Brett Mock offers an introduction and tutorial to some of Colts Authority's primary features. Please take the time to review this story to become more familiar with site features and to provide feedback regarding which features you like, don't like, or would like to see be available in the future.
It is our hope that navigating the site will be efficient and user-friendly, and though we know we still have much work to do to clean up hundreds/thousands of stories that were imported from the previous sites, and still have to rebuild feature pages to fill our navigation bar, there are some basic tips and suggestions we can offer that we hope will make your visits to Colts Authority more productive and enjoyable.
There has been no bigger request made by our readers prior to this merger than to have an oppotunity to submit user-generated content. As a result, our team made it a priority to develop a system that allows readers to do just that. You will notice the Reader Blog on the right sidebar -- which already contains reader generated content -- and a button underneath the Reader Blog section that says "Submit Content."
To submit a story it's as simple as clicking the button, submitting a title, selecting the reader blog section in the drag-down menu, and writing your story in the text box. A functional toolbar is available to make alterations to post layout, to insert images, page-breaks, etc. It is functionally the same story editor that the front page authors use.
We welcome our readers to become familiar with this feature of the site and to turn their own articulate opinions, particularly ones that they feel offer a different perspective -- reader content that agrees with front page content is certainly fine -- into reader stories that members of the Colts community can enjoy. In many regards, the Reader Blog can be used to replace a "forum" if the community uses it actively.
We look forward to reading YOUR stories!
Livefyre Comment System
The second biggest request made by our regular visitors prior to the merger is for a commenting system that updates live, allows for nested conversations, and has an efficient way to identify new comments when they're not on the visible screen. Conveniently, all three of the original sites that existed prior to Colts Authority used the Livefyre commenting system -- which means our regular visitors are already familiar with using it.
For folks who are new to using Livefyre, the following tips should make the system easy to use. First, users have the option of creating a Livefyre specific ID for posting comments or signing in through Facebook, Twitter, Google, Linked in, and OpenID. Once inside a story, simply begin typing in the comment box at the end of the story text, or navigate through the comments and click on the "reply" button to respond in line and join or start a conversation.
Let's face it. Navigating through all of the news surrounding the Colts isn't always an easy task. There are opinions shared by so many sources all over the web that keeping track of all of the latest opinions, rumors, and analysis can be too large of an undertaking for people with families, full-time jobs, and other responsibilities that limit the time they have to devote to Colts fandom.
Colts Authority helps make that task easier by generating a steady stream of quality content from a talented writing staff and by utilizing a Colts content locating super spider that we call Todd Smith, v. 2.0. Todd's efforts to locate and share the best Colts content availabe from around the internet throughout the day makes Colts Authority a daily must read and must visit for all Colts fans who want to see the best Colts content available in the most convenient and efficient way possible.
Throw in the fact that Todd is a great guy with a good sense of humor who often adds his own flair to his link stories and we think this is a feature all of our readers will enjoy. You will find this feature near the top of the left sidebar.
Feature Story Slider
While we are still working out some kinks with the feature story slider at the top of the screen, we hope that this feature will make it easy and convenient for our readers to navigate into popular stories. Anytime a large staff of writers comes together to write in one location, there is some level of certainly that really good stories will move off of the front page quicker than readers might like, and it is certain that some stories will simply be must read items that should be available for fans who cannot visit us every day.
The feature story slider helps Colts Authority achieve the goals of efficient navigation to those popular stories and efficient navigation to the best recent content for readers who do not have the time to visit the site daily.
This feature is prominent at the top of the screen underneath the navigation bar in the main column.
CA News Scroller
During the regular NFL season, every team makes numerous changes to their practice squad and regular season rosters on a weekly basis. Many of those changes rotate and include the same players, positions, and modifications. Each of those minor announcements really does not warrant a full front-page story. That certainly does not mean that we expect our readers to not be interested in knowing that these things have occurred.
Enter the CA News Scroller. We hope to regularly update the CA News scroller with pertinent quotes, team transactions, or other news that we think members of the Colts community would be interested in knowing. The more the Colts Authority staff gets used to using and modifying this breaking news scroller, the more we hope our readers will pay attention to the scroller's content.
This feature is located just underneath the feature story slider.
Check it to Pancakes Podcast Player
Colts Authority is excited to bring the Check it to Pancakes podcast to a much larger audience. This feature will invite reader and fan interaction by hosting a live show through BlogTalkRadio and includes a feature where the hosts/co-hosts of the show can take calls from listeners. Think of it as your way to connect to the Colts Authority team without doing so much reading, while you're working out in the gym on your IPod, or as you're working on your homework/paperwork in the evenings.
If you can't make the live shows, can't participate in the podcast open threads, and don't see the current week's show story on the main page, utilize the Check it to Pancakes podcast player to play previous episodes of the podcast. In fact, it's often a good idea to listen to the recorded episodes of the podcast because the broadcast team regularly has special after shows or will include pre-recorded content like Q&A interviews at the end of the live shows.
If you're unfamiliar with the podcast, we hope you will take the time to listen to some of the previous episodes or tune in live as we announce shows over the summer. We appreciate and are open to any and all feedback as we plan to continue developing the podcast to be an even more integral part of our feature content.
This feature is located in the right sidebar.
You will find a copy of the latest updates to the Colts injury report on the left sidebar. Our team will be following the development of player injuries and keeping this list current throughout season. Similar to the CA News Scroller, sometimes these injury report updates don't really necessitate a front page story. This feature will help keep our readers informed while staying out of the way of more substantative content.
One of the goals for Colts Authority is to have an active social media presence that makes it easy for members of the Colts community who do not regularly visit or participate in the blog community to still have a way to interact. If our goal is to provide a one-stop location for the Colts community, we would be remiss if we didn't also reach out and
lure invite people into it.
Those who are already on the webisite during live-tweeting of the weekly Colts radio show, press conferences, or other media they do not have access to because they're at work, in a meeting, or simply outside of the Colts local coverage area can follow those updates using the Twitter updates feature on the right sidebar instead of navigating between numerous windows or tabs.
The list of features on Colts Authority will continue to grow and improve. As you may notice, none of the feature pages are even included in the list at this time. As we continue to clean things up, we will be sure to notify you of the most efficent ways to navigate through Colts Authority's vast content. We will be creating a page that details this information and makes it available for you to review and share with friends as they visit the site and start to dive into the content as well.
To address those who have made numerous comments and inquiries regarding vertical/horizontal space efficiency. We have discussed changes to spacing with the Bloguin team and can tell you that ultimately, trying to thin the spacing out vertically or horizontally will cause site elements to run together. We have to leave the spacing as is in order for all the elements to load properly.
Please continue to provide your questions and insight. Each of your suggestions are taken seriously and passed along to Bloguin as feedback for Colts Authority and all future Bloguin sites.
I'd request that on story pages you remove the left-hand column/gutter to put the page content against the left side of the browser window. Usability research says that this anchors the start of each line of text against a constant reference point and with some whitespace -- more reader-friendly. Especially if you're older, reading on a lower quality screen or at the end of a 500 item comment thread. (And here, I think it'd be particularly helpful near the top of the page where the links, widgets and ads are.)
I remember Grantland's template being in the discussion as a design touchstone; note how their main page has both left and right columns like CA's, but they remove the left one when you click on a story.
Probably a small issue to most people, but my 2ç worth.
You are part of the staff so a) YOU CAN'T MAKE REQUESTS, GET TO WORK b) you can't say "i request that you", you're part of the hive mind, so you have to say, "we must do ..." c) ??? @pierrezombie
I am? Oh yeah... I am. OK, in that case: a) GIVE ME ADMIN ACCESS, and I will either i) make this sucker sing or ii) accidentally knock the site offline. b) You Canadians and your collectivism. Sheesh. Alright, Comrade, how's this: "Can we fix it? Yes we can!" c) Go to Grantland. Click a story. Notice how all the crap on the left side of the page goes away and the words cascade out at you like a lullaby. Aspire to rip it off.
I hate Bloguin. I'm sorry, their sites are just incredibly bloated.
As a totally unscientific test, I turned off AdBlock and FlashBlock and used Firebug to measure the page loads on different site frontpages:
ESPN - 104 GET requests, 892 kB loaded
Yahoo Sports - 106 GET requests, 960 kB loaded
Sports Illustrated - 189 GET requests, 3.4 MB loaded
Stampede Blue - 248 GET requests, 2 MB loaded
Colts Authority - 500 GET requests, 4.6 MB loaded
It takes minutes - literally minutes - to load the front page over a high latency connection. The different feeds and tickers and applets and site analytics all hanging off the front page make it really tedious to get to the actual *content*. The article pages are almost as bad because even though they don't load all the widgets they have to load all of Livefyre's crap, which is usually pretty slow.
I absolutely love the writers and the content and I'll come back every day. But I hope with all my heart you guys find a better platform and give Bloguin the boot. They make Wordpress look good... well, less awful anyway.
wowowow omg you guyz r so funny lol
It's the connection, not the computer. And yes, I have a shit connection. I live near downtown in a dense neighborhood where everybody and his dog has a wireless router so they're all constantly stomping on each others' signals, especially during prime time. The only choices I have for broadband are the oversold AT&T DSL or the oversold Brighthouse cable. Not everybody gets to live where the Internet is nice and fast.
And even with all that, CA is the only site that gives me problems. It's loading a ridiculous amount of stuff.
@squirrel Well to be honest, it's pretty insane that you are talking isht and saying for them to "leave Bloguin" when you are the one on a freakin dial-up connection dude. I mean, it's 2012. SERIOUSLY???
@CollegeWolf@squirrel I think the point of squirrel's test results was to show that even on a broadband connection, CA is loading 4-5x the data that those other sites are. Even in the modern age, 4.6MB to load the main page is a ton. Especially when most of it is animated ads and junk in the margins.
@squirrel It takes like 3-5 seconds to load on my computer. Do you have a Pentium 486 or something?
Can we get a page that has a full roster with contract breakdowns/cap numbers that can be updated as things change? It could be a reference when discussing possible transactions and their cap ramifications.
Overall, I like the layout hiearchy. the color scheme/aesthetic, but I agree with the feedback regarding wasted space. Both vertically and horizontally, there's quite a bit of real estate being wasted.
Take, as ONE example, the large amount of space used by the CA Story Scroller. From the bottom of the Feature Story Slider box to the top of the first story lead box, this single line of text (and its box) eats up more than its share of a vertical space.
Then there's the 'dead space' within each box...
But again, overall, good stuff.
And that right there is what you call a compliment sandwich - positive/critical/positive
I love the new site. Seen a lot of suggestions here and in some other threads. My advice to you, DON'T LET TOO MANY COOKS IN THE KITCHEN. You'll get pulled in too many directions by people who don't really know what's best. You got a good think going and I'm glad for the additional content. Stuff is easy to find and the site is easy on the eyes and not too busy.
@mistake by the lake This will be an interesting process. This is a very different place than 18to88 was for example, and that's by design. I expect that over time, it will make sense what everyone's roles are.
the 'many cooks' is going to really help guys like me out, who were just flat exhausted from cooking breakfast, lunch, dinner, and doing the dishes every day for 5 years.
@Nate Dunlevy i meant more on the site feedback stuff. Love that the sites merged editorially as I read your site and coltzilla. That said, probably not have the collective audiences between all of the sites dictate what the site looks like. You guys have a simple and clean look that I like and is fast. Lot of readers and lot of opinions = a cluster..... of opinions.
In regard to the daily links, the side bar of links should remain when a link is selected. On 18to88 I could go through the links one by one, now I have to hit the back button before getting to the next daily link.'
Thanks for the great site!
Website is looking great...I'm already all in...getting all my Colts news from here or twitter
The only issue I had was on the first day, when a sotry (don't remember which) had a broken link (in the Feature Story Slider)....
And sometimes the website is a little slow to load, but my connection is crappy, any website a little heavier does that.
All in all a fantastic job, guys...congratulations
Actually I have a comment for all of our readers: GREAT JOB!
The fan interaction in the first few days here and on Twitter has been absolutely remarkable. Your feedback and support is much appreciated!
Aesthetics comment for your consideration.It seems to me that some color contrast on the front page would make the page appear cleaner and easier to navigate. With the white post background and the light grey page background, things sort of blend together a bit. This could be solved by a better color palette, I think. While the convergent colors make the page seem jumbled, sloppy, or unorganized, better contrast would separate the various elements of the page so that we could more easily determine where everything is.Thanks for all you do, guys! Keep up the great work!
One of our goals is to figure out how to make the site pop more, look more professional and exciting, and generally make it easier to see individual page elements. This theme used to create this page is a high-end them and very complex so we're going to have to continue working with Bloguin's site development/coding staff to make that goal a reality. Great feedback. @James_Otis
@coltsauthority Again, that was a minor point. I really love what you guys have done so far. We all realize this is a work in progress in many, many ways. It seems most people are happy with what's developing (myself included). We know you guys have a ton of stuff to do and there are a ton of suggestions here, so we don't expect everything to be perfect, or everyone to be satisfied 100% by every single detail. That's the nature of the beast. Keep up the great work, guys!
@James_Otis Yeah, I was just thinking about that too. Some color on the sidelines would make this more engaging, in my opinion. Love the navigation bar. And one question. What is the purpose of those fan confidence polls? I don´t see the point, personally.
There really is no point to the fan confidence polls if they go unused. If it is used -- and this particular setup allows for use across multiple Colts themed sites -- it is basically a running poll on how the fans feel about the direction the team is taking, or where the team is currently. It's my understand that it was a new application/widget in 2011 so we planned to give it a little time to grow, like maybe for the 2012 regular season. If it goes unused, I'm sure it is one thing that we will remove. @James_Otis
It is my understanding that the app. is in development. I will get confirmation on that and get back with you. @matt_has
+1 on keeping the Daily Links on every page, please.
- I don't really see the point to the scrolly thing up top. It just pushes the newest content farther down the page
- speaking of pushing things down, there's an awful lot of vertical screen space being used for nothing (white space, lines, dividers, byline, twitter/share, comments, Continue reading all each get their own line). Combine this with the fact that all we get on the front page is the little italic sub-headline thing, and you get articles that don't really stand out that much or have much of a hook, and you get an awful lot of empty white space. I'd much rather just see a multi-paragraph lead with a jump if necessary. And maybe consolidate comments/continue and FB/Tw and the byline into single lines to save space?
Good work, folks. Some friendly thoughts:
1 - I don't like the "The Backyard: Best of the Web" thing at the bottom. Looks like an excuse for someone to show pictures of bikini models. Plenty of other websites are available for that...does this need to be one of them?
2 - Daily Links are awesome. Please make them be on every page so I don't have to go back to the homepage every time I read one in order to read the next one.
3 - Ads are important because you need to make money, but is there any control over which ads are up? Similar to the situation with "The Backyard" link...bikini models trying to sell me penny stocks. sigh.
These are just my thoughts...no big deal. I am happy you all merged, and very excited about what may come. The page loads much faster than at 18to88 and I don't have as many error messages. Onward and Upward!
@lefpsyd good call on the ads
also can dunleavy stop pimping his book every other article?
@omahacolt I installed a flash blocker, which has helped tremendously. Although I still wish "the backyard: best of the web" thing at the bottom would go away because it's tacky.
As far as Nate, he can pimp those books as much as he wants. It's not like they are Kirby vacuum cleaners
@lefpsyd@omahacolt You guys realize that by installing a Flash Blocker and/or Ad Blocker you are taking away hard earned revenue for your Colts guys here, right? It's not like the Ads are on sites just for fun you know. You block ads and you are basically stealing content from this site. I know it's "free" content here on this website, but the Colts guys definitely deserve compensation for their efforts. You are only harming them by blocking ads, and especially by telling other people to do the same thing. That would really piss me off if I were running the site.
The "Backyard Best of the Web" is part of a contractual agreement with Yardbarker and Fox Sports that Bloguin has. It helps drive millions of hits to the network, which helps out every site more (obviously including CA.) It is at the very bottom of the website... you can't deal with that?
I have confirmed with Bloguin that the Backyard best of the web slider is a requirement of the contract between Bloguin and Yardbarker. For better or worse, that will not be going anywhere. We're sorry for any inconvenience to our readers on that front.
At the end of the day, the reality of the situation is that ads generate enough revenue to make it possible for people to enjoy free access to content. If we clean the site of ads, the site will disappear because we won't have the income to cover the overhead.
Hopefully we do our jobs well enough generating content to make minor annoyances worth it :)
@lefpsyd Right -- I'm with you on the ads. I feel like I need to turn my laptop when the kids walk up. Exactly the opposite of what I need to do in order to indoctrinate them appropriately.
@matt_has Yeah. No kids here yet, but my wife and I are very sensitive to this. Porn addiction has ruined several marriages among our family & friends. Not saying any of these things are porn, just saying that they project an idea that my family finds distasteful and harmful. That is all.
if a marriage or family is ruined because of a picture of a girl in a bikini on the internet, then it wasnt much of a marriage or family.
the bikini pics dont bother me at all. better than dudes in thongs
the bikini pics at the bottom - I have all ads blocked, so those don't affect me - have bothered me, but I don't believe we have any control over them, as they seem to be Bloguin-controlled content. We will look into it, of course, and I hope we can do something about it, but there's a chance that we can't. We may send duct-tape to all of our readers so they can cover it up. @lefpsyd @matt_has
@lefpsyd, What was/is the nature of your error messages at 18to88 and here? I had huge problems there over the past year (it would sometimes crash IE on my computer) and even if I could read the first page of something, I could not scroll or comment. arrgh.
Here, it IS better in that I can scroll and comment. But I do get what appear to be meaningless error messages on every new page/screen. sigh. Weird and annoying, sort of like Rex Ryan, but not a deal killer.
@Bobman It has only happened once or twice on CA, but every time on 18288...I'd get an error message regarding a acrobat script failing (or something like that) and asking me if I wanted to abort the script. I'd have to say yes or Safari would crash.
@Goeland @squirrel @WillyDuer @GregC @lefpsyd @Bobman The thing that still drives me bonkers about this error is that Livefyre allowed the special character into Goe´land's username in the first place. Aarrgghh! At least their sign up box now appears to prevent it (with helper text "no spaces or foreign characters". Foreign to whom, I might ask?).
well it won't let me edit the E so I just have to remove his whole name. No biggie. I delete the names half the time anyway.
I often get a red [! undefined] error when trying to post comments. Usually after I have posted multiple within the same thread. There doesn't seem to be any pattern to how and why, or how to get them to go away. Sometimes I just reload and it's fine, other times it won't ever let me post again on that page.
This is comment software related, obviously, not site. But worth noting.
@lefpsyd Thirding the daily links on every page, and I agree with the fact that if it´s possible, the less ads the better.