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Welcome to HBT 2.0

Jun 16, 2010, 10:19 AM EDT

Redesign? What redesign? Oh . . . that. Allow us to explain.

No, we’re not changing the name again. It’s still HardballTalk. The only thing different is the look. About that:

People don’t like change. I get that. People especially don’t like change when it comes to the websites they frequent. I totally get that. Indeed, I’m fairly certain that every redesign in the history of the Internet has been met with “this sucks, you suck, I hate you and I want to die — no wait, I want you to die” or words to that effect.  We expect that. But we also expect that once you get over the shock, you’ll come to like what we’ve done.

The first thing you noticed, obviously, is that you need to click through to read each post.  Believe me, I understand that people don’t like this. Clicking is hard! OK, and it can be legitimately annoying. But we didn’t take this step lightly. We talked about it and thought hard about it, but ultimately a couple of considerations ruled:

1.  Browsability. A lot of people like my long navel-gazing or legal posts. Some of you hate them. Some of you read “And That Happened.” Some of you don’t. By compacting things like this and by adding the “Top Posts” thing at the top, it will be easier to find what you want to read and skip what you don’t want. No, people don’t like clicking-through to posts, but they also don’t like scrolling down five miles either, and ultimately we want people reading more of our stuff, not less.  Which leads us to the obvious:

2. Page views:  We are men of action. Lies do not become us. In light of that, I’m not going to lie to you: we make our bones on page clicks, and the redesign will give us more.

I realize your first reaction to that will be to scoff or grouse, but we’ve been writing this blog for fourteen months now, and many if not most of you have been reading stuff from me, Aaron and the rest of us at other places for years.  We’d like to think we’ve earned your trust in that time. Trust that we’re not going to barrage you with gimmicks, bait-and-switches, slide shows and other things simply to drive page views. When you click through on an article at HBT, we think you’re being rewarded with some pretty decent news and analysis, and we hope that makes it worth your while.  Raising page views is no trick, if all you want to do is raise page views. We don’t think such a strategy makes sense, and think that this one change in that direction is worth the moderate initial annoyance you’re experiencing this morning.

And let’s not make any mistake: this is not a non-profit enterprise. People paying for your clicks allowed us to get this operation off the ground. They allowed me to quit the shyster business and write this blog. They allowed NBC to send me to the Winter Meetings and Spring Training and keep me, Aaron, Matthew, D.J., Drew and Bob in groceries, shelter and MLB.tv subscriptions. Sometimes you do what you gotta do with this stuff.

But I am confident that, in a very short period of time, you’ll get over this as you realize that there are more posts available at your fingertips with the redesign, as well as easier navigation to the other NBC Sports blogs, which you should really be reading anyway.  There will be other new things integrated into the mix going forward, albeit less radical things.  The redesign gives us the flexibility to do that.

But at the end of the day, I realize this is probably a bit jarring.  Apologies.  We’ll deal with it the only way we know how:  pound out about eleventy-seven posts about baseball today and hope you like the results.

  1. dl3mk3 - Jun 16, 2010 at 10:46 AM

    I dont mind the change, and can understand the reasoning, however it does make it a little more difficult to navigate and load on my smart phone.

  2. SoDakMan - Jun 16, 2010 at 10:48 AM

    Why do we still need to enter our name and e-mail address after we have registered?

  3. GusGus - Jun 16, 2010 at 11:01 AM

    I liked it better when we still called them “Web logs”.

  4. The Common Man - Jun 16, 2010 at 11:04 AM

    I, for one, welcome our redesigned overlords, though I’ll miss the recaptcha hilarity.
    Craig, I need your legal expertise. Now that I’ve registered to be able to comment, do you technically own me?

  5. Brettman - Jun 16, 2010 at 11:05 AM

    This is an assault on my eyeballs. The buttons and icons have got to go. I don’t mind clicking through if the page looks appealing. It currently does not.

  6. yanks-mattingly - Jun 16, 2010 at 11:06 AM

    i do like the fact that i have to register and sign in to view the comments. otherwise, the content and layout are great. love the blog. keep up the good work

  7. Ryan - Jun 16, 2010 at 11:06 AM

    Now we’re forced to sign up just to read these posts? Bad form, Craig. Very bad form, indeed.

  8. YankeesfanLen - Jun 16, 2010 at 11:07 AM

    Well, here we are! I thought maybe IT had to take the whole thing into the shop, get new vacuum tubes, and put it in the front window for six weeks.

  9. GusGus - Jun 16, 2010 at 11:09 AM

    Lady Gaga gives the old look the finger.

  10. The Common Man - Jun 16, 2010 at 11:10 AM

    Craig, it is my understanding that, in signing up to comment on your website (how DARE YOU, sir!), that I have ceded my first born to you. My question is, do you want him sent via first class mail, or do you need him overnighted? Should I keep him until he’s old enough to work in the munitions plant, or do you want to send him to the mines now? Thanks.

  11. Why Do I Need a Username to Read? - Jun 16, 2010 at 11:14 AM

    Now we need to log in just to read your posts? Are you kidding? Been a reader for many months now but this is not acceptable. Goodbye.

  12. Brian - Jun 16, 2010 at 11:14 AM

    Jarring, yes, but I think I like it.
    There does seem to be commenting oddness: I’m clearly logged in, since I’m able to comment, but the “You must be logged in to leave a comment” text still appears on the page for me.
    Also, I agree with the person who pointed out the silliness of having to enter our name / e-mail when commenting, despite the fact that those things are specified when registering.
    – Brian

  13. Why Do I Need a Username to Read? - Jun 16, 2010 at 11:16 AM

    Now we need to register and log in just to read your posts? Are you kidding? Been a reader for many months now but this is not acceptable. Goodbye.

  14. Matt S. - Jun 16, 2010 at 11:18 AM

    Testing new comments

  15. ddanyc - Jun 16, 2010 at 11:19 AM

    Why not give people a choice like BBTF does? There you start with a page of headlines but if you click “more” you go into scroll-through-the articles mode.

  16. daiheide - Jun 16, 2010 at 11:20 AM

    It strikes me as a tad slippery to simply fail to mention in this post what is surely the most important new change: the site is not viewable without an account.
    Though I respect the reasons for requiring a click through from news readers to see the site, I think requiring an account is a very poor move. Please consider changing the requirement. And please think twice in the future before writing a post about all of the new changes that doesn’t mention the most significant of them.

  17. Jonny5 - Jun 16, 2010 at 11:23 AM

    If we sign in when we begin, why must we still sign in for posting afterwards? I would think posting would be easier with a log in.
    I do like the new look though.. Btw THIS SUCKS!! Ok, well not really….

  18. J Rose - Jun 16, 2010 at 11:28 AM

    I agree with most of what’s been said about the redesign, by you, Craig, and the commenters. While it’s true us Internet trollers don’t like change, sometimes it has to be done for the good of the site, to keep the product fresh and in turn increase page views. Nature of the game.
    However, the changes that you have made to HBT could undoubtedly use some tweaking. As mentioned, why do we ned to enter our login info to comment when we are already logging in just to vist the site? THAT is aggravating. And the layout of the home page is, as Brettman mention, an assault on the eyeballs. Too many lines and icons and posts and directions…How ’bout a first paragraph/’read more’ feature on each post? That way we will know what we’re getting into, and it would break up the overcrowded look of the new design?
    Bottom line change can be good, especially if the content remains high quality. But hard to navigate/hard to look at change is almost never welcome in the blogosphere.

  19. BC - Jun 16, 2010 at 11:31 AM

    Why on earth do you have to log in just to read a full posting? That’s painful. Logging in to post a comment, I guess that’s OK. But the “captcha” tool was working fine for spam control wasn’t it?
    Useability just took a huge nose-dive.

  20. Ditto65 - Jun 16, 2010 at 11:31 AM

    Don’t call me Francis!

  21. (Not That) Tom - Jun 16, 2010 at 11:32 AM

    Looks good, except for the multiple log-ins and still having to input your name/email for comment posting.
    I, for one, welcome our new design overlords.

  22. The Common Man - Jun 16, 2010 at 11:34 AM

    Craig, I’m as patient as the next guy, but the fact is that the new format is two whole hours old and you STILL haven’t accounted for every single possible contingency that could go wrong. Also, I’m angry that the site that you personally designed and authorized all of the changes to did not anticipate each and every one of my objections. Frankly, I’m disappointed that your supposedly-omnipotent self did not see this coming. I mean, sure you warned us to “bear with you” and that there might be a short period where there would be some hiccups. But how long should I reasonably be expected to wait until your site is perfect. I’m sorry, you lost me at 27 minutes. I said “good day” to you sir. Good day!

  23. The Common Man - Jun 16, 2010 at 11:35 AM

    For those not following Craig on Twitter: The sign in issues to view a post are a hiccup that will be corrected. Settle down, people.

  24. GusGus - Jun 16, 2010 at 11:39 AM

    Hail Ants!

  25. fuckyounbc - Jun 16, 2010 at 11:39 AM

    This makes the site basically unusable on both my RSS reader–which I use at work–and my iPhone–which I use while out and about. Trolling for pageviews is a weak but understandable practice, but requiring a sign-up just to click through and read is has to be the most poorly thought-out addition to a site this like this. Many people aren’t going to bother to sign up, losing you the precious pageviews NBC craves. Other people are paranoid bastages, like me, and don’t want the risk of email spam, don’t want their reading habits tracked and analyzed, and just want to keep up with the day’s baseball news. This system is coming between you and your readers.
    And yes, I realize you’re not the one responsible for implementing it, but it’s your site, Craig, so here you go. :)

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