Ravens fans, do not adjust your computer screens. Welcome to the new BaltimoreRavens.com, which will completely revolutionize the way you get all the latest and greatest information on your favorite team.
Fans will notice some major changes at first glance - such as the bolder, cleaner look, ribbon navigation and robust search capability - while more features continue to develop over the next few months.
"This came out of a very in-depth research process," said Ravens director of new media Michelle Andres. "We asked our fans. We asked our staff. We wanted to know what was most important to everyone, both internally and externally.
"A lot of the layout, navigation and features of the site are direct results of that research. When we thought about how the new site was being built, we kept referring back to what our fans told us."
Launched in conjunction with San Diego-based Digitaria, whose clients include NBC Universal, Sony and Bravo TV, the new BaltimoreRavens.com represents the fifth major redesign of the Web site since its inception in 1999.
"We chose Digitaria because of the company's excellence in graphic design and cutting-edge vision about the direction of new media," Andres explained. "It is a seasoned group of Web development professionals who represent a different way of thinking about the way a team Web site should operate."
Andres said that fans pointed to news and video as the most-desired aspects of a new BR.com, and the site definitely delivers.
A Flash player at the top of the homepage showcases vivid photography that will tell much of the story without a written word. The five main headlines will rotate through the biggest stories. A video player expands into the main window to play exclusive content from RaveTV and BR.com reporter Mike Duffy.
In addition, the search capability makes it easier for fans to find content within the site. Based on tags, relevant content is gathered with a simple click of a tag cloud or typing a word into the search engine.
"We're going to keep working to be the place for fans to get all their Ravens information," Andres said. "From news to video, photos, blogs, it's all going to be here on BaltimoreRavens.com."
The Ravens also plan on keeping their official team message boards to give fans a voice on the site. The Ravens' message boards boast over 2,000 registered members since launching in 2007.
"That's not the end of it," Andres added. "We're going to continue to delve into social networking and interactivity. We value our fans and really wanted to make them a part of this creative process and the future of BaltimoreRavens.com."
Here are some of the key features fans should note:
- The ribbon navigation streamlines the browsing process. All content is simplified into five self-descriptive categories: News, Gameday, People, Ravenstown and Store. Want to read Willis McGahee's bio? All players are under People, as are the cheerleaders, coaches and front office members.
- Still want to call up more specific content? Everything on the new BR.com can be found using a powerful search engine that seeks out what you're looking for based on tags. For instance, if you want all the photos, video and written articles about Ray Lewis, just type his name into the search function. Put quotation marks around the name to filter the content specifically for No. 52.
- Fans can also search via a tag cloud, which features the most popular tags presented in larger fonts in a module on the right side of articles and landing pages.
- To get back to where you started, breadcrumb navigation can help you retrace your steps.
- The Ravens are happy to offer a fun "Geeks" section on the homepage of BR.com. A geek is defined as a "smart person with an obsessive interest," and this is the perfect place to fill the hunger of stats, notes and random tidbits of information for the Ravens fanatic.
- Nearly every page will have a video player on it, from the homepage's expandable media player to any article page. The articles will even pull video content that pertains to the subject of the text.
- Landing pages, or "site-lets," that will serve as hubs of information for specific aspects of the site, such as Tickets, History, Ravenstown and Community.
- An improved Press Room to access transcripts, the media guide and press releases.
- The ability to access PSL accounts by signing in at the foot of every page.
Some items to look for in the future include:
- An increasing database of Ravens photos and video.
- The ability for fans to create their own locker as a saved repository of all their favorite things on BR.com. "My Locker" will let anyone save their best stories, blogs, photos, videos and more to access them any time they want.
- Continued enhancements of the cheerleader and player bios.
- More interactive contests and giveaways throughout the season.
- Much, much more!
Please don't forget that there are bound be some minor glitches as the site is in its early stages and know that we're working hard to fix them!
Do you have any feedback about the new BaltimoreRavens.com? Please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.