Two weeks ago I posted a new Niners Nation logo that would be part of broader changes within SB Nation. While I realize some people were not completely sold on the logo, I said at the time that it was part of a set of changes that would be a huge step forward for Niners Nation specifically and SB Nation as a whole.
SB Nation United will be launching very soon, and I am able to provide a sneak preview of what the site will look like, as well as some of the features we will be adding. I realize change is not something everybody can readily accept, but I can promise you that this re-development and re-launch of the network will improve your viewing experience, while also improve Niners Nation's ability to be your go-to site for 49ers information, analysis and discussion.
After the jump, I've posted several screenshots. The first one is from NN, while the rest were taken from various sites around the network. I've included some basic explanations about each screenshot. If you have any questions about any of this, drop a comment down below and I'll be happy to discuss the changes with you.
While the philosophy of SB Nation and Niners Nation in particular will remain the same, the look will be different. There will be a lot of similar functionality to the site, but the new look will catch people off-guard. Prior to United, the blogs have been set as a reverse-chronological with each new post pushing all the previous posts down. In SB Nation United, there will still be some elements of reverse-chron, but we will have more control over the layout of the site.
This change will feature new looks, but it isn't strictly about flashy new features (though there will be some to discuss). To reassure everybody, community elements like comment functionality, FanPosts, FanShots, and GameThreads will remain in place. Any changes you notice related to those will boost the speed and functionality of the site.
Arguably the second biggest aim of United (after unifying the network) is faster load time. You'll be able to do the same things you've always done here at a faster pace thanks to some re-organization and better product design. For example, comments do not automatically appear on the page. Rather when you scroll down to the comments section, they will quickly appear. This is needed to improve the loading speed of pages.
Covers will be the most prominent new feature. We'll now have important stories pinned to the top of our page so that you're not missing the big discussions while other content is pouring in. Here are some examples of different styles we will have at our disposal (click to enlarge).
The first shot is NN and then the next three provide shots of other layouts. We will be able to post three, four or five articles on the top, with some additional layout functionality down the line.
This next screen shot is kind of long and shows an entire front page. The cover is at the top and then you scroll down from there. It defaults to reverse chronological, but we have control over what is in each slot on this front page.
This next picture below shows a Story Stream. This is a tool we have had at SBNation.com and the various regionals, but not at the blogs. The new iteration of the site is not SB Nation 3.0, but rather SB Nation United because we are trying to unify the entire network. Each site will have access to the same tools.
The Story Stream is a tool to tell a story, just like it sounds. For example, when Brandon Jacobs hurt his knee, that first post would start the story stream, and subsequent news about the injury and practice reports the last three weeks could be included in that stream.
Instead of having to search around for how the story developed, it will all be in one place. We'll still have single stand-alone articles on the front page, but story streams will help us keep you looped in on stories as they develop. I am still figuring out how we will use this week in and week out, but they will be an incredibly useful tool for keeping you informed about the 49ers.
One of the big changes with United is improvement of the mobile and tablet experience. Rather than having to go to mobile.ninersnation.com, ninersnation.com as a whole will maintain the same functionality across computers, mobile and tablets. The idea is give you the same experience wherever you are viewing the site.
Here is a look at the FanShot page. You'll be able to switch between the different kinds of FanShots.