Beta of Redesigned ESPN.com Launches to Fans
Current and Future Site Running in Parallel Through December; New Site to Launch January 5, 2009
*** NOTE: Full size images of the newly redesigned ESPN.com are available Here
Today ESPN launched the public beta of the newly redesigned ESPN.com (beta.espn.go.com). The new site, which has been in a closed beta test phase for 10 days to ESPN Insider subscribers, will run in parallel to the current ESPN.com for the remainder of December. Following that, ESPN digital media will spend a short time making adjustments, changes and additions based on testing and feedback. The newly redesigned ESPN.com will launch fulltime, replacing the current site, on Monday, January 5.
“The redesign of ESPN.com is a major undertaking to which we have devoted significant time and energy,” said John Kosner, senior vice president and general manager, ESPN Digital Media. “Sharing the early-stage site with Insider subscribers first, and now with our entire audience, helps us identify issues and deliver the kind of product we all want on January 5. We want our fans to understand that the ‘beta’ represents a start for us, not the final destination. Visitors to ESPN.com should expect to see a series of improvements and additions over the next several months.”
The redesigned site features a number of enhancements, plus new features and sections. Among them:
- Cleaner, Simpler Design and Navigation: The new site offers a cleaner design and navigation schematic, with a premium on balancing the site’s unprecedented breadth with ease of use. In publishing more than a million words and more than 75 hours of audio and video each day, the site offers a depth of content unmatched in online sports. To organize all of that content, the new site combines a primary navigation bar (with seven anchor menus, each with expandable rollover menus) with a secondary navigation bar (programmable by the site’s editors to include easy access to the most timely topics and sports) on its front page. The primary navigation follows users throughout the site.
- Enhanced Video: Video plays a central role in the life of sports fans. The new site will feature a dynamic 16×9 main engagement area on its front page and main index pages that can deliver a richer video experience and the day’s top videos. Additionally, higher quality video will be more prominently integrated throughout the site. ESPN.com already has the top sports video library online, averaging 120 million views of video per month and this year accounted for approximately 50 percent of total minutes spent for the sports video category online – four times the nearest competitor.
- ESPN Sports Search: Launched in July, ESPN Sports Search plays an integral role in the new site. More prominent, and featuring advanced filtering and type-ahead functionality, it has already helped drive increased usage. Since the launch of the new search tools, the current site has seen more than 15 percent growth in searches and November 2008 set a new record for searches on the site. With its increased prominence, including a new ESPN Search index page (http://beta.espn.go.com/s/index) and contextual, search-driven content and modules, (example: “Related Searches” in story pages) the site expects continued growth in search traffic. Additionally, the new ESPN Sports Search further optimizes the site for outside search engines.
- Dynamic Personalization: first launched years ago, as the personalization engine for ESPN.com, myESPN will have a more intuitive integration that follows the user throughout the new site. New personalization features include a dynamic Flash roll-over that allows the user access to their favorite teams, players, sports, custom headlines, favorite ESPN columnists and one-click access to fantasy games. A customizable “My Headlines” tab on the front page and the main index pages will deliver headlines about a user’s favorite teams, sports and players. Initial personalization settings online are carried over from mobile platforms to the new site where they exist for registered fans. This integration between mobile and online personalization will increase in the future.
- Enhanced Advertising Integration and Flexibility: For more than 15 years, ESPN.com has set the standard in ad solutions that connect marketers with sports fans. The new site builds on that heritage and offers more options and increased flexibility, more than double the number of advertising executions on the front page and index pages, and cleaner, bolder ad units. Enhanced video advertising solutions will also be available to advertisers, including dynamic ad insertion.
- Enhanced Scoreboards: With enhanced scoreboards built into the top of the ESPN.com homepage, fans have immediate access to the scores they’re looking for. As part of the personalization engine, favorite teams are pushed to the front of the line and highlighted in yellow. Additionally, each sport features a full scoreboard homepage with individual capsules for each game, a scoreboard calendar, key dates, scoreboard tools (including mobile alert signups, scoreboard widgets and real-time scores) and more.
- New Sections: New sections include a “Columnists” index, an “All Sports” index, “The Life” and the new “ESPN Action Sports” network.
– Columnists Index: ESPN.com’s signature voices are one of its biggest draws. From “The Sports Guy” Bill Simmons and Rick Reilly, to J.A. Adande, Jeffri Chadiha, Pat Forde, Jemele Hill, John Hollinger, Eric Neel, Buster Olney, Wright Thompson, Gene Wojciechowski and more, the new index give fans a single home for all their favorite writers.
– All Sports Index: It sounds simple, but sports fans want quick access to all the headlines across all the sports, so they can get a quick overview of the entire sports landscape, and dive into whatever it is that most interests them. The All Sports index is just that: a run down of all that is happening in sports, through one convenient doorway.
– The Life: Being a sports fan is more than just reading and watching. Sports have a definitive lifestyle, from travel to shopping to participation. The Life section brings all of ESPN.com’s tools and information for these pursuits into a single place. From ESPN Sports Travel powered by Orbitz and the Sports Passport, to ESPNShop.com, ESPN Books, ESPN’s partnership with Active.com for participatory sports, gift guides and ESPN Cars in collaboration with MyRide.com – The Life has fans covered.
– ESPN Action Sports network: ESPN Action Sports is the anchor hub for a group of interconnected sites, including action sport-specific vertical sites from ESPN and other premier action sports destinations such as Surfline.com, Vans.com, Active Ride Shop and more. The new network of sites creates multiple drop-in points for action sports participants and enthusiasts, with the mission of developing the best, deepest, most useful network of action sports content and community anywhere.
- Foundation for Further Integration: ESPN.com is not just a Web site. The new site lays a stronger, cleaner, more complete foundation for cross-media integration with other ESPN media platforms including television, radio, broadband and mobile.
Fans are encouraged to use and explore the ESPN.com beta site, and provide feedback via the red bar at the bottom of the screen.* Already, ESPN Insiders have provided volumes of feedback.