It was roughly nine months ago when the Scout.com network took all of its affiliated sites and put them on one template. For sites like Bucknuts.com – which began as an independent fan site devoted to coverage of Ohio State athletics and recruiting – this was somewhat of a culture shock.
We were used to highlighting a wide variety of our content on the front page.
For various reasons, the new Scout.com site featured just two articles at the top of the site. That was fine – until we realized that on some high traffic days our staff was producing as many as five to seven quality pieces, only two of which could be featured with a photo at the top of the site.
We pride ourselves on the quality and quantity of content on Bucknuts.com. We want to be considered as the nation's best college sports fan web site. We know we can get there through a combination of content and a strong community of OSU fans.
At the same time, it was impossible to go back to the old Bucknuts.com site design. The use of larger photos and the number of them in general slowed the Scout.com servers to a crawl and really extended the time it took to load the home page.
So we had to strike a balance between those slow page loads and also featuring our content.
I think we have done just that with the site redesign we are unveiling today.
For starters, we are now able to feature as many as five articles in key positions in the upper left hand of quadrant of the site. Our staff members will use their judgment to decide which stories should be featured. These stories will be rotated by their relevance instead of in chronological order, as has largely been the case over the last nine months.
We have had in-depth features – like Gary Housteau's feature on Justin Boren or Mr. Bucknuts' Bucket of Bullets and many others – that have spent as little as just an hour or two at the top of the site before being shuffled off to the "Other Headlines" pile. With this new design, we can give those features that we have spent time and considerable resources on more shelf life at the top of the site.
At the same time, we are making it easier to navigate the site. One of the major complaints that users had was there was no direct link to the Ask The Insiders message board. We have remedied that by adding that message board and several of our most popular boards to a dropdown menu that appears when you "mouse over" the Message Boards link in the horizontal navigation bar located just below the site logo.
We are especially excited about the new "middle" of the home page. Just below the most recent headlines, we have a special box that will feature news on The Bucknuts Radio Hour, Bucknuts The Magazine, Ohio High magazine and our Bucknuts online store. All you have to do to change the topic is click on the color-coded box.
Below that box, we have more features. On the right side, we will keep two more features from Bucknuts.com that will have prolonged shelf life. These could be special columns or in-depth features that should stay on the site for a few extra days. We are excited about the ability to spotlight our best material in this slot.
Just to the left of those two additional headlines will be a special block that will include our new Post of the Week feature, an excerpt from the latest edition of Bucknuts The Magazine and also one headline of note from around the Scout.com network.
We will peruse our Ask The Insiders message board – our main subscriber message board and a board we feel is the single best on the Internet when it comes to reasoned discussion of Ohio State athletics – each week for what we feel is the Post of the Week.
A number of our subscribers already enjoy receiving Bucknuts The Magazine. We work hard to make the magazine and the Internet two separate products. By publishing magazine excerpts on the Internet, we hope to be able to share with folks here some of the neat things we have in the magazine each month.
The same goes for the featured headline from around the Scout.com network. These could be recruiting features or a look at players or teams Ohio State will be facing in the weeks or months ahead. This is, again, the beauty of having a Scout.com premium subscription. You can enjoy news content from around the network every day.
Finally, we have cleaned up the left-hand nav bar and, at the bottom of the home page, will have links to recent Bucknuts.com articles on football, basketball and recruiting as well as links to stories of note from the various Big Ten Scout.com sites.
The design of this web site will likely continue to evolve and we welcome your feedback. Hopefully, the changes we have made will make it simpler to find the content you want to read and also make it easier to navigate the site. We want to thank the technical support staff at Scout.com for helping to design and implement these site changes.
Thank you all, once again, for your support of Bucknuts.com, the leading source of Ohio State athletic news on the Internet.