State of the Blog: Welcome to the New UM Hoops

Dylan Burkhardt

We’re already a month into our eighth season covering Michigan basketball.

As we do at the start of every year, we’re kicking off our State of the Blog fundraiser, but this year’s comes with a surprise: a much-needed redesign.

As we wrapped up last season, we promised to do two things this summer: redesign the site to a mobile-friendly design and hire a new beat writer. It took us an extra month, but we couldn’t be happier with the results.

If you haven’t noticed by now, we finally unveiled a complete redesign of UM Hoops that we spent most of the summer working on. The new site design is cleaner and more professional, but it’s also more practical. UM Hoops is now responsive, which means it will be optimized for your cell phone, tablet or traditional web browser. It also should be faster and easier to use with some new features to boot.

The first thing that you’ll notice is that we’ve shifted the design of the front page to feature more content in easier to access locations. We’re regularly posting five or six articles after every game, and things were quickly pushed out of sight and out of mind with the old ‘blog-style’ design. The new site was designed to prevent that while creating a more user-friendly experience.

The menu system has also been optimized, and you can find new articles and other static content quickly and easily with our new mega-menu. For example, hover over ‘Recruiting’ and you can quickly access recruiting tools like hotboards or scholarship charts, or view the latest articles. We also made a number of tweaks to make reading our articles a more enjoyable experience.

There are sure to be issues that we missed, so please don’t hesitate to report bugs in the comments of this post, via email or in the forum. Please designate what device and browser you are using when you encounter an error.

Beyond the design, this summer has been one of transition as Joe Stapleton moved on after a few great seasons as our beat writer. Alejandro Zuniga has already hit the ground running, and we couldn’t have made a better hire. We’re excited for what he, and all of our other contributors, will bring to the table this season.

We say this time and again, but this site is nothing without the community surrounding it. We’re proud of the growth of the site and our new forums over the last year, and we have to thank all of you that visit, share and contribute to the site.

In an industry that’s dominated by pay-sites and premium content, we’re proud of how much we’ve been able to accomplish as a free site. But with the growth comes further costs. There are large financial burdens — travel to games and AAU tournaments, web hosting, redesigning and compensation for our staff — and we also put a tremendous amount of time into UM Hoops.

I’m lucky to have been able to run the site despite holding up a full-time job. Alejandro is in the midst of his senior year at Michigan and managed to cover the football team in his spare time this fall. Dustin Johnston makes frequent trips across the Midwest to provide some of the best Michigan basketball photography around. We all do this because we love it, but there’s no denying it starts to take a toll.

UPDATE: After encouragement in the comments, we decided to implement a fundraising goal of $7,500. Thank you all for your support. You can donate by clicking the PayPal button below.

PROGRESS: $1,042/$7,500

Any contribution, large or small, is appreciated and we are thankful for all of your support. In return, we promise to continue to bring you everything you are familiar with while expanding our coverage this season.

  • Tony DeMaria

    Nothing like a fresh new design to hide the stink of Saturday’s game! :) Love the redesign and love the work you guys do. I think this is the best independent CBB team blog in the country, and fans that visit have repeatedly said the same thing. I will try to support the site with a donation when I get my next paycheck!

  • captincork

    Looks wonderful! I don’t get cell service at work but I will be excited to test it on my phone. Thanks for all the hard work!

  • Very nice job

  • gobluemd16

    Woah! Loving this, Dylan! Great improvements

    • gobluemd16

      Also, I know you haven’t set a fundraising goal, but I feel like that increases the amount of donations. If someone can tangibly see that you are close to a set number, they may be more likely to donate. As always, I will donate regardless :). You guys are fantastic here

  • Corperryale

    Wow, nice new design and great work all around.

    Now let’s run Eastern out of the gym! They picked a very bad time to visit Crisler.

  • Runnergirl1

    Nice update, and donation made.

  • Eric

    Great work on the redesign! Thanks (yet again) for the great content and putting our donations to great use!

  • mikey_mac

    Awesome new design and logo. So glad the site is now responsive!

  • Thanks for the kind words guys! Let me know if you have any suggestions.

  • I consider Dylan a good friend, I respect his work and opinion as much as anyone who covers the Big Ten and Michigan fans, you’re lucky to have this site as a resource. The new look is fantastic.

  • Champswest

    The tabs at the top (the team, media, recruiting, etc.) are not working on my iPad.

  • jpsturg

    I love the new look! Keep up the good work

  • gobluenyc

    I’m sorry but I hate the new design. I didn’t think there was anything wrong with the old one. I get mobile-friendly, I just think it looks boring and personally had no problems viewing on mobile before. I do love the site, just a little harder to look at now.

  • MrLG

    I generally use a laptop, and I don’t see anything great about this new layout. I’m sure I’ll get used to it, but I prefer that donations go to your hotel bill rather than this project.

  • Indiana_Matt

    So that’s what Dylan looks like.

    Site looks great. Like the new logo mark very much.

  • Androo

    Done. Keep up the good work folks!