We've been working hard on redesigning Brickset for the 21st Century.
We'd like your help with testing it so that it all works when it's launched in February.
If you like, you can read about why we're changing, or you can go right ahead and take a look around the site. When you've done so, please give us your feedback. You'll find links to this page, and the feedback form, on the More... menu.
Note: you will encounter bugs and things that don't work or look right: when you do, please fill out a problem report so we can fix them.
We realise many of you like the current design and that the new look is likely to take some getting used to. However we are committed to the change and it will be happening very soon. But, unlike flickr, who launched their new site without so much as a warning which resulted in a lot of negativity, we're keen to show it to you ahead of launch so that you can get used to it and provide, hopefully constructive, feedback.
Why we are changing
So, the main reason for changing is to provide a modern user experience that's consistent across devices, built on a platform that's more robust and scalable to meet future demand and requirements.
What's been changed
It's tempting to say 'everything' and actually, that's not far from the truth. Much of the website code has been rewritten from scratch, although the data and business logic tiers remain largely unchanged. Here's a quick summary of the main changes:
- New design -- This will obviously be the first thing you notice. The current version of the site was designed by me, a developer, and it shows. Although its perfectly functional, it looks dated, lacks finesse and any real design flair. The new design has been created by a non-AFOL professional web designer who works for one of the best-known web design agencies in the UK. His brief was to make it 'LEGO-like' but to avoid the usual design clichés that most AFOL sites employ.
- Responsive design -- Over 25% of Brickset's traffic is from mobile devices and that's a number that can only increase. It's important, then, that the site not only looks good on all screen sizes, but is also actually usable on them, too. The new design is thus 'responsive' which has nothing to do with the speed at which it works, but the way it responds to different screen sizes and resolutions. If you're reading this on a desktop or laptop, resize the browser window to see this in action. It won't look great at every window size, but it will at the resolutions of most mobile devices (phones and tablets in landscape and portrait mode: 320x460, 460x320, 1024x768, 768x1024). The behaviour of the main navigation also changes to suit the device being used.
- Modern technology -- The web pages are written in HTML5 and CSS3/LESS. (They have not yet been validated, but they will be prior to launch). The server-side code is still Microsoft ASP.net, which may not be fashionable, but is perfectly functional, incredibly feature-rich and efficient to create.
- 'International-isable' -- You won't notice this yet, but the opportunity was taken to make it possible to internationalise the site in the future, and display it in German, French, Spanish or whatever. You won't see the news translated into different languages, but it will be possible to display website text, labels, forms and so on in the user's native language, if they desire.
- Consistent interface -- On the current site there is much inconsistency in the way similar data is displayed across different pages. This has been reduced so that when a list of sets is displayed, for example, it looks and behaves the same wherever it is on the site.
- New URL structure -- The new URLs are more 'SEO-friendly' and avoid the use of lengthy query strings. Redirectors will be put in place to ensure links to existing pages on other sites do not get broken.
- New features and improvements -- We won't list them all here because there are too many, but hopefully you'll notice them as you use the site.
What's being retired
We've decided to retire the following features of the current site, in order to concentrate on the core functionality:
- My Friends won't be implemented, but you can still search for members and view their profiles.
- Wallpaper repository, Bricks and Pieces, LEGO World show brochures etc. won't be at Brickset, but I hope a new home can be found for them.
What we'd like you to do now
Play with it. View it on all the phones, tablets and computers you own. See if you can break it. Use the feedback form to tell us what you like and what you don't, and most importantly, if you find anything that's not working as you think it should or doesn't look quite right. We can only make the site perfect with your help!
Note that the new site uses the same database as the old one so, for example, changes you make to your collection will reflect on both sites.
If everything goes to plan we will launch the new site in February.