Damien

Icy Veins' New Design and Logo

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A few words of explanations on the new design.

Our new site is finally up and running, so we put together this article to explain why we did it and what our plans are going forward.


Two days ago, we unveiled our new logo and the new design of our website. As you can imagine, there were a few bugs and quirks, so we have been working around the clock to fix everything that was being reported. Now that this post-launch rush is over, I wanted to take the time to talk more about this rebranding, as one might call it. I'll also explain why the forums haven't been updated to the new design yet.

Previous design felt dated


The most obvious reason for all this is that our previous logo and site design started feeling a bit dated. When we started Icy Veins, I designed everything all by myself. I'm a software engineer and I'm pretty bad at visual stuff, so here's how the website looked in the very early days: https://web.archive.org/web/20110404021849/http://www.icy-veins.com/

Throughout 2012, we sought out help from our good friend, Michael Oglesby, which eventually culminated in the design we had been using up until Friday.

The problem was that we kept improving something that was not very good to begin with, so we decided to start afresh this time. Unfortunately, Michael is a UX/UI specialist, not an artist, so we had to find someone with an artistic touch. We eventually settled on Karim Boukarabila.

With him, we were able to go much further and really give our website that slick and pleasant appearance that had been sorely missing. That said, it isn't a revolution. We've always felt that our layout was pretty solid and that the website was easy to navigate. So, we tried to keep much of the existing layout and simply focused on making it look much much better and more modern.

More on the logo


The logo is meant to represent a person guiding you in the right direction, a bit like we do with our guides. That person has the appearance of a mage or a wizard, because Icy Veins is a mage spell in World of Warcraft (we'll never forget where we come from!). It also works with the other games we cover, as you find mages/wizards in Hearthstone, Diablo 3, and Heroes of the Storm.

We think that this new logo is going to give us a more recognizable face on social media, as well on memorabilia that we'll sell on our shop. Indeed, more and more people block ads, so we need additional sources of revenue if we want to keep the site afloat for many years to come. We're also looking at starting premium subscriptions in 2016, and being able to include nice looking stuff in the premium package is a definite plus.

More on the design


First, we decided to keep a dark background, as we feel that it is what is best suited to the games we cover (they all have light-colored text on dark-colored backgrounds). Also, when linking World of Warcraft items/spells, Diablo 3 items/spells, and Hearthstone cards, we like to use in-game colors, and some of them (purple and white, most notably) look much better on dark.

Second, the website is now responsive, but with a slight twist. While the website does adapt to various mobile devices, for desktop the width is fixed at 1070 pixels (to fit ad takeovers, see http://www.icy-veins.com/advertise). Obviously, we've had to remove the right column to fit our pages on mobile devices, but for those who prefer seeing the desktop version, there is a link at the bottom of each page to force the desktop version (you just need to click it once and the website will remember your choice in subsequent visits).

Third, the menu underwent a number of improvements. The menu now follows the scroll on desktop, as well as on mobile devices when you choose to force the desktop version, but this feature is disabled for Chrome on Android for technical reasons (browser really bad at handling position: fixed). There is also a mobile-specific menu, which is very straightforward.

Finally, the news now have a much more prominent place. This is to help promote the content that our new team of writers is producing every day.

Ongoing/future work


There are many things that Karim designed and that haven't made it yet to the site, most notably the forums and embedded twitch streams.

The forums run on IP.Board, a completely different software than the rest of the website. It recently received a major upgrade (like it's been completely rewritten), so I need to upgrade our forums to this new version and then make a new Icy Veins skin for it (because the skin system has drastically changed).

Originally, I was planning to drop IP.Board and convert the forums to another software, because IP.Board is probably one of the worst pieces of software I have ever worked with. The code base feels very old and clunky (and there's barely any documentation), so when they announced a complete rewrite of it, I figured that I'd give them one last chance.

Regarding embedded twitch streams, the idea is that for each game we cover, we will propose a number of instructional/didactic streams that you can watch directly on Icy Veins. I don't want to talk too much about that yet, because we still have a number of things to decide on.

Suggestions


I want to end this article by saying that everyone is welcome to send suggestions and feedback. Since the new site went live, we received a number of e-mails. Some praised the new design and it made us happy. Others suggested improvements or reported bugs.

To give you an idea of what you can suggest, we received an e-mail from someone who was complaining that asking Chrome on Android to "request desktop site" was not working, so we added this "Force desktop version" button to our mobile pages.

Another reader complained about how impractical using the desktop menu was with a touchscreen laptop (because you can't mouseover), so we added event handlers to the menu to properly interact with touch events.

As you can see, we are very open to feedback and will do whatever is required for everyone to have a nice browsing experience.
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So, access to diablo3, HOTS and wow builds and HS decks, will be paid? And i have an extra question: Why not an SC2 section? I'm a very bad player of SC myself, but love the game!

Edited by lexblow

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So, access to diablo3, HOTS and wow builds and HS decks, will be paid? And i have an extra question: Why not an SC2 section? I'm a very bad player of SC myself, but love the game!

No, you misunderstood. Our content will always be free, which is why we need to find other incentives for people to sign up for a premium account (no ads, cool goodies, etc.). We don't really play SC2, so we don't really know how to make good guides for it smile.png

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This is probably on the To-Do list with the forums upgrade, but in the mobile version (on iOS), I don't see a way to directly reach the forums from the home page. I usually end up clicking on a topic and then using the old interface to click and go to the forums.

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The new website looks awesome. And I really like the new logo. Can't wait to see what exciting changes 2016 will bring for this site. I've been a visitor throughout my gaming career. Don't know what I'd do without it. Keep up the great work!

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Windows desktop Chrome user here on a 2560x1440 monitor. Still getting used to it. The home page feels like a run on mess to me. I think I need a more effective separator element (either a literal line, or more space, or some other styling that more effectively groups things to go together into one unit and gives the units more room to breathe. I also feel like a bunch of elements aren't aligned correctly even though when I inspect it using tools I can see that they are - some illusion of white space I think.

 

I understand the older style may not be "cool" to today's design professionals but clear organization and separation of elements always worked for me. For example on this forum page I can readily distinguish one user's post from the next.

 

I'm sure I'll be in love with this new style by the time you roll out 3.0 ;-)

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Thank you guys for the feedback! I've been gathering everything we received (by e-mail, on forum posts or on Twitter) about the new design and we'll discuss all these points with our designer after the Christmas Holidays.

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