ChessVibes redesign

PeterDoggers
PeterDoggers
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0 | Chess Event Coverage

It's taken months of hard work by different designers and developers, lots of testing, some postponing of deadlines and too much coffee, but now it's here. It's my pleasure to present the all-new, completely redesigned ChessVibes.

It must have been quite a surprise. You've just arrived at ChessVibes via a bookmark, an RSS feed, a post on Twitter or Facebook, Google or simply by filling out the address bar, and what you saw was, well, not what you're used to. That big text at the top left did say 'ChessVibes' so you probably experienced a little WTF moment a few seconds ago. We can only hope that, as on a blind date, we made a positive first impression and, as with any plastic surgery, you’ll still like us after the operation!

The site

This is a simpler and at the same time bigger ChessVibes. The homepage is smaller in length and thus needs less scrolling to view in total. At the same time, more content is available than before, nicely tucked away in tabbed sections in both the big central area and in the sidebar on the right.

The first thing that meets the eye is the 'Top stories' section. Here you can expect the biggest news stories which used to be presented in the left column of our previous design. There's one main story, with a big image, and the two previous ones can be found next to it, with thumbnails. In case you haven't visited the site for a few days you can find more top stories by clicking on the link 'more top stories'. :-)

Above the 'Top stories' section and below the logo we have the main menu. The items 'Reports', 'Reviews', 'Columns' and 'Cartoons' are article categories which remained the same. 'Calendar' refers to our tournament calendar, which we're planning to recreate soon. For 'Blogs' see below, and 'Shop' will lead to the latest New in Chess items (see also below). The submenu is new: there we'll provide links to articles about topical subjects ('dossiers', if you like).

Below the 'Top stories' there's something new too, and we've called it 'Other News'. This area will include small but extra news items which we didn't have a good way to present in the previous design. This way we'll be able to bring more, smaller news items next to the bigger stories.

Below that you'll find the first tabbed section, and here you'll see one of our favourite additions: GM blogs! A number of GMs have accepted our invitation to write a blog on our site. How cool is that? Some of them are experienced bloggers, like Dejan Bojkov (Bulgaria), Gawain Jones (England) and David Smerdon (Australia) and their blogs will be cross-posted at ChessVibes. Others liked the idea and are starting a new blog at our site, including Ruslan Ponomariov (Ukraine) and Bartek Macieja (Poland). A few more GMs have agreed as well, and will hopefully write a first post soon. For the moment we’ve limited this service to grandmasters, but we might decide to invite more people at a later stage.

Note for GMs: if you like the idea of starting a blog at ChessVibes, don't hesitate to contact us!

In this tabbed section you can also easily find our latest book reviews and columns. The last tab is called 'Shop' and will list the latest chess books available at our long-term partner New in Chess.

We're quite happy that the daily puzzle has returned to our site. It's powered by Chess Tempo, a good site for tactics training whose game viewer we've been using for quite a while already. Next to it you'll always find the latest cartoon by José Diaz, our regular cartoonist who’s already provided us with dozens of cartoons. We decided he deserved his own space and from now on the cartoon will be visible on the homepage until the new one is up.

Below that there’s another cool new feature: a video playlist. ChessVibes became big quickly thanks to our videos (especially those from Wijk aan Zee) and ever since we've been known, to some extent, as 'the chess site with those videos'. It was therefore quite logical to provide a nice way to present videos, and now we have it. You can easily scroll through them using the thumbnails on the right.

Moving on to the sidebar on the right, you'll find the traditional (and necessary) ad space, followed by a second tabbed section. In the first tab 'Recent' you'll find the five latest articles posted by us, whether they're 'top stories' or 'other news stories'. Next to those are the recent 'Comments', then our most 'Popular' articles and our 'Tags' cloud. The other sections in the sidebar aren’t new, and speak for themselves.

The look & logo

In terms of colours the site is calmer, despite the fact we're actually using more colours. From now on the site has a distinct chess aspect to its design; there’s a 3D chess board pattern as the background image and silhouettes of chess pieces in the footer. We chose to go for a more modern, fresh, clean, simple and yet colourful logo. It was designed by our own designer Marleen Klein Brinke and by external designer Esther Vinke.

After thinking a lot about ways to include chess pieces in the logo, we felt that almost everything had been tried already and it was easy to create something cliched. We decided that our name is strong enough to be the main part of it, and to make its presentation even stronger we wanted to finish with a clear dot in the 'chess shape' of a square. At the same time we wanted to bring a bit more colour into the world of chess, where everything is very much black and white. We decided to produce the logo with different coloured dots, and we picked eight (!) colours of the rainbow: red, orange, yellow, light green, dark green, light blue, dark blue and purple.

Note for webmasters/blog owners: if you'd like to use our logo on your site, you can refresh the page and download the one you like, or find all of them together here!

The CMS

This is the fourth time we’ve redesigned ChessVibes since launching in February 2006. Back then it was still called 'Doggers-schaak' and its standard Blogger template and domain didn't last long. After a few months we changed to a self-hosted Wordpress site that also looked better. On January 1st, 2007 we got our new name ChessVibes and our URL. About a year later we moved to the third design, the previous one with the black and blue header. The most important reason for the redesign was in fact the CMS. Somewhere at the end of 2010 we decided that we wanted to switch from Wordpress to Drupal, a CMS that we feel is more flexible and better suited for the (many!) plans we have to enhance the site even further. And while switching backend platforms, why not redo the frontend as well? After a first start done by off-shore developers, the bulk of the technical part including lots of CSS magic was done by Gilbert Vrancken of Ziccidus.

The future

We consider today’s release a beta. To start with, there are a few features that were included in the previous design which are still missing here. We hope to include all that good stuff again soon. Furthermore, we’ve got lots of other ideas and plans and hopefully this new design and platform will help us to implement them. Stay tuned!

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