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.
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.