Sept. 7, 2010

DEKALB, Ill. - The Northern Illinois department of athletics is pleased to announce that NIUHuskies.com, the official online home of Huskie Athletics, has received a facelift. The redesigned, improved site is set to officially go live on Tuesday, September 7.

NIUHuskies.com was redesigned to appeal to you, the Huskie fan, to make your online experience more enjoyable when researching NIU's various 17 sports. The main difference between the redesigned site and the past version of NIUHuskies.com: Interactivity. On the new website, multi-media, digital media and social media are included in prominent spots, and are readily available for Huskie fans to explore.

That being said, we haven't deterred away from our primary objective of keeping things simple and easy to find. The front-page navigation on the redesigned NIUHuskies.com is much cleaner and easier to sift through. The athletic department continues to remain committed to giving Huskies fans the information they crave in a timely, concise manner, and providing supporters the inside access that they cannot find anywhere else on the World Wide Web.


• The front page "Fan Center," which is located just below the rotating stories' thumbnail images, includes tabs/links that click through to an interactive calendar (with links to video, audio and live stats) and up-to-the-minute promotions. We've also included "Game Day Central" in the prominent spot, providing Huskie fans a one-stop shop for NIU's home-and-away football and basketball contests. Huskie supporters can also donate to the Huskie Athletic Support Fund in the Fan Center; and prospective student-athletes will find the "Welcome Recruits" section appealing and helpful.

• Located to the immediate right of the Fan Center is the brand new "Quick Links" section, which includes a prominent lineup of pages in an interactive, accordion style. The following sections of the website can be accessed in the Quick Links area: Social Media (NIU's Facebook and Twitter pages); Huskie Happenings, the official blog of NIU Athletics; Interactive Guides, NIU's new web-based publication feature; Huskie All-Access, NIU's video and audio web component; Virtual/360 Tours, an interactive view of each of NIU's facilities, and the downloadable NIU Toolbar, which provides Huskie fans another way to always stay connected. On the individual sport pages, the Fan Center and Accordian Tab lineup will soon be tailored to that specific sport.

• The new and improved masthead (commonly referred to as the "flag" by many web connoisseurs) is also highly interactive. In the top right corner, you'll see a series of rotating banners. We'll continue to keep that updated, so that Huskie fans can access their most up-to-date information without using much navigation. It's only one click away, right where your eye directs you upon loading up the front page.

• Perhaps the most glaring change for Huskie fans when they first visit the redesigned site is how much larger the front page photos are. We wanted a more visually pleasing look, and to capture some of the great action shots that are taken at NIU's various home events by photographer Scott Walstrom. We've also added one more story to the main index; we now have five rotating stories on the front page, and four on each sports home page. In the near future, keep on the lookout for much larger photos included inside an individual story, as well.

• We're in full swing with our fall sports now, so it isn't uncommon to see one story posted in the main rotating lineup for less than a day. If you're looking for a story that isn't in the "top five" anymore, just glare off to the right, where you'll see our "More Headlines" section included in a very prominent spot. There's also a link to our Tickets page located immediately to the right.

• It's hard to believe that "Huskie Happenings," the official blog of NIU Athletics, is 18 months old now. It's become a very popular addition, and one that we fully intended on refining. Along with the website redesign, we've also transitioned to a new template for our blog, and it will be rolled out later this week. Be on the lookout; it's going to be a sharp look, and easier to navigate through.


• On August 2, we rolled out a new video player that includes expanded video navigation controls, and advanced search functions. The actual interface of the video player is also expanded. But we listened to Huskie fans, who told us they liked where the video player was placed before, so we didn't change that. The flash player remains, and our Huskie All-Access subscription continues to be at a premium.

For just $6.95 per month, fans can get inside access to Huskie Athletics like no one else. Just last month, we posted 21 video features, and broadcasted five live events through Huskie All-Access. Our "Victor E. Huskie" Makeover series was a hit, and has Huskie fans looking forward to his official unveiling at Saturday's football home opener.

Don't forget, as a Huskie All-Access subscriber, you can also listen to every football and men's and women's basketball game, along with select NIU baseball and softball contests. As we announced last week, we'll stream live every home volleyball and men's and women's soccer game this season.

• We didn't change much with our pull-down menus in the main navigation area, because, again, we thought everything was fairly easily accessible. There are some new pages moved to different menus, but for the most part, we liked the clean look we had, and didn't want to change much. We did add an image and accompanying story to a few of the pull-down menus, in an effort for Huskie fans to be just one click away from what they're searching for.


We recognize that change is always not easy. The easy comparison is when a grocery store that you regularly go to re-arranges its product, and it can be frustrating when all you want to do is buy a gallon of milk and it's clear on the other side of the store. We worked hard at this adjustment, and think it will be fairly smooth. But we also welcome your thoughts, positive or negative. Let us know what you think of the new design by using our feedback section.



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