Last week’s Season 2 build for iRacing brought a new home page for the members site that was aimed at reducing confusion and the load time for the site. While the update has received mix reviews – especially over the removal of the user’s iRating and Safety Rating – which I agree is an issue – iRacing has released a new video showing that last week’s update was only the beginning of a substantial UI overall to the sim.
The objective of the new UI is to take the load off of the member’s site and place it on the sim. The sim can handle much more traffic then the website. The website is the source of the server issues iRacing has had for big events, such as this year’s Daytona 500. When a whole bunch of people are on the site and press the ‘Join’ button at the same time, the site fails. So the idea is to get you in the new site faster and allow you to navigate in it, instead of having to jump back out of the sim to the member’s site to join and go back into the sim. Jumping in and out is bad.
As far as the look of the new website/UI, its a big departure from the design that has been around since iRacing’s release in 2008. Gone are the drop down menus, having been replaced with new landing pages, greatly cleaning up the process of finding a race. Now you can easily scroll through -and search – the car list thumbnails (pictures!) instead of scrolling through 40+ car names in a tiny drop down menu. Looks much more user friendly. Even kinda has an Assetto Corsa look to it, which is a good thing.
The in-sim landing page is not as far as the new members website, with the video only showing an Adobe Illustrator wireframe template, but it too appears much more streamlined. It also appears to have the ability to perform many (or possibly all) of the functions that the website has, keeping you in the sim instead of arguing on the forums.
What is looking further along is the in (driving) session UI which has also been overhauled. Gone are the bars that span the upper and lower parts of the screen, replaced by small buttons at the bottom that can be expanded to full-size menus and moved anywhere on the screen. Again, very Assetto Corsa like. This new UI will also allow for multiple ‘black boxes’ to be displayed at the same time while driving, eliminating some of the headaches of scrolling through multiple boxes while trying to concentrate on driving.
Overall it appears like a step in the right direction. I will say that I enjoy the web-based style of iRacing, being able to have the members page up and the forums…and any other site up as well, but I understand how that can strain the system. Plus, I should probably spend more time racing and less time on the forums…
No word on release date but considering they have been thinking about new UI for 6 years and working on it for 2, it still probably has a ways to go. Hopefully some of the new hires can help propel the project to an end of 2015 release. With all the stability improvements it brings, I’m sure the staff want it out ASAP.