April 1, 2015 Last Updated 10:08 am

ESPN launches redesigned website, as home page remains vital entry point for sports outlet

The redesigned site allows sports fans to customize the new home page by selecting favorite teams in order to make home news content more relevant

The home page just isn’t want it used to be. For most of the time the web has been around as an important platform for publishers, the home page has been the vital entry point for readers. But with social media and search driving most traffic, the home page has diminished in value.

ESPN is probably an exception to the new rule, however. Readers go to espn.go.com to see scores, sports news tidbits, and the like. ESPN may have one of the web’s most popular destinations, but its website has remained fairly stable in look (read: a bit outdated) for a while now. No longer.

ESPN-newsite-800Today ESPN unveiled a new website design, and so far the reaction has been fairly positive – something that is difficult to achieve as readers tend to hate change.

The site offers less solid blocks of color, giving the impression of more white space without actually opening things up too much. This is good: sports fans don’t want to have to scroll forever to find some news of interest. The headline news section has come in a bit from the right side, and other changes bring in local content for readers based on their IP address. This is not good for me, as I may live and work in the Chicago area, but have been a Bay Area sports fan for years – but like apps, the website allows the reader to customize the site to deliver news from their favorite teams.

ESPN-1999What I like most about the site, however, is that it is not one of those that tries to make their desktop home page look like a mobile site. It still differentiates between the two and delivers different designs to both.

ESPN, the television property, was launched 35 years ago in 1979. Today, The Walt Disney Company owned a majority stake, with Hearst owning 20 percent. Its first website was launched in April 1995, called ESPNET SportsZone, though The Wayback Machine only has screenshots as far back as 1999 (at left).

One of the funny stories about the sports network is that it was founded in Plainville, Connecticut, but was forced to move to Bristol because of an ordinance prohibiting buildings from having satellite dishes on them.

(I used to sell advertising to consumer satellite dish retailers back in the mid-80s for Hearst’s Herald Examiner, so I get that some towns used to have laws against installing dishes.)

Today, I’m sure Plainville wishes it had made an exception.

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