Explaining The New Look

Last year factors caused us to re-evaluate the Overtime Central site. In exploring options to add better communication capabilities to the site a decision to adopt new technologies was made to position Overtime Central for the future. Now that the site upgrade is mostly complete, we will explain the changes, new features and future plans for the site.

The most noticeable change to the site, besides the color scheme change, is that is now in a blog format for the entry page. The adoption of a blog type back end allowed us to implement a standard way of communicating news to visitors and allowing comments without developing that portion from scratch. The big benefit to members is that they can now see news items even if they are logged on.

The introduction of a blog style also brought other features to our members. The community can comment on news and essay posts made by Overtime Central staff. These comments are public and allow some discussion to form around topics that are raised on the site. The site now has a RSS feed available so you may track the site’s posts through a newsreader. Just point your newsreader to the base URL of the site. For those that don’t no what RSS or news feeds are, you may want to check out Bloglines, an online news aggregator. In addition to being able to subscribe to posts, or specific categories of posts, you may also subscribe to comment threads for specific posts, allowing you to know when the site has a new post or new comment for a specific post, meaning you don’t have to visit the site or specific post to check for these updates, allowing the discussion to happen in more real time.

This change required a change in the page structure of the site. We feel these changes have improved the structure and navigation of the site to present members with the information most important to them. After logging in (or upon entering the site with a login remembered), members see the standard news portion of the page, with a summary of their current active teams in the sidebar. Clicking on the links to their teams will take them to their team’s contest homepage. The member’s account portfolio page can be accessed via the main menu displayed once logged in. This was removed from being the default page upon logging in since the actions performed on this page tend to happen infrequently.

Additional changes occur in the contest home page. For a team’s contest page, a second menu appears beneath the contest name, providing links to appropriate pages for that contest. Links have been consolidated, so all stats for a particular contest will be found on the contest stat page.

Based on the adoption of open-source CMS tools and standards, the site design can easily be changed. Other features such as bulletin-board type communication system for members can be implemented much easier than before. Most changes can be implemented fairly easily, dependent only on the complexity of the change and not requiring much work to integrate with the existing system. In the long run that should save a lot of time.

However, much remains to be done. While the basics have been all implemented, there are some sections which have not been developed. Some of the things that remain to be done include:

  • Completing the contest stats page.
  • Completing the informational pages About, Services and FAQ.
  • Adding new contest types.
  • Adding member controlled contest capabilities.
  • Adding message system for contest participants.
  • Improving site performance.
  • Working out any bugs.

Unfortunately time has caught up with us and we are burnt out after many reworks and years spent on redeveloping the site. We are currently taking a break and reviewing our stake in Overtime Central. We may continue development at a slower pace, take a break for some time or enlist help in managing the site. Until a decision is made the site will be functional at the current level.

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OC Jottings

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