What makes a “good” official club website?

EPL Talk bemoans the cookie-cutter layouts and overall ineffectiveness of Premiership club web sites. In general, I agree with the sentiments.

But, more broadly, what do fans want from their official club websites in terms of design, content, and interactivity? What are example, inside and outside soccer, of good websites? What can soccer learn from websites of US teams perceived as very “web-forward” such as the Capitals and Mavericks?

I guess my main thought on this is that a website should be easy to navigate and easy to find whatever it is that you’re looking for. But this is way out of my area of expertise so I am curious to hear what people, especially those in the fields of web design and IT in general, think about this subject.

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12 thoughts on “What makes a “good” official club website?

  1. Timely news. Video. Interviews. Rosters. Schedule. Results. Statistics. Team History. Relevant links. Merchandise shopping. Available on mobile platforms. Non-cluttered design.

    Tons more, but that’s all I have right now.

  2. I think a team’s website should be the first and only place fan goes for any stats about the team (and they should be easy to find). For example, if I want to see how many games Kovalenko received a yellow card or red card in 2004, I should go straight to dcunited.com.

    It should also be the place to go to buy tickets to the game, including an interactive seating map to know exactly where your seats are and what the nearest concession stands are to your seats and how to get to the team store or bathrooms from your seats.

    It should also link to its fans blogs and news columns… even those that are critical of the team and its management.

    Owners/Presidents/CFOs should be accessible from the website, either in regular Q&A sessions, but also areas to report good and bad game day experiences.

  3. Well, now that you’ve brought this in to a PR/media relations area, I have more of an opinion.

    Here’s the problem with that. If you link to or host opinion writing critical of your own team on an official web site, things can get very awkward, very quickly. I remember a heated debate amongst writers in the Columbus press box after a column was linked from the Crew’s front page despite the fact that the story was fiercely critical of Andrulis and may have in fact pushed for his firing. Even I don’t think an official club website is a place for a story like that. It makes no sense for the club to have items like that on its own site. It also lends undue credence to an article based on one person’s opinion and opens the club up for speculation that factions of the club or management endorse the given critical message.

  4. A club website really just needs the following:
    1 – Schedule – including radio/TV info
    2 – Stadium info – how to get there, where to park
    3 – Tickets info
    4 – Team roster and coaching staff with bios
    5 – Some historical notes, records, results
    6 – Either an online team shop, or information on where (online or retail) you can buy all the cool team logo stuff.
    7 – Information on offical team groups (official booster club, cheerleaders, travel groups, that sort of thing)

    Pretty much everything else is dross. If you’re going to a team (or league) website for hard news and analysis, you don’t understand the purpose of a team website. Everything on the team website is generally there to promote the team and help you decide to spend your money on it.

  5. But that’s why I support it. If there are readers who agree with a critical column (and state their agreement), that’s an opportunity for team management to get real feedback on the direction of the team. Andrulis may have been fired for a reason that may not have been good, but the fact remains that the clubs supporters were unhappy with the product he was putting on the field.

    I think Drew Carey mades some spot on remarks at the Supporters Summit this year, and how the team’s main goal is to make money. They want to win tropheys too, but that’s just as a means to make money… otherwise, who would invest in a team. Where does their money come from? Well, a good portion comes from advertisers, but advertisers are there because of the fans, who buy merchandise, food, drinks, etc., all in the name of the team. If the fans are not happy with the team’s performance, then they stop spending their money and so on a so forth.

    I certainly don’t think teams should take direct actions off of their fans points of view. Because if they did, they’d be firing every coach after 4 or 5 bad games, but they should use the critical comments as a temperature gauge. They should also let fans know that they want to hear constructive criticism. Of course, the club also has a responsibility to its website readers to disclose that the views and comments posted on the other blogs/websites are those of the website owners, etc.

    But in the end, maybe this connection isn’t necessarily what makes a “good” club website. Maybe it’s just something I think could be used by the club.

  6. But the team can get the feedback just by reading the fan boards. 90% or more of the “fans” don’t engage in this sort of obsession that we do here. For the most part, we’re not the audience of the official team website – and if anything we can be a liability by “scaring the straights”.

  7. Aaron– I am trying to recall the incident you mentioned, but one thing I know for sure is that it wasn’t me. Targeted “off with his head” diatribes are not really my forte.

  8. Fair enough. It must have been one of the other writers. I’ll correct it. I just remember the subsequent arguments with some people saying, “it had to be said” and others going “Well, maybe it has to be said, but not there.”

  9. Updated on a regular (daily Basis),design and not a boring look to it..and change the design on a annual or semi annual basis..most sites in MLS are great..

  10. I may get flamed for this, but I actually liked the cookie cutter designs of most MLS team websites. I knew where to find any info I needed on any of the teams. The firefox issues and aesthetics notwithstanding.

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