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meta-meta-blogFor technological reasons that you can’t really see when you visit the site, I will soon have to make some changes to the functionality here at BN. The short version is, the framework upon which the site is built is about five years old – that’s a century in modern Internet time. The site still works fine, but the landscape upon which it sits is ever shifting, and it won’t work forever. I’m trying to be proactive and take care of things before any serious issues pop up.

And, since I’m going to have to do some serious tinkering anyway, I thought I would take the opportunity to include you all in a dialogue about the functionality of the site.

What I’d like to hear from you all who are willing to drop your thoughts in the comments:

  • In terms of the site’s function (not content – we’re talking about how the website, itself, works; we’re not talking about my writing, or the types of posts, or whatever), what are the things that you really want to see preserved? The layout? The alignment of posts? The category system? The “featured” post at the top? The sidebar? Please feel free to get as granular as you want.
  • What are the things you would rather you didn’t see, or you wish operated differently? Are there features on the homepage or individual post pages that you feel like are totally superfluous? Distracting?
  • (Yes, there will always have to be advertisements, but you can include stuff about the ads in your comments. Just understand that they keep this place in business and free for you to use, and understand that I’m not asking for your thoughts on the content of the ads. This is all about site functionality.)
  • Anything else you’d like to share about your experience using this site. If there are other news/sports sites out there whose functionality/layout you really like, share it. If there are specific functions/sections/whatever about other sites out there that you really like, share it.
  • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

    Oooo…auto-size-reduction of images so fewer pic posting errors.

    • ssckelley

      awwww, you’re thinking of me….thanks bud!

  • Petey28

    Brett,
    First, I would like to start off by saying this – If you changed absolutely nothing about the site, it would continue to be my most visited by far.

    Here are my comments and suggestions, in no particular order:

    1. I really enjoy the simplicity of the site. Any updates that would take away from this too much, I would not be a huge fan of. I like that the ads are around the article, not within it.

    2. New article and comment reply notifications on site
    Obviously, I am registered for the site and I have the Word Press ribbon at the top of the page. It would be nice if it would notify me that there are new articles or replies to my comments that I haven’t seen yet. Possibly have the unread articles or comments bolded.

    3. Email notifications about new articles
    These could be sent out as soon as you upload a new article, or a daily digest email, which gets sent out at midnight for example. It would contain all the recurring content of the day first (MLD, Bullets, Pre-Game, EBS) and then any extra articles that you publish.

    4. Timer on bottom or top of page that counts down to the next game. Could possibly contain links to Series Preview, Pre-Game, etc.

    5. NL Central/Wild Card Standings
    It would be cool to have this on the homepage. As much as I like the home page, there could be a little more stuff on top, then recent articles below that. However, maybe the standings should wait until next year though.

    6. A Calendar view on the home page
    Sometimes the articles may get lost, particularly around trade deadline, winter meetings, etc. I think a calendar view would be cool. Could have the opponent, time and location listed, then all the articles that were uploaded on that day. If you don’t get to EBS that night, that should be put on the same day the game occurs.

    7. Updated comments
    Live comments would be nice, as well as a more reader-friendly tree. Opportunity to subscribe or mute certain “conversations”. And to reiterate, a notification if somebody replies to your comment or a thread you’ve commented on.

    8. I don’t use the drop down menus right now, but I usually check the site pretty often (probably too often).

    9. I don’t find it useful to have the recent comments section on the right side of the page, particularly because they do not have which article the comment is from and may be replies to really long threads that do not make much sense out of that context.

    10. Mobile site would be nice, but not imperative. I get along fine most of the time, it just takes a while to load.

    11. I would like to see more advanced stats, or at least RHP/LHP, in the game previews and box score.

    12. Compatability issues with Pocket.
    Sometimes when I see a new article I will save it to Pocket. I really like that app and use it quite a bit. However, sometimes it doesn’t load all of the content, particularly the tweets. I don’t know if it’s something you need to address on your end, or something to be brought up with Pocket. Just wanted you to be aware of it.

    Hope this helps you out. Like I said, if you didn’t change anything, this would still be my most visited website. BN has helped me to become a better Cubs and Baseball fan in general.

    • JasonP

      Re: your #2, have you tried an RSS reader? You can easily add an RSS extension to chrome which will take care of this. I believe that BN is set up to deliver RSS for new posts(stories), new comments, or both. Correct me if I’m wrong about that Brett.

      • Funn Dave

        #3…please, no…..

        • DarthHater

          Amen.

      • Petey28

        Jason P –
        I tried an RSS Reader a couple years ago and didn’t like it for some reason. Any suggestions on a good one? Would be willing to give it a try again.

  • Head and Heart

    I don’t have time right now to sift through all the responses so far so there’s a chance someone has said this already but for me the only change I would really like to see is with the comments. It would be nice to not have to refresh to see new comments. On SBNation, which I refuse to visit, the comments continually pop up and I think if I remember right just hitting ‘z’ will go to the next new comment. That’s something I enjoyed. Other than that I love the site the way it is both in layout and content. So keep up the great work Brett.

  • http://becomehealthier.com drcub1908

    FROM PETEY above…

    I like these

    4. Timer on bottom or top of page that counts down to the next game. Could possibly contain links to Series Preview, Pre-Game, etc.

    5. NL Central/Wild Card Standings

    ( OR AT LEAST THE CUBS RECORD – WHO’S PITCHING NEXT GAME / LINE UP WHEN POSSIBLE )
    It would be cool to have this on the homepage. As much as I like the home page, there could be a little more stuff on top, then recent articles below that. However, maybe the standings should wait until next year though.

    I AGREE WITH # 9…
    9. I don’t find it useful to have the recent comments section on the right side of the page, particularly because they do not have which article the comment is from and may be replies to really long threads that do not make much sense out of that context.

    • DarthHater

      Or how about a counter on the bottom of the page with a running live count of the total number of PAICOABLANs posted on the site?

      • JasonP

        I want an Eamus Catuli counter, but in some odd unit of time like moments or jiffys

  • DrReiCow

    Brett,

    I have one strong opinion about the site: it needs a mobile friendly version. The site itself is not bad, but the ads kill my devices. Frequent crashes on my Kindle Fire and Droid 4. Worse, my Droid 4 will sometimes hang/freeze on the ads (which greatly enrages me). Can you find a framework for the new site that easily builds both full computer and mobile versions, with corresponding ad types (ie, mobile site getting mobile compatible ads)?

    Another possible idea: have a subscription version of the site that has no ads. That could circumvent the mobile issues.

    Moo.

  • TulaneCubs

    I’d suggest making it easier to distinguish between comments and responses in a subthread. Sometimes it’s very difficult to tell who someone is responding to and it causes confusion within the thread.

  • JasonP

    I would like to see the player names linked to their b-ref or fangraphs pages, especially for the opposing players in the Pre-Gamin’ posts.

  • WxSpinner89

    Love the site, Brett! But if there was something that I would like to see it would be a “Next” button to take you to the next page of articles. I try to read everyday but as is life we sometimes get busy and are unable to read/visit as much as we would like. In times where I miss several days and you are pretty active, I always feel like I missed a ton of stuff. Especially when I scroll down and get to the end of the home page and I am unsure if there are many more articles that I have missed.

    I like that you have categories but I at times feel like I am missing some articles.

    Otherwise, I think it is great, the recent comments side bar is a bit confusing at times too.

  • Hee Seop Chode

    Content is king, and yours is the best. A couple of thoughts:

    On adds: I see the same adds at home and work for BN, and I am not searching for an Asian wife at either location. I’ve also never played an adult web game in my life. I’ve read video adds pay really well – as they are on the side bar I wouldn’t mind.

    Layout: I click on the support BN via Amazon and the home page button. Beyond that I never use the top bar. Auto photo size correction would be nice.

    Mobile site: a dedicated mobile site would be awesome. The font/layout on New Republic’s mobile site looks awesome on an iPhone; large spacing, clean, and easy to read. The only real gripe I have with BN is when the app store opens mid-article. I have no idea how this works, and the message board research I’ve done suggests I stop going to sites that have pop-up app store adds. Well see my preamble – I’m going to keep coming here. If there is any way to not do that it’d be cool. Contrary to others, i’d be fine with in-article adds on mobile. Facebook does it pretty well. Also…I don’t know if this is possible outside of creating an app, but I’d love to get notifications on my iPhone whenever there’s a new article.

    Comments: I don’t really know if this is possible, but a 30-60 second option to edit errors would be nice. If there’s a way to see replies just to comments I post, I’d like that (not to be too narcissistic).

    Content: I really enjoy guest articles. It’s nice to read different writing styles and topics. Plus all of your guest conductors are top notch. I’d also appreciate the central standings somewhere on the homepage.

    Keep up the awesome work and coverage!

  • Cheese Chad

    Maybe I just haven’t looked enough to know but could there be a place to post on a main message board. Right now it seems you can just post comments inside each article or a specific message board.

    As for the writing. Maybe less jokes. Or maybe more jokes, not sure. You’ll figure it out.

  • esruc

    Maybe instead of the twitter link at the top of the page, you could add a twitter widget with the BN account or other Cubs related accounts right on the homepage. This could add up to the second analysis throughout the day in addition to the posts for people who don’t tweet or for those that do, but just want to visit one site, truly making this a one stop Cubs analysis destination.

  • Soda Popinski

    Por favor, make the recent comments sections scroll-able! Sometimes when there’s good convo going on, a comment you wanted to reply to just gets pushed off the recent feed and then you have to try and find it (which is a nightmare).

  • http://www.draftday.com udbrky

    I really like what BN doesn’t do that others do:

    1) make you click through 20x to read 5 sentences.

    2) popups every first time you click the page

    3) ads that auto play. I have 4 chrome + 1 firefox browsers always open, with probably 10 tabs each (work + personal) and fantasyalarm’s lineups page had an ad that kept playing for 2s yesterday, and I was going nuts.

  • DCF

    I really do like the “clean” look of the site, simply showcasing the latest post and the latest comments as prominently as possible.

    However, there are 2 things that I really don’t like:

    1. I’ve stopped reading BN on my IPhone, as there are quite often ads that open the App Store mid-article and keep repeating to do so. It’s only indirectly your fault, because it’s caused by crappy ads, but it’s seriously beyond words how much I hate this.

    2. As much as would love to particiapte in a game thread sometimes, I find it virtually impossbile to keep up with all the posts rolling in quickly during a game, creating pages and pages of comments which are often displayed in only half-chronologically, when they include convoluted arrays of replys to comments ansd replys to replys etc.
    Maybe I’m just a sissy, I don’t know. EIthery way, I would really like to see a diffferent format for this kind of posting frenzy, which includes a self-reloading, pagebreak-free, chat-like kinda layout.

  • http://www.twitter.com/justinjabs @justinjabs

    Hey Brett, I know I’m a few days late, but here is some commentary.

    1) A mobile responsive site is really necessary in this day and age. Some people have clamored for a Bleacher Nation app, which I feel is unnecessary, but simply making the website mobile-friendly would be a huge plus. Others have commented that the website crashes on their phone but my complaint is about readability. I’ve got to pinch and pull and resize and scroll left to right in order to get your content cropped on my phone to read it. If, once I get to the actual post on mobile, it resizes and fits to my current width and makes the text a bit larger, that would be swell.

    2) My only comment about ads: they work and they’re not intrusive. Keep the lights on.

    3) The reason I don’t usually comment on here is because it’s very hard to follow a conversation. I need to refresh and scroll to try and see if anyone’s responded to my comment. A two-way conversation is more fun than a one-way conversation, but in the age of Twitter and Facebook, without some sort of “notification” system it’s hard for me to stay engaged on this platform. Some sort of overhaul of the comments (ideas include real-time refreshing, notification of responses now that we’ve all got accounts) would be welcome.

    4) I like the idea of some more widgets on the sidebar. Your tweets are very valuable, and anyone who isn’t on Twitter is missing out on the BN experience, so a Twitter widget on the sidebar would be much appreciated for those folk, I assume. I also liked the idea of a “next game” widget that one of the earlier commenters suggested.

    5) At the end of the homepage, there should really be a “previous posts” button. A ton of articles show up on the homepage, which is awesome, but right now there are no posts shown before April 28th (just two short days ago). If I go on vacation, I’d like to be able to see previous posts a little easier. I think this is a pretty common function on WordPress sites.

    6) I like how the posts feed looks, with the picture, title, and short description.

    7) Another thing I like — how well BN shows up in an RSS reader. I know RSS readers are a bit counterproductive to a site like this, where you need our clicks and our time on the actual website to keep the lights on, but I can make sure I’m not missing any content because it all shows up (pictures and all) in my RSS feed. Other websites just show you their title and you have to click through, making it a burden to read, and I like how BN does not do that.

    That’s all for now … good luck with the overhaul!

  • GoCubsGo

    Without having yet read the other comments, I’d say an edit button on comments would be cool. I’d also like to have a way to see older articles without having to go through the tags. For example, if I go on vacation and miss a couple of days, the articles may be buried and hard to find if I don’t know the title of them. A “next” page at the bottom of the homepage with articles would be awesome.

    I really like the layout of the homepage with the articles all there in descending timestamp order and would love for that to stay personally.

  • GoCubsGo

    Have you seen Disqus on other sites? It can be kind of buggy, but is a nice way for comments to exist (not sure it’s free though). Quoting is a great idea as is a different layout other than the tree setup.

    I agree that most changes could be comment related.

  • GRCubs

    I would like a feature where you only see the most recent unread comments.

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