The new version of 9rules.com is finally upon us, and while it’s not totally finished yet, we thought it was “nearly there” enough to push live. The previous version won numerous design awards, so when it came time to rebuild the entire infrastructure and drop a new UI on top, we knew we had a tall task ahead. I’m not sure if we succeeded, or if this design will please the folks the previous design won over, but we gave it our best shot, and this one works out well for what we have planned in the future.
I Love Skittles
One of the first things you’ll notice about this design is that it’s really colorful, really bright, and really different than the previous one. The old design (seen here on the blog, soon to be updated to match) was cool, but it was so dark that certain non-content areas overpowered the parts we wanted to highlight. The previous design also featured a muted version of our colorful 9rules logo, and since many people asked me if we could highlight it a bit more on this design, I gladly complied.
Because the logo is given a pretty prominent position atop the design now, I wanted to extend the 9rules color palette to other areas of the site as well. The bright orange, green, and yellow color choices have morphed into the new tag section, the featured articles area, and the header respectively. Our logo is colorful because it represents the many sides to the growing 9rules community, and we wanted to express that design decision through the rest of the site, paying homage to our diverse selection of members.
Our main goal for the new 9rules.com site, and the subsections and features that follow, is that we wanted to present users with a tutorial-free and app-less web application that leverages the tremendous amount of information our members create. In the previous version, we only displayed a random selection of members, and their previous entries.
In this version, you can load the same list of random entries, but can refresh that random sampling without reloading the entire page. We got lots of requests for a way for users to view just the very latest 9rules content, so we dropped that in as well in the “Recent” tab. We got some more requests from non-tech savvy friends who wanted to keep track of their favorite 9rules members without resorting to RSS feeds, so we added a killer My Favorites feature that lets you add/remove members from your My Favorites section wherever they’re listed, effortlessly. No login, no signup, just start favoriting and it’ll work off the bat and store your favorites for the next time you come back.
The biggest feature request from the previous version is that people couldn’t find the sites they wanted, so we definitely fixed that. You can now move through our 9rules members by keyword/tag, or you can search for a name and we present the results in real-time. Then you can subscribe to their RSS feed, add them as a favorite, or just go ahead and visit their site. Colin pulled this off flawlessly, and I couldn’t be happier.
The most important feature of this redesign is that we are now fully internationalized. Check out 9rules Spanish for all the same features that we afford the English members, but for our growing Spanish community. We have lots more language-specific features to roll out, but this is just a preview. A big thanks go out to our Spanish members who stuck with us and were patient throughout the redesign!
Bugs, and Looking Forward
The design isn’t perfect yet — it has some bugs in IE6, but we’re on them. If you can believe it, the vast majority of our readers come through with either Firefox or Safari, so those users are our most important. We dropped this knowing full well that IE6 has some render issues, and that’s fine by me, we’ll get em fixed soon.
Apart from the favorites, tagging, language switcher, and other goodies, this redesign represents a monumental move forward for our infrastructure that powers 9rules. The code behind it, and the new design framework, lets us move forward with our other plans for 9rules. Even though we don’t reveal our future plans often, rest assured knowing that the new 9rules.com homepage is a tiny portion of what we’re currently working on for 9rules, Inc. The great thing about the new design/infrastructure is we can roll out features and change much quicker than before, so expect iterations starting soon. Or today, since we already dropped member name search at the bottom courtesy some feedback from our buddy Britt 🙂
So what do you guys think? Now that I explained our rationale a bit, maybe some of our choices might make more sense, or maybe they won’t. Hate the design, love it, hate the new features, love em, please let us know. We cater to our 80+ members just as we cater to our audience, so comment away!