First Pitch: Fixing the Site, How to Navigate the New Design, and Other Updates

A few months ago, I noticed an issue with the site. Any time there would be breaking news, the site would slow to a crawl, or crash immediately after we posted the news. The rush of traffic to the site all at once would overwhelm the server, which was strange, since we have a very good server that has handled 1,000 people on the site at the same time with ease in the past. The last few months, if the count would get close to 200 people, the site would have problems.

The biggest issue was that this problem always came up when there was breaking news, which means my attention had to be split between updating the site, and making sure the site actually ran. Because of this, I would test small fixes, hoping to find the solution. I removed the “Recent Posts” widget. Deleted out-dated and useless WordPress plugins. Removed plugins that were said to be too resource-consuming. Unfortunately, this ended up being an issue that required a massive overhaul, and not just a quick fix.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been working with one goal: to fix the site and get rid of this problem before the season begins. It started with a lot of boring behind the scenes work — image optimization, setting up a CDN for images, evaluating every plugin and widget on the site, and so on. The next step was to change the site design, which was in part for a new look, but also because the old design was out of date. Think of it in terms of having an operating system on your computer that is a few years old, while every program on your computer is written for a newer operating system. Over the last week I have been tweaking the new design, and finally have the design part down. And the best thing is that the site has passed the test and has been fast once again when breaking news comes up.

There are still some more tweaks to make, but I’m hoping this solves the issue that has been happening the last few months. If you noticed it, I apologize, and hope that the new version of the site works for you. Now, on to some other site updates.

The New Look

We produce a ton of content at Pirates Prospects. That includes relaying all of the news, rumors, and transactions that are out there, with our own analysis. It also includes our original work, including daily minor league updates, draft news, trade deadline news, and MLB coverage. So any theme we look at has to have sections for all of those categories, with a section for the top stories. Otherwise things get buried quickly. We need a lot of ad spots on the site, in order to keep it free. So any theme we go with has to have space for ads. The best solution I’ve found has been a “magazine” theme.

When choosing a new theme, I also take into account the input I receive from readers. For example, I received a lot of input requesting bigger images in the articles, or images that weren’t cut off after the top of the image like the old theme. So that was a focus for the individual articles in this theme. There was also the focus on having a section where you could browse all articles from newest to oldest, in case you missed a day or two (which, during the season, means you might have missed 10-20 articles).

Here is the new look, and I’ll run down some of the features below.

 

SiteDesign

As I mentioned above, organizing the articles into their respective categories is a priority, but some people like to read articles in a traditional blog format. The main page defaults to the Categories tab, but you can click on Recent Articles to see the ten most recent articles from all categories. At the bottom of those ten articles, you will find buttons to take you to the next page, and throughout the entire archives. The third tab, labeled Shop, is where you can find the products on the site.

Aside from the “Recent Articles” section, there is also a “Recent Articles” widget on the right side of every page, half way down the page. And when there is breaking news, it will show up in the “Recent” section at the top of the page. The individual categories can also be accessed on any page by using the scroll bar at the top, which always stays on the top of the site as you scroll down through the page.

Player Pages

In the upcoming week, I will be moving the player pages over to the main part of the site. This is more of a behind the scenes move, although it will make the pages more accessible, and will give you a better alert when a new one is posted. I’m hoping this will also open up more possibilities for the pages, including the ability to see recent articles on each player’s page.

Contact Info

If you have noticed any other site issues, or have any suggestions, send them my way, via the contact page.

**Pittsburgh Pirates 2015 Top 20 Prospects

**Pittsburgh Pirates 2015 Draft Preview: Prep Hitter Class Dominated By Outfielders

**Where The Pirates Pick And What They Might Have Available To Spend In The 2015 MLB Draft

**Pirates Have Five In Baseball Prospectus Top 101 Prospects

First Pitch

  • peanutbutterguts
    February 11, 2015 6:10 pm

    New site is good, noticed for first time today that in the main scrolling viewer the white lettering combined with a light picture is really hard to see.

  • I like the new look but I liked the site better when it went straight to recent articles rather than categories like it does now. The first thing I want to see when you get on is the most recent stories. Just my opinion as a person who uses the site and does a little web design.

  • I hate that when I read a story it is left-centered. It’s distracting to have so little focus on the story I am reading. There may be 6-10 other stories on the right that just make it difficult to focus on what I’m reading.

    Otherwise, this is an amazing site that I love:)

  • Sean Santmyire
    February 10, 2015 9:11 am

    your site is my favorite pirate news site, however with the changes your sight now constantly moves up and down a bit and it is a little distracting. I have a pretty up to date computer and it does not do this on cnn, yahoo, msn etc. It does not do it on my mobile either. Again, i love the content, just the constant small jumps is my complaint.

  • Thanks tim, this is the first site I go to when I get up and the last site I check before sleep. Nice to have someone who stays on top of not only my fav team but also my fav site. Shows you have a strong work ethic and are not just doing this to make a paycheck.

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