Reviewing CFL.ca Redux

Back in mid-May, CFL.ca launched a slightly updated design with some new features. Now dubbed CFL.ca Network, the redesign improved on some of the areas I criticized with the launch of last year’s redesign.

First, the overall page is improved with less reliance on Flash to use and navigate the site. With something like FlashBlock enabled however, the news, schedule, stats and cheerleader sections are not visible. Being able to navigate to the main menu without Flash is a huge step forward though.

The News section is improved. Though still delivered via Flash, six stories compared to the previous three stories are displayed on the main page and the main graphic and story headline rotates through these recent stories. Commentators and Analysis gets its own section, including the Ask the Ref column. Reprints of newspaper articles has been removed from the main News section and been provided links in an Off-Topic News section (not sure of the explanation for the title) and CFL Press Releases also warrant their own area on the front page in the new design.

The site has also forgone the centred 800 pixel fixed width layout for a 1024 pixel (well 1027 pixels actually) fixed width layout. The extra content, which will be off the screen for anyone with an 800×600 screen resolution, is advertising and promotional material. Overall, the look of the home page has not changed much, appearing very garish with little text and strong focus on the advertising and promotional sections.

In other changes, the Stats section has been updated to provide statistics in both HTML and PDF format. This is a welcome change. We are already anticipating watching how the HTML stats are updated during the season to see if they will be useful in the future.

Last year a news feed was introduced a few months after the launch of the new site. With the work done on the site, the feed was broken for anyone following the site with a newsreader. The CFL was aware of the problem apparently but didn’t correct it for two weeks after launch. I must reinforce the message in last year’s review; if you are implementing something, you need to be ready and have everything in working order at launch. Professional sites do not have features fixed weeks after a launch.

Overall, there have been some improvements over the previous edition. However, the site is still too much of a 1998-style portal site for my liking. I switched my home page from CFL.ca last year and these changes won’t see me change it back. I await future revisions that may finally achieve a suitable site for the CFL.

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