New design – a week in


If you are a regular visitor to this site, and also receive my weekly email, you are probably thoroughly sick of reading about our new site design. Apologies if so, but I thought I would sum up where we have got to in our ongoing quest for perfection.

On transition day exactly a week ago we were off-air for only a few minutes, thank goodness, and most of our 10,000 articles and 100,000 tasting notes, not to mention the many nooks, crannies and specialities that have grown organically in our 14 years of existence seem to have made the big leap with us. In my experience, the new site is very much faster and more responsive than the old – especially when viewed on a variety of different devices.

One obvious change is that our 215 maps are now from the brand new seventh edition of The World Atlas of Wine (on the old site we had the rather fewer, older maps from the sixth). Unfortunately, because of the way these maps were put together for the book's publishers, we have to have these maps in PDF format, which is far from ideal for tablets and mobile devices. But we are hoping to improve this when our next iteration is launched at the beginning of next month. If you find the map is cut off at the bottom, you can click on the 'fit to screeen' icon (the one on the far left of the little row of icons in the pdf reader that allow you to zoom, etc) to see the map as a whole before you zoom in on anything in particular.

While pleased that so many people like the more spacious new design, we are keenly aware that for many eyes, the new font size is just too big – especially but not exclusively the titles – so we are of course responding by trialling smaller type. Unfortunately our lead designer is on holiday until next week so this may take a little longer than we would like, but we want it to be right. Please bear with us in the meantime, and use your screen zoom if necessary in the interim. We know that many visitors found the type on the old site design was too small.

The most disappointing feature that has not made The Big Leap with us is the ability to sort tasting notes by vintage, score, tasting date, etc. We are giving top priority to fixing this and hope that normal service will be restored later this week.

Some members have found that for mysterious reasons they can access all areas except the forum. I can assure you that this is random and nothing to do with past behaviour. Our developer is examining this quirk but in the meantime it may be worth checking your cookie settings (see and our article on cookie settings). Cookies are unlikely to be the cause if you have not changed them recently but if you have disabled cookies for some reason, you should re-enable them. It may also help to clear all cookies from your browser. (There are also lots of little snagging features that will be attended to such as that strange space above where you post on the forum…)

Other features we will be restoring early next month will be the ability to print and create PDFs from articles, as well as the RSS and IFTTT feeds. We also hope to have a more logical cascading system whereby, for example, when you select France as a country in the tasting notes search, the system instantly filters regions and appellations to be exclusively French.

I'm delighted to say that our new membership sign-up system is much more user-friendly than the old one (though the Rejoin function is being rather stubborn at the moment – if you experience any difficulty you could go straight here instead), and we are hoping eventually to migrate all members from payment provider WorldPay to the infinitely friendlier Stripe. At the moment, our entreaty to sign up for my weekly newsletter is far too prominent and will disappear for those who have already done so.

Once we have sorted out the teething problems, we hope to be ready to introduce some exciting new features. Thank you so much for any and all feedback and for getting this far.