As we hinted at with the unveiling of the new logo, SB Nation is preparing to launch a new platform in the very near future. With that there are going to be some changes at Rock Chalk Talk that are going to tremendously improve the caliber of the site. The purpose of this post is to give you, the RCT community, a little bit of a preview so that you're just a little more prepared when the changes go live. The new collective group of SB Nation blogs will now be referenced as SB Nation United and in short the changes are designed to help accomplish a few things.
- SB Nation United is going to help make our sites load faster and run better meaning you can get to the content you want faster.
- SB Nation United is going to make sure that you're seeing the best and brightest content up front with our flexible layout, design and reduction of some of the clutter.
- SB Nation United is going to make the experience on our sites run seamlessly from every platform, whether mobile, tablet or computer. No matter where you are, the experience will not change.
- SB Nation United will not take away or change any of the community elements you love like in terms of original content that we find relevant to this community as well as the FanPosts and FanShots and GameThreads that provide added community involvement.
After the jump we'll dive in a little deeper into some of the layout changes to give you a brief overview although if you're like me it will make a lot more sense once you have a chance to actually dive in and get into this thing after the launch.
First off we'll have a new front page layout. This will be everything above the fold in your web browser. The goal here will be to provide ongoing stories, new content from the day and the most important content that we have going. Just as an example we might have a story stream going that previews Kansas v Kansas State and the following week we might have a stream involving the stories that recap that game while a new feature might talk about late night or any breaking news such as a recruit commitment or a major stadium overhaul (fingers crossed!). There are several format types, here's a couple of quick screen grabs of what you might see.
As you'll immediately notice, the old reverse-chronological design has been completely altered to a layout that allows us a lot more customization. These layouts also allow us to highlight more important stories for longer periods of time, while allowing other stories to cascade through and still get some serious front page face time.
You'll also notice that the top of the page has a new tool bar that will make it a whole lot easier to browse through the various blogs around the network. As someone who puts together a link post surrounding the Big 12 I can tell you that the current model is fairly labor intensive, at least more than it should be, and this new navigation will be a welcome little bonus to me.
The next piece here is what we call "below the fold". That basically consists of everything you don't see when a site loads on your browser, so anything you would scroll down on a page to view. This is where you'd find a story that might be a few days old, content from a previous game as well as fanposts, fanshots and more. Here's a full site screenshot, it's probably a little small, but you can kind of get the idea.
The other changes will come in the form of the mobile platform which is designed to be very clean, very user friendly and quick to load/update etc. The hope is that this makes the mobile version easier to use and navigate. I know I for one have been using mobile more and more and I don't think I'm unique in doing so.
All in all it's a big change and I know change can always be something that creates mixed feelings. Honestly though a revamp of some kind was something that I've thought SB Nation has been needing for at least the last year. The old sites were great, they were the launching point for the communities, but they were also somewhat limiting at this point and if they were limiting for my purposes, they certainly had to be a challenge for some of the very large communities. I would have LOVED to have this new format when I was down in New Orleans for the Final Four, the new format would have allowed for a much higher quality experience for everyone involved in my personal opinion.
So as this launch goes live in the near future I understand that change will be change at first and there will be a learning curve, but bear with it because I think at the end of the day this provides an opportunity to package the content in a way that will bring a better experience to the community and help sort through some of the clutter that the old sites contain.
It's still RCT, it's still our content directed the way that we(myself, authors and you) choose and it's still a community that can take on whatever persona fits us best (we could always swing toward self deprecating in football like the Iowa St. site if everyone is one board?). Now if I could just talk SB Nation into buying Kansas a better football team I think this place could REALLY take off. I'll make that suggestion on behalf of the community if/when the next round of change occurs.