Big Change Today

Big Change Today

erik
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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.

Erik
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...

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