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A (belated) Tour of the New Miami Hawk Talk

Miami Hawk Talk is new, new, new! Take a look at all the improvements the gnomes have spent on improving your favorite destination for Miami sports.

OK, folks, the new site has been out here for a couple of months now, so hopefully you've all had a chance to poke around MHT version 4. I imagine that most of you have found what's new and interesting, but I wanted to take a moment to walk you through the new functions and features that will improve your Miami Hawk Talk experience.

An annotated guide to the MHT home page

Updated Look and Feel

Obviously the first thing you notice about MHTv4 is that it looks different than MHTv3. This is due to a couple of reasons: first, we've developed new templates that allow our pages to load more quickly and use standard methods of content presentation. This was done in conjunction with a new news engine that allows more flexible use of content, and subsequently, more flexible layouts for different content types. The news, recruiting information, links database, image gallery, and an upcoming schedule utility are all fed out of the same system, allowing us to minimize the number of systems we have to use.

More Informative Front Page

We've tried to fit more information on our front page to make it easier for you to find the information you're looking for. Included on the front page are:

  1. The latest MHT story
    This is a story authored by the editorial staff at MHT, and it usually has some original aspect to it, whether it's our take on a game, or a Miami-related event, or a custom compilation of the most recent news updates. You can read more of the top story than you could before, usually getting the latest news in one page view.
  2. News Links
    This area is actually three sets of links:
    1. The first column is a list of the most recent MHT headlines -- items that, again, were written by your MHT editors.
    2. The middle column are links can be submitted by MHT users --- meaning if you see a news story that could be of interest to Miami readers, you can submit it directly to us. After the news gnomes have reviewed the link, usually within 24 hours or less, it gets published directly to the front page!
    3. The last column are the lates headlines from, as delivered by their RSS feed.
  3. Recent Discussions
    As in previous iterations of the site, this feature shows what is currently being discussed on the message boards. Due to a difference in how this information is collected, this listing may be a couple of minutes behind what's actually happening on the boards, but it can give you some insight into what the hot topics are.
  4. Recruiting Additions and Updates
    What recruits are Miami coaches courting? What are the most recent updates? Thanks to this section, you'll always have access to the newest recruits and most recent updates as soon as Nick posts them to the recruiting section.
  5. Hawk of the Week
    Taking a place of honor on the front page is our long-standing tradition, the Hawk of the Week. Each week we (try to) honor Miami's outstanding performers from the previous week. This is a good place for you to learn more about Miami's many outstanding student-athletes on a weekly basis, and you can even link to an archive of previous honorees.
  6. The MHT Poll
    From time to time, we want to get the pulse of our readers, and the poll lets us do just that. Have an idea for a poll? Email
  7. Support us.You know what this means. Feel free to do so.

Improved News Section

Here you can find every story we've ever written, no matter the sport. In addition, you can filter the news by sport or by date. And going forward, every external news article that is been submitted by our users will be available alongside our own news articles.

In addition, the news section, like most other pieces of editorial content, is served by a new news engine that allows us to do some fairly sophisticated content presentation, which means that in the future we can expaned on the kinds of information we can present. It also makes it a lot easier for the editors of the site to enter and format the content. And now that we have an extensive search engine for non-message board content (look up in the upper-right hand corner of any news screen), you can search for information throughout the site.

Extensive, FREE Recruiting Information

Nick and the gnomes spent a ton of time designing what could very well be the most extensive recruiting database outside of the national networks.

In this section of the site, you can find the most recent additions and updates to Football, Men's Basketball, and all other sports. Each recruit has his or her own page that tracks vital statistics including height, weight, position, high school, home town, incoming year, and other offers.

As Nick receives updates through his myriad sources, he adds dated updates, which are then reflected on the front page, the recruiting master page, and the sport page. You can even receive updates through RSS feeds -- which we will get to in a moment.

As players are added to the database, they are also listed in a position matrix so you can see all the recruits for a given position PLUS know at a glance who has committed to Miami, who is undecided, and who has committed elsewhere.

The best part of this section is that, unlike some national recruiting services, we make our information available to the public at no cost. And also unlike the national recruiting services, our information about Miami is typically accurate. Over the past few years, Nick has projected our signing class in football and men's basketball with uncanny precision.

RSS Feeds

An RSS feed is a compilation of headlines and article that allows a program called a news reader or aggregator to present content from multiple sites in one central location. The advantage to this is that you can skim news before actually visiting the site, saving a lot of time if you're busy, or only want to visit if there are updates to a given sport or subject.

Our feeds have been organized in a couple of different ways:

Oldies But Goodies

Additionally, we still have multimedia and links sections, as before. We are still working on ways of improving the multimedia experience. As much as we like using the same software for the news engine and the multimedia section, the interface to that is clunky at best, which is why we haven't re-imported all photos from the previous version of the site.

Still to Come

In reality, there is much more work to be done this summer, including visual updates to the message boards, an online schedule, and more. But we hope this has given you some insight into what we've done over the past year to improve your user experience here at Miami Hawk Talk. As usual, please let us know if you have any comments or suggestions, using the contact form at the bottom of each page.

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