Homepage changes to improve scanning and better highlight FanPosts and FanShots

In response to feedback received by SB Nation community members and site editors, we are preparing to roll out a revised home page layout across SB Nation sites.

All quiet in Raptorland as the team gets a break until Wednesday. But we wanted to share a note from SB Nation's product team this afternoon regarding an update to the site going live later this week, based on feedback from you, the readers!

Happy New Years to all and fire us notes via email or in the comments about any questions you might have on the upcoming changes!

Adam

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Following the launch of the redesigned SB Nation sites, the SB Nation Product Team spent time improving the performance and user experience of the mobile experience and worked on other post launch fixes and adjustments. Recently, we chose to take a step back from the list of smaller fixes and adjustments to take a big picture look at pain points with the new SB Nation design, and to find long-term and comprehensive solutions for common concerns.

We collected as much feedback around the new design of SB Nation as we could, and grouped it together into major themes. Among the feedback topics provided by frequent SB Nation visitors, we hear most often that: The community features, and specifically Fanposts, are losing traction due to the placement of these features in the redesign; and The homepage has become to harder to scan quickly for the lastest updates to posts, fanposts, fanshots and comments. There are certainly other areas where we can improve and address further feedback, but we focused on these two major areas and are responding with some significant changes to blog home pages, that will be released in early January.

We want to give you a preview of the revised home pages and get your feedback on these changes. Please leave any feedback about the changes in the comment section of this post.

Here is a screenshot of a sample homepage:

Mhr-fullpage-josh_medium

The numbered annotations match up to the points below:

  1. FanPosts, FanShots and Sidebars Moved: We are moving all sidebar modules to the right side of the page and increased their size. This makes FanPosts and FanShots modules more visible and makes it easier to see the lastest posts from community members.
  2. FanPosts Featured in the "Cover." FanPosts from site members can now be featured alongside the lead stories on a site. AND New Shorter, Hero-Style "Covers." We are adding some new formats for displaying the lead story or stories of the day that occupy less vertical space, to help push FanPosts up higher on the page and improve the scanability of the front pages.
  3. Local Site Navigation at the Top of all Pages. For some users the current double navigation, with SB Nation network navigation at the top of the home page and the local site navigation below the top stories, creates a disconnect between the content and the community on a team site. We have switched to a single navigation bar on each community that highlights the community elements rather than network blogs by default. But if you roll over "SB Nation" in the new nav, the full network league and blog navigation appears. So we've retained network navigation functionality while calling out the local site navigation (and particularly FanPosts and FanShots) first and foremost. This change will also carry down to all pages on the blogs, including article pages, FanPosts and FanShots.
  4. SB Nation Network Bar with User Login and Profile Information. The Login/Sign-up, Profile and My SBN links will be moved from the current placement just above the site just above the SB Nation menu items to a stand-alone network bar placed at the very top of the page, above the ad. This change is being made to call those links out a little better, as well as provide the basis for an improved and more personalized network navigation bar hat will include more notifications and expanded utility for users.
  5. Community widget. We have added a module on the right hand side of the page with easy access links to write a FanPost, create a FanShots, see who is writing for the site on the Masthead, and to read the Community Guidelines.
  6. Easier to scan river. By reducing the weight of photos and bringing consistency to how items on the home page are displayed, the river of content on the home pages will be easier to scan for new posts, new comments and updates to posts.

We spent a great deal of time collecting and organizing feedback, and we're confident in these changes will be valuable to our communities. There are more changes we plan to make based on your feedback that haven't made it into this release, but will in iterative changes going forward. We're committed to an agile development process that allows for incremental changes, quick fixes and improvements, and ample feedback opportunities.

I know you'll want to talk about these changes and I'm sure that you'll have feedback on them. Please funnel all of that feedback into the comments below so we can track it. Centralized feedback will allow us to keep things more organized and transparent, and keep the feedback loop more efficient. In 2013, we will be using Blog Huddle as a place to talk about changes to SB Nation site, be more transparent about what we're working on, and collect feedback in one place. Please help out that effort by leaving feedback and questions as comments here.

Vox Media strives to be kind of company that values our users and listens very carefully to your feedback, whether on SB Nation or our other sites. We know we can do a better job of this, so thank you for any help you can give us to build healthier habits. Not all companies engage with users directly, but we want to work toward a strong, transparent collaboration with our writers, advertisers, and readers.

And thanks, sports fans, for your help and patience!

CHRIS HAINES - PRODUCT MANAGER FOR SB NATION/VOX MEDIA

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