So, I've been fiddling around with the new SB Nation and Daily Norsemen site pretty much all day (only during breaks and downtime at work...honest!). And while I know there is already a fanpost on the topic, I wanted to a)try out the new fanpost function (surprise, it's the same as the old one) and b)I have a lot of thoughts that would have taken up too much space in a simple comment box. Seeing all the changes makes me wonder if they actually held any market research, or polled real users on what they thought or wanted to see out of SB Nation. So, if you're ready for a little rambling...read on after the jump!Oh hey! You're still here...awesome. My initial reaction this morning was basically...WTF! Where's my Daily Norsemen? And then I remembered....oh yeah...they're rolling out the new changes...this must be it. After fumbling around all morning and afternoon, I have a few thoughts I wanted to share. We'll start with the positive feedback, and then get to the constructive criticism after that.
1. I actually kind of like the federated, err, "United" approach. While I miss the old logo already, I like that SB Nation is trying to get all the blogs to look sort of the same. I remember visiting other blogs and getting confused because everything looked different and was in a different place. Now every blog has a sort of familiar look.
2. The load times for live comments is vastly improved, as is the notification box. We get more information about who is posting what and replying to whom.
Yeah, that was a short list. I'm trying not be overly pessimistic and negative, and I'm sure some of this is just a matter of getting used to something new. But when you've gotten used to one layout for years, and made a website your home...it's kind of jarring to see something so completely and radically different, both in look and function.
1. Color Scheme. The all white background and minimalistic approach actually kind of hurts my eyes. I had to turn the brightness down on my monitor...but then everything else I wanted to do on my computer was dimmed, so now I have to constantly adjust the brightness levels as I go back and forth between the DN and other stuff. Gray it up a bit...or something. Speaking of which, I may change the color setting on my own blog, because it too is an all-white background. I never really noticed how bad of an idea that is for users that spend more than just a few minutes on the site, until now. There are some things that I like about the design and color scheme, but generally speaking there's too much blank space.
2. Fanpost location/accessibility. You know what I love about DN? I love the fanposts. I mean yeah, we love the head writers the most, and we come here for that content, but I spend as much time if not more in the fanpost section reading everyone else's posts and comments. This part of the site used to be up at the top, just to the right...no scrolling or extra clicking necessary to get to it. Now, it's relegated to the very bottom...or buried in a "Community Menu".
3. Speaking of fanposts, we've lost the ability to customize the amount of fanposts and fanshots we can see on the main page. In fact, we've lost just about all customize-ability (is that even a word?). I want to see more than 10 fanposts in the little fanpost box. I used to be able to set that to any number I want...and my "accounts and settings" link still makes me think I can set that to a larger number, but alas, it isn't working as of this post.
4. While I mentioned the comment speed as a good thing above, the look of them is terrible. There is so much wasted space between comments, and even within the box itself. I can only see about 5-7 comments on the screen at a time, when before I used to be able to see 10-15. Sure, I can zoom my browser in and out to help, but then the text gets too small to read. The issue is in the layout and design, not my browser settings. Also, the colors are so dull in the comments, it's hard to tell the difference between an "unread" comment and a "rec'd" comment.
5. Chronological order? It would appear that chronological order is now a thing of the distant past. Ted mentioned in the comments of the Logo Unveiling post, that the new layout would give the editors the ability to keep the most interesting/relevant topics up at the top of the splash page. But now that I see it in action...this will quickly get confusing as we won't know what the latest and newest articles are. It seems as though this has been re-ordered as of this morning, but in the future, this could rear it's ugly head once again. Chronological Order is the easiest and simplest format for blog posts, and I'm not sure why SB Nation would want to stray from that. Honestly, I may just have to have the Archives Page bookmarked so I can actually see all the DN content in chrono order.
6. Daily Norsemen vs SB Nation Minnesota vs All other Blogs. If you go to the "Stories" link under the "Team" drop down menu, guess what happens? You don't get a list of Daily Norsemen Articles (as one might expect). Instead you get a listing of any SB Nation story related to the Vikings, be it from SB Nation, another team's site, etc. I suppose this is kind of a cool feature, but there's no way to tell the source of the article. Was the article written by our very own DN crew, or some other blog's crew? Sure, the author is there...but it would be nice to have it labeled so we know when we're leaving the Daily Norsemen and going to somebody else's blog.
7. Lastly, navigation is terrible. Sometimes there's a Daily Norsemen logo hanging out near the top of a page to quickly and easily get you back to the home page. But other times, there just isn't. There's no home button anywhere. What I loved about the old site was the "Home" button. It didn't' matter where I was in the depths of the DN, I could always hit the home button and start over. Now I'm not sure where to go, other than hitting my back button a gazillion times. I did set the Daily Norsemen as a "favorite" blog, so I can click the "My SB Nation" link in the upper right hand corner. But that requires 2 clicks as a secondary window pops up to get me back home. This sucks in terms of navigation and is an extra click every time I want to get back to the main DN page.
My hope is that some of these issues will work themselves out as more users get familiar with the new site, and the developers listen to feedback. The whole point of doing this massive upgrade was to improve the look and experience on the SB Nation websites. I get that. But sometimes, change for change sake can lead to things that are a step backwards rather than forwards. Let's hope the developers are open minded and willing to listen to users of the SB Nation site. What do you all think?