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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.
  • DarthHater

    We very much need a button for editing our comments. Other than that, I say leave well enough alone. A big part of the attraction of the current system is its simplicity and user-friendliness. I don’t want to have to navigate myself past or around a zillion new “features.”

    • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

      [img]http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_1J7f7d6fShk/S66-JtVIgtI/AAAAAAAABTY/dMvm1eyhzPk/s1600/grandpa_simpson_yelling_at_cloud.jpg[/img]

      • DarthHater

        [img]https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5500/11571316464_45ae61a8fd_n.jpg[/img]

        FTFY

  • dumbledoresacubsfan

    Design-wise, I’d opt for a running head with your new logo. It may be overused, but I think it would be cool. Just don’t make it too big.

    I’ve always liked the sidebar with recent comments, but I never use any of the links at the top.

    But really, the only thing I want you to implement, and I’ve pondered about this for a while, is a notification system for the comments. We have to be logged in to comment anyway, so can we get notifications when someone replies to us? I feel like a complete ass when someone replies to me and I forget about it and never respond to them. Granted, they probably forget, too; but it does hamper conversation, at times, I think. Maybe.

    Also, make it more mobile-friendly… BY CREATING AN APP. GOD I WANT A BN APP.

  • http://obstructedview.net Myles

    Hire Sahadev full time and put out your podcast every week!!!

    #PaySahadev

  • cubbiehawkeye

    The two things that make this the best cubs blog is the content (obviously) and the simplicity. It’d be nice to have a notification when someone responds to a comment of mine but other than that try to keep it the same.

  • bobww1959

    I agree with the notification when someone replies to one of our comments. As someone who doesn’t comment that often, it would be nice to know I’ve been noticed! Also, a line across the top of the homepage with the next game time and broadcast info would be nice. That would keep us from having to search other sites or dig back for the series preview to find this info. The rest of the site is great, and works just fine with no appreciable glitches. Keep up the great work!

  • http://www.survivingthalia.com Mike Taylor

    My only critique would be the two menu bars between the BN graphic homepage link. You could easily consolidate those links into one, larger menu bar with drop down hover box functionality (only “contact” on the top bar and “useful stuff” on the bottom only have that now and reaction time is slow-like 300ms)… and “Podcasts” are on both menus, i.e.:

    ABOUT-
    bio
    contact
    policies
    highlights

    SOCIAL-
    twitter
    facebook
    podcast
    msg board

    STORE-
    advertise
    t-shirts
    amazon
    misc

    CUBS STUFF-
    box scores
    transactions
    minor league
    prospects

    LINKS-
    sponsored link
    sponsored link
    sponsored link
    sponsored link

  • Johnny Five

    My first comment after a year of reading, but I’d love:

    1) Mobile-friendly/responsive version of the website
    2) Modern commenting system (upvoting, sorting, auto-updating, etc.)

  • Napercal

    I’m an old-timer. Having made that point, I should add that I really find the site easy to navigate.

  • 5412

    Hi Brett,

    Couple things. Is there a better way to search for comments you have posted. If someone enters a comment at the end of an article, and I reply to it, I come back later to see if they responded. It takes a bit of scrolling and reading to find it. I don’t know if there is a way to shorten it.

    Second is this. When I go on the road I have to access the internet through my phone which means data charges. ESPN does this a lot. You go to the website and they have commercials that play and you can’t shut them off, which means I am paying data charges whether I like it or not. As a result I very seldom go there when I am on the road. If you have commercials that start automatically, if you had a pause feature where they could always be shut off I would appreciate it.

    Just my $ .02,,

    regards,
    5412

  • benjamin

    I like the way content is laid out chronologically on the front page so that I can always see what is new and scroll down through stories whenever I have a chance to catch up.

    The comment bar on the front page is also great for jumping into whatever the most active discussion is at the time.

  • Karl Groucho

    An upvote/downvote system would be a real benefit. I especially like how they do it at fangraphs, where it seems to be working positively for the community.

    I’d also like to see more advanced stats in the EBS. I realize what the BS stands for, but I think you’d be able to make a great “box score” with more advanced stats than R/RBI/etc.

    I upvote the people who say they don’t use the header links very often.

    I really like the “Syncing Baseball & Business” picture-link that lives on the sidebar. Making that took tons of effort I’m sure, so it’s not like you have pieces of that scope coming in again and again, but I do like the idea of making picture-links for more popular stories (e.g. Luke’s top prospects, etc.).

    Relatedly: stacking your many pieces on a running story would be nice. I realize you link to past stories almost invariably, but having them grouped together would make it easier to keep track of a story’s development.

  • D.G.Lang

    There are a couple of minor problems? that I would like to see addressed.
    1, The “leave a reply” at the bottom of the replies often leads one to reply at the bottom of the thread instead of the actual thread they are replying to,

    That particular reply mechanism should be a part of the original article by the source of the topic and restricted to replies to that primary article only. At the current time people are using it to reply to a particular thread under the article which causes their reply to fall to the bottom on the main thread and therefore the reader has to scroll through ALL the replies within the article to determine exactly what that reply was referring to.

    Perhaps that “leave a reply” link could be labeled as “add a new reply to the main thread”.

    2, I understand the need for the ads but having an add loudly blast out when visiting a new discussion is not very helpful for those viewing at work. In fact even though I am retired and spend most of my time in my home office/den I also find those videos with loud adds extremely annoying and I am always forced to turn off the sound completely to avoid them. Sometimes I turn off the sound before I even visit the site just to avoid the aggravation from those adds. It is also a pain to scroll through the entire page just to kill the add if I don’t turn off the sound completely.

    Since I use my computer for multiple tasks which require the sound to work, it is a big pain to have to turn it off just to visit your site. The problem exists on every page within the main article as well.

  • cubs2003

    Not sure if it’s possible for a comments section, but an ignore feature would be useful. Modern commenting section would be nice. Especially an edit button. Live box score would be nice. One tiny thing I’d like is a LHP or RHP next to the starters on pre-gamin’. I know the Cubs, but I don’t follow the entire league that closely. Especially useful with this roster.

  • http://becomehealthier.com drcub1908

    I would like to see a picture of my family on the main page please..

    I think the site is done well

  • mjhurdle

    The only thing that I find missing from the home page is the W/L records of all the Chicago Cub pitchers, especially the bullpen arms.

    Add that and this site would have TWTW. ;)

    • Fishin Phil

      You are all kinds of evil.

    • ssckelley

      You stole my idea!!!!!

      But I like it. :D

  • Beast Mode

    I think a live box score on the right of the comments would be awesome. Or even minor league box scores.

    • ssckelley

      MLB and MiLB GameDay apps are really neat if you have not tried them already.

  • Joshua Edwards

    I have little use for the comment feed on the right side. As it pulls from every article, there’s not usually coherence and ends up not doing anything to get me into the conversation.
    Maybe it works for others but doesn’t help me.

    As for comment threads on articles, anything that would make them more navigable, easy to follow, collapsible, and nd with perhaps an edit option,

    • Joshua Edwards

      But I like the order of posts and I usually find what I haven’t yet read quickly. That said, if I could find all the lukewarm stoves, bullets, podcasts, and EBS, organized together, I could see a use for that, too.

      Anyway those are my two cents. Thanks for a great site, Brett. You’ve built a nice community here, too, and I happily share it with friends and tell Cubs fans about it.

  • http://tootblan.tumblr.com wv23

    More TOOTBLANs.

    • http://www.teamfums.org MichiganGoat

      YES TIDROW & TOOTBLAN EVERYWHERE

  • Webb

    From a design standpoint (professional designer), I prefer the less is more approach. Bigger ads with fewer per page. Solid color blocks and large text areas. Here are a few best practice examples:

    http://www.fastcompany.com/

    http://www.good.is/newest

    Also, rival blog but SB Nation looks pretty.

    … and comment edits …

  • Ed

    Get a BN app. And bring back the bears BN site.

  • cubspong82

    Great site. I read it every day. The articles and the layout are great. I wouldn’t like to see it changed too much. But some suggestions could be to have a place where it is easy to access the top 40 prospects from each time the site has uploaded them, and easy access to some other articles that people may like to take another look at from time to time. Thanks for all your hard work on this site. It is the best cubs site I have read by a long-shot.

  • Funn Dave

    Dudes, don’t worry about the edit button. That’s why I’m here.

    -BN Grammar Douche

  • terencemann

    Is there a way to have the header follow the page as I scroll so I can quickly get back to the top of the page or back to the BN homepage without clicking “back” or having to scroll all the way back to the top after I scroll all the way down to the bottom of the page? This is kind of lazy but would make the site a lot more convenient.

    • Funn Dave

      Great idea.

  • FishinCheese

    Hey Brett,
    I’ve never been to your website, I just read the news that flows in through Twitter.

  • http://www.w2wn.net Cerambam

    One of my favorite things about BN is the comment section. That said, it is often difficult to follow a particular comment thread, or see when a new one has started. On reddit, there is a thread like comment system where if u minimize the top original comment all comments in response to that one or minimized as well. This makes it easier to navigate hundreds of comments. No upvotes own vote system is needed to accomplish this, it’s just the first post will be the top/original one and if someone replies it counts as being in that thread. Obviously if someone makes a new unique comment it is a different thread. I’m rambling I hope I made this clear.

  • Mreverything

    Brett:

    I would say I am in the lowest 5th percentile of your readers when it comes to internet savvy-ness. But I think everything on BN works fine for me. I was so mad after they blew last Wednesday’s and Thursday’s games to AZ but BN and all its posters brought me out of my funk eventually. For this I thank all of you.

  • Alan Griffin

    Better categorization of content is my only suggestion.

    I can’t seem to search articles by category. I would like to be able to find articles from different writers. If Luke doesn’t have a post on the main page with a link on his name, I can’t seem to find his articles. Maybe it’s just a mobile thing?

    Perhaps the menu bar up top, which I never use, could be converted into a “section/author breakdown” with headings like “news”, “ebs”, “minor league/prospect watch”, “by Luke”, “by Myles”, etc. If such a function does exist, I can’t find it.

    I love the content, here. I would simply like it to be more accessible via better categorization.

  • conysdad

    A more mobile friendly layout would be awesome. I never had a problem on my iPhone because I had the option of flipping the browser to reader mode which took away images, banners and just displayed the text of the page. Had to get a Windows phone for work and it’s a nightmare trying to read this site on it. Bullets are particularly hard as they’re link heavy and for some reason, some link font sizes go wonky. Maybe this is my fault entirely.

    Love the functionality of the site on my home computer or on a laptop. Wouldn’t change a thing.

    • ChrisFChi

      No its not your fault. Windows phones suck. (I own one also, and everyday I contemplate throwing it in the toilet)

  • http://www.teamfums.org MichiganGoat

    So why is everyone ignoring the need for the BN emoji then we never have to express ourselves in words again and Japanese teenage girls everywhere would love BN.

  • BWA

    An edit button!

    Also it would be really cool if you could see any replies directly to your comments. It would help facilitate conversation.

    Great site Brett, keep it up.

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