The new-look BaseballGB

As you will see, our new website design has been launched today in good time for the new baseball season.

You may be familiar with the overall design. It’s using the BoldNews WordPress theme by the WooThemes company, which is used on various other blogs. I really like the standard design and functionality that the theme offers, so I haven’t undertaken a significant amount of modifications to it at this stage beyond adding the site logo and a few subtle tweaks here and there.

One of the benefits of the theme, indeed of all the WooThemes products, is that you can do quite a lot of customization fairly easily. I’ll be continuing to work on this over the next couple of weeks, so you’ll see the design develop during that period, but it seemed a good idea to get the new design up so that the extra functionality it brings can start to be used as soon as possible.  This includes:

  • Greater social media integration
  • Cleaner ‘category’ sections so that you can get to all posts in a specific category (e.g. British Baseball) in a more user-friendly way, including subscribing to the RSS feed of the category.
  • Category specific sidebars so that posts in each topical ‘area’ have their own feel and are customised to reflect the overall subject (e.g. posts and articles about Project COBB will have further details about the project included in the sidebar, such as Contact details, Twitter feed etc) – Note, this is the bit I’ll be honing over the next week or so.
  • A prominent ‘Post detail’ area at the top of each page, which will allow you to move on to comments, posts of a similar category and which will also highlight who the author is in a much more noticeable way than the previous design allowed.
  • More control over the images that we use on posts
  • A more focused way for us to highlight ‘headline’ features whilst also giving due prominence to shorter posts.

All of these points combine in some way, but the final one listed gets to the heart of the overall change that this new design is part of.

We’re aiming for a more flexible writing arrangement this season and the new design has been chosen to complement this approach. Several articles can be displayed in the top, prominent area, so a greater number of the longer, less time-dependent, pieces of writing will be highlighted, whilst the post area below will allow us to add in shorter pieces much more easily than before without them being overshadowed.

Shorter pieces – traditional blog posts, if you like – tended to get lost in the shuffle in the old design with the consequence that I often saved up ideas and comments with the intention of working them into longer articles. Often other news would then come along so the shorter idea would go by the wayside and I would regularly think back to the topic and consider it a shame that I hadn’t published something about it after all. In particular, posts that are more immediate and current are much more likely to inspire you – the readers – to share your own thoughts whilst the story is fresh in your mind.

All in all, when I was reviewing the site’s 2011 content over the Christmas/New Year break, this was one key area where I thought we (particularly myself) could be doing an even better job.

In line with this, I’ve decided to make some changes to my two main weekly columns that I’ve written for several years.

I won’t be writing my weekly Monday morning MLB column, Weekly Hit Ground Ball, this season. My plan is to give myself the space to write two or three 400-500 word pieces per week rather than one 800-1,200 word article. If a topic does deserve a longer article then it will of course still be covered in that way; however moving away from the rigid schedule should give me more licence to explore different themes and stories.

As for my weekly Thursday morning British Baseball Beat column, this will continue but in a slightly reduced and different form.

You may have read on the BaseballSoftballUK website that I shall be writing the weekly National Baseball League round-up for the the BBF website this season, with the occasional pinch-writing stint from fellow writers here. Dave Hill, Michael Jones and Matt Cartwright combined to cover the AAA-North and South and the AA-Midlands divisions brilliantly last year on the BBF website and BSUK’s aim is for each division to be covered by someone, with stories and reports hopefully available on the BBF website early each week.

My previous British Baseball Beat column approach was to cover each league in turn, but this would now largely duplicate the pieces on the BBF website, so it makes sense for me to change things around.  I’ll continue to preview some of the top games scheduled for the upcoming weekend, but I’ll also use the column more as a collection of notes/curiosities/off-the-field news and commentary.

That’s the thinking behind it all.  I hope that the changes in design and approach amount to a welcome evolution of the things that you already enjoy here at this website. Sharing a passion is always a great place to start when it comes to creating something worthwhile, but it’s important that a strong starting point doesn’t lead to complacency and that you always look to new ideas and ways to keep things fresh and exciting, both for those reading the content and for those writing it. Along those lines, I’m always keen to add new writers into the mix so please get in contact if you would like to contribute to the site.

As with any new design, testing doesn’t guarantee that every little gremlin will be found so if you do find any quirks or errors then please pass on the details.  There will be a certain amount of tinkering as the new design beds in, so please accept my apologies if any temporary oddities crop up along the way.

Thanks for your continued support. Enjoy the upcoming season.

Cheers

Matt

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3 Responses to The new-look BaseballGB

  1. Joe Gray March 18, 2012 at 11:02 am #

    Fantastic work. It still has the great BaseballGB look, but takes it on at least another step with the design and user-friendliness. I think readers are going to really enjoy the improvements. Us writers will derive benefit from it too, though, as having the wrtier background and other customization prominently around the edges of each story is a great addition.

    Thanks for all the hard work.

    Joe

  2. Colin March 18, 2012 at 2:57 pm #

    Nice Job Matt. Thanks for the consistently great work you do on here

  3. Matt Smith March 18, 2012 at 7:07 pm #

    Thanks both. It’s great to be receiving a positive reaction to the changes.
    Matt

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