Hello, and welcome to this new look Pinball News.
Since it was founded at the end of 1999, the design of the Pinball News site has been largely unchanged. However, in the nearly eighteen years since, a lot has changed in web technology, browser performance, internet availability and reader expectations.
The website has remained largely static HTML pages all that time which has made it very fast to load and easy to add to – both new articles and new layouts – but with nearly 2,000 web pages and 30,000 images it has become rather unweildy to manage by hand. In addition, with more readers using mobile devices to view the site, a more responsive layout which adapts to the display size, shape and resolution was needed. It has also become difficult to add new features without going back and modifying all those old pages.
While there are several technologies available to help with these problems, we settled on the WordPress platform. It’s a very common system so there are lots of nice themes and useful plug-ins available to add things like calendars, response forms, article comments, user ratings and content management. It’s also free to use with our existing web host, so we could set everything up in parallel with the previous site and port things across.
That said, with so many articles which have to be remade in the new layout it’s not going to be a quick transition, so please bear with us as we move more and more over. We’ll keep the old site live until every last article has been converted to make sure you don’t lose anything, although once this new site is fully functional we will only add new articles to this new site. But those new articles will feature bigger, sharper pictures and videos with more little helpers to navigate the site.
We have listed some of the new features below in more detail if you’d like to find out more about them.
We hope you like the new look.
We’ve tried to keep the key features which made Pinball News attractive – a clean and spacious look, no annoying adverts or pop-ups, and a focus on the content rather than the delivery method – while adding some nice new features such as the next Diary events right there on the front page along with a much improved search facility, a way to send us a message and the abilty to comment on every page. We have a number of new tricks up our sleeves too, including high-resolution photo and video galleries to help us tell the stories in a better and more entertaining way.
We’re still Pinball News, we’re still First and Free, and now we can give you a bigger and better Pinball News experience.
NEW FEATURES IN MORE DETAILS
This section will look at some of the new ways to interact with the Pinball News site. The examples are from the desktop version, but many also apply to the mobile version of the site.
Let’s start with the basics.
To get back to the front page at any time, click the Pinball News logo at the top of each page.
If you have scrolled down a page so that the logo is no longer visible, a small blue arrow will appear in the bottom right corner to take you staight back to the top.
Below the logo is the menu bar.
This is your direct access to each category of article. Some (such as NEWS, SHOWS and GAMES) have multiple articles – indicated by a small arrow to the right – while others (such as DIARY, DIRECTORY and LINKS) just go to a single page of information.
The menu category names should be self-explanatory and follow those found on the old Pinball News site.
If you hover your pointer over one of the categories with an arrow, a preview of the five most recent reports in that category pops up, allowing you quick access to these.
You can click on any of the five previews to go to that report, or if you then click on the category name you go to a full page of report previews.
Incidentally, all categories are colour-coded. Shows are blue, News is red, Sites is green and so on. Various elements on the page recolour depending on the current category.
Below the menu, the page splits in two.
The left two-thirds shows details of the ten newest articles on the site in all categories. To explore older articles, there are buttons at the bottom to go through further sets of ten articles.
The right third of the page contains the sidebar. This appears on almost every page and contains a number of useful gadgets.
At the top of the sidebar is a miniature version of the Diary, showing the next few upcoming pinball events. You can hover over any for a pop-up preview of the event, click on any for more details, or there is a link to go directly to the Diary page where you can see all upcoming events.
Below the Diary preview is a list of the five most recent articles on the Pinball News site so you can catch up on them without having to go back to the front page each time.
Then comes a sign-up box for the Update newsletters, followed by a search box and a contact form where you can easily send us a quick message.
Most pages feature a representative image at the top over which the title is printed. Apart from the title, there are also some useful links, such as a so-called ‘Breadcrumb Trail’ which shows you where in the website this article lives and allows you to click on any level to go straight there, details about who wrote it and when it was published with links to the author’s biography, and an approximate guide to how long it will take to read.
Next to those are buttons and counters for comments on this article, a button the like this article along with the current number of likes, and the number of times it has been viewed.
As you start reading an article and scroll down, the menu bar will ‘float’ up to the top of the page and remain there. Incidentally, as you read through an article, a thin progress bar appears at the very bottom of the page so you can see how much more is left to read.
There are more interesting controls at the bottom of each article.
Clicking on any of the Tags shows articles sharing the same tags.
You can share the current article directly on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest with their dedicated buttons.
There are links to the previous and next articles, by publication date and time.
Articles with some related elements such as tags are shown next, along with a preview image.
Finally, you can comment on any article by clicking the button, typing your message and submitting it.
There are tons more new features – we could write pages about just the new Diary, for instance – but we’ve covered the basic ways to navigate the Pinball News site.
Feel free to try it out, hover over or click things and see what happens.
After all, that’s what we do. 🙂