Building a Better Mobile Sports Site

One of the greatest effects to emerge from the iPhone influence is that web designers care a little more about alternate browsers. We've had technology to present alternate presentations of content for years, but other than working around browser quirks, few did anything with the knowledge that a user might have something other than a full screen 1024x768 browser running.

Today, many major sites have a mobile version, and quite a few have mobile versions specific for the iPhone. This is great for users. They get the content they want, in a package suitable to their device. Well, mostly.

There is still work to be done. Even the mega-brands, like pro sports leagues, seem to trip up a bit when building their mobile sites. As a sports fan, and a mobile Internet user, here is my take on two of these sites. The NFL and the NBA.

This image shows both the homescreen you get, along with a full page of scroll to give you a better idea of the experience you'd have if you were actually holding an iPhone in your hand.

What strikes me immediately is how little of the first screen actually contains content. Both sites include their logos and a Menu button. I don't know why I'd need a Menu button, but I get why the logo is important.

The NFL site hits me with some ads. I guess I can understand that. The NBA site does as well, but for its own products. I especially like how the NBA ads say "Click Here". For starters, no one clicks on mobile devices. They tap. Second, I really hope we get to a point where we don't have to tell people to "Click Here". It's like painting "Drive Here" in the middle of a highway lane. Are there still people waking from their Rip Van Winkle and whipping out an iPhone?

Both sites contain worthless headers like "GAME CENTER" and "SCORES". How many helmet to helmet contacts does it take before you are unable to recognize a score? Do we really need to waste the space to tell me something I already know?

Overall, I really like the NFL site. Once you scroll down a bit, you get a perfect mobile view. You see teams, scores, and the network they are playing on. That is perfect. That is exactly what I want and expect. Move the "Week x" links to the bottom and we're really talking.

Then there's the NBA. Here you see 3 views of the site, about a month apart. The most you can ever see without scrolling is the scores of two games. Even then, they don't seem to bubble the in-progress games to the top, so you have to scroll past info you've already been alerted to, possibly for a few hours while you follow the games of the day. The rest of the screens are filled with even more worthless stuff like a "Mibox" (what the hell is that and why should I care) and links to the D-league.

Hey NBA, NO ONE CARES ABOUT THE D-league. Why would you waste this precious space on routes out of the site that your user specifically just came to? The funny thing is if you go to nba.com, the D-league link isn't prominent at all. What made you decide that mobile nba.com users were the ones that needed to see giant links to the D-league and the WNBA?

I guess what I'm asking for is a simple experience.

  • Don't treat me like an idiot with labels for things that don't need labels. You don't label the free-throw or 3-point line on the court do you?

  • Today's games are more important than tomorrow's or next week's. Move that navigation to the bottom.

  • Don't give me personalization features unless I opt to have them. Welcoming me as "Guest" is annoying, not helpful.

  • Tell me where I can experience your product. That means, tell me what TV network is showing the game. Gold star to the NFL for already doing this. I absolutely LOVE this feature and it keeps me coming back every week.


5 of the Now: Mix version

I'll try something fresh this time around. Rather than individual tracks, I'm going to give you 5 dj mixes I'm feeling right now. I listen to a ton of continuous mixes. I have 149 of them sitting in iTunes right now.


7 Sources of Clutter

Perhaps it is just the folks I surround myself with, but it seems like clutter is getting a lot of buzz these days. My decluttering journey kicked up a few notches a few years ago when I became a father and my family moved to a larger house. Along the way, I've come across some things I wouldn't have considered clutter years ago. Here are 7 of those things. Maybe they'll spark you to look in different directions while you simplify your life.

  1. Wine - My wife and I drink wine, but not often, and that was the problem. I'm no wine expert. I'm not even a wine enthusiast. So why did we have 25 bottles of wine in the house? None of it was anything worth letting age. The more wine you get, the more racks you need, and then you need places for those racks. We've turned that around now. For us, we don't need more than 5 bottles. The best part is, I'm excited when guests bring a bottle rather than thinking "great, another bottle of wine we won't drink for months".

  2. Food - Having a large pantry can be bad. You feel like you need to fill it, but why? If you haven't eaten the food in a year, why do you think you ever will? The same for sauces and leftovers. It's a game for us now to see how many things we can finish off. It sparks new flavor experiments. Some good, some bad. Have fun with it, but also make it part of the game to have as few leftovers as possible. Don't be wasteful.

  3. Magazines - I blame my father for this one. He had a wall of car magazines in the basement. Stacked shelf after shelf. He enjoyed the magazines so much, he felt he had to keep them because surely he'd want to read them again some day. Even with this pre-warning, I found myself subscribed to more magazines than I could read. I couldn't just throw them away. I had to read them. I also found myself saving magazines like my father had. I now get 4 magazines, more than I want, but I look forward to them arriving and very much still enjoy reading a physical magazine, so I'm happy. Protip: If your magazine has a binding spine, you can tear out the pages you've read and recycle them right away. I started this when I'd take magazines on business trips to save weight in my carry-on bag, but now I use it all the time. I don't waste time figuring out what I have and haven't read and it feels good to be making progress in the magazine.

  4. Clothes and Shoes - Plenty of people have clothes clutter. My take away from this was I reached a critical mass of clothing. I've been the same size for over 15 years and had enough clothes such that hardly anything ever wore out. Is it worth keeping in your closet if you only get to wear it twice a year? I don't think it is. Try the hanger hack to figure out what to ditch. Now I focus on having fewer, but higher quality, items. Anyone have recommendations on how many shirts a male adult should own?

  5. Movies - I used to feel the need to own a movie that I wanted to watch more than once. With Netflix's turn around times these days and online streaming, I haven't bought a physical disc all year. Whatever I want is at most a day or two away. It isn't worth the cost and space of owning most movies.

  6. Dishes - Collectible cups that aren't even a full set anymore...why? Like the food, just because you have the cupboard space, it doesn't mean you have to fill it. An empty kitchen cupboard can be a great substitute for otherwise having to buy another endtable or shelf to store whatever needs storing.

  7. Gift cards - Fake money as I like to call them. They fill our wallets and purses. They fall in value from ridiculous fees. I especially hate them because they drain me mentally. I know the value of a dollar. I can't not spend them. We have a new focus to try and spend (or regift) these as soon as we can, but at the same time, I don't want to buy things we don't need, so it is a challenge. Any ideas on getting rid of gift cards?


5 of the Now


5 of the Now

  • Luomo & Apparat - Love You All (Club Version) Luomo & Apparat - Renaissance: The Masters Series - James Zabiela - Love You All
    Apparat's been a sleeper for me. Once I finally gave him some focus, I realized I was already a fan and have a handful of his stuff that I absolutely love. Expect some more iTunes payouts Apparat, I'll warm up the credit card.

  • LMFAO - Yes LMFAO - Party Rock - Yes
    Party. This is getting constant play from me since I picked it up. I'll listen to it 2 or 3 times in a row even. "Every day I see my dream" can be quite profound, even if that was not the intention.

  • CLASSIX - I'll Get You CLASSIXX - Kitsuné: Kitsuné X the Cobrasnake - I'll Get You (feat. Jeppe)
    This is just fun. Crank it up and sit on your back patio in the summer air. I want to make my own edit of this. Highlight the Jeppe vocals and let them play a bit more.

  • Fever Ray - Triangle Walks (Rex The Dog Radio Edit)
    Haunting, groovy, driving. I'm strangely attracted to the voice. Had to dig out the Knife albums and give them some more plays too :) The link is to a free download.

  • The MFA - The Difference It Makes The MFA - The Difference It Makes - EP - The Difference It Makes
    This has always been a favorite and I was shocked to see I hadn't fit it into a previous 5otn. I was huge into Border Community back when this came out.


5 of the Now

Honestly, this is 5 of the month and a half ago, but I was feeling them at the time and I want to burn that in to the Internet memory forever.


5 of the Now

  • Evil Nine - Icicles
    Evil Nine's latest continues to grow on me. I have woken up many mornings with this song in my head. Oddly enough I was really digging Icicles just when it was released as a single. Must have been all of that radio airplay I was catching in Iowa - yeah right. Seraphim, you rule. I want more. It was particularly fun to get lost in this track during an absolutely ridiculous travel experience at an airport recently. People yelling, nearly ready to throw punches. "All around...you...is fire!". Brought a smile to my face.

  • The Prodigy - Omen
    So great to have all of the boys back together. This album has lots of the feel of "Music for the Jilted Generation" and that is a wonderful thing.

  • Lyrics Born - I Like It, I Love It (Live @ The Picador)
    Thank you for stopping in Iowa City LB. The crowd wasn't huge, but you rocked it like the entire town was there.

  • Lyrics Born - Do That There (Live @ The Picador)
    Joyo Velarde rocked it too.

  • Porno Galactica - Sail Away (Live @ The Picador)
    These guys were so infectious. They owned. Spider-man crawl on the ceiling was the best. Check out their mixtape on MySpace.


Safari 4 UI Confusion

I'm pretty meh on Safari 4 so far. The top sites thing isn't something I'll use. Coverflow previews are neat, but haven't used them. Tabs on top are ok, but I'm finding myself confused. Here's how.

If you have a window open, with tabs, and then click a link that opens a new window, Safari creates that window in such a way that the tabs from the old window appear attached to the new window!

Yes, there's a line here that is smooth in the regular window, but this interface is new. My brain doesn't know that yet. Second, it seems there is a slight color variation with the active and inactive windows. I'm sure that's great if you aren't colorblind. Doesn't do jack for me.

This is bad because I try to click the tab that I think belongs to my window, but it doesn't. It seems Apple could fix this by simply creating the new window 5 pixels lower, or higher.


5 of the Now

  • The Chemical Brothers - Out of Control
    I could list the entire Chem Bros catalog as 5otn, and it appears I am, bit by bit. Honestly it seems I always have Chem Bros in my 5otn list. More often than not, they get pushed to a later list, so be glad you don't see them here any more than you already do :)

  • Telfon Tel Aviv - The Birds
    Spacey, driven, soothing.

  • Justice - DVNO
    Look out, the Justice 5otn seal is broken. These guys were everywhere last year. I'm a big Ed Banger records fan, and I can't say they are even in my top 3 on that label, but I dig them. Energy and class.

  • Closer Musik - One, Two, Three (Ewan Pearson Remix)
    The perfect music to drink martinis and cook to!

  • Vector - Rise
    Probably, more properly known as Vector 13. In any case, groovy stuff.


Hulu Had It

I've recently gotten into Boxee. I've been aware of it for quite some time, but I always thought it required far more mucking to install than it actually does. Boxee is only useful to me on Apple TV. It's interface is decent, but not great. I see no reason to use it while I'm sitting at my computers. While sitting in bed in from of my TV, that's another story.

Hooking your MacBook up to the TV to watch Hulu is doable, but it really isn't a good solution. It requires a bunch of temporary cables. Requires you adjust your power management (or wiggle the mouse every few minutes). Worst of all, it owns your notebook while you are watching TV. You can't DO ANYTHING on your computer while it is attached to the TV.

Boxee on Apple TV is great because it brings you Hulu, CBS, and others in a usable format. Nothing new to hook up. It just works. Control it with a remote instead of a keyboard and mouse. The full Hulu experience is there. You see all of the commercials, you see the branding. It's all there.

So then Hulu's partners go and gets stupid. It isn't Hulu, but rather the content providers. You'd think Hulu, who has built the number one destination video site for legal, full, television episodes wouldn't be dumb enough to slap its users in the face, even when the content providers tell them to. As @peterrojas says, Boxee is no different than a web browser. I say Boxee is actually *better* than a web browser for the content provider. Boxee, especially on Apple TV, is running full screen. Users are likely focused on the TV experience, and aren't jumping into a spreadsheet during the commercials. They're watching them.

Hulu also has the unique ability to know who I am. I'm logged into Boxee. They could work with Boxee to make me logged into Hulu. They'd know who I am. They'd know what I watched. They'd know what commercials they've shown me. This has to have value. This has to be better than forcing me to either not watch their content at all, or go get it from a gray/black market source.

Shutting down Hulu on Boxee will NOT send me back to cable. The sooner Hulu and the content providers learn that, the better.


iPhone Coverart Fail

Ok, this was really just a reason for me to play with my camera, iMovie, and YouTube uploading, but an annoying bug none the less.

The coverart that is displayed does not match the track that is playing. Switch to coverflow and the coverart is correct. Switch back and it is still wrong. Flip to the details and the mini coverart is correct. Odd. I think this has been there for quite a few spins of the firmware.

And note to self, small text overlays don't encode well at YouTube quality :) That fail is all on me.


5 of the Now

  • Bag Raiders - Fun Punch (Bag Raiders Remix)Bag Raiders - Bag Raiders Remixed - EP - Fun Punch
    I love how Audiosurf can make such a great video for this track. Banging and uplifting.

  • Deadmau5 - Hi Friend (Original Mix)Deadmau5 & MC Flipside - Hi Friend - EP - Hi Friend
    Deadmau5 continues to own it. Lots of energy.

  • Robyn - CobrastyleRobyn - Robyn - Cobrastyle
    I wish I could play the drums with a bear head on. Actually, I just wish I could play the drums. I'm guessing that's a nod to the Teddybears?

  • Muscles - Ice CreamMuscles - Guns Babes Lemonade - Ice Cream
    I'm repulsed by the words muscles and ice cream in the same sentence, but I dig the music.

  • Fischerspooner - A Kick in the TeethFischerspooner - Odyssey - A Kick In the Teeth
    I don't know what it is about Fischerspooner. I like their music and own a few handfuls of their tracks, but I seem to ignore their releases. I always end up hearing it somehow anyway and then think "wow that sounds great, who is that?".


Where's the Love?

I like to rate stuff. Movies from Netflix, songs in iTunes, photos in iPhoto - they all allow ratings of 1 to 5 stars. I make use of these ratings in all of these apps. I started to wonder if I have similar distributions of love-like-hate across different types of media. So, of course I made a really geeky bar graph!

  • First off, I don't have time in my life for hate. Music and photos that I hate get removed from my library. A movie has to be really bad for me to hate it. I only had 9 hated movies in Netflix out of over 500 ratings.

  • I have nearly 6000 things rated between the 3 groups. Apple must love me for their genius database.

  • Movies and music tend to collect in the Really Like. I think that makes sense.

  • I take bad photos. Most of my library is stuff I took and I rate most of it at 3 stars. Photos have the lowest love percentage.

  • I seem to love more movies as a percentage vs. music and photos.

  • Less than 10% of my library is music that will gurantee that I dance, sing along, and nod my head when it comes on. That's unfortunate and probably why I spend so much money on music. Always on the hunt for a 5 star :)