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Welcome to the new Rough Guides website

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By Tim Chester
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If you’re a regular visitor to roughguides.com, you’ve probably noticed a few changes this week. In fact, we’d be surprised if you can recognise the website – we’ve completely rethought, rebuilt and redesigned it from the ground up.

Rough Guides celebrated its 30th birthday last year, and the website itself reached the grand old age of 16 (which is pretty ancient in web years). We felt it was high time it had a bit of a refresh.

Back in 1996 it looked like this. Yes, really.
RG 1996

Last year, it looked like this:
RG 2012

For the last few months, a team of travel editors, web specialists, designers and developers have been hard at work conceiving and building the new site, and it now looks like this.
Homepage

Here’s a quick rundown of the new features and functionality. Let us know what you think in the comments below.

Homepage

The new roughguides.com is designed to be more than just a book publisher’s website. Of course there are plenty of opportunities to browse and buy our Rough Guides but we wanted it to be an inspirational place to dream about your next journey, read up on related articles, learn about the world’s best destinations and seek out or share tips and advice with your fellow travellers.

If you hit RG.com through the homepage you’ll see five full-screen features showcasing the most interesting new content of the week, along with links to browse our destinations and features, check out some stunning full-screen photography, visit the community area and buy books. We’ve kept the design and navigation as simple and as useful as possible, to get you quickly to where you want to be, and throughout the site we’ve made photos as big as possible.

Check out the ‘look for inspiration’ link at the bottom too. That takes you to a random selection of articles, features, lists, and destination info that should spur anyone into taking that next trip. The running man logo on the top menu bar takes you to the same place. There’s also a search bar and links to our Facebook and Twitter pages.

Rough Guide To

Destinations

This is where you’ll find all our destination info, taken from the latest edition of the relevant book, which means the usual trusted content, sharp writing and keen eye for detail. Again, we’ve tried to simplify the layout, offering visual links, eye-catching photography, clear navigation and text you can expand or hide as you please.

Each continent and country is covered in detail including:

Don’t miss the ‘view map’ icon at the top right of the main image. If you click this, it opens up our special world map, which is pinned with all manner of Rough Guides picks. Here you can explore the world from a cartographical perspective, finding information and inspiration as you literally browse the globe. Have a play and explore for yourself. And look out for more destinations throughout 2013.

Rough Stuff

Rough Stuff

This is a completely new section. It’s where you’ll find all the latest features, interviews, competitions, debates and dispatches from our writers across the globe – updated on a daily basis.

A crack team of Rough Guides authors have been infiltrating the furthest corners of South America recently for The Rough Guide to South America on a Budget, and this month we’ve got first hand stories from Argentina, Patagonia, Brazil, Guyana and Venezuela. John Oates has been seduced by Black Magic on the Philippine island of Siquijor, Martin Zatko unravels the mysteries of the Baekje dynasty in Korea and Fiona McAuslan hikes in the footsteps of Castro in Cuba. It’s fair to say our writers have the globe covered, and new articles are added every week.

We’ve improved the layout to make it a much more visual experience, so photos fill the column and text is crisper and clearer. You can find related features at the bottom and also browse by most recent, most popular, destination, author and so on. Third-party plugins such as Spotify (in features like this Sounds of the Cities piece) should offer a more interesting experience.

A few other features well worth checking out:

  • The Travel Bucket List, in which 30 Rough Guides authors and editors – and a few travel personalities – offer their tips for travel experiences to try before you die
  • Great Rivers Of The World – our series of interactive maps exploring some of, you guessed it, the great rivers of the world. We’ve added full-width columns to the standard article format and embedded custom Rough Guide maps with videos and photos using Thinglink. In this article on the Amazon, for example, you can watch sunrise over the Rio Negro and fly across the state of Amapá as you navigate the map.
  • New York City Movie Guide – another feature using the interactivity of Thinglink, this presents some of the city’s iconic movies in the locations they were filmed. It’s just a different way to explore the area.
  • Rough Guides ‘experiences’ and list features – Taken from our travel bibles Make The Most Of Your Time On Earth, Make The Most Of Your Time In Britain and Great Escapes, these quick snapshots offer hundreds of new ideas for exploring the world.

Gallery

Gallery

This is the full-screen home of our favourite travel photography. You can browse the work of our photographers around the globe by theme or destination, or take a look at some of our curated galleries. 50 inspirational travel quotes and our round-up of surreal abandoned places are two of my personal favourites so far.

Shop

Shop

Need a book, eBook, iBook or app? You’ll find everything you need right here, with all our latest products on every platform displayed and explained. Not sure which guide you want? We’ve got that covered. Click on ‘Which Rough Guide is right for me’ and we’ll run you through the options.

Community

Community

This is where you’ll find us – and each other. Head here to:

  • Sign up to the site and find like-minded travellers
  • Add a photo and tell the world where you’ve been and want to go
  • Ask questions and offer answers
  • Sign up to the Rough Guides newsletter
  • Comment on articles and ‘favourite’ features (by clicking the heart icons you’ll see scattered around)

So what do you think of the site? What do you like best? And what would you like to see us add later in the year? It’s your site so let us know.