Introducing the New - A Site Redesign for the Next Era of BlackBerry!

Introducing the New!
By Kevin Michaluk on 22 Nov 2010 10:03 pm EST

the New CrackBerry: better looking, easier to navigate, more fun to use

Welcome to the new! Click around and get to know us - we're sure you'll like what you see. We've got a new look, new navigation and some great new content areas (don't miss the BlackBerry Devices section or BlackBerrry OS Superpage - they're my favorites!). Of course the accessory store and forums have received makeovers and our App store, Canada store, Phone store and sites will be getting the redesign treatment soon. All in all it's a better looking and more professional CrackBerry that's easier to navigate and more fun to use. And don't worry - if you liked the old site, you're going to LOVE the new site as we've made sure not to lose any of the crackiness that has made CrackBerry so successful to date. Keep in mind this is the first phase of a larger plan to fully revamp CrackBerry, which means there are even more changes to look forward to in the months ahead.   

Go explore the site and hurry back to this article and keep reading and I'll fill in the details of what's new, why we did what we did and what's coming next. With a major overhaul like this I'm sure there will still be some tweaks and fixes for us to make post re-launch (supporting older web browsers, etc.) so consider us in *public beta* and don't mind if you run into the odd loose end. We've setup a forum thread to report any errors or bugs and we'll be working overtime to make things perfect. In the meantime, read on for more of the story behind the CrackBerry redesign and let us know what you think of the new CB in the comments!

What's New, Why We Did What We Did and What's Coming Next!

Out with the old and in with the new  

CrackBerry Redesign
the Old CrackBerry - it'll always have a fond place in our hearts

Since launching in February 2007, the site has more or less maintained the same look and feel. Suffice to say we've been long overdue for a redesign and it has been on our minds for a while now, though that old adage of if it ain't broke, don't fix it didn't have us wanting to change things up simply for the sake of change. So the goal for our three-phase CrackBerry redesign isn't simply to freshen up the site, but to truly make it better. With that in mind, here's our framework.

Redesign Goals - Think of today's changes as our version of RIM's BlackBerry 6 redesign. We're still working with the same backend system (or OS if you will) but have really revamped and enhanced the user interface, optimized things to help the performance of the site, and added some great new content areas. We had a few key goals in mind while working on the updates you see before you:

  • Update the look and feel: The old design worked, but it was time for a change. We wanted something that better represented who we are... professional, friendly and hip, and 100% BlackBerry Addicts!!
  • Kill the drop down menus: The old CrackBerry site utilized drop down menus for navigation, which tended to hide content from users more than help them find it. It also tended to mess up in rendering on some web browsers (especially mobile ones).
  • Have an indicator of where you are on the site: On the old site, you never really knew where you were. Especially for a first time visitor landing on a page straight out of a search engine. And if you don't know where you are, it's hard to know where else to go. We wanted to fix that.
  • Make non-today content more discoverable: We post a lot of content on the CrackBerry blogs on a daily basis, but once it's off the homepage it tends to be difficult to find unless you search for it or know exactly where to look. With the redesign, we wanted content to be more discoverable, have more opportunities to feature good stories and articles and make it more intuitive for new users to find that content.
  • Get ready for BlackBerry in the land of tablets: With the introduction of the BlackBerry PlayBook and the new BlackBerry Tablet OS, it's going to get interesting (messy) organizing content on the site. We wanted the new site design to be more ready to handle PlayBook/Tablet OS content as it starts to hit in the months ahead. 
  • Introduce New Content Areas: With the old CrackBerry design, for sections like BlackBerry Help and BlackBerry Downloads there was no dedicated landing page as you were forced to choose an option from the drop down links. With the redesign, we wanted to add section landing pages where there were none before and add some news areas to boot, like Videos and BlackBerry Devices.
  • Speed up page load times: We've already made good progress here in the last few weeks with database optimizations, and we're doing some clever things on the new site design to help make things quicker as well. 

What's Coming Next - Coming in the not-so-distant future, we'll actually be upgrading our backend systems (think of it as our QNX/BlackBerry Tablet OS overhaul) that will bring with it some new features and a platform upon which we'll be able to add a lot of further features and enhancements. We have lots of exciting stuff planned here. From there, we'll turn our focus back from the main website experience to visiting CrackBerry on your BlackBerry with improvements to the mobile-optimized experience (both visiting via web browser on device and via full out CrackBerry apps).

Having been actively using the redesigned CrackBerry site for a few weeks now as we approached going live with the redesign changes, I personally believe it's a much better site. There's always a bit of shock when a website gets a new look, but give it some use and I'm confident you will agree!!

Some of our Design Decisions Explained

I already detailed what goals we had in mind with our redesign and what's coming next, but you might also be interested in some of the specific design decisions we made in putting together the redesign so figured we'd go through some of more noticable changes here. While the original CrackBerry site was launched under my direction and the help of two friends on the graphics and coding (James & Tom), for the redesign I worked closely with our new Miami-based, Smartphone Experts design team. Offline sketches by David Lundblad, Head of Design for SPE, got the ideas flowing, and from there we went through weeks of non-stop back and forth as we brainstormed and tried different things and worked through dozens of mockups.

CrackBerry Redesign
Planning the online updates began with offline sketching

During the design process we tried a lot of things - we looked at both major design departures and more minor ones, and eventually came to a place that made sense and everybody was happy with. With a lot of passionate cooks in the CrackBerry redesign kitchen it wasn't always easy, but the process was always interesting and fun! 

Color Choice - It didn't take us long to discover that without both orange and purple, you just don't have CrackBerry. We actually tried a lot of designs where we got rid of the purple altogether (even a few designs where we scrapped CrackBerry orange), and as soon as we didn't see the purple/orange color combo together on the site somehow it just didn't feel like anymore. With the old site having too much purple and orange, on the new CrackBerry we use it in high impact areas and balance it out with other colors. We use a lot more black/grey now which aligns a bit more closely with the actual look of BlackBerry devices, and I'm happy we worked in some green as a call to action color, which ties in nicely to the CrackBerry-green table that has been used for countless BlackBerry device and accessory reviews. Blue for active links is easy on the eyes and helps tie it all together. All in all the colors are bright, clean, professional, friendly, funky and approachable - and that's what CrackBerry is all about!

Big Header, Dedicated Sub Menus - Regular CrackBerry readers tend to follow the site via RSS or their phone on the site, and for those who visit the full site daily they simply keep scrolling down the homepage until they reach stories they have seen previously. Knowing that, we expanded the size of the site header and navigation to allow us to feature more content at the top and provide more value-added navigation. The main featured block at the top will be reserved for BIG stories or contests (it refreshes on page load), while the three-story rotating article block will be updated regulary with article content. For those who want to skip the homepage featured sections, they can go straight to the News button on the main menu where you can find just the latest stories with none of the frills. Off the homepage, the sub-navigation menus change based on what area of the site you are in. To keep you noticing what's in the sub-menus, the look and feel of them change slightly from section to section based on the needs of the section. For example, the forums sub-menu is heavy on links, which allow for quick forum use, while in the Help section we've gone for big visual buttons that beginners can't miss.

Big Article Headers, Easy to Read BIG Comments - When it comes to stories on the homepage, we've included big article headers that make it easy to spot new stories at a glance as you scroll through. When viewing a full article page, we've kept the story itself in our standard, more professional font, but have then relaxed things out in the comments with a bigger font. People love to browse the comments on CrackBerry, so we've made them easy to read while kicking back in your chair.

CrackBerry RedesignWe went through a ton of sketches and over 30 mockups to get to final form

Anybody who's gone through a major website redesign will attest it's no quick and simple process. The devil is in the details, and we pretty much gave thought to every one of them. If you have any specific questions on anything, be sure to ask us on the CrackBerry redesign forum thread. 

We could go on for ages about each little design decision made. Some decisions we're easy and there's others we still may revisit and tweak a bit as they were that difficult to decide upon. But in the end, we're pretty happy with the look of the new CrackBerry and the use of the site!

FeedBack and Ongoing Improvements

We've always been committed to our CrackBerry community, but moving ahead we're going to be even more committed. Expect to see some posts in the future from David Lundblad, Smartphone Experts' Head of Design, as he works with the community to get feedback on the new CrackBerry and works with members on testing future improvements.

In the meantime, if you come across any bugs or tweaks that need to be made on the new site, be sure to let us know on this thread.

Enjoy the site!

I hope you enjoy the new! With the coming of the BlackBerry PlayBook and QNX-based BlackBerry Tablet OS we're entering a new era of BlackBerry, so it's really exciting for us to follow suit with a new era of CrackBerry. We hope you like the changes so far, and stay tuned for the further improvements to come.

A lot of people were involved in the CrackBerry redesign process, so before we get back to our regularly scheduled programming I wanted to give thanks again to all those who have contributed. On the design and graphics side, BIG THANKS go to David Lundblad, Jose Negron, Johan Steen and James Falconer. On the coding side, props to go Tom Roof for working on the CSS and HUGE THANKS to Tom Kaminski for the late nights working on the community site coding changes. Props go to Stephane Koenig and Mike de la Morena for doing their thing on the accessory store, and to Sebastian Dimjarescu on the app store. Thanks also go to our Inverness-based e-commerce team for their feedback and ongoing support. More thanks also go to Dieter Bohn, Andrew Carton and Marcus Adolfsson for their contributions, feedback and for putting up with my frantic ways throughout the process. And finally, the last round of thanks go to Adam, Bla1ze and entire CrackBerry editorial and forums teams who've kept the content coming and site running smooth these past few months while I've been focused on the redesign. 

That's it. Enjoy the site. Keep Crack'n!!!

Reader comments

Introducing the New - A Site Redesign for the Next Era of BlackBerry!


Fixed. I had the site zoomed a couple of notches (under View) so I could read text while sitting back a ways. When I reset it to normal, the forum frame filled.

HOLY TIT MONKEYS!!! Looks great guys, I've been waiting for a refresh, even did a college project on how slow the old one was (sorry), no worries now, it's rockin'!

I would like it better if it didn't have that obnoxious banner on the header above your logo. It makes the site look cheap and desperate for money.

I would rather see your logo first.

Just my humble opinion. Site looks good, tho. :)

Adblock Plus will keep you from seeing that banner. I actually had to turn it off to see the referenced banner.

ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL!!!! Congratulations offense, but this is much needed makeover and boy you took it to a whole new level. The transitions remind me of the Mashable! website.

It's kind of busy; a little overwhelming at first however I think it is an improvement. Good work guys, it must have been a big job.

This'll take some getting used to, but I think it will be better in the long run for this! It only took me about 15 seconds to figure out how to navigate to pretty much wherever I want from the homescreen, and I can't wait for the mobile version! Love the contests section by the way, it's nice to just look there and know that I didn't miss any good contests!

It looks pretty good, really nice and colorful. Doesnt suit my taste at all, but overall the site looks good.

Nice work guys! I'm very impressed with all the hard work that went into making this a success. (Even the login page looks cool.)

please no!!!!

Our logins are specific for crackberry, we don't need no cross breeding with other forums or social networks. At least that's how i feel.

WOW, I mean WOW! All of you at Crackberry never cease to impress me. I have been a member of many sites but never got into and frequented a site until I came here and became a member. Thanks for all the hard work everyone puts in and thanks for providing a place for all us Berry Heads to get our fix! Damn this place is awesome.

Looks much better!

My only criticisms would be 1) reduce the Comments font size, huge bold letters makes it seem like everybody's shouting and creates a lot of scrolling. 2) I like the new look of the Forums, except that I preferred the old method where the ads on the right side would not appear if you were logged in. Now not as much information flows horizontally, and vertically the page is loooong.

Thanks so much everyone! We've been very eager to get this live.

Great work Kevin for pushing to make this happen and keeping the whole team excited and energized throughout the project.

Keep those comments coming - we are really happy to see all the positive feedback. The best conclusion to a considerable amount of work.

I'll miss the old site but this new look and feel is rockin'!

I usually hate when my favorite sites change... this is the first time I am pleased with such a major overhaul. Well done!

Gotta get used to it, not a huge fan of the sales promos on the right but understand that's what keeps the site buzzing, so I'll get over it. Overall it is a very nice design, very nice job. Congrads!

i love it

oh and btw, loads very nicely and quickly on os6 browser on torch (normal view mode)

will there be a mobile view version that matches with the normal site?

I would move the commenting system over to Disqus so it's easier for commentators to keep track of their on-going conversations, debates, feuds and so on. The redesign was definitely needed and looks great!

Looking good and running great!

Well done "Team CrackBerry."

Looking forward to the mobile site makeover. (its always run kinda slow for me).

Very nice transition, great colours, nice and punchy - it looks live !

Nice job, well deserved upgrade.

All the bells and whistles - it really flows
decent load time :)

One of the best things about this site upgrade is the explanation
of the transition - keeping everyone in the loop! Top props for that :)!

CB still Rocks!

Awesome !!! I'm not that into changes but you guys ROCK !! the new look is Awesome is Fast is cracked and abused amazing site Thank you ;)

I really like the new look of the site! It looks awesome! I was loving everything until I saw that my baby ain't featured on the Shop Crackberry section! The Storm2 is listed with "All Models"! No picture! No nothing! Y'all ain't showing us Stormers no love! Your first born touch screeners and y'all are tossing us away! C'mon man put our picture back up! Other than that, I love the new look of the site!

"WOW" Nice revamp. Look forward to getting in deep with the new site, and looking forward to more.

It was about time, the old site was moving soooo slow. I don't care how it looks as long as it's FAST. This one is faster. Great work. Thank you a bunch.

Great job on the redesign guys. I agree, it was definitely about time! Old site was looking ancient :)

Crackberry has always been my favorite website, and now refreshing it might somehow renew my addiction !!
They tried to make me go to rehab,
And I said No No No !! :P
Congrattzz Crackberry !! :P
Can't wait to see Ur New-Look :P XD

I may be in the minority, but I totally do not like this site design :( :(. The old one was so much better for me. Disappointing that CB would change.

Good Grave!! I really are becoming (more) addicted to this website!! Great Job CB team!! Love the new revamped site :D even when I already moved (or use both of) android yet still kept my blackberry, I think the new website view will make me stay a while and also open up some website.

I thought my browser took me to the wrong place and had one of those "WTF?"! Looks nice...just gonna have to adjust!


Nice bright colours (NOT TO BRIGHT) and keeping all the same features as previously will make everyone happy.

Im just really glad you guys didnt move to that disqus crap :)

one thing guys, I get a lot of slow down with the pictures that slowly appear once you are in view... Does anyone else feel this way or is it just me and my lack of ram on my laptop :P

all in all i am very impressed. you managed it to update your site in a very very good way, often people do something worse. but everything feels familiar but better looking.
Nevertheless there is one thing that disturbs me which is the page loading while scrolling the site. it makes it unfluid and gives a weird feeling to me..

I am really impressed by the new design!

However, there's is something CB Team should check; which is that the time difference when loading the page using the two designs. Some people might not have enough bandwidth to load a page with a lot of graphics. Just a thought ....


CB gone better. Who ould have imagined :) Nice design. Will the mobile forum pages get a redesign as well with bigger text for reading in OS6 ;)

This is SO WELL DONE. Here I thought I couldn't do better than having Crackberry as my homepage on both my Storm2 and my Mac. Now how am I ever supposed to leave this beautifully designed site? Well played Team CB....Well played....

unfortunatly im not a crackberry addict anymore, switched to android, but i come here often to still read up on my bold 9550, but i love the redesign. Makes the entire site seem like it is of a better quality. Great job guys

It is Really Awesome, I have not been Here, Since 2 days A go,
And What I See While i reached On my favorite page
New Look, and Really Profesional..
Love u CB,

Fantastic look and feel, it only gets better. Great job Guys! Crackberry and Blackberry a dying breed? I don't think so!

At first glance I wasn't so sure I was going to like it. (It just didn't 'feel' like CB.)
But after spending a few minutes clicking around, it's great!
Must have been a lot of hard work, very nicely done!

Love the new look but I got to say that I'll miss the old crackberry. Got used to it in a nostalgic sorta way. Yet, if you don't change with the times then your left behind (no intention to rhyme, even though I did it again).

Been wondering around, checking the site. Great choice of colors, really clean desing, easy to navegate. Great work, as always!

great new layout. I love it. Really brightens everything up around the site, and fixes up some of the minor glitches.

I knew the new forum images was hinting at something

Love the new comments layout even if it's a tad too big.

Love also the general layout. The only big problem is that font is hard to read on firefox.

OK I really don't like the comments!

I had a few, but not worth noting issues with the Blogs, now News layout, but I chocked that up to familiarity, but COME ON! look at the font size choice, and the HUGE blocks for each comments, we get into a 500+ comment blog and going through them will take for ever! it is nicer to read with the colour, but the font, and the placement of the reply button when there is perfectly good white space beside the "xx hrs ago" to place it.

gawd I hate all the scrolling!!!!

Wow the make over is amazing. I'm a software engineer so I can appreciate all the work that must have went into your site.

Looks way cool! Very good job on the redesign. Unfortunately I have a couple nits to pick.

First, I think the comment font is just a bit too big. Second, and more importantly, the font used in the articles themselves is very hard to read. A couple comments up someone said it is hard to read in Firefox...I'm using Chrome and it is hurting my eyes trying to read the text.

Looks great! Have to say Im enjoying the new look. (slightly Retro) but all in all its def an improvement!

Awesome!!! Love the new site guys. I too was getting a little tired of the old site. This is exactly what it needed to make it feel fresh.

Thank you.

its pretty good...but then the new look seems to waste a tonne of valuable space up top and i can't handle the large font!

LOVE IT!!!!!!! finally it's not only a site with great info, but with great design as well! congrats! i'm loving it! :D

Way to go on upgrading the site, not it's a cluttered mess with more annoying banners and ads evrywhere. Great graphics and imaging though.

The site looks sweet! I digg how clean and uncluttered it looks. The old CB we know with some new age freshness. You guys do awesome work...Period!

the site itself looks great, however, having ads right in the middle of the content is such a turnoff!!!

I love it minus the new adds. My "Adkiller" on Firefox doesn't like these new adobe flash adds...I guess I will have to search for another one to kill them, they are just so annoying.

BUT, the new look is great, I really love it.

A new site for my new phone, got to say I like both. From someone whom has played with mobile devices from the beginning I've got to say that the Torch is a great all around device and the new site looks and works great.

The new site performs very poorly (ie. CPU), some optimizations are required. I have a high-end system and this site brings my browser to its knees.

Do the fonts in the comments need to be so large? Reduce the size to something tolerable, please. They were fine before. The banners for the story headers could be reduced in size as well. With everything being so large you would almost think the site was redesigned for senior citizens...

The banner ad on the front page for the CrackBerry store is terrible, thank god for adblock...

comments are too big and wasting space on my screen. normal font size (like the one used inthe "Post new comment" box would be acceptable. This shit just requires way too much scrolling. Other than that, good job.

This has been long overdue and caught me by surprise! GREAT job team, you really stepped up to the modern web experience level!

I loved the old site,and i got use to it so well,but this change like every change is always a refreshment!
I simply adore and love this new better,crisp,bolder and slicker layout!

I like the look, but don't like that you have to scroll to see the first story, too much at the top, rather have some content up there

Love the new look! Very fresh and definitely more exciting to look at! You all get pats on the backs! Well done!

I must say, this redesign is GREAT!!

I've always hated the original was out-dated and inefficient. This one is well worth the money spent.

i love the new CRACKBERRY ! it has a nicer look and feel to it it loads way faster than the old layout , it looks way cleaner and i dont get lost around the site so that means no more redirecting myself to the homepage , navigation is easier , the comment section is GREAT i love the new look , thanks :) keep up the good work !


Too bad I can't say the same for the poor, old, ugly BlackBerry OS.

:( (sad face)

I like the new design. Not only easy and look nice, also more faster. Before I have to wait for about 1 min or two too log in but now just 2 second. Thanks crackberry.

The new sight is full of a lot of functionality, but I've yet to find a site that is as consistently slow to load. All of the Google analytics and every other function that runs, even when shifting from one page of posts to another is almost unbelievable in the time it takes to load.

As I said at the beginning, there is a lot here, and visually it is very cool... but wow... it has to be 3-4 times as slow to load as almost every other site online. Perhaps there is soooooo much packed into the pages that it is slowed by the volume...I get a lot of information here, but the site is a destination whose content is worth the wait... I'm just not sure why the lag is still so long.

It may be an unpopular comment, and I've wanted to post this for a while... is it possible that I'm in a minority that finds the current crackberry sight uber-slow? Could it be browser settings? I'm not thinking that's the case, and I'm open to hearing suggestions.

Great looking... just so painfully slow.