The Covman of Alcatraz….
If you live outside of the Coventry area, as I do, then it is sometimes difficult to access much information about Coventry RFC. There are a couple of sources on which I tend to rely heavily, those being the Unofficial Coventry Rugby and the Coventry Evening Telegraph websites. The latter has articles on Cov a couple of times a week, written mostly by the venerable John Wilkinson, more often than not either previewing or reviewing a game with additional articles about any major news stories coming from the club (eg signings, sponsorship etc).
On match days, Twitter and Rolling-maul can be useful sources of information, but they aren’t always reliable, dependent on whether there is someone at the game willing to tweet or text, if a reliable signal is available etc. On occasions, there are updates on Coventry local radio, but that means having to tune in for the afternoon and as I’m not a City fan…Coventry also have a Facebook page, but Fb isn’t something I particular log on to for anything other than to check up what my kids are doing!.
I know Jon Sharp has said that the club are looking at ways of providing Wi-Fi access around the ground which is great, but that in itself is not the answer as presumably although it will allow supporters to text and tweet scores, it doesn’t address the key issue of the club taking responsibility for providing this information itself.
I know this frustration has been addressed by several others in recent weeks and is, understandably, the particular bugbear of Kimbo, one of the real Coventry faithful. I do think the club is well behind some of its rivals here; supporters shouldn’t have to scan the internet in hope of coming across the latest news update. Further, the real problem for me is the official website itself. It just doesn’t seem ‘supporter’ friendly. I appreciate totally that in order to survive, Cov have to develop their corporate activities; more money coming in, better players, bigger crowds, better facilities, more money coming in etc etc. But another key way of attracting supporters through the turnstiles is by communicating effectively with them on an individual basis, by welcoming them to every aspect of club life. Cov do this well on match days, very well indeed, but not well enough through the media. The club just doesn’t appear media savvy. A quick look at Broadstreet’s homepage shows they are…erm…streets….ahead of Cov as far as its website is concerned and for every one tweet I receive from Cov, I probably get 4 from ‘Street.
As a supporter, someone who travels into Coventry to the games and therefore isn’t privy to club information other than what I can find trawling the internet, what would I want from the website…? Well, in no particular order:
Player information and photos;
- Match day news and previews;
- Images/gallery from last match;
- Brief clips from videos of tries or key moments of a game;
- A weekly diary of what’s been happening at the club;
- Interesting statistics at a glance eg attendances;
- League table on home screen;
- RSS feed from the team we play in the next week;
- Links to the Unofficial Coventry Rugby site for rugby chat etc.;
- The season’s programmes, archived so it’s possible to check on programme notes, team selections etc.
Now some of these are probably already there but if they are, then they’re not always easy to access; some definitely aren’t. Over two-thirds of the homepage is given over to attracting corporate income. There is little to draw in a supporter as opposed to a corporate sponsor, looking for the above. It could be argued that the present website is ‘user’ friendly, but I certainly don’t feel it’s ‘supporter’ friendly. Now I’m not a techie, geeky, Bill Gatesy (whoops…thanks, Maxee!)sort of person, and I would have no idea how to address the problems that seem evident to me, but it should be possible to seek the views of those who use the messageboard regularly (as well as those involved in its development DR for starters) to get feedback from those who are most likely to use a new look Coventry website. What would they most like to see included, what would make it more user friendly…seems sensible to me?
I’m over 5000 miles away at the moment, overlooking San Francisco Bay. In the distance I can see Alcatraz. It’s the day after the day after match day and I feel as ‘trapped’ as Al Capone, Robert Stroud or George ‘Machine Gun’ Kelly every would have done…OK, maybe that’s stretching the metaphor a little but just an update of something on the club website would be great, that’s all I want. It doesn’t go down well with those you’re holidaying with when you’re constantly attached to a phone or tablet, scanning the ether for the latest from Cov.
Ok, it’s a selfish moan and a little tongue-in-cheek at that, but I know from many of the supporters I’ve spoken to in the past feel that the website is a source of frustration. An overhaul costs money, but I do think it would be money well spent.
At the moment most fans use the messageboard in preference to the website for club news. That can’t be right?
The messageboard should be a forum for discussion by supporters about all things Cov, yes…but not as a second-hand mouthpiece for club news. I’m sure this will have upset some and it’s really not intended to. The point I’m trying to make is that I very seldom use the official Coventry website for news about the club when really it should be my first port of call.