For the first time in over two years, Pirates Prospects has a new look. We produce a ton of content, posting anywhere from 6-10 or more articles and updates on an average day. One of the downsides to this is that it can be easy for content to be lost in the fold. A trade that happens Monday morning is going to be buried on the site by Tuesday morning. So when I was looking for a new design, I wanted to find a look that:
**Allowed us to feature the biggest stories in a prominent place at the top of the site, and give those stories a longer shelf life.
**Had plenty of room for categories, allowing readers to find the section they want, and find the latest articles in that section.
**Traditional blog navigation options, like a list of the most recent posts.
**A better page for each category.
I went with the current theme, as I felt it provided the best mix of the above, plus some other great features. Since we’ve had the old theme for a little over two years, it might take some adjusting to get used to where everything is. So I wanted to put together a quick guide.
Top of the Page
The top of the main page features a navigation bar, which can be used to navigate the different areas of the site. Anything with a >> expands with more categories. You can use these links to go to the individual categories page. Looking for the latest transactions? Click the transactions link. Want the latest draft and international news? Check the “Amateur” tab.
Below this on the main page is the Top Stories section. These are the stories we wanted to highlight for an extended period. Hover over the images to get an excerpt (going forward we’ll do a better job of making sure that’s not just the first X characters from the article). Click anywhere on the image to go to the article.
The Left Column
The left column is where you will find most of the categories on the site. The column starts with the recent Featured posts. These are all of the big stories on the site, in order from most recent to least recent. You can expand this section until you’ve caught up with everything, or until you’re tired of reading. Just click “Load More Posts”.
Next is the Popular Posts section. The goal here is to once again make sure you don’t miss anything due to the amount of content that goes up on the site. To keep this section fresh, I limited it to this month.
The next section is where you’ll find all of the recent posts for some of the biggest categories on the site. Right now the categories are: Analysis, Injury News, Pirates Notebook, Prospect Notebook, Prospect Reports, Rumors, Top Performers, and Transactions. Click on any tab to see the three most recent stories from that section. Click “Load More Posts” to see more stories from that section.
The Middle Column
At the top of the middle column you will find the NL Central standings, updated nightly, which is probably going to be relevant the rest of September. Under this you will find some of the most used categories on the site. First Pitch is…well, you know what it is, since you’re reading this and since it’s the most read feature on the site. I wish I could take credit for that, but you guys read it even when James Santelli takes over, so clearly it’s more about the article title and not the author and the potential bad jokes.
Next you will find the Pirates game recaps, the latest Playoff Odds report, the Prospect Watch, and the daily minor league schedule. With the exception of the Playoff Odds report, all of these are updated nightly.
The Right Column
This column has a lot of the ads on the site, since it is featured on every page. Hey, we have to keep this site free somehow, while still churning out 6-10+ articles a day on the same team. Also, I believe in paying my writers. They have to eat too. There’s also a button for donations. I occasionally get an e-mail from someone asking how they can contribute to the site. I always feel a little guilty with that kind of stuff, even when it comes to selling the Prospect Guide which takes me four months to produce. I mean, you are helping me write about baseball for a living, and I live in Bradenton, which is ten minutes away from some really nice beaches. On the flip side, I do spend about 100 hours a week working on this site (and I wouldn’t do that if I didn’t love it), and I don’t visit those beaches because I usually can never tear myself away from the site.
So I don’t feel too guilty leaving an option for a donation. There were literally half a dozen times in the first few years of running this site where I was days away from being broke, running around my house finding stuff to sell because for some crazy reason (fueled by unemployment and a ridiculously tough job market) I thought I could make a living running a sports blog. It did work out, so that’s thankfully not a concern anymore. At this point 90% of donations or Prospect Guide sales are going to expanding the coverage on the site, including live playoff coverage, and I’d like to also do some reports from the Dominican Academy in the next year. The other 10% will probably go towards eating more Sweetberries ice cream than any one person should ever eat. If you don’t donate anything, and all you do is read the site, that’s fine by me. But the option is there for those who asked.
At the top of the right column is a search box, which I’ll look to upgrade in the next day. Also in the right column you will find the last 10 posts on the site. Below that you will find the site resources, including some of the roster and payroll pages. But mostly the right column helps pay for the site. And ice cream.
If you notice anything strange with the theme, let me know in the comments below. I tried fixing any issues I could find, but there’s always something that comes up after you go live. Some of the pictures will show up strange, mostly because they were cropped for the old theme. I’m in the process of converting those and changing some alignments in different sections on the site.
As for the comments, I’m hoping this theme will prevent the problem where comments 4-5 levels in look like a flagpole of words going straight down the page. I think the new comments section looks better. There’s also the option to upload avatars (and there always was that option, but it’s more noticeable now).
That’s all I’ve got for now. It’s 8 AM, I’ve been up all night, and my Red Bull and cupcakes from last night is about to lead to a massive crash. Happy Labor Day!
Links and Notes