A few months ago Defending Big D and SB Nation made a major shift in design and layout, moving from SBN 2.0 to SB Nation United. For those that have been with us for more than a few years the change was more than a bit drastic and while the big shift was mostly welcomed with open arms, there were certainly some things that were frustrating about the new design.
The Vox Media technical team has done a great job of gathering all of the feedback from the community managers and members and while little updates have been released sporadically, we are on the cusp of a major release that addresses most of the major concerns with United.
The biggest concern with the change to United was that for some it felt like the focus on the "community" was now gone and basically pushed aside. FanPosts, in particular, were not being used as often because of the placement inside the redesign. The tech team realized that the new design was not built for readers to quickly scan the front page and be able to quickly track down these front page features SBN was built around.
So, major changes are coming very soon. A detailed post on Blog Huddle runs down what is coming:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
The Blog Huddle post also has a screenshot of what the new layout will resemble, so check it out.
Let us know what you think about the proposed changes here, as well as any other concerns you might still have.
And yes, they're still working on getting mobile commenting to work like it does on desktop.