With the launch of the third iteration of the Crossing Zebras website, it felt fitting that both owners, Jeg and Xander, sit down to give their thoughts on how the site got to this point.


Xander Phoena

Just over four years ago, two guys who had known one another a very long time were sat in a room in a small flat above a, quite frankly, disgusting little corner shop near the town centre of a Scottish city. Friends for such a long time, they had followed one another through a range of hobbies with a variety of success and at that point, the flavour of the month was Eve Online.

Unencumbered with what life would throw at them in the coming years – mortgages, children, wives – they spent a lot of time drinking alcohol, flying internet spaceships (badly – some things never change) and chatting shit. After a time, one of them thought that maybe if they recorded some of those nonsense conversations, someone may want to listen to them.

And so on 8th April, 2012, the first episode of the Crossing Zebras podcast was recorded

And so on 8th April, 2012, the first episode of the Crossing Zebras podcast was recorded, edited and posted onto a horrible wee tumblr blog that Jeg and I had set up. It is two friends who were irrelevant in the meta and had no real business giving any sort of educated opinion on anything Eve-related getting drunk and giving it a bash anyway.

Not many people listened. And why would they? However, I like to think those who did felt a certain affinity for the two Eve Online nobodies having a bit of a giggle while giving some honest, if misguided, opinions. And that small group of listeners told other people. And slowly but surely over the first couple of years of the podcast, more and more of you wanted to hear what we had to say.

Eventually, we got offered a wee sum of ISK from our amazing friends at Eve Bet and rather than simply pocketing it ourselves, we decided to set about hiring a few writers. The rest, as the saying goes, is history.

While Jeg and I don’t record or undock as much these days, CZ has evolved into this multimedia platform way beyond the scope of what we ever could have imagined. We have an amazing pool of writers from every area of space and every major bloc all capable of telling an engaging and intelligent story of what matters to them in Eve in that moment. We have editors who understand the importance of refining a submission into a sleek and efficient beast that can pin an audience for as long as it needs to and not one minute more. We have streamers and podcasters who put the early episodes of CZ to shame with their knowledge of the wider meta and capacity to engage.

And in Niden, we have an Editor-in-Chief who guides the ship in a way I could never have hoped to do myself.

it has always kept that core of being something fun, honest, genuine and worthwhile for those who choose to come here

CZ has never been about money, it has never been about ‘sides’ (you only need look at my corp history to see that), and it has never been about trying to talk down to or outmanoeuvre our readers and listeners. And I like to think that while CZ has evolved in those days, months and years since that fateful first podcast, it has always kept that core of being something fun, honest, genuine and worthwhile for those who choose to come here. Some things never change.

Before I pass the baton onto Jeg, I wanted to give out a few of thank yous;

  • The amazing people at Eve Bet who have supported us and kept us on our feet since that first wee ISK payment for our silly wee podcast. There’s no CZ without their support. Beyond that, Bam and Hunt are two of the coolest hotdogbois I ever did meet.
  • In those early days when we tried to evolve from being just a podcast into something more, one of our first and to this day, very best writers was HVAC Repairman. One of these days, I am going to hand that man a very well deserved beer in person. Don’t follow him on twitter.
  • We stumbled upon Niden. He submitted a random piece about some lowsec-poor fight a few years back now. Whilst perhaps lacking the deftest of virtual pens myself, I like to think I have a good eye for talent and grabbed him for CZ. He quickly showed himself to be extraordinarily capable and when the EiC slot opened up, he took to it like a duck to water. Niden is the heart of CZ now, infinitely modest and deserving of every bit of praise and more.
  • Jeg Elsker. There isn’t much to say but thank you for your tolerance all these years and allowing me to make CZ a thing. If Niden is CZ’s heart, Jeg is the brain. I’m not sure what that makes me.
  • My wife. For all those hours lost to me playing with internet spaceships and all those hours we had in between.


Jeg Elsker

I’m not a writer so I’ll try and make this as quick and painless as possible for all of us. It can’t be any worse than Xander’s posting if nothing else.

It’s weird for me to look back at that first episode all those years ago and see where we have got to now. I’m not really sure how it happened. Life has changed a lot for Xander and I since then, but a universal constant in that time has been CZ and Eve Online.

As he alludes to above, I don’t play much Eve any more. I still love the game and follow the ever-evolving meta, but Eve is nothing if not a game that demands your time and love and as I get older, both those resources become dangerously overstretched.

CZ is a part of me as much as it is Xander

However, CZ is a part of me as much as it is Xander. While won’t say I have an editorial claim on the side like he and Niden do, every couple of years, I get barked at to build a new site. This is always a royal pain in the arse because Xander is the worst of all worlds – a man who knows nothing about development, knows exactly what he wants in a site and has zero idea how to express it with any technical clarity. It brings me great joy to know that other than firefighting any technical gremlins (more of that in a moment), I get to step back from CZ for a for a while after Fanfest.

When developing this third iteration of the site, I tried to learn from the mistakes we made with 2.0 as well as looking closely at what some of our competitors did right and wrong. Niden was keen to evolve the site into something with a more modern look with ultra crisp and clean lines and imagery. My concerns were more with the technical aspects, the old site was horribly slow and lacked the meta data that the social internet that we all use today loves, so we stripped everything back to the bones, and built things from the ground up to be as responsive and clean as possible. We removed AdSense and Disqus advertisements, it was crippling the page in terms of layout and performance, and for the pennies it generated a month it was just not worth it. We stripped out the other stuff you guys rarely used, I mean who comes to CZ to read the tweetfleet twitter timelines anyway? What we ended up with is what you are viewing today. Hopefully a much more snappy feeling website that is kinder to my server hamsters as much as it is to your browsing experience.

If it’s Niden and Xander’s jobs to get the content to the site you want to read and hear, it’s my job to make sure it can be presented in a good and accessible way. CZ V3.0 is a huge forward step in that direction, and it’s something we intend on iterating on into the future.

Since we are migrating from some pretty ugly code from years of working with the old theme, we may have missed some things – in particular, legacy content is going to be readable but may not look quite as pretty as we’d like in the new site template – so don’t be afraid to let us know via the usual channels if you spot a bug or have a suggested improvement. Help us evolve CZ into your home for Eve content.

Tags: Crossing Zebras, jeg elsker, Xander Phoena

About the author

Xander Phoena

The good looking, funny, intelligent member of the team, Xander set up Crossing Zebras with Jeg in April 2012 mainly because he was talking too much about Eve on his other podcast. Playing the game for almost five years, Xander still has absolutely zero clue about how to actually play Eve but somehow still manages to talk a good game.

  • Fat Elvis

    Wow looking fucking great! Best eve media site by a country mile.

    • Niden

      Thanks buddy 🙂

      • Puchoco_Voluspa

        no no … thank you!

  • GrouchyOldGamer

    I wish there was a speech bubble about Xander saying ‘I’ve got no pants on’

    Anyway great job folks.

    • Niden

      I can make this happen.

  • Liner Xiandra

    is this where i post references to TMC’s terrible redesign?

    Well done all with CrossingZebras really!

    • JuliusCesarian

      It is fucking spreading dude. We are done. This is the end!

  • sheperd ormand

    Loving the new site design and great job on the seamless launch

    • Jeg_Elsker

      “seamless” — gratefully the issues were short lived and we seem to be running smoother than ever!

  • Creper Effrenus

    Great page and great design. It looks really good and i like the loading effect. That being said I will miss the old zebra cartoon in the header it was awsome. Keep up the good work.

    • Jeg_Elsker

      Its buried in a few older articles somewhere, we will miss zecora, she was our mascot for quite some time.


  • Marco Vujević

    Shiny and modern, certainly looks more professional than the old one, but these “The Verge”-like layouts are a bit too dense/cramped for my taste. Matter of taste of course, but eve is a space game, I need more empty space to rest my eyes.

    • Jeg_Elsker

      Yeah, its one of those subjective things that most of us here at CZ like. the big problem is that as screens get more dense and high resolution, the old layout was getting more and more horrible to look at. The hope is that this layout will look much better across all devices (we aren’t quite there yet though)

      Thanks for the feedback! much appreciated.

  • daimonos93

    Re older articles: does look terrible for anyone else? All the text is in tiny, tiny caps – it’s unreadable. In Chrome on Windows 7, desktop PC, the videos page is hard to read: the all-caps font has thin characters with lots of inter-character space, that clashes badly with the text in the images behind it.

    • Jeg_Elsker

      Older articles in the old theme were coded in some pseudo html that simply does not render well at all, the new layout unfortunatlely doesn’t like them. We are working through the older articles to bring them back up to date, but with over 1,000 of them to get through its going to take a few weeks. Thanks for the feedback though! It will all be readable soon™

  • Interesting to see how CZ has grown over the years. The site has consistently good writing and interesting content but in my opinion, this new layout is visually chaotic and confusing. All the page elements are too big, not least of which that glaringly large evebet logo. Maybe my bias for compact design is showing, but I find this layout extremely uninviting to read and thus am disinclined to casually browse content here now. Except for the scale, I do like the pull quotes and general layout of the individual post pages.

    • Jeg_Elsker

      what sort of resolution are you using Mynxee? We have a couple of layout things to fix, and that evebet logo is indeed massive on a few resolutions. We will be revising a few things in hindsight based on the feedback we have had.

      • I have an iMac 27″, 2560 x1440. Second monitor is 1920 x 1080. If I scale my browser content sufficiently that CZ is comfortably sized for my taste, the comments section gets so small and narrow, it’s practically unreadable for these old eyes. I know you’ve put a lot of work into this redesign (and have a sense of level of effort involved as I maintain small blog sites for a few clients not to mention myself), so my comments are not meant to disparage your hard work. Just reacting as a consumer.

        • Jeg_Elsker

          Not taken as a negative at all Mynxee, we can never please everyone anyway! That being said, I am aware that a bunch of the responsive elements are a little bit wrong and need some work, I will be revisiting them when I get back from Fanfest — in honesty, we had to rush to get it done in time, so the normal checks and iterations were only done on the “main” resolution (widescreen @ 1440 * 1024 or thereabouts) — watch this space, it will hopefully look better in the coming weeks and months as time allows! 🙂

  • Good Apollo

    Font too small on mobile

  • Abraxis

    Sorry, but this layout is a clusterfuck. Please revert to old one, it was way more readable.