I’ve been working hard during the 2014 football season to give Cheat Sheet War Room a much-needed facelift. In the latest release (2.26), I’ve added some interesting new features, upgraded software components, and re-designed the interface to be a bit more user-friendly. Let’s review some of the more significant changes.
Social Login Now Supported
In the past, our prospective users were required to register for a new, unique account on the site in order to save their cheat sheets or contribute to fantasy discussions. With CSWR 2.26, this is no longer a requirement. Going forward users still have to establish a new site identity, but you can do so with another existing account via OAuth.
The OAuth protocol is what many people think of as social login. It will allow you to create a new account at CSWR using your existing Facebook account, Twitter account, or any other content provider that conforms to the OAuth protocol. There are a growing number of services that support OAuth (just check-out our login page to view them all), so it’s likely you already have an account that can be used here.
This is a big leap forward because Internet users are becoming resistant to maintaining many different accounts for the sites they utilize on the web. Now with our OAuth support, you can use our services using an existing account and without having create and remember yet another username and password.
If you already have an account at CSWR, you can associate a social account with this existing account and use the social account to login moving forward. Plus, as long as you're logged-in to your social account you won't have to re-login every time you visit our site!
Simplified Account Creation
Even though social login is now available, you can still create a dedicated CSWR account (complete with unique username and password) if you so desire. But with 2.26 even this process is simplified because you no longer have to supply a Secret Question and Secret Answer for username and password recovery.
Instead, username and password recovery are now processed and secured through a validation workflow using your email address. As long as your account email is accurate, you should have no problem (and require not Administrative assistance) to retrieve this account information?
Forum Software Upgraded
Ok, so forum participation isn’t exactly stellar at this stage of CSWR’s growth, but hopefully that will change for the 2015 fantasy football season. The forum software we’ve use for the last couple of seasons was in dire need of an upgrade. I use a great forum package called ASP Playground and we are now running the latest software available version: 5.5 (VNext).
Version 5.5 is a huge advancement over our previous version (3.9). You’ll notice the forum has many more features and the user interface is noticeably improved. If you run an ASP.net website and need a forum, I strongly encourage you to consider ASP Playground as they have great product and even better support.
While we’re on the subject of forum participation, I wanted to mention that as the 2015 fantasy season approaches I will be implementing a reputation system whereby users who contribute the most will be rewarded with special privileges and prizes. This may include the use of premium features that regular users cannot access or even free merchandise and/or cash.
As I’ve stated before, my ultimate goal for CSWR is to create a platform where fantasy enthusiast can not only create player rankings, but can collaborate with other owners and increase their odds of fantasy success. That cannot happen unless members contribute to the community through the forum and in other ways that will be unveiled as the 2015 season approaches.
Forum Discussions to be Integrated into Cheat Sheets
I also plan to start integrating relevant player forum discussions (and blog posts) directly into the cheat sheet interface. For instance, if there is a heated debate regarding Jamaal Charles’ value for the 2015 fantasy season, you could discover this discussion through the cheat sheet interface and choose to join the debate with a single click. Contributing to the discussion will then earn you reputation points and enhance the community.
It is through simple tweaks like this that my hope is to make CSWR more interactive and informative going forward.
User Interface Improvements
While the general layout of CSWR is essentially the same, I’ve made a few small improvements that should make the site more usable. My ultimate plan is to abandon the current design completely and move to a responsive design that will adjust seamlessly to all device sizes, both desktop and mobile, but the latest changes are meant to be a stop-gap until that full re-design can take place.
The old banner was very tall, outdated, cluttered, and ugly. The new banner takes up less vertical space, meaning the content you care about will be closer to the top of the page. So instead of having to scroll to access articles or cheat sheet information, the goals it to make content visible right when the page loads.
Before the latest upgrade, the forum software had a distinctly different appearance than the rest of the site. With this release I tried to merge the themes more-closely so that it doesn’t feel like you’re switching sites as you navigate between cheat sheets and discussions.
Blog Post Highlights
For the life of CSWR, my approach to blogging has been: don’t write anything unless it’s epic. I’ve always felt like there are enough bad, 200-word fantasy articles littered throughout the Internet about the latest player injuries. So I’ve traditionally stuck to creating evergreen articles around topics that are generic enough to remain relevant forever.
In an effort to make this evergreen content more prominent, I have linked directly to the most popular articles in the right-side blog sidebar. The vast majority of my readers focus on these articles so it only makes sense to make them more accessible. The Recent Posts section still contains a list of the most recent blog posts.
More Content Moving Forward
Moving forward I hope to create content and on a more consistent schedule. For instance, over much of 2014 NFL season I penned a weekly fantasy football advice article for those users who maintain weekly player rankings (or who just happen to drop by for some free fantasy info).
Going forward, I think users will benefit from current content as it can only help to create more accurate cheat sheets for the upcoming 2015 fantasy football season. This way, users don't have to leave CSWR in order to obtain relevant player information as they configure their rankings.
Do you like the new features I’ve rolled-out in 2.26? Tell me about it in the comments below. Also, any suggestions or new features you'd like to see are welcome.