News, Updates & Announcements
Feb 28th, 2017
Our New, Faster Server
We are super excited to announce a successful move to a new server!
Our site has been growing a lot; in January we saw a record 67,000+ visits. Along with this, however, we had been seeing occasional slow-downs, with pages sometimes taking 10 or more seconds to load during the busiest times. What the new server means for you is that our site will be consistently faster and more responsive, especially during busier times when many people are viewing it. We hope most pages on our site will load almost instantly!
Another improvement we made on the new server is to add additional security to our domain and mail server settings. Hopefully this will also reduce the portion of our emails that had been marked as spam, a problem that some of our users have reported.
New Rating System
Perhaps even more exciting than our new server is our new rating system! This system has been months in the works, and is in part a response to feedback we've received from a lot of users over the past few years. We hope this new system will make it easier and less intimidating to rate and review teas, and also make it a lot more fun!
How does it work?
- Star ratings instead of the old drop-down boxes. Aroma allows half-stars, translating into 1-10 ratings for finer detail. (You can experiment below!)
- It works better on mobile than the old system with awkward drop-down boxes.
- Total value is now a slider compared to the old system where you would select "overall" out of 10 and it would automatically calculate the total value. The slider populates automatically once you select the star ratings for aroma, flavor, and value, but you can then adjust it to any value from 0 to 100. This will allow more fine-tuning in your ratings, as well as the flexibility to give a higher or lower score than the aroma, flavor, or values would have allowed before.
- A “Help” button displays a box with tips and written examples to help you write your review.
- Tea info is on the right in a box, or above if you are on mobile, so you can see a bit of info on what tea you are reviewing, including its brand, style, and region of origin.
- Better-labeled “URL to Full Review” box. This is an optional field for people who publish more detailed reviews on a blog and want to leave a “teaser” with their RateTea review. If you review teas on your blog, this can be a great way of getting visibility and sustained visits to your blog: because RateTea is primarily used by people as a reference, it is not as time-sensitive as blogs, and will tend to send gradual traffic to your website over a longer period of time.
- Better user-experience in that the old rating box used annoying popups if you hadn't selected all the values. The new system discreetly dims out the button with a notice next to it, until you've selected all the buttons.
- 100% backwards-compatible with our old rating system. The old ratings are safe and sound, and have been converted to the new format. You can also edit your old ratings and fine-tune them using the new slider system if you want to tweak any to be a little higher or lower than before.
Try it out here:
Go and explore, rate some teas, or tweak your old reviews!
Jul 15th, 2015
When we first designed our site, we made it only with desktop and laptop computers in mind, but an increasing portion of our users (almost 40% now) have been accessing our site on smartphones and other mobile devices with small screens.
The menus in the site's header now collapse into buttons that you can click to show the menus in a vertical orientation. The left menu takes you to the different sections of the site (like the green bar in the header) and the right menu is for registered users, like signing up, logging on and off, or going to your profile or your list of tea ratings.
Every page on the site has been redesigned to collapse gracefully on small screens. Pages with multiple columns collapse into single-column layouts. Grids of images will now adjust the number of columns based on your screen width, and tables with many columns collapse into a different format past the point where they become difficult to read. The site's footer also reorganizes itself if it becomes too cramped.
One site for all devices, no apps necessaryWe chose this approach, responsive design, so that you can use our site easily on smartphones without having to install a separate app, and so that all our users and visitors to our site, can access all features on our site, rather than favoring either desktop or mobile users.
Apps require updating, whereas websites can be updated instantly without requiring users to download more software, so this allows us to make changes to the site display immediately for all users. We have also noticed that a common complaint from mobile users is that when companies design separate "mobile" websites, they often do not support all the features of the full website.
From here on, all new features to the site will be added in the new responsive layout, making them fully accessible from the start for both mobile and desktop users.
Try it out for yourself!If you don't have a smartphone or other mobile device, or don't have it on hand currently, you can still see how the new design works by making your browser window narrower. Past a certain point, the layout will collapse.
This means, as a side benefit, the site will now be easier to use if you have it open in a small window on your computer!
Let us know if you find anything that doesn't work for you!We've tested our layout out thoroughly, on every page of our site, on a wide range of screen widths, but we still may have missed a few things. If you encounter any major glitches in the layout, or any features that you are unable to view, access, or use on your smartphone, please contact us so we can fix it and further improve our layout!
Jul 25th, 2014
If you take a peek at the navigation bar at the top, you'll see a new tab, Places, between Regions and Articles. This will take you to a list-and-browse page of places, currently broken down by state, and probably to be broken down into finer regions later as more places get added. We may also add a map for browsing once enough places are listed to make such a map useful.
Also, for companies that have their own brand that also has retail stores, like Adagio Teas (which recently opened a few of its own retail stores, bringing it into competition with Teavana), we list the physical locations on the page for the brand.
We currently have five separate categories:
- Tea Shops - Retail stores focusing on selling tea, usually loose-leaf tea.
- Grocery Stores - We do not plan on listing all grocery stores, but we allow users to submit and review grocery stores, like Wegmans, that have a particularly good selection of tea.
- Tea Houses - Cafes serving tea in a sit-down atmosphere, that focus primarily or exclusively on tea, rather than coffee.
- Cafes or Coffee Shops - Cafes that serve high-quality tea, but where coffee and/or food is their primary focus.
- Tea Room - Sit-down dining establishments serving tea as a meal, like afternoon tea or high tea, with a focus on service and atmosphere.
Another Feature: WishlistsIn addition to the places and place reviews, we have also snuck a few other features in recently. One of these is the Wishlist feature, which was suggested by one of our new top reviewers, Sarsonator.
Whenever you are logged in, and you are viewing the page for a tea or a tea review, you can now add the tea to your wishlist. The wishlist functions like a list of favorites or bookmarks. It's a great way to save or note teas that you may want to look up or reference later.
You can view your own wishlist by going to your profile. You can also view other people's tea wishlists, from their profile, if they have added any teas to them.
Check these features out and let us know what you think!We are continuously developing the site, refining the interface, and fixing bugs. Let us know if there are any ways we can further improve any of these features, or if there are any other major features you'd like us to add.
All past newsletters
Feb 28th, 2017 New Server, New Rating System
Jul 15th, 2015 RateTea is Now Fully Mobile-Friendly
Jul 25th, 2014 Place Reviews: Local Tea Shops & Tea Houses
Feb 18th, 2014 Redesigned Profiles with New Features
Jun 26th, 2013 New Facebook Page, Footer, and Focus on Regions
Mar 16th, 2012 Bug Fix For Adding Teas, And New Brand and Style Pages
Feb 20th, 2012 New Pages For Tea Brands: Search And Browse Teas Easily
Jan 17th, 2012 Users Can Now Directly Add New Teas
Dec 19th, 2011 RateTea.net Acquires RateTea.com And Is Now RateTea
Nov 8th, 2011 Logo, Header, Homepage, and Rating Descriptors
Jun 1st, 2011 Tea Percentile Ratings
Dec 3rd, 2010 Comments on Tea Reviews
Sep 18th, 2010 RateTea.net Celebrates First Anniversary
Sep 2nd, 2010 Review Pages & RSS Feeds
May 14th, 2010 User Comparisons and Top Rated Teas
Apr 21st, 2010 Profile Pics & Linking to Tea Blogs
Mar 25th, 2010 New Layout & Homepage
Feb 25th, 2010 New News / Blog Feature