Pirates Prospects is a subscription-based fan site for the Pittsburgh Pirates, and based on their large social media following, they aren’t just playing around. Their content consists of articles on the Pirates, giving any fan a ton of information at their fingertips. Beyond the Pirates’ MLB site, this is a goldmine for any Pirates fan.
There is a navigation bar at the top and the above the fold content consists of their latest articles. Hovering over an article link on the homepage gives you a helpful option to read the article or share it on social media. This is a subscription site, though, so when you select an article to read and you are not subscribed, after a brief article teaser, you do get a reminder that you need to subscribe to read the full piece.
The full homepage is broken down into three main sections: articles, info about subscribing, and social media links. This is a smart strategy since it aligns with their top priorities—providing exciting and relevant content, getting people to subscribe, and building up their sharing and social media channels. So they’re doing a great job of promoting and staying focused on their goals.
There is an issue in the navigation menu related to the width of a user’s browser. In our tests in Chrome and Firefox, any widths wider than 1003 pixels caused the menu to simply disappear. No mobile “hamburger” menu became visible to replace it, as is sometimes the case for narrow browser widths. This means that users on browsers below a certain width cannot navigate the website.
Even at browser widths above 1003 pixels, the navigation menu still has problems–the “More” menu item overlaps the “Analysis” menu item, making it fairly inaccessible. This makes the site harder to use and navigate and should definitely be checked out!
Also, underneath all of the social media in the right-hand sidebar, there’s a solid chunk of white space that seems dissonant as you scroll down the site.
The mobile site provides a list of recent articles to scroll through. Just like the website, they all have a header image which makes them attractive and easy to scan. The site is well-fit to mobile devices and requires no horizontal scrolling, which is a plus!
However, the navigation menu, which is represented by the familiar “hamburger” icon on the top left, behaves oddly when expanded. On an Android running 5.1.1 and an iPhone running iOS 9.1, when we clicked on it and attempted to scroll to the bottom of the mobile menu, the menu immediately ‘bounces’ back to the top, making the bottom handful of links inaccessible.
The speed of the desktop site is quite good. The first byte loads at 0.9 seconds and the page fully loads in roughly 4-7 seconds. The average is 6.3 seconds. Less is better, so this is great news! The page weight is 2.51MB (the average is 1.7MB) and the total number of requests is 134 (the average is 71). As with page speed, the lower the better for these numbers, and the site is fairly close to the average. With a bit of tweaking, the site could really hit a ‘home run’.
Optimizing images and content, and enabling compression on the site would be great ways to help speed up this website. They don’t need to get rid of content, but you want to have that content as compressed as possible–it can still look great, but will load faster!
“…a bigger problem, however, is that it did very poorly on the WAVE Accessibility test. It showed 100 errors and over 200 alerts.”
There are 73 CSS errors on the site, which means the code could use some maintenance. But a bigger problem, however, is that it did very poorly on the WAVE Accessibility test. It showed 100 errors and over 200 alerts.
Most of the errors were due to a lack of alternate text on images; and most of the alerts were due to nearby images having the same alternate text, redundant links, and very small text.
Users with visual impairments cannot always see the images, so they rely on the alternate text to help them understand what messages are being conveyed by the images on the website. Without this alternate text, they may have no way of knowing what the content means.
“…correcting the major issue regarding the visibility of the main navigation menu should be a close second on the priority list.”
Correcting this and the related accessibility problems (very small text, redundant links) would make the site accessible to more baseball fans. And correcting the major issue regarding the visibility of the main navigation menu should be a close second on the priority list.
While the MLB Pirates site is surely a great hub of information, their layout is part of an MLB template. So this week we decided to focus, instead, on a more unique site. And we couldn’t have found a better one!
Make sure to check out Pirates Prospects for the latest news on the Buccos and keep your fingers crossed for another great baseball season next year!