SB Nation United: A Sneak Peek Into the Phinsider's Future

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A couple of weeks ago, I announced the future of the Phinsider, highlighted by our new logo. In that post, Tyler Bleszinski, SB Nation's founder, wrote about a new platform coming to SB Nation. I am excited to now be able to give you a sneak peek of that future.

SB Nation United, as the new platform is called, will bring us new capabilities and a new ways to present information to you. But, we also keep what makes the Phinsider a great community, the ability for you as a reader to not only comment, but to produce your own content.

When we were originally told about the change, there was understandable hesitation. The site works now, why change it? But, after getting to play with the new site, I really am excited about the new site. While it's going to be a big change, and everything is going to look completely different, this change really is going to make the Phinsider better, both for the readers, and for the authors.

The relaunch of the Phinsider is coming very soon, but I wanted to make sure you guys got a chance to see what's coming. This really will be a great step forward for the site, and I want you to be just as excited as I am for the future.

SB Nation started in 2005 as a collection of baseball blogs, giving fans a way to discuss their favorite teams in an informed and deliberate way. The sites were very basic back then, and you can see an example of those early sites here.

In 2008, the network had grown to well over 100 sites, and an upgrade was needed. That upgrade brought us to the platform we currently use. However, SB Nation has now grown to nearly 330 different sites, and with the traffic and the information we are putting out every day, the load times of each site has struggled to keep up.

I know it has frustrated some of you, and I know it frustrates me. We need a way to fully load the site, and not have to wait. That's the starting point for SB Nation United's development.

The ultimate goal of SB Nation United is to unite all of the SB Nation blogs "through individuality." In other words, find a way to keep what makes each community unique, but also connect the sites so we can share across the network and bring you even better content.

As United developed, here are some of the highlights of the new platform:

  • Faster load times. SB Nation sites will no longer eat up your memory as the sites will load faster and run better. You will be able to get the content you want faster.
  • Flexible, modern layout. This may be the most exciting part. As you will see shortly, we will be able to adjust the front page to make sure we are highlighting the content that needs to be up top. This will be huge - and will help the frustration many of you have with articles getting pushed down the page so fast.
  • Seamless transition across mobile devices. Another important aspect of United is to keep the feel of the site, whether you are on a computer, a tablet, or a phone. No matter where you are, the experience will not change.
  • FanPosts, FanShots, and Game Threads. United will not take away or change any of the community elements. You will still be able to bring us your thoughts, that video you found, or join in the celebration in the Game Thread.

Of course, what you really want to know is, what will the Phinsider look like when the upgrade happens? We have a few screen shots of the new platform. Obviously, these are not the Phinsider, but are from some of the other sites in the network. But, you can imagine the new Phinsider logo on there sites.

First up, we have The Cover (click an image to see a full size version):

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The Cover is flexible, as we've already discussed. This is the top of the front page, and will feature the articles written by the authors of the site. We will be able to highlight the stories we want, and, as you will see in a minute, how many we highlight. We will also discuss in a minute a StoryStream, which is what you see in the large feature slot on the left in the picture.

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The cover with four featured stories.

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And three stories. There are other options, but these are the three main versions we will use.

The River.

Below the cover is an area called the River. This area behaves much like the current site. You will find a reverse chronological flow of stories not currently in the featured positions. These stories will rotate down the page as new content is added, and this is where Front Paged FanPosts and FanShots will appear.

The River picture is a full screen shot of the entire page, so if you would like to see it, please click here. You will be able to zoom in on the picture from there.

StoryStreams.

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StoryStreams are going to be an awesome addition to the site. Now, instead of me just adding "UPDATE" at the end of a story, and you having to reload the entire article just to see if there is an update, we can use a StoryStream to link articles and updates into on place. You will see a reverse chronological list of the updates, and you can keep up with developing stories easily.

FanShots and FanPosts.

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This is the FanShot page. The most recent FanShots and FanPosts, along with the recommended ones, will still be listed on the front page as well.

Mobile/Phone.

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The mobile version of the website is gone. SB Nation United simply "adapts" to the browser you are using, meaning you will get full site functionality, no matter what type of device you are using. That means you can read everything, post from you phone, and comment with no change between the sites.

Tablets.

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Just like with the mobile version, the tablet version of the site is just a re-sized version of the original.

Questions, comments, or concerns.

Please feel free to comment or ask questions below. I really am excited about this upgrade to the site, but I also understand there will be some trepidation about the change. Let us know what you are thinking.

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