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SB Nation/RCT Update: Homepage Improvements

SB Nation/RCT Update: Homepage Improvements

Following the launch of the redesigned SB Nation sites, the initial focus was on improving the performance and user experience of the mobile experience as well as other post launch fixes and adjustments. Recently, we've had a chance 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.

Obviously we at RCT have had some anxieties and concerns related to the redesign and after collecting as much feedback around the new design of SB Nation as possible, there are a couple of major themes that are going to be addressed in an upcoming tweak to the homepage layout.

Some of the most common network wide concerns included: The community features, and specifically Fanposts, 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 this tweak has 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:


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.

As a blog manager I'm excited to see the changes because I think they directly address some of the community involvement concerns we've been facing. This is the first major shift of the redesign directly based on user feedback and it sounds as if there will be more to come. So I encourage you to continue to express concerns, suggestions etc in the comment section. I'm always available via email and I'll continue to filter concerns upward as well. Thanks as always for your help and continued patience!