Archive for October, 2011

Making things better

If you’ve ever been involved in running a website then you’ll know that there is always a long, long list of things that need to get done.

I’ve always felt that you should never really get to the end of that list. Technology moves on, new systems and software are invented, usability and functionality can be improved and user needs are always developing… so if you get to the end of the list of things to do, then you’re not really evolving the site.

We’ve been tempted to do a redesign – largely because it always crosses your mind as an option and because it’s been a couple of years that we’ve had this design… but our considered decision was that there was a lot to improve with the functionality that we’d like to do before we go changing the appearance as well.

This is a roundabout introduction to the fact that we’ve just completed the first wave of improvements to the way the site works.

With the help of the hardworking chaps at Aqueduct, our builders, we’ve made the following changes:

  • Video Player Update - two main things here: videos can now be viewed on iOS (iPhone and iPad – yes, about time, we know) and also we’ve changed the player to be a bit more like youtube – for example offering other relevant videos. This won’t work retrospecitvely, but you’ll see it come online as we publish more.
  • New galleries – Sharon’s pictures are clearly very popular – the ‘Today at Carrington’ picture galleries always get lots of user attention, and so we’ve introduced a new gallery template so that you can a) see the pictures bigger and b) have better experience seeing them (like going full screen, or hitting ‘play’ and letting them do a slideshow).
  • Goodbye mcfc.com, Hello mcfc.com – a long time ago in a galaxy far far away we launched an American version of the site – but, frankly, all the fans who were interested came to mcfc.co.uk anyway. So now we’ve melded mcfc.com back into mcfc.co.uk.
  • iPhone detection – this isn’t a usability improvement, but it’s an interim step. We know that we need to build a mobile version of the site – that’s in the pipeline – but in the meantime, we’re pointing people on iphones to the app – in an attempt to stop them having the ‘i need a magnifying glass’ experience of the site on mobile at the moment.
  • Clickable Carousel – this is an example of a range of smaller functionality improvements we’ve made. You used to have to go to the orange button and click ‘read more’ or ‘play video’ but we thought it would just be easier to make the whole image clickable. Obvious, isn’t it. There are a series of little tweaks like that too.
  • Retro-Homepage-Setting link – It’s a very basic, and quite old-fashioned piece of functionality, but it’s also something that a surprising number of people still use – so we’ve put in a ‘make this my homepage’ button on the top right. I’m sure it’s not needed as every fan would have the site as their homepage anyway… right?

There are, of course, some back-end things that we’ve improved along the way and, as I said, there’s a long list of tasks on the to-do list. A mobile version of the site for one, improving the search algorithm, etc etc.

While I’m here, I’ll also mention that we’re constantly trying to improve the content as well as the site design – so there’s the introduction of things like the Inside City format which people seem to like (I love the appearance of the Carrington cat). Or there’s the #asksamir format that we’ve done to get players responding to your questions. Also, we’ve been adding in picture galleries and videos to players’ profile pages – which is an improvement, though we feel there’s a lot more to be done here.

Feedback?

As I mentioned, this is the first wave in a series of improvements you’ll see over the next few months. We’ll blog about them here – but we’d also like your feedback. In particular, knowing what you think will help us prioritise the changes.

Tweet us on @mcfcgeeks or email mcfcgeeks @ mcfc.co.uk.

Or you can leave a comment here and we’ll publish what we can.

Thanks for reading, and we look forward to hearing from you.

Starting off

Morning all,

We’ve been tweeting for a while on @mcfcgeeks but we thought it was about time to start a blog. Why? Because it’s really important to us that we have a way of conversing with everyone interested in City – and, in particular, that we can talk in more detail about the plans for the digital services. Tweeting is good – but you just can’t get into a lot of detail about how we’re going to improve the search system¬†or what we’re planning for the player pages in 140 characters.

Welcome to the MCFC geeks blog.

About this blog:

  • What: We’ll be blogging about things we’ve done to the service, things we’re planning and things we’re thinking of – but it will all be focused on digital media: our english site and our arabic site,¬† our facebook, our twitter etc.
  • Why: Our mantra is openness and giving fans more and more access to the club they support. That’s part of the reason for launching this blog. We definitely want this to be part of the dialogue with fans – to be reactive to the conversation that goes on through twitter or forums. We’ll try to answer questions or focus on particular issues. Of course we’re going to talk about all the hard work we’ve done and our latest thinking on the next site update (or whatever) but the aim isn’t just to blow the team’s own trumpet… it’s to give some context to the interesting things we’re doing and the points at which football, sport and digital meet.
  • Who: It will be updated by senior members of the digital and media team at City, with perhaps the occasional guest blogger.
  • When: This blog will be updated in a ‘week notes’ format so there should be some regularity to it.
  • Comments: Generally we won’t open up posts to comment – or at least not by default without moderation – because sadly there are plenty of people who would abuse that openness.
  • No football: We won’t be writing about or commenting on the football. Seriously, no discussion of what goes on on the pitch. Our site has pretty much everything you could want to know about the club, and if you want forum conversation there are plenty of great places to do that.
  • We won’t use this as a customer services communication tool. If you’ve got a problem with the site, then the best thing to do is to email mcfcgeeks @ mcfc.co.uk. If you’ve got a problem with tickets or anything else, then you’d best follow the appropriate customer services route for that thing.

We hope it’s useful and interesting – for both the Club, fans, partners, geeks… and I’m looking forward to hearing your feedback.

thanks for reading,

R

ps. they say that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, don’t they? In which case Farnborough FC, we’re very flattered.

Richard Ayers ( @richardayers ), Head of Digital


About this blog

This is the official blog of the digital and media team at MCFC.

MCFC Geeks Official Twitter

  • New update to City App iPad Edition now in the AppStore (version 1.1.3). This contains fix to the video crashing issue on IOS 8.0.2. 2 days ago

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