Well, to take a quote from my favourite TV show at the moment, Fox's excellent 24
(gosh, Fox and 'Excellent' in the same sentence):
"You wake up this morning to a new world."
Or, perhaps you don't. As I write this, the result of the British General Election is still yet to be decided, and so exactly the direction that the country will take over the next few years is still yet to be decided. Perhaps I'll edit this in the morning.
readers awoke to a new dawn themselves on Tuesday morning, as the site's new graphical design came online. We've had some time to sit back and fiddle a little bit, and I thought it would be good to write this week's column and talk a little bit about that, and the ethos behind it, and some of the future things that are going to be happening with the site.
So number one: it looks so utterly, totally different. Let's break the site down into some general points.
First off, there's more content sections. Before, we divided content into reviews, articles and features. To be honest, it didn't make a lot of sense - what was an article, and how did that differ from a feature?
"We're keen to have your feedback"
So what we've done now is split the site up into easily distinguishable sections. We've added the gaming section, which I'll come to in a minute. We distinguished the sections by colour, additionally, so that people could easily see where they were on the site, and could realise that there were different categories of content.
To help navigation further, we've added in the search engine, and made the individual category indexes pretty easy to look through. The Search engine is something that we have been desperate to have for a long while, and it makes finding content a heck of a lot easier.
(On a note about finding content: some of the old stuff is missing. We're bringing it into the new format as soon as possible. Bear with us.)
OK, so let's talk about the games section. The focus of bit-tech
has always been the case modding, and that's one thing we're not giving up on - in fact, giving modding its own distinct section means that we'll be able to give it the focus it deserves. The games section, however, is about diversifying and giving you guys, the readers, more of the sort of things that you want. We're not about to start reviewing any old games, or working up all kinds of by-the-numbers previews: we're hoping to do something utterly different.
We want to focus on games that are important to hardware enthusiasts, games that are important for more than just the content - those that have technical prowess, those that will really give your graphics card a good workout. The first of our reviews will be hitting the web very soon, and we're keen to have your feedback. In the meantime, we hope you enjoy the previews that we've been putting out, of top titles like Serious Sam 2.
We've always had a strong community following, and a large and busy forum has been something that we've been really proud of creating. One thing that we've been keen to do is to get people reading the site crossing over to the forums, and vice versa. By creating a unified page template, with a theme that goes across the site, we hope to achieve that, and get more people participating and reading the site.
"We can create some great-looking content that will be quite different from anything you've seen"
Next up: adverts. Yes, there are some more of them. Why? Because to write content you need writers, and to have somewhere for them to write, you need hosting. For them to get the content from the corners of the globe, they need to travel to get it. Keeping you lot up to date with the latest news, mods and reviews costs money, and we have to get it from somewhere. What you will notice, as we have increased the ads slightly, is that the amount and the quality of the content you see on bit-tech
is going to improve a heck of a lot. We don't believe in giving you nothing for nothing.
What about some of the high-level design decisions - why fixed-width? Well, one of the major problems we had with the old site was having no idea how content would look on people's screens. The site looks competely different at 800x600 than at 1600x1200, and content could look absolutely awful. The new site is designed for a minimum resolution of 1024x768, at a little less than full screen - meaning that 800x600 readers should be able to see it at a full screen. We chose 1024 because it, along with 1280, makes for the vast majority of the people that view the site. It means that with a fixed width, we can create some great-looking content that will be quite different from anything you've seen.
So, I hope this gives you some ideas of what the site is doing, and where it's going. We want to get more people reading, more people participating, and we want to create more, higher-quality content that keeps you guys interested. The new site is all part of achieving that goal - it's taken us over a year to get to here from when we first started planning, but I hope you'll agree it's been worthwhile.