As discussed a few weeks ago, your friendly neighborhood Cubs blog was badly in need of an overhaul behind the scenes. The framework upon which the site is built is five years old, has been hacked together over the years by an amateur (moi), and is no longer supported in a way that is guaranteed to keep working as the Internet (and the site’s software) changes around it.
In other words, we have for a little while been operating under the risk that, on any given day, the site could break in a relatively irretrievable way. Obviously, that cannot continue.
So, I had to make some very significant changes behind the scenes to the site’s functionality, while still trying my best to preserve what you like about this place. Later tonight and tomorrow, you will start to see some differences in the site. Here’s the rundown in advance, for people who hate change:
- Yeah, the site will look a little different. In terms of website variance, it’s actually really, really similar. But, as we are all creatures of habit, it’ll take a little time for you to get used to. Try to give it a few days before you reject it entirely. I did the best I could to replicate the look and aesthetic of the current iteration.
- Part of the difference you’ll notice (or maybe you won’t) is that there’s a lot less “stuff” on the home page. Mostly, that means those listed category things at the bottom of the page are now gone. I got the sense that nobody actually used those much, so I instead added pagination to the main blog (i.e., once you get to the end of the posts on the home page, you can just go back to the “next” page). If you want to navigate by categories (Rumors, News, Analysis, Minor Leagues, etc.), you’ll still be able to find the categories in a number of places.
- But with difference comes good stuff: finally, a mobile site. The single most requested feature in the history of BN, and something that probably should have been around three years ago, is finally here. When you visit BN on your phone, it should be formatted to maximize your reading experience. As far as mobile sites go, I think it’s pretty clean, easy, and nice-looking. Whatever step back there is on the desktop site should be more than offset by the dramatic step forward on mobile.
- The second most requested feature was an improved commenting experience – easier to follow, edit ability, more features, have “profiles”, etc. Well, the way to do that is to implement a third-party commenting system like Disqus (which you may recognize from, for example, MLBTR). So … we’re going to start using Disqus. There will be a learning curve, and you will have to register separately with Disqus to comment (or sign in via a social network, which is actually really nice for convenience and interconnectivity). But the features, man. It really is a fantastic system, and it overlaps communities (i.e., if you comment over at MLBTR, you’ll be able to access that comment/conversation from your profile here at BN). Once you get used to it, I think you’ll really be glad we changed. But, yeah, you’ll have to get used to it. So will I.
- There’s also a BN Twitter stream in the sidebar, which was requested by a large number of you. I had no idea you would want that, so I’m glad I asked. In retrospect, duh.
- Ads: Yup, there are still ads. With the new site, I’ve opted for fewer total ads, but in more prominent placements. At first, you’re going to be all like, “Ah! Ads in my face!” But you’ll get used to it, and the reduced total number of ads should improve your overall site experience. The thing about putting them in more prominent places … well, that’s kind of the point of ads. Companies pay to have you see them. And that’s what keeps the site free for you to use. So, please see them from time to time. (And if you use an ad blocker, please consider not using it on BN. You get to read for free, and all I ask is that you look at a McDonald’s cheeseburger from time to time. Thank you.)
- After the site’s changes kick in, if you observe any problems – glitches, things not loading, pictures askew, mobile not working properly, etc. – please don’t hesitate to let me know. I’ve tested this thing as much as I can, but I don’t have every device/browser, and there were also some features I couldn’t turn on until we actually went live.
- One known issue: on older posts (including this one), threaded comments will get messed up on mobile. It’s an issue that is fixed with Disqus, but, since Disqus is kicking in only for new posts (after this one), you will notice it on all old posts. I hope to have it fixed, but it’s a low priority item, since old posts/discussions get buried in about a day.