Nighthawks Hockey Returns

Nighthawks Hockey ScreenshotCatching up on updates from earlier in the year, I managed to sneak in some time to redo the main page of the Nighthawks Hockey website.

The team itself – and therefore the website – went on hiatus during the summer of ‘07 because of a weak turnout of eligible players. After getting a call this winter from someone wanting to restart the team, I jumped on board and started getting things ready.

Then and Now

A lot has certainly changed with the web from ‘07 to today, and it’s no more obvious that stepping back and looking at the old site compared to the new look.

Old Forms It’s not as much about the look itself – although my hack design skills have sure come a long way in that time. The engagement approach has changed, and so have expectations. Back then, the core of the user interaction was focused around an adapted open source bulletin board platform, which was a big hit with daily visits and comments from repeat users. Looking at the numbers, that really peaked sometime around ‘05.

Today, there’s a different user engagement story.

Going Social

There’s not secret that social media is “the thing” these days. So given the opportunity to revamp the website and help spread buzz and hype about the rebuilding of this hockey organization, it was a no brainer where to go now.

As part of the site’s new look – and to some extent the lack of content – much of the user engagement has been pushed out to other networks. To align with the site’s launch, I also initiated the Niles Township Nighthawks Hockey page on Facebook, the @NilesNighthawks Twitter account, and the Niles Nighthawks channel on YouTube.

While that removes the burden of maintaining a lot of the content and user interaction on the site directly, it does add quite a bit of effort in managing and engaging users in three different places. But that’s where the action is, so you play the game accordingly.

My New Role

For what it’s worth, my overall contributions to the Nighthawks Hockey organization have changed as well. Currently, I’m sitting on the Board of Directors that has reinstated the group, and am also in charge of communications.

It’s been an interesting path getting to this point, and admittedly, I never really had a desire to end up at this spot. For a trip down memory lane, here’s a quick recap of where I’ve come with the Nighthawks:

  • Kris Nelson '98‘94 – ‘98: Played 4 years at the High School Varsity level.
  • ‘99 – ‘00: 2 years away from the team, although my younger brother was still playing for the team.
  • ‘01 – ‘07: Asked to manage the team’s stats and produce their annual season-end stats booklet
  • ‘01 – present: Started and continue to manage the Nighthawks Hockey website.
  • ‘02 – ‘07: Served as Assistant Coach at the High School Varsity level.
  • ‘07 – ‘09: Team on hiatus.
  • ’10 – present: Serving on Board of Directors, in charge of Communications

Quite an interesting course of events spanning 1/2 of my life, eh?

Updates This Summer

At the moment, the plan is to start migrating things from the old site over to the new site design one section at a time. The usual content will come first, like the Schedules, Stats, Announcements, etc.

I’m also planning on having a blog as well, most likely on the WordPress platform.  Since a lot of my free time these days is working with other sites running WordPress, it has become my platform as choice. I already have the custom theme process down, and now I’m learning plug-in and other extensibility options. That should be fun to work through for customizing it for a sport team site and building out custom plug-ins, etc.

Well, that’s the plan anyway. We’ll see where my time really gets spent come July.

About Kris

Programming since age 14, professional software engineer Kris Nelson practices his life motto of "Never stop learning" by developing websites and Apps around his passions, while staying current with trends in technology and social media.