This was a little sooner than expected – and for once, that’s good news!
On March 25th, I noted on The Faceoff Circle’s twitter page that the site was going down for long-term maintenance, projecting a return from downtime for mid-April. The reason for this being that there were a lot of significant tweaks I wanted to make to the site, to prepare to a return to a consistent workflow – something that I haven’t really had the time to give to this platform since launching it.
If there was ever a pocket of free time to take advantage of, though, it’s this one. While I’d much rather be living in a world where I was still bouncing from rink-to-rink and we weren’t battling a global pandemic, the near-total pause of sports, and the slowing down of day-to-day life has given me a great pocket of “less is more” to work with – extended nights of sleep that I’ve long needed, time away from my computer to relax my mind, and over the past week and change – time to decide what to do with The Faceoff Circle.
I really want this to be a platform that I can use with regularity to present my curiosities, explain my thought processes, and give contexts to the game we all love. When I re-launched in 2017, I wasn’t so sure of what this was supposed to be, and likely got carried away in the heat of the moment. I wasn’t sure if I was trying to make a new contending media platform, whether I was worried about adding staff in the future, whether there was an income goal, or a whether I had a consistent “format” to worry about.
In hindsight, I wish I worried less about how the site would be perceived, or how it would stack up against others, and just did my own thing, which was how I built up my audience in the first place. There was a lot of flailing at doing things I didn’t necessarily want to do, or holding back on doing things I enjoyed, and we had a half-baked stretch of relative nothingness that followed. Some individual pieces reflected my voice, thankfully, but the overall body was inconsistent in both frequency and passion. Thankfully, many of you still supported me through this, and I can’t appreciate that enough.
The goal moving forward is for the core of this site to be more frequent, and largely free-to-read, with bonus features tucked in behind paywalls. That’s not super different from where things gradually landed before the downtime, but now it’s a commitment and not an ever-rolling experiment. As well, said free content will flow with more regularity than before – even if it’s just a passing thought in a few paragraphs. I imagine there will still be a lean towards content within the Toronto hockey teams, by virtue of being here and being part of the proverbial mix, but I’m keeping all doors open and would like to continue to explore beyond my carved niche. Not everything that comes out will be groundbreaking, but ideas won’t be withheld out of concern about not breaking ground.
Now that that’s out of the way, back to the downtime and re-opening. Here are the upgrades that have been made over the past week and change:
- A new layout. As you’ve likely noticed, the site has a new layout. Dead-ends have been cleared out of the navigation. The site isn’t as “big” or designed in the news-magazine layout that you tend to see on blogging networks anymore. It’s a bit more personal, a bit more intimate. As such, it’s significantly lighter-weight, meaning faster load times and less data usage. Overall, the new layout is much better geared to a solo project, and much easier for the average user to navigate. I’ve also allowed a little of myself to be used in the branding (one header photo on the front page), which I wasn’t doing previously.
- Better data presentation. The new layout, combined with quality-of-life features added to my go-to table presentation plugin will make for a much better experience when using data portals on The Faceoff Circle. There is more room in the page layout to work with, meaning that tables will be less cramped, and powerful filtering tools have been integrated – giving portals a feel that is more like a dedicated stats website. My next data project, a historical project that is already in progress and will launch in the coming weeks, will put this on full display.
- Transition to Patreon membership. This is a huge one, that was oft-requested at launch but brushed off due to the complexity of integration, and the additional fees that Patreon charged. However, a lot has changed since – integration is a lot easier, Patreon has streamlined their policies, and it’s also become more of a gold standard in the content creation industry – and particularly so in Hockey Analytics – many of you are already supporting some of the brightest minds in the community through the platform. It also has the benefit of requiring less involvement from myself on the payment processing end – which saves time and effort for both you and I. As a thank you to those who subscribed in the early days of the site, members of The Faceoff Circle under the original method can continue to use their old accounts, and will universally be given the features of the $10/month tier, no matter how much they currently pay. If you would still prefer to transition to Patreon (or cancel entirely), you can cancel your original membership here, or via PayPal. If you would like to subscribe, there are tiers of $2, $5, $10, and $20 a month, and you can find them on The Faceoff Circle’s Patreon Profile.
- Security. The site’s SSL/HTTPS capabilities have been upgraded via LetsEncrypt and verified as such. Google Chrome and some other browsers might not reflect that time of publish, but should by the end of the weekend.
- Odds and ends. Various internal tweaks have been made throughout the site, and will continue to be made over the next few days as noticed through casual readership and usage.
Hopefully, these upgrades, along with a commitment to regular content and project creation will lead to a site that more accurately embraces my ambitions. Until the next big leap comes in my career – and who knows, it very well could be that this site now succeeds beyond expectations with this new approach, meaning no leap is necessary – I’d like to make the most out of the voice I have, and give you content you’ll enjoy in the process. Hopefully, you’ll join (or stick around for) the journey!