design featured above is subject to change in the next few days, as some bugs are still being ironed-out, so I’m not going to jump in and analyze it like usual.

Before we go, here are a couple of fun factoids about the Leaky Cauldron.

  • It won a Webby Award in 2005.
  • It’s JK Rowling’s favorite of the Harry Potter sites.
  • It costs over $100,000/year to run.
  • Borders Bookstores sponsors the site.
  • Yes, it’s older than Mugglenet. It’s the oldest of all the Harry Potter sites actually.