State of the Blog: Welcome to the New UM Hoops

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.

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.

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