It's hard to believe I've been here just three and a half years. Given my time spent on coverage, my many, many years reading the website, and how much running a daily website has aged me (I'm 72 in editor years), it feels like I've had a connection to this website for a long, long time.
During those three and a half years, our website has undergone a number of changes, some large (a full redesign shortly after I started), some small (new widgets and fonts and image well dimensions—oh my!).
And now it's time for one more.
Starting November 29, DailyMTG is going to look quite a bit different and be quite a bit more useful. For a long time, DailyMTG has been daily in frequency, but not necessarily in how often people have felt the need to visit it. What's more, we've continued with a model that has essentially been the same for like a decade—we write some long articles, you read them, we throw some pretty pictures in, and there's a card of the day. Fin.
It's a model that has worked well for a long time, but it's time to become more flexible, more useful, and truly something people want to visit on a daily basis.
The core concept is that we're turning DailyMTG into a hub of information—a scrollable font of things you need to know today. Think of it as turning the Daily Magic Update inside out and adding all kinds of functionality around that.
So let's take a trip through the upcoming page section by section. Please note these are design documents and do not necessarily represent the final implementation. Some small items may change between when you read this and November 29.
This is my favorite section of the page. Part article widget, part Daily Magic Update, this is where you'll come looking for the latest and most interesting content Magic has online that day. There are several configurations, but this one shows off the most options:
Here's where you'll see our content and links to other cool content. See those little tags in the upper right corner of the content boxes? That means you'll be taken to another website to read some awesome piece of Magic content, exactly like links within the Daily Magic Update. No tag means the article comes straight from the mothership (that's us).
The video player is pretty great as well. Much of the time it will house a recent video—ours or a content creator's—but eventually it will also be able to host live streams. Though that functionality will not go live with the new site on November 29, it will follow soon thereafter. That means that when there's a cool Twitch stream happening, we will be able to switch it to run live so that you can see the latest Magic streamers doing their thing.
Just as cool, if you push play on the video from a desktop browser and then scroll down the page, the video will pop into the lower right-hand corner and follow you down the page. You can, of course, close out of that window to keep it from doing that.
For now, we ditched the pop-out feature on mobile, as page space was an issue. But it's very cool on desktops.
Sometimes, there won't be a video we want to highlight, in which case this section might look like this:
In each case, we'll toggle it based on what's important for you to know that day.
Additionally, because it's not a static article like the Daily Magic Update is, we can update it dynamically. That means that ChannelFireball article that gets posted at 4 p.m. doesn't have to wait until 8 a.m. the next day to be spotlighted on the Daily Update, and when an awesome article publishes at 9 a.m. after I finished the Update at 8:30 a.m., I don't have to feel so sheepish about missing it. I just pop it in there and include it anyway. Like a boss.
Below that (usually) comes the informational panel. This is meant to be a useful widget that's semi-evergreen and points you toward the information that might be most useful.
First and foremost is an events calendar showing the events coming up soonest that might be of interest. Prereleases, Grand Prix, Pro Tours, Draft Weekends, and more will populate this list and give you a better understanding of upcoming events. We'll be calibrating the calendar as we get feedback on what types of events are useful for people to see, so definitely send us your thoughts.
Next up will be the podcast panel. This is where you can find Drive to Work, the Magic Story podcast, and more.
The next slot is the Products tab, where you can see our most recent releases. These will take you to the product pages that currently exist (which have improved greatly as well!) and dive deeper into everything you need to know about each set.
Finally, the Play tab will be semi-evergreen, in that it points you to ways to play. This is where you'll find the store locator, instructions for at-home Leagues, and more.
The Big Story
At least that's what I'm calling it.
This will function much like our carousel does now, but without being so in-your-face. Also, since it's lower on the page, it's not beholden to change every day. So, for instance, if we publish a Prerelease Primer on a Monday, it might sit in this spot until Friday when the Prerelease actually happens. If Mark Rosewater writes another shattering pronouncement on the future of Magic, we might highlight it here to say "No, really, you should read this."
Some things are self-explanatory.
This is where we'll spotlight YouTube and Twitch videos for your enjoyment. Like the topmost section, we will be adding streaming functionality to this block as well, though it will not launch with that capability.
What You Need to Know
This section is labeled "Latest News" in the image you're about to view, but it's pretty far from the old chronological list of previous articles the old version of the website used.
Sometimes, yes, this will be simply a list of recent articles, but the widget is dynamic and will pull through article tagging. What that means is that if, for example, we're releasing Commander (2018 Edition) and we want to talk about Commander, this section might be all articles about Commander. If we just had the World Championship or World Magic Cup or any other Pro Tour, this might pull articles from that event specifically.
Basically, we can highlight cool events, content, or whatever is most relevant to that day, week, or month.
Card of the Day has been a long-running feature on our website—and one that often goes unnoticed. The day I previewed a card in that space and the internet failed to even notice it was a preview was the day I realized everyone pretty much looked past the section entirely. Occasionally a solid joke or meme would lift the Card of the Day to some short moment of prominence, but, mostly, people ignored it.
I expect the Featured Cards section will be window dressing much of the time as well, but with a few perks. For example, this is a section wherein we'll be able to host recently previewed cards, potentially letting us update the Card Image Gallery sooner and more easily.
This widget is already in use on our Product pages, but bubbling it up to DailyMTG ensures that there's always a story on our front page. And we think that's a good thing.
If you want to see it in action, check out the Story section of the Ixalan product page.
It also shows where we are in the story much more clearly, along with where you should start for the current arc and how many episodes to expect. It's kind of great.
This is the section I'm most nervous about. Social walls, by their very nature, require some pruning and tending. This is essentially meant to mimic the "What People Are Talking About" section of the Daily Magic Update by, you know, showing you what people are talking about.
The goal with this section is to connect people to larger conversations happening in the Magic community. I hope that's how it turns out! But let's just say I'm glad I have the power to turn it off if things go sideways.
Putting It All Together
The best part of all of this? Everything is customizable. We may shut off sections from time to time, move things around, or change names to show you what the most important stuff for that day is. You'll almost always be greeted by articles at the top followed by the informational panel, but below that we'll make sure the most pertinent stuff bubbles up. Our overall goal is to give you a one-stop shop for everything you need or want to know about Magic on any given day.
But you might have some questions. I'm happy to answer any you might have on Twitter (@blakepr), but let me try to answer a few here.
Q: What about [insert writer here]?
First, Mark Rosewater isn't going anywhere, if that's who you're really asking about, disembodied voice in my head. Second, we'll adjust our content schedule to fit the new concept and setup, but I'm not committing to any drastic content changes just yet. Though those may come. I'm crazy like that.
Q: What about the 8 a.m. PT/11 a.m. ET/3 p.m. UTC publish time?
That's also not changing as of yet, but I do think the added flexibility of the page gives us opportunities to update content at times other than 8 a.m. when it makes sense. For example, maybe during previews we update the Card Image Gallery in the evening well after everything for that day has been previewed. Our content will continue to be scheduled for 8 a.m., but the links we share to other content will change more dynamically. At least that's the plan.
Q: What about signing up for the newsletter or the RSS feed?
They're right at the top!
Q: This is terrible. Why in the name of all that is the internet are you doing this?! Can't we just go back to [insert old version of the website]?
Progress. The forward march of progress. I truly do believe this will be an improved experience for most readers. There are always people who don't like things, and always people who love them more than the old version. That's okay. We don't all have to like the same things.
Q: What's happening to the Daily Magic Update? I loved it and it was the best thing ever and Blake is my personal hero and I want to be him when I grow up.
First of all, thank you. That's high praise. Second, this page basically is the Daily Magic Update given form and function. Posting links in an article was a hacky way of accomplishing what I set out to do when I created the Daily Magic Update nearly two years ago. It has now grown out of control and taken over most of the page. I'm almost certain this is how Skynet began, but who am I to stand in the way of progress?
As always, I'm happy to take feedback. The actual fact of this transition is locked in stone, but we'll have opportunities to tweak and update it in future builds, so never hesitate to share thoughts with me at NewMagicWebsite@wizards.com or on Twitter @blakepr.