Updated: Apr 8, 2020
If you are trying to attract new fans and customers, but don't have a website that’s ‘mobile first‘, you need to update it now. The reality; you will be losing fans, sponsorship opportunities and potential customers if you don’t.
Let's face it more and more people, especially sports fans, will be coming to your website whilst on their phones, rather than logging on from their home computers. In 2016 the use of mobile internet overtook the use of desktop internet, so when considering the millions working in offices globally, this really shows how the use mobile devices from non-office working environments has grown. We know that desktop will never overtake mobile in the future as its use continues to decline rapidly.
So, what do we mean by 'Mobile First'? It is ’website-talk’ for starting your designs with ‘mobile friendliness’ at the forefront of your mind, (e.g. how would it appear on mobile devices). After ensuring easiness of mobile navigation, you would then begin expanding your website, adding more features to be accessed via desktop also.
So what are the key elements to creating an effective ‘mobile first’ sports website?
1) Work out why fans come to your website?
Reduce the number of pages on your site. No longer does your website need to be an archive for your every move. You don't need to hold your internal information on a site for all visitors to see. If a fan or sponsor is not interested in your business, they’re not your priority.
2) Make sure that if you have a search feature, it works! Search features are great, but do you really need to have a full site search? If you have reduced your number of site pages to streamline, you’ll find it’s unnecessary. Maybe contain searches linked to news pages and match report archives, more frequently demanded by visitors. There is nothing more frustrating than a search that does not give you the results you were looking for. 3) Substance over style You can create a more enjoyable experience for those on mobile by increasing white space and reducing the appearance of clutter. You'll notice that ‘mobile first’ design maintains a clear, contemporary viewing experience. Also, mobile readers are less put off by simple and larger fonts, especially on reports and articles. Use images and videos where you can to break up large amounts of text.
4) Make sure you’re easy to contact.
Long contact forms or even click through email addresses are now just seen as a barrier to get in touch. Fans and potential clients are now more likely to contact you via Facebook Messenger or Twitter, even if they are on your website. Why? It's easier and they feel more comfortable, so look at including an online chat option. You don't have to man it 24 hours a day, as the responses will still go through to your emails, but it gives your site visitors the ability to interact quickly.
5) Avoid template sites that force adverts and their structure onto you
There are template sports websites out there, we all know them; but think about the experience your fans and sponsors have on them. Watching a 30 second video from a company that has nothing to do with your club, sponsored articles that are irrelevant; they might earn you a few extra pence, but they are driving people away from your site. This also applies to blank pages, you wouldn't have a matchday programme with blank pages at every turn, so why let your fans click into sections that do not have any content.
When you look at your website, it's all too easy to fall in love with the desktop view. Lots more space and clear and obvious directions allow you to present your brand as you would like.
But remember that the website is not for you, it's for your visitors. Your website is a communication tool that carries your messages to them in an ever changing world. To keep your website going in the right direction remember:
"Desktop for show, mobile first for a pro"
Where next? The rise of digital options and solutions is continuing to grow. This season at Frome Town was the first for fully digital programmes linked to their website. Not only did this see a huge increase in readership, but also allows us and the club to include club videos, links to social media posts and interactive elements into the design; All working perfectly from a mobile device. Whilst we are still nostalgic about paper programmes and it's great to see the fans reading them in the grounds, across the leagues we can see how this is decreasing, more and more turning to their trusted mobile phones.