If you haven't heard yet, the Mid-American Conference has a brand new website. No, the name hasn't changed, but the look and some of the features are brand new.
In my discussion with Jeremy Guy, the MAC's Director of Communications, he stressed a lot of the same frustrations with the old site that fans such as myself held. It was too dark. Too jumbled. Not intuitive enough. Things didn't work quite right, etc.
All of that was taken into consideration when building the new MAC-Sports site from the ground up, and a complete visual overhaul is the first thing you'll notice when you get past the splash page.
It's an incredible transformation. The gloomy blue motif is gone and a brighter, cleaner look is in its place. The layout of the site has been reworked too, putting even more of a premium on bold photography and video content.
A content carousel sits smack dab in the middle of the home page, and on every sport's page as well. It's a great look, though it shifts from story to story a bit too quick for my personal taste, leaping about every five seconds. Videos play directly from the carousel. See an image with a play button hovering over it? Click it and the video loads and plays right from that screen.
The MAC's Digital Network Video Zone, which was previously tucked off to the right side, has also been given a share of this premium real estate. You may also notice that UMass' logo has disappeared from the top of the page. It's not gone, it's just now located with the rest of the affiliates on their own page.
But features are what we all want to know about, and while things such as a "MAC Conference" taser and a way to report officials for boneheaded calls aren't here, ones such as the new scoreboard are fantastic. You can access it one of two ways. The simplest way is a pop up from the bottom by clicking on the up arrow located next to "MAC Scoreboard". A mini scoreboard and schedule appears, tucked neatly at the bottom and easily dismissed when you're done.
A more powerful and polished scoreboard is available from the navigation bar up top either from the home page or a sport-specific page. The new scoreboard looks modern and clean, and includes direct links to things such as live stats and live streams. Pro tip: from the scoreboard page, click the calendar icon and jump ahead to Aug. 30 to see what the scoreboard looks like.
Oh, and those live video streams via the MAC Digital Network now work on mobile as well. I'll wait for you to stop cheering.
One cool new feature is the MAC Social Stadium, a social media aggregation tool built into the site. It's accessible via the bottom right corner, scroll past the main content hub and you'll see a link to it in a box titled "MAC Fan Facts". Hopefully there will be an easier way to get to this page in the future, as right now it's sort of hidden away.
Click it, and you're taken to a new page that aggregates Tweets, Instagram posts and links to stories in the news to give you a sense as to what people are saying about the MAC in near real time. This has the potential to be a real powerful tool for both fan and media types on game day when new social media posts are happening constantly.
Now you're probably wondering, where's the new app we were promised. It's right there with the rest of the site, because it is the site. The new MAC-Sports.com features a responsive design that adapts to any screen size, including smartphones and tablets. All the features are still there, and work just as well. This eliminates the need for an app. Just bookmark the site and pin it to your phone or tablet's homepage. No downloading or installing necessary .
While the new site is great, some things still aren't quite right, which is to be expected with any new site. The Fan Poll, for example, doesn't fit into its box well, and when you follow through to the results page you're greeted with a broken image. But minor bugs aside, it's a fantastic revamp. I'd give it an A, but that's my personal opinion.
Let's hear yours. What do you think of the new MAC-Sports site?