Big Change Today

  • erik
  • on 3/26/12, 12:56 PM. 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 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 And we are working to make them look great with the new design of And we are also going to be publishing more official 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 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 more than anyone else (it's my baby!), and I care about each of our members. Everyone at 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. is a great place because our members are great. I appreciate each of you and what you do for


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

19136 reads 171 comments
29 votes


  • 5 years ago


    I wonder how the deploy went...


    Erik: Hey let's release this already. It's been a year.

    Dev Team: But it's still in alpha. We can't can't release it yet. it's too buggy.

    Erik: So, we'll just call it beta and tell them it's a work in progress.

    Dev Team: YOU don't make a wide spread relase of beta either!

    Dilbert: :Sigh: Why do I alway end up working with these people?

    Dogbert: You should just be happy they didn't go with comic sans font.

  • 5 years ago


    IMHO yet again the best (by a mile) has gotten better. Great job Eric and co!

  • 5 years ago


    nice... good job! Cool

  • 5 years ago


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

    And I think there things went wrong. What happens under the hood, people rarely care about, and if the result is an increase in speed, no-one will complain. (assuming you will fix all IE bugs, otherwise you can say goodbye to a lot of members)

    But the interface, the visual so to say, those determine for a very big part how user-friendly the site is. And having to learn something new isn't user friendly at all to begin with. So I stand by my earlier appeal: give us a button (or custom theme, or whatever) that creates an interface just as we had before. Then you will get applause instead of the current stream of complaints.

  • 5 years ago


    I prefer the old version.  The new one doesn't let me scroll across or magnify the screen on my iPhone.

  • 5 years ago


    Hearty welcome to the new design.

  • 5 years ago


    I think this has been told before but when we go to My Online Chess and click on Show All Current Games, why do we see the games listed in the order of Most Recent Move? They should rather be listed in the order of TIME LEFT like in the old format for us to know how many games are there in which it is our move and how much time is left in them. Like if I play many games, I come here and play the moves till the first game in the list has 24 hours left for my move.

  • 5 years ago


    My first reaction wasn't good to be onest.

    Now I reckon that the site is much faster and the links from "my home" are easily reachable (before I had to scroll the bar to reach my groups).

    I didn't like that the games were moved from the center, but you already fixed that.

    I love the little chessboards in "my online chess" also.

    The only thing I don't like is that only the most recent article, blog and piece of news are shown in the new main page. Before also some older stuff was accessible without clicking on "more...".
    I usually just give a glance to this page to see if there is some title that may be of interest. I don't want to click on "more articles" then go back and click on "more news" then go back etc.

    If you can fix this I'll be perfectly satisfy with the new look.

  • 5 years ago


    Awesome post. Thanks for the information on the changes.

    Since you're doing a revamp, could you please add some more 3D chess pieces? It is the 21st century after all, and the technology to do so shouldn't be that difficult.

    I know many like the 2D experience, but from my perspective, having 3D gives it more of a "real" experience. Yet, the same wood/plastic options get a bit stale.

    Other than that, the site is pure awesomeness!  Thanks for doing what you do.


  • 5 years ago


    It seems an OK site look,  please consider more free chess TV with more professional anchorpersons and better backgrounds, a better ap for ipads, and I second the discussion about friends and notes taking up the page, and obscure stats for others to check on.  Still nice that some are still interested in playing chess.

  • 5 years ago


    I too won't be renewing my membership.

  • 5 years ago


    i like the redesign. I like seeing all the online games at one time.

  • 5 years ago


    nice site ;;;;;;;;;;;

  • 5 years ago


    I really like this new format. It gives lot more information and is also very stylish!

  • 5 years ago


    Don't like it. Change for changes sake. I don't see myself renewing my membership. Still I'm only one member.

  • 5 years ago


    The point about font and for that matter size of the font is a good one. Better if we have control of it, even it that doesn't completey answer Litevibe's point about the readability of the new look.

  • 5 years ago


    does giving control of the fonts to the users make the site run slower for some reason? 

  • 5 years ago


    I also think control of the font should be given back to the user. I really liked Times New Roman.

  • 5 years ago


    new format is good....i will go with it....more interesting then older one......

  • 5 years ago


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