A youth sports website should undergo a major refresh every 2 to 4 years so use these 3 simple steps to improve your sports website in between those big refreshes. OK! Ready, set, go...
#1) Update the photos!
Nothing could be easier and more important that updating the photos of players, teams, facilities, etc on your website. Parents love to see their kids' pictures, especially youth sports parents so give them what they want! Refresh images throughout the year and try to post closeup action-based photos...a play at the plate, a rushing TD, a 3-point shot, etc. Most importantly crop photos and size them appropriately for the space allowed.
Need a source for good photos? Announce a "best picture" contest and post the winning 5 photos on your site. You'll be flooded with photos!
#2) Reduce clutter and increase white space.
There's an old joke that illustrates this point well. A man thought his house was too small and so wanted to move. The man had little money, so he went to an expert to get advice. Over successive meetings the expert told the man to bring one of his farm animals into his house to live. On his last visit with the expert, the man was told to kick out all the animals. The next day, the expert paid the man a visit and asked to buy his house. The man said, "are you crazy, why would I sell with all this space!" The moral of the story is, that by removing clutter you can gain a whole new perspective on things. Websites over time can become very cluttered, especially on the home page where competing factions within a sports organization are fighting to get visibility. Do yourself a favor and keep your home page uncluttered with ample "white space" to give visitor's eyes a rest and allow for sharper focus as they scan your content. Most importantly, expire or delete old or irrelevant content.
Tip: Want real-time feed back on your site? Sit down with someone who is not familiar with your site,. Ask them to navigate your site and give their thoughts aloud. Especially ask them for their immediate thoughts when first encountering your home page. Give them a task, like looking up information on your registration process or player restrictions. Don't provide coaching or direction. Let them figure it out. Watch what they do, where they go and listen to what they have to say. This can be an eye-opening experience.
#3) Simplify your top-level navigation bar.
Think of your top-level navigation bar as road signs on your website. It is the #1 tool that visitors rely on to find their way around your site. Here are some best practices for improving your navigation bar.
- The top-level navigation bar is best placed horizontally across the top of your page. That's where people expect to find it!
- Labels, or page names, should be clear and unambiguous. Replace generic terms like, "Our Offerings" with "Sports Programs."
- Limit your top-level navigation bar to 5 or 6 items. This creates a clean easy-to-read header and allows each item to stand alone.
- Use text-based hyperlinks within your home page or top-level pages to direct visitors to deeper content pages.
Bonus Tip! Make your website mobile responsive.
A mobile responsive site automatically scales, or resizes itself, to fit the viewing space allowed by a smart phone or tablet. Why is this so important? 60% of all web traffic now originates from a mobile device or tablet and the incidence of mobile use by younger parents, say those with youth sport-aged kids, is event higher!
How do you know if your site is mobile responsive? Our recent blog post provides 3 tests that are quick and simple to run. Read them here.
What do you do if your site is not mobile responsive? If your current platform does not offer an easy path to upgrade, switch to one that does, such as Engage Sports. Our site designs are all mobile responsive, and most importantly, we build the sites for our clients making switching simple and pain free.
Want more info on mobile responsive design? Download our free white paper: Taking a Responsive Approach
Keeping your youth sports website fresh and engaging is easy, but it can also be easy to forget. So schedule time on your calendar once a month or quarterly to refresh content. Most importantly, try to look at your site through the eyes of a new visitor. What would they expect? How would they react? Your visitors will be comparing your site's look and performance to all the other sites they visit on a day-to-day basis. They are paying their hard earned dollars to play for your association or club. They deserve a modern, good looking, easy-to-navigate site. Keep the above steps in mind and you will be well on your way. If you are stressed out, don't have the time or feel like you don't have the skills to do this, contact Engage Sports, where we build great-looking sites and provide A+ training and support for our clients. Good luck!