Sports Reference Blog

Sports Reference to Launch Redesigned Sites this Summer

Posted by sean on July 10, 2016

If you follow me on twitter, you know that this work has been a long time coming. Starting last summer, Adam Wodon, Adam Darowski, and I started throwing around ideas for a more mobile-friendly version of our sites. Our mobile experience is probably charitably described as limited and functional and with now over 2/3rd's of our visits coming from handheld devices, we clearly needed to up our game there.

This led to complete review of what we have on our sites and how we present that data on desktop and how we can make that usable on a small screen. It's not easy and after months of design, user testing and work, we have an approach that we believe will serve both desktop and mobile users better than they are now. This is the first in a series of posts we'll publish about our redesign.

We had a number of primary goals in mind when starting the redesign.

  1. Dramatically better mobile experience.
  2. Improve internal navigation for each page's sub-pages. Each player, team and league now have a clearly set out single navigation bar in the middle their page.
  3. Create a consistent appearance and interaction across all of the sites.
  4. Improve the usability and look of our desktop pages while also keeping all of the functionality you rely upon.

Other items that will change.

  1. We've updated our logos to be a bit less web 2.0.
  2. We rewrote all of our javascript to not use a framework which should improve load times, an imperative on mobile.
  3. We've implemented a site-wide template system which after an initial incorporation should increase the speed we can get work done on the sites.
  4. We are shuttering our page sponsorship system.
  5. We are shuttering our player and team Elo raters.

Screenshots and Live Site is now in a fully functional responsive site as we tie up the final loose ends on the site redesign for some of the other sites as well.

Old and New Mobile appearance

Screenshot 2016-06-03 11.15.23

Screenshot 2016-06-03 11.15.59

Old and New Desktop Appearance

Screenshot 2016-06-03 11.16.56

Screenshot 2016-06-03 11.16.15

Launch timelines

  • Hockey-Reference, Done
  • Pro-Football Reference, Done
  • Basketball-Reference, Done
  • College Football, Done
  • College Basketball, September
  • Baseball-Reference, October or November

36 Responses to “Sports Reference to Launch Redesigned Sites this Summer”

  1. Steven Rubio Says:

    Sorry to be dumb ... what do you mean by "shuttering"?

  2. Jeremy T Says:

    The new hockey-reference feels like there's a bit of lag between my mouse hovering over something and when it actually enters a hover state.

    Using Chrome on Mac OS 10.11.5

  3. sean Says:

    Jeremy, there is a slight lag. It's by design since we don't want things flying out when you are just moving your mouse down the page with no intent to hover on a menu.

  4. sean Says:


    We are going to shut them down. We'll likely have an emeritus sponsorship system up and that will keeps your messages on there indefinitely, but haven't ironed out the details yet. I have a blog post about it I've been working on.

  5. Steven Rubio Says:

    Thanks, Sean. I've given several as gifts, so it would be nice if those remained up, at least. It's also an easy way to contribute to the funding, above and beyond the usual memberships, play indexes, etc, so I'll have to figure out another way to give you money :-).

  6. Dickie Dunn Says:

    Love the new look. Can you guys do soccer-reference soon? Please?

  7. Mike Lynch Says:

    Thanks, Dickie. That's in the works after we roll out the re-designed sites

  8. Mike Lynch Says:

    You still having this issue, Jeremy? We're not seeing it on our end (also on Chrome)

  9. Josh W Says:

    Fantastic new look, great work. The stats browsing on mobile is a huge improvement, works perfectly on an iPhone. Excited to see these changes roll out on the other sports sites. Couple of small things I noticed as I browsed around the new hockey site:

    --Login link unresponsive (in Firefox on a Mac)
    --On team pages I see a small yellow flag in the lower left that says "Page contains 1 inline styles" (Firefox/Mac)
    --On mobile view some of the achievement buttons (e.g., "2009 Cup Winner") getting squished until I expand the bio area

  10. sean Says:

    Josh, thanks for the feedback, we'll take a look at these.

  11. Steven Says:

    What leagues and stats will soccer-reference feature?

  12. Jared Says:

    Sean, could you please respond to the comments in the topic about shuttering the Elo raters? I believe your user base really enjoys these features, and there is some very constructive dialogue about why they should be migrated.

  13. Jared Says:

    That is the link to whose "comments" section I was referring.

  14. Bill Philp Says:

    Great new look!

    I get error messages when trying to embed or use any of the statistics Share codes on Hockey Reference.

    Looking forward to see what you do as far as Sponsored Player Pages.



  15. Justin C Says:

    When are you guys gonna add row summing for hockey reference? You have for basketball reference, baseball reference and pro football reference, why not hockey?

  16. sean Says:

    @bill the embeds should be fixed now.

  17. Bill Philp Says:

    Thanks Sean!

  18. Rishi Says:

    One feature on the old site which doesn't seem to exist on the new site is the Player Search bar directing straight to a player page when it was an exact match. It was incredibly convenient for creating Chrome search shortcuts. I made a shortcut using your search URL and was able to type "HR: Wayne Gretzky" in my browser to directly go to Gretzky's player page. Any chance this feature will be brought back?

  19. Rishi Says:

    To follow up on my above comment, I have a search query that seems to work, but only sometimes:

    That works for "Eric Lindros" and "Sidney Crosby", but for "Wayne Gretzky" it takes me to the search-results page rather than Gretzky's player page like it does for the other two.

  20. Sean Forman Says:


    This is working as expected. The issue with gretzky is that he has a coaches page, so there are two results for you. You can argue we shouldn't do that, but the search is working. In chrome if you type in hkref and you should then be able to just enter the player name and have it go to the search.

  21. Mark Growcott Says:

    I have noticed on the PFR "Team Game Finder" page that certain criteria are no longer grouped together. For instance the "Game Number (for Team)" should be below the "Week Number (of Season)" like it used to be but these are split across 3 columns. Likewise the "Tm. Conference" & "Opp. Conference" are in the 3rd column when they should be in the 1st column above "Tm. Division".

    Can this be fixed?


  22. Bryan Walko Says:

    The redesign is nice. I was worried that there'd be big chunky numbers which would be awful for a site with so many tables in it.

    I'll really miss the ELO raters.

    The one other thing I'll miss is the player pronunciation being right there under the player's name (you now have to click the extra bio info). Reason being is that there were some players whose names I had no idea I was mispronouncing and I never would have known had I not seen it on the Reference sites. Now I'll likely return to not knowing since it's no longer front-and-center.

  23. Patrick Says:

    Why was the ability to export directly to excel taken away (using IE 11 and Excel 2013)? The extra step to use a .csv is a waste of time in my opinion.

  24. sean Says:

    Patrick it's still there as an option under "share & more"

  25. art kyriazis Says:

    i am not in favor of the changes. you should have bifurcated the desktop and mobile versions. the desktop version is used heavily by researchers. it's an archival source. changing it for commercial reasons is inviting wikipedia or another competitor to come in and compete against you.

  26. art kyriazis Says:

    there is fundamental information missing from the new hockey reference pages. for example, on the 1974-75 Flyers, it no longer sets forth where the Philadelphia Flyers played, or what their attendance was. That was information that was always listed in the past, and that is highly relevant. Arena effects on past seasons of hockey are just beginning to be a subject of analytic research. we kind of NEED that information.

  27. Mike Lynch Says:

    Patrick, are you not seeing "The Spectrum" listed as 74-75 Flyers arena here?

  28. sk Says:

    problem with firefox, on the nba boston team page

  29. Tim Says:

    For the NBA site, Basketball Reference, will the newspaper style box scores be returning (for available seasons)?
    I like those.

    Also, do you, or will you, be tracking technical fouls for present and past seasons? I know that Harvey Pollack tracked those \
    from the early 1970's on.

    Thank you!

  30. Moby Pearson Says:

    So no more real NBA box scores? The computerized ones are just that, and very user unfriendly!

  31. Tim Says:

    Maybe they will come back as an option? The site could still be in transition mode. I just got on an obsessive kick about tracking technical fouls for individual players the 1970's & 80's seasons, and I can't
    find them on the computerized ones. Going to get some old 76ers media guides. Harvey Pollack tracked them there from 1970 on, I think.

  32. Tom Says:

    Raw totals should be the first piece of info I see on a player or team, not per game. I don't care for this switch that much.

    I also think the section headers should be inverted (color bar with white text) so it's easier to separate data as you scroll down. It looks like one mass of tables with some non-descript headers at this point.

  33. sean Says:

    @tim and @moby, we added the scans back in. if you go to the bottom of the page, there is an option to show them.

    @Tom, I disagree on the totals. I almost never see anyone every quote the raw totals. Per games are much more common.

  34. Tim Says:


  35. Eric Says:

    I always dread site overhauls but as an extremely thorough user of basketball reference I am very pleasantly surprised. Great job!

  36. Mike Lynch Says:

    Thank you, Eric!