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It’s less than one week until the start of training camp and I can sense Ravens fans getting set to trek out to Westminster, tune into NFL Network, listen a little more closely to their favorite radio show and visit the official team website.
We all know the Ravens are a first class organization from top to bottom and the MW wanted to see if their website followed suit. There are three main characteristics I look for in any website: look and feel, navigation and content.
Look and Feel: – This site has a slick, modern feel with its purple and gold color scheme and high-quality photos. I didn’t see any text that was blurry or any busted graphics. The pages I viewed had a quick download time and were laid out in a visually appealing fashion. Grade: A
Navigation: – The home page has a navigation bar at the top of the main header that includes links to several well known NFL sites and all the other official team sites. These links were easy to find and instead of jumping the user out of the Ravens site it opens a separate browser which is what I was hoping to see…a touchdown here for the designers. I tried going to the Bengals site and it wouldn’t download….maybe somebody in Cincy couldn’t pay the monthly server bill because the cash had to be used for bail money.  
The second navigation menu on the home page includes schedule and roster links. These are two sections that should be highly visible on the home page for any college or professional sports team. Kudos again to the design team.
The main navigation menu was laid out nicely and featured eleven sections that each displayed a subsection dropdown menu when the user would mouse over the main section title. Once within a section the submenu is displayed on every page so the user can easily navigate. This is a standard web design feature, but it is always nice for the user who already knows a specific page they wish to view and allows a few less clicks to find the desired information. Grade: A
Content: – This is the heart of any website; it’s what brings you in and keeps you coming back. In summary the content is very good, but I did find a few gaps that when filled would make this site a super-fine destination for any Ravens fan. 
I especially liked the Roster page because it allowed the user to sort by number and position in addition to the default sorting order by player name.
The Training Camp section was also very well done and had lots of useful information on the practice schedule through August 19th, parking, and directions to McDaniel College in Westminster.
The Team section is where I began to have a few issues with the site content. When I drilled in to a player bio page I found no season stats by year and no career stat totals. The only player stats were by game for the 2006 season. These pages were just gobs of text that were almost unreadable due to the poor layout. The bio pages look like 1000 word sentences with no separation by paragraph.
A simple improvement on these pages would be to label the two stats tables for running backs. When viewing the bio for Mike Anderson I see two tables, one for rushing stats and one for receiving stats. Since each table displays distinct data for each game the tables need to have a title. You might call this nitpicking, but a novice fan could easily be confused when viewing a bio page.
When I logged on to the Depth Chart page I was more than a little surprised to see none of the linebacker slots filled; they all read as “None”. Could it possible that Ray Lewis has to compete for his spot as a starter this year and that none of the LB spots are slotted?  Is Bart Scott not considered a starter at WLB? Is this an oversight or some slick ploy by coach Billick and the web team?
The History section contained great information such as the all-time roster, all-time draft choices and yearly results and statistics. One glaring omission in this section though is a stats sheet for each game. I often like to see what a player did versus a team for a given game. All of this data is available and especially interesting for fantasy players looking to set a lineup based on a weekly match-up. If you want to see what Jamal Lewis did versus Cleveland in 2003 you can’t find it here. I also found the updated results and stats for 2006 still had not been posted in this section…..that’s a little late if you ask me. Grade: B
This site has a huge amount of useful content and is well designed. If not for a few content issues the final grade would have been even higher.
Overall Grade: A-

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Scot Kleinfeld

About Scot Kleinfeld

Scot is a Baltimore native, a Towson University graduate, and has followed sports since the early 1980’s. Scot likes to go inside the numbers and get the real “411” on the wins and losses,  hence his Behind The Numbers column.

Besides being an avid sports fan, Scot has been involved with televison sports production as an Associate Producer since 1993 for WMAR, ESPN, ESPNU,ESPN2, and the former Home Team Sports network.  In addition to his television work Scot has written articles for Baltimore Magazine, Lacrosse Magazine and Patuxent Publishing.  These experiences make him a natural as the creator of the Media Watchdog, another of SK’s fine contributions.

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