Club websites – the missing links
Coventry Rugby Club’s website has improved greatly over the two years that Rowland Winter has been at the club, as he promised it would when he first arrived.
Unlike the old one, it reflects far more the Coventry brand, with the blue background and white text mirroring the club colours and a homepage whose content is far more rugby-orientated than commercial nowadays. In the earlier version, that always used to be a bugbear of mine.
It’s also much more user-friendly and information is far quicker to access. With the news content updated several times a week, mainly the result of regular contributions from the two Johns, Wilkinson and Butler, together with Tom Little’s reviews as well, it is back to being the focal point of all-things Cov on the Internet during the week, with Twitter taking over that role on a match day.
We are very lucky to have so much information to hand and gone are the days when the Messageboard the source of much of the news about Cov, supplied by supporters often well before the Club was prepared to release it.
However, whilst it remains one of the best websites certainly in our league, it hasn’t perhaps moved forward greatly in the last 9 months or so. There’s been relatively little innovation in that time, particularly with regard to content, other than the excellent Hall of Fame which is well worth a read if you haven’t already accessed it. That’s not a criticism at all, it’s merely an observation and I understand that with the club’s media team increasing by one or two this season, there are a number of developments proposed for the future.
Yesterday’s post, which contained a few clips of games and the like from Cov’s fairly recent past, got me thinking about what the ‘perfect’ rugby website might contain. What features currently missing from the Cov website, for instance, would supporters want added to make it all-singing and all-dancing and the envy of every club from the Premiership down?
So, in the absence of much news coming out of the club this weekend for obvious reasons, I thought I’d have a go at producing a wishlist of features I would add to produce THE rugby website. Having had a quick look at those of a few Premiership clubs, many of those I’ve included below aren’t even available there, so it’s not as if I’m expecting them to appear any time soon on the Cov website…but they are all things that I think would add to the supporter experience outside of a match day.
Again…just to repeat…this is just an ‘I wish’ list – not an ‘I want’ or an ‘I expect’ list.
As it stands, the current website is just fine – these are just features that could improve it further.
So, in no particular order:
Video content (interviews etc) – this is something that you do see on other sites, even in our league.
In addition to the current articles and news items, it would be really interesting to have 2-3 minute video (I’m not sure what the correct term is – video must be so old-school these days) interviews of players either previewing or reviewing games. Whilst we see the players on the pitch often enough, listening to them gives us a chance to understand them a little better and also creates an attachment that might not be there otherwise – as we’ve seen when players and coaches have spoken at Fans’ Forums in the past.
And it wouldn’t have to be just coaches – take the last couple of weeks, for instance. It would have been really interesting to hear Eric Richardson talk about the state of the pitch before and after the last home game, perhaps with some clips of the pitch itself, or listen to Gully on what has to be done on the morning of a game, or Hannah on an injury update and so on and so forth.
Even something as simple as a clip of someone working behind the bar and talking about their roles, or of the bar manager, or of Jo/Lara and those in the Office speaking about what a ‘normal’ day for them might entail, or of the various supporters who do such a sterling job every week helping Eric and co on a Thursday.
All are important members of the Cov family and have a huge input into the life of the club.
This week’s unsung here is…
Videoing someone talking about their role within the club and then downloading it on to the website would be much quicker than transcribing any interview and the clips would complement all the fabulous reports and articles that Messrs. Wilkinson, Butler and Little produce. In fact, the videos could be follow-ups in the week to some of the key protagonists on the previous Saturday, including support staff.
Maybe that’s all too time-consuming – but many of us have recorded clips on our phones via sites like WhatsApp or Twitter and put them on Facebook or somewhere similar. It requires no editing and takes little time.
Indeed, why not have a supporters section, where fans can download their short recordings of their match day experiences (having been vetted by the club first!)? I’m not sure how much cloud space goes with a commercial website, but I’m guessing it would be enough – clips could be deleted after two weeks or so if needed.
Thinking out of the box – you could also have a team ‘blog’, with players recording clips during the week – weights, training, team talks, meals, social events, post-match celebrations etc and downloading them to form a record of the season from the players perspective, purely via short ‘vox pop’ style clips.
Sorry, that’s me getting a bit too carried away with myself there – too arty for most!
Personally, I’d like to see a match day gallery as well – John Coles, for instance, takes some stunning photos which would look great on the website – stored in a gallery, match by match (presuming those taking the photos would agree!) and available to supporters to go back to in the days and weeks that follow a game.
Video content (match highlights) – the match highlights always prove popular when they are made available and with all games filmed these days, it should be possible to produce a 3-5 minute recording of the key moments of each game, home and away, and store them centrally on the club website where they can be accessed by anyone.
Martin Watson (alias Camera Shake) does something similar for Moseley, although I’m not sure if the clips go straight on to YouTube rather being stored on the website. I just think the more folk have to access on the club website, the better.
Martin also sometimes slows down key moments (remember Andy Brown’s try or the penalty try conceded by Jacques Le Roux against us in December) which themselves offer some excellent talking points. Those alleged ‘forward passes’ at DMP might have been interesting in slow mo…
Information about the Board of Directors – other than Jon Sharp, as far as I’m aware I’ve only ever met one member of the board and that was just a few weeks ago when someone introduced me to a board member as ‘the person who wrote the blog’. I shook his hand and told him my name, to which he replied: ‘Yes, I know who you are’ and promptly moved on.
I had know idea who he was back then.
Although I do now.
It would be good to have the photos of all the board members available on the website with a brief biography of each. After all, they are the guys (sorry, that’s an assumption on my part that they are all male?!) who make the important decisions about the direction the club is moving in.
Presumably they would be happy to have supporters know who they are and there are many supporters who would want to say hello and congratulate them on the job they are doing at the moment, as well as perhaps quiz them about any plans they have for the club. It’s actually a requirement in many organisations…
I’ve long thought that there should be a representative of the supporters, one of the Supporters’ Committee most likely, present at Board Meetings. That’s probably a step too far for many though and in fairness to Cov, I believe that there are board members who meet regularly with representatives from the Supporters’ Club Committee which is a really positive step – something that I guess most supporters won’t be aware of but one which is helping to drive the club forwards.
The directors’ names (but no photos) are available in the programme I believe, although not everyone who supports Cov either buys a programme or, indeed, attends home games.
Development Academy News – one area where perhaps the club hasn’t really excelled this season is in providing information on the website, or via social media generally, about the progress of the Development Academy. It’s shame really because there ‘s been very little news available and when most of the images of the squad on the website remain as silhouettes, the impression isn’t that favourable.
Even basic things like finding out the scores from a game often come via family or friends of those involved initially, rather than any updates via social media, and match reports are second or third hand with JW having to produce a few lines for the website news.
Surely for a National One side with aspirations of Championship rugby, someone linked to the Development Academy and who was present at the game could come up with something by midweek?
Just as JW currently interviews the senior players or coaches, so it would be good to see something similar for the Development Academy. Many of the youngsters have arrived at Cov via different pathways and have already played for local club sides. Surely I can’t be the only one who would be interested in learning more about these players, some of whom might one day represent Coventry in the Championship or go on to play their rugby at an even higher level elsewhere.
It’s obviously not something that could, or should, fall to JW to do – but that’s where video interviews would be so useful. One player introduced per week would cover all of the squad over the course of the season. At the moment there’s very little information available, if any, in terms of player biographies. A few questions via a video recording and that could easily be resolved without a great deal of hassle.
At least with the senior squad, it is possible to ‘Google’ the info.
A separate area of the website for the Development Academy, with clips of any games where available and reports, previews, words from the coaches and so on would be great from a supporter’s perspective (at this one’s). It might actually raise the profile of the youngsters as well which would also be good for their own self-esteem. I’m not sure how I’d feel if I’d been playing for the Academy side for most of the season and my photo still isn’t up there on the website whilst others are.
Junior Section – if we are to encourage more youngsters into the club, then maybe this is one of the ways forward.
There are any number of options available to enable the website to involve younger supporters, from sending in photos of junior supporters with players after the game, to competitions to encourage them to write about their day at the BPA, to quizzes about the players or the club itself, with the best contributor made ‘Young Supporter of the week/Month’.
Crosswords, wordsearches and so on that can be printed out and returned to win prizes are also a possibility.
With the club visiting schools regularly, I’m sure it receives letters of thanks from the children as well as photos of the players working with pupils – diaries of the day, stories/follow-up work done in school etc could all appear here (or in the community section, if more relevant).
Programmes online – all the season’s programmes could be ‘digitilised’ and made available a couple of weeks after the game – or any suitable length of time after the game to make sure that it doesn’t impact on sales on a match day.
Bishop’s Stortford already do this, for instance the link below should take you to their home programme for the Coventry game:
There’s plenty of interest to read in a match day programme that isn’t always available anywhere else on the club website and I would imagine those businesses that sponsor the programme would be very much in favour of what would be added ‘free’ advertising over and above what they would normally expect from the match day alone.
League table on the front page – self-explanatory this one, but it would be so much easier to have the table on the club’s homepage and not have to use a secondary site. It’s certainly possible as many clubs offer it and as it’s something most supporters like to refer to. And if supporters use the club homepage to access the league table, then maybe they will be tempted to stay on the site to look up other articles/information.
Appearances/tries/points scored – at the moment, in order to find any data about Cov, it’s a question of looking elsewhere. Updated stats on appearances, tries and points scored, either for each player and found under their profile picture, or in a separate stats section, would be really useful.
There are grids available which list the players down one axis and the fixtures across the other so you can even see which teams each player has faced at a glance (and colour-coded to show starts or replacements), but that might be too ambitious. It would certainly be quicker than accessing JB’s individual match-day reports to find out the team.
Whilst this information is available elsewhere, it should be possible for the club to offer its own data and, at the risk of repeating myself, the more information on the official website, the more times the website would be viewed.
I’d even have a link to the Messageboard as well, although I appreciate that then makes it an ‘official’, rather than ‘unofficial’, one. However, the MB has always been moderated extremely well and whilst there are going to be posts critical of the club on occasions, and rightly so, I do believe any club should encourage the voices of its supporters to be heard, even if they aren’t always saying what the club wants to hear. Provided it’s not libellous, then that’s fine.
I know that’s not for everyone, although even clubs as well-supported as Leicester Tigers offer that facility.
‘Thinking’ out loud here – maybe some of these extra features, not necessarily all, should be available for members only (both Supporters’ Club and Season Ticket, perhaps even via a log in ) so that they feel they are receiving more bang for their hard-earned buck, although in fairness they get a bloody good deal already. It just makes membership that little bit more exclusive and could be an additional selling point…
Just to give a rough indication of which of the above would be the most popular additions, if any, to the current Coventry website, please complete the poll below.
You have up to 4 choices which you can make by ticking the box by the side of the feature you would like to see added.
When you have finished making your choices, please press save. The list I’ve included is by no means exhaustive, so the poll allows you to add your own suggestions should you have any. Feel free to do so.
Multiple votes on the same pc/phone/tablet etc are not allowed by the software.
Many thanks for taking part – I’ll publish the results later in the week, together with any additional features suggested.