A few tweaks and new things

It’s over two months since we moved to a completely new design here at BaseballGB. I’m very happy with both the look and functionality of the new site and judging by the comments and e-mails we’ve received, the changes seem to have gone down well with you readers too.   As Hannibal from the A-Team said on so many occasions: “I love it when a plan comes together”!

I mentioned in my ‘Introductory’ post that I would be making a few tweaks here and there as the site ‘bedded in’.  Most of them have been minor changes that hopefully add up to useful little additions.  For example, and as suggested in that previous post, I have now added a Tags section at the bottom of each post so that there is another easy way to navigate to content on a similar theme.  I’ve also updated the look of the ‘caption’ area that will appear at the bottom of images.  It’s not very noticeable at the moment as, due to the inadequacy of the previous caption style, we very rarely (if ever) used it.  It’s another thing we can take advantage of from now on though. 

Writing about images brings me to one of the other main additions to the site in recent weeks.   I stumbled across an invaluable resource called PicApp that allows blogs and websites to use quality photos without falling foul of copyright laws.  Too many images can do more harm than good in a post, but used sensibly they can work extremely well as a way to break up and complement the text, especially in the cases of longer articles such as my Rounding the Bases column. Again, it’s another feature we can use to improve the overall presentation and look of the website (although we will not be able to use the ‘image caption’ feature on those pics because PicApp doesn’t allow it).

I also noted in my Introductory post on 25 October that I would update the ‘About’ page “over the coming week”.  The timetable on that task has slipped a little bit, but I promise to get to it soon.  I spent some time over the Christmas period undertaking my annual review of the website (what went well, what didn’t quite work or could have worked better, what we could improve, ideas for new features etc) and while the general ethos of the site as explained in the About page still very much holds true, the specifics on where we’ve been and where we are going does need to be updated. 

You’ll notice that one of the “New for 2009” features listed there is an MLB Wiki page.  This was an idea of mine that I really wanted to get right before launching it and other commitments meant that I never quite got to that position at any point last year.  It’s going to be my main side project over the next few months, expanded to cover British baseball as well, and I’m aiming to have it up and running by the start of the new season.

One other new feature for the 2010 season that I can reveal is the move to a greater mix of longer articles and shorter blog posts.  Like most writers, I prefer putting together longer and more considered pieces of work and I think that’s the right approach for us to take.  Quality of posts rather than quantity has always been my preference as a reader, writer and editor.  However, there is also undoubtedly a place for shorter and more frequent posts as conversation starters or just a bit of fun.  The relative lack of shorter posts in the past has been due to a desire to keep the more substantial pieces in a prominent position on the website, rather than quickly knocking them down the main page with shorter items.  The functionality of the main page now (headline section, featured section, category spoilers on the right-hand side etc) means that this is no longer a problem, so I’m hoping to increase the number of shorter posts this year, while continuing with the longer articles and maintaining the overall quality of all the content.  It’s probably something that will work best once the season has started and there are lots of games, incidents and news stories to comment on. 

As always, please let us know what you think so that we can keep on improving BaseballGB.

3 Responses to A few tweaks and new things

  1. Matthew Crawshaw January 19, 2010 at 1:02 pm #

    Just out of interest Matt, do you know how much traffic you attract and has the new design achieved a measurable increase?

    I have noticed longer ‘threads’ of comments in recent weeks, which I think is attributable to the new design, as older topics now don’t get ‘pushed down’.

    The recent comments/post lists also help track the most active threads.

    I really like the book reviews, have you thought about doing DVD reviews too?

    Finally is there any way that comments can be previewed/spell checked before posting, or is that a wordpress limitation?

  2. Matt Smith January 19, 2010 at 6:15 pm #

    Hi Matthew

    Visitor rates have gone up a bit per the normal, although they can vary quite a lot over the year during periods when a certain post or two attracts a lot more visitors (e.g. when Baseball on Five’s demise was announced, during the Baseball World Cup etc). Things are naturally a bit quieter during the offseason, but the new design does seem to be attracting some more people and, as you state, is certainly encourging people to delve depeer and to make more comments, which is a very good sign.

    Glad to read that you like the book reviews. I only have a couple of baseball-related DVDs, but would certainly be open to posting reviews of DVDs in the future.

    As for the comments, the current method is (as you suspected) just the way WordPress works. There may be some ‘plug-ins’ that I can install that would help, so I’ll look into that. Thanks for the suggestion.

  3. Jeff Elijah February 1, 2010 at 2:55 am #

    Glad I found this site. Please check my comment under your Baseball Mercury article from a few weeks ago.

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