Coach Dameyune Craig let the news drop this morning on his Twitter account of the new site.
Go check out http://t.co/U6vFcNt37T— DC (@CoachDCraig) April 15, 2015
So how does the site look? You can see it for yourself here. You can also check out my full review below.
Let's Take A Look Inside
It reminds me of the old site that featured Travis Williams' "Tiger Walk" with scrolling features for much of this same type of information. The "Facilities" section at least was designed by Bluechip Athletic Solutions. The brief blurb about the company on Google says that they provide "a unique blend of technology, marketing strategy, and content creation services for collegiate and professional sports."* The site info at the bottom of the website contains only contact for Auburn Football, so I assume the rest was designed in-house.
I honestly wonder - as you'll see below - whether this site was really ready for public release. I haven't seen anything about it from the official Twitter account. The only reference I have seen to it is the above Dameyune Craig tweet. There are certainly things that appear need to be added and some layouts altered a bit. For more on that, read on!
*I added the Oxford comma, because Oxford commas are the greatest.
Home Screen / The Latest
I have to admit, I'm not a big fan of the look of the home screen as a whole. It looks simple and basic. I don't have a problem with the header so much; It's a beautiful picture of the stadium with a link to the Boom Era video that Auburn released shortly after Will Muschamp's hiring.
My problem is with the layout of "The Latest," which is also the home screen. It is just embeds of recent tweets on a white background. There's no contrast, and it's kind of jarring. I would like to see some other color background than white for those tweets, even if it's just a wallpaper screen of some sort.
This page is extremely simple and straightforward, and I don't really have a problem with it. It's another great picture of Jordan-Hare Stadium for the header image, and then biographies of each of the coaches linked to pictures of them. It's exactly what a page on the staff should be. The entire football staff is included on the actual site. What you're seeing above is just a screen shot, obviously. Clicking on the coach brings up a list of accolades and a running feed of their tweets.
This is by far the neatest section of the site. It is an aerial view of Auburn's campus with links to points of interest. At first I assumed it was just to football sites, but it also includes Auburn Arena and the Shelby Center for Engineering Technology of all things. I can only assume this is still a work in progress, as no other sports are represented other than football and basketball.
Clicking on the "AU" images takes you to a close-up view of the site in particular. Clicking on the "i" icon provides a drop down menu with more information about the sites history. For instance, if you click on Jordan-Hare Stadium it takes you to a panorama of the 2013 opening game against Washington State from mid-field at the coin toss. Meanwhile, the Gus Malzahn "New Day" is playing on the (non-Mothratron) scoreboard. You can click on that for a larger view of the video.
If you don't feel like doing the "hold a click and scroll the mouse" trick to to find the sites, you can also pop up the handy little "Navigation" menu and jump straight to them.
The Facilities section is by far the most interesting of the four portions of this site. It provides a nice look at Auburn from an aerial view on a game day. If there's one big complaint I do have about it, it's that there is no visible way to click back to the main site as a whole. Hitting the back button on your browser works, but I don't see a "return to home" option, anywhere. Hitting "back" seems the obvious choice, but at first I was afraid I was going to have to click "back" through every section I visited. A "Home" button needs to be added to this screen to make the site easier to work with. Perhaps this is a function of it being designed by separate individuals than the site as a whole, since the Facilities section is the only one bearing the "Bluechip Athletics Solutions" watermark. It still doesn't seem as if it would be that hard to add, though.
There's not much to say about this section, right now. It's just a video of Auburn's football traditions. Hopefully more detail will be added later. Right now the "Traditions" section of the official site is much more visually appealing and filled with a ton more information.
I Have to Ask... Why?
The last point I just made in traditions seems to sum up my whole issue with this site, right now. Why is it necessary? I think the official athletics site already has a very good look. Auburn constantly boasts of its social media presence and how many people follow the Auburn Tigers through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, Pinterest, etc. Was another site really all that necessary?
I really don't think that it is. Maybe this was done as a trial run for a future redesign. Maybe it is supposed to be something to send to recruits to check out. I would think that most of the recruits are already checking out those social media platforms, though. Why muddy the waters with something else? The old site that this reminds me of (and which I can't even remember the url for anymore) was one that I very rarely visited. That site was too busy and filled with information overload in tabs, sideways scrolling, etc. This site is almost too austere at times, yet it just seems repetitious to me when you can get all of the same information elsewhere.
There are parts of the site that have promise. I do like the aggregate of tweets relating to Auburn. I can create that type of stuff myself, but I do think having it in one place like this is a nice idea. I think the panorama click-able view of the facilities is nice, too. I just don't think these things necessitated a completely different website. These are all things that could have been folded into the already great official site.
So what do you all think of it? Go check it out for yourself and let me hear about it in the comments.