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08 Sep 2004

Everything Old is New Again

by Benjy Rose

Howdy, loyal readers. And howdy to the newcomers, as well. Benjy the Web Guy here. We hope you've enjoyed your time with Football Outsiders so far. In honor of the beginning of our second season covering the NFL, we decided to change things up a bit, to put a new face on our baby. We truly hope you'll dig the new digs, and appreciate the effort we've put into this redesign to make it better for you. No, not you... you.

First off, it's more than just a cosmetic change. It's not just a redesign -- we've restructured (and re-written) the static content, and have completely revised the content management systems at the heart of the site in an effort to make content easier to find and the site quicker to load. We still have the two main content sections: original content and our blog of linked articles from around the web. The Original Content, still called Ramblings, has been organized more to highlight our regular weekly columns, and the articles blog, now called Extra Points, has its own page, to lessen page clutter and to get rid of the love-em-or-hate-em multiple scrolling windows.

So, let's take a tour of the new site, shall we? First off, our new logo, introduced a few weeks back, is, um, bigger. Yay, bigger. Also in the top box is our new Search box, which lets you find, among other things, all Ramblings and Extra Points which mention Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila. Great fun. Under that is a jump box to all the 32 NFL teams. The navigation is now across the top, and full of fun dropdown menus. If they don't work right for you, get yourself a newer browser (or, if you're a Mac user, stop using IE... no, really, stop...). ABOUT THIS SITE is all the basic static content that gives you some nice background about the site, features some new caricatures of The Outsiders (now in what Brown alumni will recognize as "classic Jason style," featuring square noses!), and introduces you to the new Outsiders: Ryan, Vinny, and Vivek. JUST THE STATS has, well, just the stats. All the tables split out by position and stuff, plus links to prior years' data. ARCHIVES is where you can find all the Ramblings, categorized by Feature or all listed together, as well as our new Loser League contest. EXTRA POINTS links to our articles blog of relevant stories from around the web. And SUPPORT THE OUTSIDERS tells you how to contribute to the site to help keep this venture going (remember, we have no premium content, so we rely on the support of our readers and the few ads we have to keep us going).

Down the left side bar you'll find an easy way to sign up for our mailing list, and the familiar Top 5 Boxes. If you're reading a Rambling, you'll notice the 5 Most Recent Ramblings in a box up there, too. If you're viewing the Extra Points list, you'll see the 5 Most Recently Commented Extra Points in a box. (This is an oft-requested feature that should keep articles that spawn a lot of discussion from disappearing after a day or two.)

In the middle of the page is the most recent Rambling... our highlight article, if you will. Next to that, the 5 Most Recently Posted Extra Points. Below those two sections are Feature buttons which allow instant access to the four most popular weekly Features: DVOA Rankings and Analysis, Scramble for the Ball, Every Play Counts, and Confessions of a Football Junkie. Soon to be added, our new column: Seventh Day Adventure.

Under the Features buttons is the chronological roll of Ramblings, 10 per page. As before, clicking on the title of the Rambling brings up the full text of that Rambling, clicking on the category name in the "posted" line brings up a filtered Ramblings list by that category (for example, DVOA Rankings), and clicking on the comments link brings you to the full text article, scrolled down to the comments section. And then the sponsors, which we wholeheartedly encourage you to visit.

Commenting on a Rambling or Extra Point posting is much like it was before, only now we require a name and email address. This is in order to (hopefully) combat comment spam. The email address isn't displayed, nor will we use it for anything evil. In fact, we won't use it at all. Font sizes are also bigger, particularly on discussion of Extra Points.

That's really about it. Hopefully you'll find FO2 (that's our cool summer blockbuster nickname) easier to use and groovier-looking. If you have any questions about it, or any bugs to report, please throw me an email. Also, because we're using a whole new content management system, some of the internal links to other articles may be broken. Please report them, and be patient while we clean everything out. One more piece of requested functionality that should be coming soon is printable versions of articles.

Let me take an opportunity here to dole out some serious props to my partner in crime for this project. There's no way in Hades I could have done this without the hard work of Bob Sawyer of Built for the Future. Bob has spent numerous hours helping to get this redesign off the ground...and he isn't even a football fan. Yes, read that again. He isn't even a football fan. (Heathen! Off with his head! Burn him!) In fact, that's the only reason he's listed as an Honorary Outsider, instead of a full-fledged member. Now, I may not be able to recite Corey Dillon's RBBA in 2002, but at least I can be happy when Aaron mentions that the Jets may be the surprise team of 2004. But Bob....he just does this cuz it's fun. We're certainly not paying him much (by the way, did I mention that you can donate to the Outsiders?). And yet, he's been there with us every step of the way. He's helped us out from our very humble beginnings, donating the blog software he wrote and offering to help modify the snot out of it to make it work like we wanted it to. Then, when we decided to re-do the site, he's been donating his time to help put Humpty back together again. in a word, Bob's a mensch. The Outsiders and I thank him tremendously. And you should, too.

So, to sum up: please feel free to comment to me about your thoughts on the site or just comment below (but please report bugs via email). Questions, suggestions, praise, and criticism are all welcome. Thanks again for helping make Football Outsiders the premier destination for smart football talk. And grammar. And monkeys.

Posted by: Benjy Rose on 08 Sep 2004