It is great pleasure that today, I am able to announce the formal release of the 'next version' of 49ersParadise.com. Yes folks that's right, the new version of the site has now been fully tested, and all the main features have been completed. I am really excited to share these changes with you, and hope that you enjoy them as much as I have been anticipating them. This release marks what I believe to be at minimum the 18th major overhaul to the site since its inception in 1996. As always, although I do test the site thoroughly to make sure it works in all browsers on Mac, Windows, and Linux, I do invite you to let me know if you encounter any difficulties, and always recommend you run the most up to date browser your system will allow.
Since releasing the past version of the site in September 2008 I have listened to your feedback and redesigned, and improved the site based on the quality opinions of the community. I thank you for your continued interest to help make 49ersParadise.com the best place on the web. I have always prided myself on making 'Dise (as it has affectionately become known) "A place any 49ers fan can call home". With that in mind, I want you all to become involved. Many of the changes made to 'Dise recently were made with that too in mind.
In the past I have usually launched major site changes all at once. The pace of growth over the past year, and my desire to bring the best 49ers coverage to all of you, had me roll out a series of features since July of 2009, culminating in this final piece of the puzzle on November 2nd. I am sure there will continue to be minor tweaks and improvements along the way (some of which I am still working on), but the significant improvements to the site have now been accounted for.
Now the run down:
1) The forum has received threesignificant improvements: a) the shoutbox, no dubbed the "Huddle" has been made wider, and separators have been added between comments. The typing area has also been expanded to make it easier for all of you to see what you typing. To comment you must be a member of the site, you do not however require a paid subscription. You can now also access the Huddle from any page on 'Dise (more on that later). I look forward to having you involved. b) You will hopefully notice that at the bottom of each topic there is now a "share" button. This button will allow you to quickly share the topic you are reading on facebook, twitter, Yahoo, and many other social media networks. It also allows for quick bookmarking and emailing of the topic. I encourage you to make great use of this button to help grow the network of 49ers fans who visit this site. c) Earlier this summer, I launched a new set of forum rules to help make the administration of the forum easier, and the conversation better. Thank to all those who have adapted so readily to these enhancements.
2) Heading into the start of this season the membership options have been streamlined, and in some cases, offered reduced pricing. In addition non-subscribed users can now read the forum (but not exclusive content). These users are served some banner advertisements instead, and I do hope that they choose to upgrade their accounts to take full advantage of the site.
3) Twitter - over the summer I added a twitter feed from 'Dise. I am working very hard on taking this feature out of Beta status, and are hoping to do so before year end. 49ersParadise.com is also networking with key 49ers media and players via twitter, and working to bring this information to you all in one spot (more on this later)
4) Facebook - 49ersParadise.com recently created a home on facebook, and I appreciate all the fans who have joined in support of the site thus far. I am hoping to grow our facebook home, so please continue to visit, participate, and share 49ersParadise.com across facebook. This is a great way to get involved with other 49ers fans.
5) A major over-haul to the main page of 49ersParadise.com. Recognizing that the Blitz Blog has been a tremendous success, and that the Hot Off The Press articles still deserve quick and easy access, I have created a new design theme for the main page of 49ersParadise.com. Upon arriving at the site on most occasions you will be served both the Blitz and the HOP. I believe this will make it easier for all of you to get the new you want fast. On game day, you will automatically be served the Game Week tab to get all the scores from the NFL quickly and in real-time, along with the crucial 49ers injury report. I believe the overhaul to the main page makes great use of the space without over crowding the design.
6) The final major tweak to the site has been the creation of the Clubhouse Community Bar, available on all non-forum pages of 49ersParadise.com including the main page. This bar will stay stuck to the bottom of your browser window, and allows quick access to the community around 'Dise. I hope to continue to enhance the features available in this bar.
Right now, you'll notice that the first button, provides you with the latest posts available on the forum, a great way to get a glimpse of the conversations and hot topics about the team. This new button made the "Forum" tab on the main page redundant, and hence it was eliminated. That button is followed by a twitter button which provides the latest tweets from 49ers media and players. The facebook button follows, allowing you to quickly become a fan of 'Dise on facebook, or visit the facebook page. The next button is for the 49ers Live gallery also introduced this year - and the Game Day Experience section. There is also a connection to Flickr from this button so that you may view the 49ersParadise.com photos via the flickr site. I encourage you to become a friend of ours on Flickr. I have moved the easy to use RSS links to the next button to help keep the footer of the site clean. These RSS feeds make following 49ersParadise.com really easy via your favorite news readers. The 49ersParadise.com Fantasy Football Leagues and Pick'Em competition have grown to be a great part of the community. You can now access these Fantasy games, and keep up with the games (even if you are not involved) via the next button. The 'Dise widget has been moved into the next button. This widget is available for nearly any desktop of website, and a great way to help share the content on the site.
On the far right of the bar is a red or green helmet depending on your logged in status. This button will also let you know if you have any new personal messages in the forum, and provides a quick link to unread posts and replies. Finally, the Tailgate button let's you know how many people are visiting 49ersParadise.com at a given moment, and provides direct access to the Huddle Box, and the live chat room. I hope you all utilize the Tailgate feature to really get involved and keep the community growing strong.
As I am sure you can tell, a great deal of work has gone into not only improving 49ersParadise.com, but also into enhancing the community around the site. It is your efforts that will make these other communities a success, and so I encourage you all to get involved. There are so many ways you can enjoy 'Dise, and so many ways you can share this joy with others. I hope you all look around, and take advantage of some of these great new features and enhancements.
I could not go on without thanking all of you who visit regularly, and who contribute to the site in so many ways. In particular, I want to thank the site staff who administrate, moderate, and write for the site. Of course, there are many community members who are veterans of the site, whose opinions I rely on and count on to help keep the community strong. A sincere thank you to everyone.
NB: Did you know that earlier this year, 49ersParadise.com made it possible for you to support the site with any purchase you make over Amazon? Simply search for your item via the Store tab on the main page of 49ersParadise.com and a portion of your purchase will go to supporting this site!