I’m happy to announce that Roster Brain, my new web project, is now live!
What it does
Roster Brain provides quizzes to sports fans based on the current rosters of their favorite teams. With over 700 pro and college teams included at launch, there is likely to be something there for every sports fan.
What sets the site apart from other sports trivia sites (other than it being more awesome) is that it only focuses on current rosters and ignores everything else. The user progresses through the quizzes matching player name to numbers. While the quizzes are scored and the user is encouraged to share the result on social media, the site is really designed to help fans learn about their teams.
After each question, the related player profile is shown with all of the details I have available – number, position, hometown, years experience, height, and weight. So you not only get challenged on knowing a player’s number without any context clues, but then get a full lesson about the player you were just thinking about.
A Brief History
I became a huge Virginia Tech football fan while I was in school. I always wanted to learn more about the team, but it was difficult to find the time being a computer engineering major and all. I was always the slightest bit jealous of my friends who knew all of the players and their stats/details. I tried studying the player roster, but it was time consuming and the players would change significantly every year anyway. Thus the idea for Roster Brain was born – a way to learn the roster that isn’t completely boring.
Creating the site was a few years in the making, as I not only had to learn enough about the development process, but actually had to find the time to do it. Between work, life, and the various side ventures I’ve attempted, it took a lot longer than I expected.
I actually began programming the site in late January after experimenting with various frameworks for a few weeks. I’m excited that I’ve been able to produce the launch version so quickly, but it is only a fraction of my total vision for the site.
How it works
I built Roster Brain on the web2py development framework using Python. I loved Python when I learned it in school, so I was excited to use it for something new and functional in the real world. The framework has a lot of built in functionality and a pretty low learning curve for someone new to frameworks (and client side stuff).
The front end is based on the Skeleton boilerplate for a responsive design. This allows the site to modify on the fly for different screen sizes, regardless of device type, using media queries. I’m quite excited that I was able to build mobile functionality into the launch version because it seems crucial to the success of most websites these days.
I really have no idea what I’m doing when it comes to marketing such a project. I’m hoping that it catches on a little from my minor launch notices on various websites. If people like it enough to share it, then I know I’m on the right track.
However, I doubt that will singlehandedly accomplish my goals for the site. I’ll be experimenting with other strategies including blogger outreach, twitter campaigns, and some random link building. I’m proud of the site and I want people to see it, so I’ll probably just keep throwing shit at the wall until some of it sticks.
I have some new features planned for the future, but I’m not going to start working on them immediately. Fixing critical bugs and marketing will be my main focus for the next several weeks (mostly to give myself a break from development). Plus it will give me a chance to look at some stats and gather some user feedback.
Functionality currently on the list for phase 2 includes a user login system with some basic game theory (think 4square) and new (more advanced?) quizzes.