Coming Soon: SB Nation United, a.k.a. AZ SnakePit v3.0

Coming soon - very soon - will be the next generation of SB Nation, which will include a radical makeover of the 'Pit. Those of you with long memories may recall the change from the first incarnation of this site to the second one, in March 2008, which brought us such novel features as Gameday Threads where the comments automatically refreshed! Yes, Virginia: there was a time when you had to hit the refresh button on your browser, to see if anyone had posted anything. Aren't you glad you don't live in such a barbaric age? Anyway, five baseball seasons on, this new revision promises to be no less momentous.

You've seen the logo. After the jump, there will be screenshots of...not quite this site, but they should still give you an idea of what to expect, apart from a new logo.

Cover_five_up_house_of_sparky_medium

The above shows the style of the top of the front page, and the major difference is, we're no longer pinned into the chonological strait-jacket we currently have. It's much more magaziney [magazinesque?], with the flexibility to decide what stories "stick" at the top of the page, rather than it just being the most recent one. There's a range of different layouts, with between one and five 'cover stories', and expect to see a bunch of 'em being tried out - there'll be times when there's one story on which we'll be focusing, and at other times, there's no obvious headline, and we can include a number of leading features.

The other major change is the incorporation of story streams. If you've visited any of the hubs, e,g, SB Nation Arizona, or Baseball Nation, you'll probably have seen these - they're a better way to cover an ongoing story. Right now, if there's a developing story like a trade rumor, we either have to keep editing and adding updates to an an existing piece, or write a new one, often repeating the earlier information. Now, we'll simply be creating a stream, which keeps all the relevant items in one place, and can have updates easily added as and when necessary.

This may be how we end up doing games, with a preview, gameday thread, quick recap and detailed recap, all built into a single story stream. But that's still being worked out, as we go through our training on and testing of the new system. For now, here's an example of what a story steam will look like when you click onto it from the cover or front page:

Storystream_full_page_cfb_medium

So, why is there all this change? Technology has marched on in leaps and bounds (which is a strange kind of march, if you think about it..._) since the last revision and taking advantage of it promises to enhance your 'Pit experience in a whole number of ways. Specifically? SB Nation United is going to:

  • make the sites load faster and run better meaning you can get to the content you want faster.
  • make sure that you're seeing the best and brightest content up front with our flexible layout, modern design and reduction of clutter.
  • 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.

The last-named is particularly important, because the percentage of people visiting the sites on some kind of mobile device has sky-rocketed over the past couple of year. The ability to do so - and not just passively, but to be able to comment, etc. - is one of the key driving forces behind this change. However, as important as what's changing is what won't be: Fanposts, Fanshots, etc. will still be an integral part of the site, allowing you not just to comment on what we write about, but providing a means for you to talk about whatever is on your mind with regard to the Diamondbacks [or whatever!]. Similarly, commenting, etc. will go on, same as it ever was.

Change is always difficult, in some ways, and I know that, after five seasons on 'Pit v2.0, I had some qualms about what this might bring. I mean, the current site more or less works, doesn't it? Why bother to change? But having had a chance to play with the new version... It's damn cool, and offers so much potentially good stuff that it'll take most of the off-season for us to come to terms with it all. Once you get used to the new layout and style, I'm pretty sure you'll be just as enthusiastic about it as I am.

It'll be coming. Very soon.

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