How does the new CougCenter work?

It's long overdue, but you might be wondering how to navigate the new CougCenter. Here's a handy guide to its layout.

Now that we're about a week into SB Nation United, it's probably time to explain a few things. Well, to be fair, it was probably time about a week ago. Unfortunately, my job got in the way and I haven't been able to devote as much time to CougCenter because of the hectic nature of a change in roles combined with the relaunch.

But now for a bit of education. What you see in front of you when you navigate to CougCenter is a shiny new look. It's different. It's not the old blog format that simply displayed blog post after blog post on down the homepage. And we understand it'll take some adjustment.

This change was great for us, specifically, because of the amount of content we produce each day. Frequently, we found ourselves having to scheduling things out and do a tricky dance to make sure things fit in the right places. And even then, stories would quickly scroll off the page while spending little time up top. Important stories were buried and the whole thing got to be a pain as we grew.

So now we have a cover. The cover is the large box you see as you load CougCenter. It can be arranged in a variety of ways -- featuring one, three, four or five items -- but it allows us to feature the best and most important stories.

Here's a visual of it, with a quick explanation of what things mean.

Screen_shot_2012-10-03_at_5

No, this is not in reverse chronological order. In place of the old blog format is a cover, which solves the problem of having things fly off the page. We can pin stories with awesome conversations in the comments, important news, or longform features that deserve a little more play. It's our way of letting you know what's important, or what we're proud of.

But the blog-type format isn't gone. In fact, it's right in front of your eyes. Observe:

Screen_shot_2012-10-03_at_5

We've pinned the game-week StoryStream below the cover. If you want all the news from the week leading up to the game, it'll be right there for you. But after that, things just flow. The stories are arranged in reverse chronological order, just like you're used to. We call this the river -- it flows like one, and stories just glide down the page like any other blog.

Screen_shot_2012-10-03_at_5

All of these stories are flowing down the river, just like the friendly blog you're used to. You'll see the headline, a quick summary, a photo and notifications displaying the total comments, as well as the new comments.

But wait! What about those funky looking things in the river?

Screen_shot_2012-10-03_at_5

These are rocks -- a simple term I made up. These different looking items are sections we've pinned at specific spots in the river. If you scroll down the page, you'll find the section for this week's game, a section for WSU football, another for recruiting and a list of the two Jeffs wonderful videos. These are all pinned and won't move, so you can scroll to a spot and they'll be waiting for you. The river flows around them, like rocks.

This concludes our introduction to the main layout. Long story short: Important stories are up top in the cover, then the rest of the stories flow in typical blog format down the river.

I'll be putting together more of these as we go -- as soon as I catch a quick few seconds to write one up. So there's certainly more to come.

As an aside, we hear your comments and our product team is hard at work tweaking and refining the design. We've all been working long hours on short rest to make the user experience as great as possible. Our support and product teams are the best around, and rest assured that you're not being ignored. They're taking all the feedback they can get, because our communities are incredibly important.

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