New AFTN.ca website launched

New AFTN.ca website launched

Welcome to the new Away From The Numbers Canadian website.

However you got here, we’re pleased to welcome you along for the ride. Strap yourselves in, as it may get a little bumpy at times.

It may be a new site but you’re going to find the usual thorough mix of breaking news, analysis and interviews that you’re used to from AFTN and a lot more news stuff as well.

AFTN has gone from humble beginnings churning out printed fanzine copies in a bedroom in Scotland in 1989, to celebrating our 25th anniversary last August by being active on two continents and following teams very diverse in nature and the football they offer! If you’re interested, you can read our full history in the “About Us” section above.

Since we launched AFTN over here in Canada in 2009, we’ve strived to go from strength to strength, slowly expanding year upon year. For everyone that’s supported us, read us and listened to us over these past six years here, we sincerely thank you and appreciate it.

We’ve been covering the Whitecaps since those latter USL days, going from our blog on Blogger to a weekly online column at Metronews Vancouver to joining the blogging collective over at Canadian Soccer News in December 2011.

We increased our writing team, brought on board a photographer and added a podcast. Our aim has been a simple one – to be your number one unofficial site comprehensively covering Vancouver Whitecaps FC from the MLS team down to the Residency and throwing in some local college and BC soccer at the same time.

We feel we’re the go to place for Residency news, interviews and analysis and we hope to be the same for the new USL team going forward.

As we continued to see our readers and listener numbers increase, the next logical step in our expansion was to launch a fully functioning standalone website. We’ve had one in Scotland since 2003 and you’re now reading our new Canadian one! We hope you find it an enjoyable read and an easy to navigate site.

It’s been on the cards for well over a year now, it’s just that I need a kick up the ass at times to get things done, so with the new season coming up, it felt like no better time than the present.

We still plan to post on CSN. All our main Whitecaps articles will be double posted over there, but the main tweets and social media shares will direct to here.

This new website gives us a lot more scope to have what we want on it. For example, we’ve added back in the embedded AFTN Twitter feed and Stitcher podcast player. We’ve also added our team profiles back in. More importantly, our new site will have way better photo gallery options for displaying our “Story In Pictures” feature and for posting multiple photos in articles.

The comments aspect of CSN has been a nightmare for the last year, with spam, having to log in and more. Leaving a comment here will be much simpler. No log in needed. Just put a name and away you go. We also have better spam protection built in.

Having our own standalone site also makes it easier to fundraise as our running costs increase and also to look for advertisers and sponsors. If you’re interest, get in touch!

We also have widgets galore that we can add! Shiny new toys are great but I don’t want to add too much. I want to keep the site as clean and uncluttered as much as possible. That said, if there’s a particular feature or plug-in you’d like to see us add in then get in touch. We have a few planned and new sections will be appearing regularly over the year.

If you look at our main menu, you’ll see that we’ve colour coded each section. Articles for all sections will appear on the home page in date order and you can find section specific articles by clicking into the category that takes your fancy. This is our initial category list. There will be some minor tweaks later in the year.

We’re looking to go back to my old-school fanzine days by adding a lot more humorous pieces and cartoons, and following on to what our Scottish site is know for, over the next few months we will be looking to add a comprehensive history section on the Whitecaps.

We’re also currently toying with the idea of expanding our coverage beyond the ‘Caps and local BC soccer. That may mean adding writers for all the Canadian pro teams and covering the college and grassroots game outside of British Columbia. I’m still undecided as to the merits of that and whether it may make the site too cluttered but you can share your thoughts below on if you’d like to see that.

The site should be easy to navigate and to read on computers, laptops and smartphones. Some of the menu layout on tablets is a little off depending on your screen size, but reading it should still be fine.

Ok, all that said, it should be noted that the website is still very much a work in progress!

We are still porting over content from CSN. All of our old Blogger posts were easily exported into this new site, so our output from those early posts in 2009 up to the end of 2011 are all here. The CSN stuff is more tricky since they moved to their new site last summer and basically involves us having to cut and paste over three years worth or articles and features manually. As you can imagine, it’s a nightmarishly and tediously long task! But we’ll get there.

For now, we’ve added all the stuff we’ve written in 2015 and will gradually add the rest of the archives over the next month, working in reverse. We’ve added some of the old archive stuff to certain sections already, just to make sure that each section had at least one thing in it!

We’re also looking at possibly having a new logo and site banner designed. We’ve had this one for a long time now!

So that’s all my ramblings for now. Have a play about with the site and tell your friends to come and visit AFTN.ca. Let me know what you think below and, again, we want to hear what you’d like to see on it (functions and features). Remember, it’s your site as much as mine.

‘Mon the Caps.

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Authored by: Michael McColl

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