FIDE launches "new" website

PeterDoggers
PeterDoggers
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0 | Chess Event Coverage
The F?ɬ©d?ɬ©ration Internationale des ?É‚Ä?checs (FIDE) has renewed her website. Not only has de site been redesigned, but some new functionalities have been added as well.

Today, the newly designed FIDE.com went live (without an accompanying press release by the way), developed by technicians of the Turkish Chess Federation. (There's a small chance your will still see the old FIDE site, which has something to do with DNS servers. This will probably be solved within 24 hours.)

The first thing that attracts attention is the header, in which not only the FIDE logo is incorporated, but also that of Global Chess BV. This symbolizes Global Chess as FIDE's right hand, since the company that was set up by Kirsan Ilyumzhinov and Bessel Kok to promote and market chess worldwide, is getting more and more important.

Global Chess is currently finalising negotiations with FIDE for a commercial licence, but has started many of her planned activities already, like the organisation of the Grand Prix Series. From the start, a new FIDE website was one of Global Chess's main priorities. (Now that the first steps to a more commercially organized FIDE have been made, it finally makes sense to have the website as a dot com instead of a dot org!)

Disordered Although the new design is definitely much beter, and has a more "modern feel", the first impression is also a disorderly one, for different reasons.

Firstly, the way the photos / images are placed, confuses the human eye. Users are first drawn to the big image in the centre, which represents the latest news article. Then the eye moves to the two video images on the right. (Videos! Many kudos for that of course!) Then you look at the three (relatively unimportant) images of Ilyumzhinov, the Trainer Academy and the Newsletter. So... where to click on?

Secondly, there isn't a clear column structure. Below the header, the site seems to start with three columns: a narrow one with recent news, a broader one with the main article, and another narrow one with videos. The three images below seem to represent a three-column structure as well, but with a different weight, and below, there's a two-column structure. All this is quite confusing.

User-friendly FIDE's new website is clearly more user-friendly than the old one. Much attention has been given to navigation ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äú perhaps too much: besides the traditional drop-down menus in the header, the different locations of the site can also be reached via the blue menu on the right. Although it's nicely done, the blue menu is wasting precious space.

However, clicking on "Member Federations" will lead you to one of the highlights of the new website: the FIDE Directory. This page uses a world map mouse-over technique that's known from websites such as Lonely Planet.

It's a very comfortable way to reach subpages of member federations, including a list of arbiters.

Not ready? It was about time for FIDE to have a new website of course, because the old one was using a design from the Middle Ages. Still, they could have waited a bit more perhaps before launching the site, because at several points it's not ready yet.

For example, on the top right, it's not yet possible to click on the three languages EN, RU and FR. Secondly, different sections haven't really changed compared to the old site (the rating section is even using the same design) and thirdly, some content is still in its infancy, like the Clubs section (e.g. try to find a club in Apeldoorn, The Netherlands. It says "Apeldorn" and gives funny info.)

Facebook One might get the impression that FIDE is applying a very modern strategy in their implementation process, like e.g. Facebook has always been advocating: just launch the site and then keep on developing it, based on the ideas of the users. In reality, FIDE has a different reason to hurry, as Geoffrey Borg, CEO of Global Chess and Commercial Director of FIDE, explained on the phone.

"It's the first step of a much bigger process. First, we had to migrate the old website into a new design, because we really need something more decent if want to show our sport to big sponsors. But yes, many more developments will follow in the near future. More modules will be added, including ways to work with user-generated content. Because we believe the website belongs to the members, and the members should be able to contribute."

Borg added that it was also important to launch the new website a short while before the first Grand Prix tournament, because the new FIDE website will function as an umbrella site: tournaments and matches organized under the FIDE flag, will be covered on a fide.com subdomain (for instance, the url for the new Grand Prix Series will probably be http://grandprix.fide.com), thereby boosting fide.com's web statistics, making it more valuable as a marketing tool. A second advantage is that FIDE events will have websites using the same infrastructure as fide.com, so they won't need to create new websites all the time.

Web 2.0 By the way, speaking of Facebook and user-generated content: our hopes are that the "new modules" mentioned by Borg will make fide.com more of a "Web 2.0" website. Right now it's still a website where information is transferred one-dimensionally, while these days internet users are used to having control over their data.

At an ideal fide.com, a user would register (using OpenID!), create his unique home page where he would see his rating, his federation, upcoming tournaments in his country and only specific content that he's interested in, chosing subjects automatically from the main content that is published on the general home page. This way he can avoid reading about Kirsan's birthday, or the wedding of Sheikh Sultan bin Khalifah Al Nahyan, if he wants to.

Other 2.0 aspects that are still missing: tagging, social indexing, and most importantly: syndication (usually referred to as "RSS" or "feed"). It's incredible that these days, important websites such as The Week in Chess, Chessbase and FIDE.com are still lacking a basic functionality as RSS feed.

As chess fans, we have to give FIDE a break, since Global Chess's intentions are good and the new design is a first step to a more professional website. But as so much more is possible on the web these days, we can't wait to see those new additions.
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