With little fanfare (though quite a few tweets), Barça launched a new version of their website, fcbarcelona.cat. If you haven’t checked it out, go for a little spin through its new pages…or just continue reading and I’ll give you a guide to what’s going on. Some of it you’ll have already seen, but some of it I’m sure you’ll be all “Oh wow, thanks for pointing out that little thing I’ll never use.” Yup, no problem, that’s my job. For those wondering, I’m reviewing only the English version (there are 4 other languages available).
The old official site was my friend. I spent quite a bit of time there coming up with lame statistical posts for you to half read (and then discuss something different in the comments, you jerks!) and so any change was always going to be a bit harsh for me. I understood the old format’s quirks and it felt straight forward. So my initial reaction was “Oh crap, there’s too much going on here.” A confession: I’m a website minimalist. My own website, the one you’re probably reading this on unless you’re like me and you read everything on Google Reader (RIP social functions), is in the minimalist range, especially when you’re actually delving into an article. Or so my biased eyes see.
Once I had adblocked the flash ads (both QF and Nike), the site started to look a whole bunch smoother. But I was till a bit overwhelmed. There are three separate bars of links and a header before you get to any actual content. I like lots of links, for sure, but I don’t need to see row upon row of toolbars or links to get around somewhere. But, the thing is, they’re all pretty useful. It’s got everything I can think of and a few things the old one didn’t.
The very top of the page has a useful bar that directs you:
- The home page – self explanatory or you should be banned from using the Internet (not applicable to those under the age of 8).
- Foundation – the Fundació is ostensibly what this whole club is about, so it should be fairly prominently displayed, but isn’t really.
- FCB Supporters Club – If you’re a member, you can access all the penya information you’d like via the OAP and so on.
- FCB Fans – When you’re too busy being a schmuck who can’t become a member, you can hang out here. Fans can download wallpaper! And look at La Caixa ads! Yay!
- Barça TV – Currently has extremely little on it, but that might be a function of where I live–BarçaTV isn’t offered in the US even though I’m a member. Boo.
- FCB Business – About as interesting as it sounds for the individual fan. If you’re a corporate money(wo)man, though, it’s probably worth stopping to check out all the stuff you can buy. I mean work with the team on.
- FCB Store – the Botiga got a redesign as well that we’ll get into later.
Your next choices on home page include another toolbar/link menu. You’ll note that below these options is another set of links. It changes with each place you go, too. Just pointing it out, with no comment.
- Home – Because I have ads blocked, I may have a slightly rearranged version from you. For that I most sincerely do not apologize. I think it looks the same as when I viewed it with ads (except without the ads, duh) but I might have missed something small shifting around.As with the old site, the new one keeps the slideshow news frame, but instead of having a side bar with the 4 individual news items it’s scrolling through, it drops those titles below an expanded picture. That makes for much better viewing, though it does force me to scroll down just a tad to see them and I find that a lot more annoying than I probably should. The titles of the articles are also obscured by thumbnails that require a mouse over to see. That I’m perfectly comfortable with saying I hate.
I’m not a fan of having the mouse over do nothing but show you the article’s title. If you click on the thumbnail/title, you get the main frame showing that thumbnail full sized with the title of the article and a tiny blurb describing it. For instance: “Welcome to the new web platform” followed by “The new web platform boasts over 6,000 pages and over 12,000 digitized photographs. FC Barcelona consolidates its digital strategy”. And yes, it ends without a period and that’s why mine is outside the quotes. Don’t think I didn’t notice. It’s true in all of them and it’s something I’m going to hate the whole time they’re doing it. Ugh. So, in order to read something, I either have to click on its thumbnail and then click on the article’s main frame or I have to wait for it to scroll by. Too much work!
To the right of this whole frame are two extremely useful little bits. The Next Game is listed, including where it is, date, and local time. It’d be hot if they included something so that it would tell me when it was during my time, but we’ll probably see that eventually. Below that is tickets for the next match at the Camp Nou. Pretty cool.
Below both of those frames is really where I see the site falling apart. Highlights, Club, and a calendar bar sit on the same line except because it is showing you, as it would, the calendar, that part extends below the rest. Highlights is just some stories they want you to look at. It should be removed. The club thing, fine, but it’s kinda silly because there’s a bar up above that lets you access that same part. It’s basically direct links to feature articles they don’t want to let die too quickly.
Below that is a frame with 3 thumbnails that let you choose what I assume are going to be rotating links. Currently they’ve got another link to Sections and one each to Camp Nou Experience and Football: Purchase Channels which is some ticketing stuff. I can live with the latter 2 because they’re not linked a frame higher in the page like the other ones. Bah.
Below that is a frame displaying links to the most recent photo and video galleries. That is good. I like that very much, especially since the pictures are no longer watermarked, but they have also removed photo credits from the pictures, which is sort of crappy for the photographers who took them. I’m hoping they get that fixed soon. To the right of that frame are the social media links (Facebook and Twitter) and the blargh of a tag cloud. I’m sure lots of people are searching for Erazem Lorbek, but not via your little cloud. Get rid of it.
Below that are two extremely useful links: Players and Events Calendar. Those are pretty self-explanatory, but I’ll go into more detail about them in a minute as well.
The final thing on the page, the bar at the very bottom, is the best addition to the page I’ve come across. Basically, it’s the site map, but it’s got a lot of useful links, including everything I’ve already mentioned above and things like FCB Apps which is a list of (currently) 3 apps available on the iPhone. Only 1, FCB Watch, is available via Android Market. The best part is the Archive. It’s got all the articles sorted by date available to you from the various sports and other web sections. Totally rad.
- Club – This subpage is where you can go to find out about what FCB thinks of itself, what the history of the club is, and who is currently running the thing. It’s set up the same way as the home page, but its news is tailored more towards the commercial and political side of things.
- Football – This is where you can find a whole mess of stuff on the players and staff. Here are your choices:
- First team – I know those guys!
- Barça B – I sorta know those guys!
- Juvenil A – Only Kari and JNice know these guys!
- Formative – Not even Kari and JNice know these guys!
- Feminine – We have a women’s squad? I actually did not know that. I think that makes me a jerk. Definitely going to have to check that out.
- FCB Escola – School at FCB? So sending my kids there! Oh, that’s not how it works…no? Okay, sorry to get your hopes up Isaiito and Isaiina.
- Sections – Do you like sports that aren’t football? Me neither. But if you do…
- Tickets – It’s a tickets page, people. You’ve got this.
- Members – a page where you can get useful information for members, like a link to the OAB.
- Camp Nou – Barça has a stadium! I bet you did not know that. I bet you negative one thousand dollars.
Okay, so now, let’s talk about the Player pages, since that stuff is mind-numbingly interesting. Previously, there was a statistical table with all their info and some small information about them. Now there’s a full on biography page, a page with everyone’s numbers (Alexis is 36-24-36!), a discussion of how and where they play, a list of what social networks they’re on, their achievements with Barça (aka trophies), and some pictures.
But, the thing that’s missing, the thing that makes me super sad, is the statistics. How many minutes has Piqué played!? How can I live without knowing these things? I’m actually somewhat distressed because I like to peruse those things and make snide remarks about how no one can tell that Bojan is actually doing pretty well. Until that time when he wasn’t and I had to be all fine. And now what do I have? Proper analysis? That is crap and you know it! Gimme back my stats, Barça!
The calendar is new too, but it’s, you know, a calendar. It’s just easier to read than it was before, which is nice. The Club World Cup (which starts December 15 for us) is not yet listed, though the December 21 return date against L’Hospitalet is. If the team make it to the final on December 18, that’s going to be a really rough turnaround for them, so hopefully they can win big in the first leg and play the kiddies in the second. Pinto will be ready, of course.
Anyway, the final bit is the store. The prices are the same whether you choose “Europe and other countries” or “United States and Canada” as your shop. The Japan store is in Japanese, so I can’t really tell what’s going on. The shipping costs are different to different countries of course, but it’s nice to see that at least a superficially similar selection is available. I didn’t delve into it too deeply. It’s just that jerseys cost €80.99 before you add in shipping (€91.42 total to the US). So that’s crappy cause the euro is worth like 384 times as much as the dollar right now. That is a terrible exchange rate.
All in all, what do I think about the new site? It’s good and looks better overall than the old one, but it lacks some of the features of the old one and it can get overwhelming pretty quickly. I’ll get used to it, of course, but that lack of stats is going to irk me.
Let me know what you thought of it and what I missed in the comments.