The VICE Channels

    Welcome to Motherboard 4.0

    Written by

    Derek Mead


    Hey folks, welcome to the new Motherboard. For the last few months, our crack team of developers and designers has been cleaning up, improving, and modernizing the site, all while hearkening back to some of our favorite design elements from the original Motherboard—which, amazingly, launched nearly five years ago. The main goal was to make Motherboard easier to read and use for you, dear reader, and I'd say the dev team has done a bang-up job. Let's take a tour, shall we?

    Before I touch on the design elements, I want to talk about a feature you hopefully won't even notice much. The new site is built on a responsive platform, which means it automatically scales every page to fit desktop, tablet, and mobile screens. Every link that you click or share will work for every person on every screen, without any separate mobile URL nonsense. 

    Now, let's talk about this article page you're reading. Motherboard's editorial team puts a lot of effort into everything it does, and when you come to a story, we want you to enjoy it. We're confident that you will, so rather than shoving a bunch of crappy related content modules and in-your-face pop-ups begging you to click on anything, we decided to make our stories the central focus. Big photos, clean text, and simple, smart suggestions for what to read next are the key here.

    Up top, you'll notice we're running much larger photos. That's partly because big photos are awesome to look at, and largely because it makes the video viewing experience so much better. We've got a ton of video already slated for this year, and we wanted to showcase it. Today, we're publishing our latest long doc, a piece about Diana Nyad, the intrepid, science-loving swimmer who swam from Cuba to Florida, to show that very capability off. 

    Compare a video from the old site, where it gets lost in the page:

    To the new site, where it's there for you to fully enjoy:

    Another rad little tool our dev team implemented adds Twitter connectivity to highlighted text. Let's be real for a second: We really like it when you quote and share our stories, and instead of those horrible copy-paste tools that auto-add the story URL, we think this is a rather elegant solution to make sharing easier.

    We've also switched to Disqus for comments, as our old system was consistently the main thing we received complaints about. We hope this means more and more intelligent discussion, and we’ve made our author bylines and social media accounts more prominent to help facilitate the conversation between writer and reader.

    Articles aside, let's check out the front page, which scrolls indefinitely. We've gone for a bigger carousel/rotator up top, along with a grid format that's an homage to Motherboard's original site. We all loved the OG Motherboard, especially with the color-coded categories, but the most common thing we'd hear from new readers was that they had no idea what was going on when they arrived at the homepage:

    As lovely as it was, the old format was perhaps a bit ahead of its time, and just had too much going on. To counter that, we opted for a straight blogroll-style list on the home page of the last iteration of the site, which was more utilitarian than we'd like. Now, we've found a happy medium.

    You might notice that we’ve also featured story tags more prominently in both the carousel and article pages, and brought back category dropdowns to our top bar. No single article exists in a vacuum, and we tailor our reporting and blogging to keep up with ongoing story threads. (For example, Bitcoin, 3D printing, or wildlife trafficking are all stories that are continually evolving, as is just about everything in the tech and science worlds.) Seeing as that's how we write, we want to make sure you can easily keep up, and those tags allow us to do so.

    So what's next? We've purposely kept the redesign fairly simple, which leaves open the option to add smart new capabilities down the road. We're also exploring new formats for stories, especially longform features. More than anything, we want a site that's easy for you to use, and we welcome your feedback. Thanks for reading.