Wake up, it is more than just a website
As I was chunking together my I love Jason Campbell post, now pushed to tonight, I stumbled around midnight last night on the new NFL.com website rollout, once again I am not a happy camper.
The last revamp was August 2007 and despite a glowing review at the time, that update really did improve the site's usability, there is something I did not realize until I began putting together gamewraps for the 2007 season: all the old links to game stats and box scores 2006 and prior were gone, forever.
Of course you could go find the stats, they did not go away, what had happened was they changed all the link paths under the new hierarchy. So this link from the 2006 season is now three years in the grave, replaced by this link.
(of course and part of the story is that the second link for that 2006 game, that is not the same link as it would have been 24 hours ago when they changed them again)
Why is that a problem? Because schmucks like me use NFL.com as more than a diversion, it is a reference. All those links from 2006 are gone, the citations of statistics, box scores, play by plays, they are dead links. And that kind of pisses me off.
I know a little about enterprise database and web design and a key principle for any resource with historical data is durable links. The writing of conversion tables from old link methodologies to new ones is not complex and is a must. There is no reason links to dynamic and data driven pages ever need to change; simply tell the database how to translate an old request into a new one. It is that simple kids.
So now around midnight the NFL rolled out an ever newerer, slickier site and it looks good.
But they fucked with the links again. This time they are not completely dead like the example above, game related links from after the August 2007 revamp now drop the reader into the Game Center main page for the game. So this link to the full play be play from the Steeler preseason game last Saturday now drops you into the main Game Center page here. If I want to see the play by play, which still has its own link, I need to go here. And so on and so forth with the box score, etc.
So unfortunately for me and readers looking into games past, all the game links I pulled out for the 2007 and 2008 seasons are all wrong. Unlike the 2007 revamp they are not completely dead, but they still force the reader to go looking. I do not have an intern to go back and freshen up these links, I will have to take time myself and then wonder why I did it in two years when they change up the hierarchy again.
NOTE TO THE NFL: THE WEBSITE IS A REFERENCE, PLEASE QUIT CANCELING OUT OLD LINKS, WE NEED THIS STUFF TO PERSIST, WE ARE TRYING TO PROMOTE YOUR PRODUCT AND YOU ARE MAKING IT REALLY DIFFICULT.
Image from here.