A major update to the Sidelines mosaic!
It has been an intense few weeks here at Sidelines, as we have been coding round-the-clock, punctuated by breaks to watch the Stanley Cup playoffs or the occasional Game of Thrones episode. All that coding has enabled us to announce some nifty updates to the Sidelines user interface today.
At the heart of the Sidelines user experience is the mosaic- the single page that displays the key stories for your favorite teams and serves as a starting point for your reading experience. The four features we’re releasing today significantly improve the readability of the mosaic- making it much easier to quickly scan the stories and decide which ones you want to read.
1. Publications and Dates on the Mosaic
You told us you wanted to see what source each news article, blog post or opinion piece was from and when it was published. We heard you loud and clear, and the mosaic now clearly displays the names of the publications and dates for each story.
The publications also displayed on the scrollbar while you’re reading a story.
2. Hot Stories
We now also automatically detect which stories are hot and trending, and display an indicator on the mosaic for every hot story. We use a number of different signals to determine whether a story is hot, such as the number of publications that are writing about the same topic and the number of Sidelines users that are reading the story. Soon we’ll be adding Twitter as a signal as well. These indicators will be helpful when you’ve only got a couple minutes to spare- simply check out what’s hot.
3. Text-only stories
Previously, for those stories that didn’t contain an image, we attempted to algorithmically match them with relevant images on the mosaic. While our algorithm worked 70% of the time, it wasn’t perfect and displayed an irrelevant image 30% of the time. We heard from some of you that this was confusing, so we now display an image on the mosaic only if the original story contains an image. If not, as you can see in the screenshot above, we simply display the title and a snippet from the story.
4. Story Snippets
Finally, we’ve made it easier to read a brief snippet for each story which has an image. Simply hover over the story, and you’ll see the snippet instead of the image. In our usability tests, we found this design works better than our previous design which dropped the snippet below the image, obscuring other content on the mosaic. The snippets are algorithmically pulled from the most relevant and interesting part of each story; so, if the title is a little unclear, the snippet should quickly give you the gist of the story.
We’ve had a lot of fun designing and building these features, and we can’t wait for you to try them. We think they get us much closer to our goal of being the best place on the web to get your sports news, so let us know what you think. Stay tuned as we have a few more things up our sleeve that we’ll be releasing over the next week. Enjoy!