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Big Change Today

  • erik
  • on 3/26/12, 12:56 PM.

Chess.com started in 2007 as two friends working out of our garage. In the last five years though sooooo much has happened: we’ve built dozens of features, added 20 full-time team members, and grown to almost 5 million members! But one thing HADN’T changed: the site design. Before yesterday, we were still using the same design and html that was created more than 5 years ago. And in web years, that’s FOREVER ago.

We started working on the site redesign a year ago. We worked through a lot of designs and mockups and iterations. And the one thing I kept telling the designer was “Don’t get crazy. People like it. Don’t change too much!” We wanted to give the site a freshening up, but without doing a complete overhaul – a modernization, not a revolution. And while we know not everyone agrees, we think this new design keeps the best of Chess.com and improves in a lot of ways.

Lots of sites change frequently and in big ways, and that is hard on users of the site. I was recently speaking with the lead designer of a huge website (one that you probably all visit 10x a day). They just did a dramatic change to their whole website and changed everything completely. And some people were really really angry - he even had death threats against him! But now, a few weeks later, most people have become totally accustomed to the new site and people use it even more than they did before the redesign.

But I've also been on the other end of changes from other companies and sites and I know how frustrating it can be! (Heck - I started an online petition to get New Balance to return to an older design of running shoe that they discontinued. They didn't, of course.) More recently I had a site I use a lot change - and it was a HUGE change. And I hated it. So you know what I did? I sent them an email that specified what things were broken, and what I liked, and what I didn't. And once they fixed those things that were broken and I spent a few days using the new site, I loved it.

Now I'm not saying "We've changed. Tough. Get used to it." Not at all. I know that this feels like a big change, and some people prefer the old version. I hear you, and I understand. I want to let you know that we are working hard to fix every single bug. And we are listening to your feedback and trying to find solutions. So please give us a few days - both for us to fix things, and for you to simply give the new look a chance.

One thing that is still broken and we are working on feverishly are the custom themes. I LOVE the themes - they are such an awesome and important part of Chess.com. And we are working to make them look great with the new design of Chess.com. And we are also going to be publishing more official Chess.com themes. So be patient for 24 hours while we work out the bugs. Then we will turn themes back on and you can tinker with the details (logos are a little smaller, etc).

There are other little bugs that are still persisting (like links to Vote Chess, friend lists, some graphical glitches, etc). We have 5 people working non-stop to fix it all.

One other thing that has been brought up a lot is the new "Home" design. Some like it, some don't. But a lot of people are asking why the Notes are in the middle. Well, that is just temporary. Soon that place will be filled up with more of a feed that will give you lots of interesting information like when your friends win a great game, or when you hit your highest tactics rating, or when you got a trophy, or when your friend posts a question, or when a new tournament is starting. It's going to be the activity center of your Chess.com experience.

In addition to the visual changes, we have also made a lot of changes under the hood, including:

  • massive overhaul of our PHP code for faster server performance
  • complete re-write and modernization of the HTML/CSS for faster browser rendering
  • preparation code for complete internationalization of the site in all local languages
  • foundations for making the site more mobile-enabled

Basically, the site is about 2x as fast as it used to be for most people!

Anyway, I wanted to write this to let you know that I have been carefully following nearly every comment and piece of feedback about the redesign. I care about Chess.com more than anyone else (it's my baby!), and I care about each of our members. Everyone at Chess.com is working hard to improve everything. But again, we know that at this moment it doesn't feel like that for everyone. I know some people are disappointed.

All I'm asking is that you give us a chance to make everything perfect for you, and that you give it a few days to grow on you.

Chess.com is a great place because our members are great. I appreciate each of you and what you do for Chess.com.

Co-Founder, Chess.com 

PS - I strongly encourage everyone to enjoy Chess.com with the fastest browser available - Chrome. get it for free here: www.google.com/chrome  -it will make your Chess.com and overall internet experience much better...

15075 reads 171 comments
28 votes


  • 3 years ago


  • 3 years ago


    I can't agree more.  The chess.com site runs best on chrome.   The overall changes of course are "different" but I am pretty much used to them now.. its a bit facebook'ish.  

    Best of luck and thanks for your hard work.

  • 3 years ago


    I would agree with the Vote Chess being between different groups of online chess games

  • 3 years ago


  • 3 years ago


    Cost me all of 99 cents, but fixed the browser problem Cool

    Turns out that Atomic Lite (free version) does not have the "ID browser as..." function that Faterson uses.   I shelled out the big bucks (well, almost a buck ;>)  for the regular version, told it to pretend to be Firefox 5 as directed, and SHAZAM!  

    Workaround works.   

    Thanks for the help!

  • 3 years ago


    "preparation code for complete internationalization of the site in all local languages"

    it means there will be Chinese version or other languages version ? wow !!

  • 3 years ago


    Sorry it's all window dressing. For me there isnot improvement to the speedor anything else just a naff design. "All make up and no nickers" as my nan used to say.

  • 3 years ago


    Patzer: after experimenting a bit, if you let Atomic Web Browser identify itself as default mobile Safari, there may be a problem viewing some diagrams, they may not fit the screen, etc.

    However, as soon as you let Atomic Web Browser identify itself as, for example, "Firefox 5", all diagrams are viewable in full. In Atomic, just tap the "Tools" icon, then "Identify Browser As", and then "Firefox 5".

    It's a one-tap affair, and you can easily change this browser ID on-the-fly whenever you need to view a site in its non-mobile version.

  • 3 years ago


    Nope, full Atomic version isn't required.

    Which diagram do you have in mind? I can view the full chessboard (for example, in Live Chess) when I visit chess.com on my iPhone using Atomic Web Browser.

  • 3 years ago


    @Faterson.  I hate to be so dim, but I'm viewing the site on my i-phone on the Atomic Lite browser and still can't get a full diagram to display - full screen mode or not.   Only about 75% of any diagram will fit the screen.  Am I missing something, or do I need to upgrade from Atomic Lite to the full version?

  • 3 years ago


    I've been recommending this all over the place and need to do it here as well, seeing all the iPhone complaints in the comments below:

    On the iPhone or iPad, you can use Atomic Web Browser instead of Safari. With an easy, single tap, you can tell Atomic to pretend that it's Desktop Safari (or even Firefox)! And then, Atomic will load the normal version of the site for you.

    (Generally, I hate mobile sites and use Atomic to get around them all the time.)

  • 3 years ago


    Like the new site. Found some things out I didn't know I could do. One thing I wish you guys would add is chess mentor to the chess.com app. Other than that, I can certainly get used to site. Great job guys!

  • 3 years ago


    The theme on the home page keeps changing. Is that supposed to happen?

  • 3 years ago


    From the comment it seems that the site works great on PC, but not for mobile.

  • 3 years ago


    I think everything's great but I'm a PC user, not a mobile user.

  • 3 years ago


  • 3 years ago


    i love it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!it has a big board and i can concentrate better!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • 3 years ago


    Didn't look at home page in the past but rather the online chess page, now the home page tells more about the online games than the online page and home page now looks cheap and cheesy, what a mess

  • 3 years ago


    In a couple of different games, I can only see white's moves listed.  It's like the move list isn't quite wide enough. 

    One thing I thought you might fix was in Tactics Trainer, making diagrams load automatically instead of requiring clicking 'add your comment'.  Oh well... but it's actually worse now, because when you do click 'add your comment,' the links to open an 'analysis board' or 'view analysis and source' disappear.  You can only get back to them by trying the puzzle. 

  • 3 years ago

    FM VPA

    Puzzle of the day doesn't openTongue out but as I have said I like the new featuresKiss

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