The football season has begun once again, which means people across the UK will be leaving their sports-hating partners largely unattended for the foreseeable future.
It also means people who are most definitely not sports journalists have an excuse to write about football because of all the other stuff that surrounds the competitions, such as social media activity.
In this instance I’m going to be talking about the mobile site performance of some of the clubs in the competition to see if they’re keeping up with exponential growth of this channel.
A recent study by The Search Agency UK ranked football clubs’ mobile sites based on a number of factors such as load speed, site format and social media presence. Tottenham Hotspur came out on top.
Each football clubs’ mobile website’s performance was scored out of five based on the following factors, each of which had a slightly different weighting:
- Load Speed (weighted 41%)
- Site Format (weighted 26%)
- Download Speed (weighted 18%)
- Social Media Presence (weighted 10%)
- App Presence (weighted 5%)
The full results are as follows:
At Econsultancy we’re never ones to take everything we read at face value, so I thought I’d take the top three clubs on the above table and check out their mobile sites for myself.
The load time was quick on this one, so no complaints there.
The user experience (UX) is also pretty good so far: a very simple landing page that lets you choose whether to go straight to the shop or continue to the main site.
When I went back for a second visit I was presented with a slightly different homepage, this time with the option of entering a competition.
The homepage is straightforward and neatly laid out. There is a carousel at the top linking to blog content, followed by a clear menu that seems to cover everything you’d want from a football club’s site.
My only gripe at this stage is the automatic scrolling on the carousel. There is quite a long gap between changes, which is a plus point, but it’s still visually annoying and takes control away from the user.
Spurs clearly put lots of content on their site, but when you go into one of the articles on the mobile site things get a little awkward.
As you can see the page below doesn’t exactly scream mobile optimisation. Unless you’ve got the eyes of a prime age hawk you’re probably going to need to do some zooming before you can read that copy. And don’t get me started on that sidebar.
I really like the video content section of the site, however. There’s a nice big featured video at the top with a swipeable carousel of the latest clips below.
Overall I’d say this site deserves a high spot on the league table, although it could definitely do with a few tweaks to the blog page layout.
Again the homepage loads quickly so a good start, although it’s worth noting that navigation between pages seems to be a tad on the slow side.
My first impression of the homepage wasn’t great beyond the fast load time. In fact I’d say the page looks pretty grim. It’s visually very basic, and the grey ‘Navigation’ button on the top left is a particular eyesore.
That said, one thing I really like on the homepage from a UX point of view is the ‘Last match’ and ‘Next match’ sections further down the page.
This is exactly the kind of information I’d want to know straight away if I was interested in the club, and it’s displayed clearly and concisely with the option to get further details on the upcoming match.
The blog page layout is pretty much spot on from a UX point of view: clear font, short paragraphs and plenty of white space. The only thing missing is a comments section, which could help create more of a community on the site.
I think Aston Villa’s site could use some work in terms of appearance to be honest. But I have to say the UX is pretty good overall, particularly when it comes to the content pages.
The load speed seems fine, but the first thing that stands out on the Bournemouth mobile site is the animated banner ad at the top of the homepage.
I know this club hasn’t exactly had the healthiest financial accounts in recent years, but do they really need to pollute their site with ads?
The rest of the homepage looks OK, but nothing particularly inspiring. According to the study the Bournemouth site was created from the same template as eight other Premier League clubs and a staggering 96% of Football League teams.
The website’s somewhat generic feel is hardly surprising then. But let’s try to focus on some positives here.
When you expand the navigation menu it does look visually appealing. It’s nicely branded and the options are clearly laid out.
I also like the design of the fixtures area. There are two swipeable carousels: one for upcoming fixtures and one that lets you navigate by month. The section works really well and clearly displays all the information you’d want.
The blog content is laid out well from a UX perspective, so the Bournemouth site gets another point for that.
Conclusion: Spurs the best of a lacklustre bunch
I don’t want to appear too harsh, but I’m really looking at these sites from a UX point of view rather than any kind of technical analysis and none of them really jump out as exceptional.
While each of these sites have some individual areas of great UX design within them, overall the sites just don’t feel complete.
Take the Spurs site, it does look good at first glance and the menu is nice and clear, but when you go into one of the content pages it all falls to pieces. If they could turn off the auto-scroll on that homepage carousel and sort out the blog pages I think they could have a really decent mobile site.
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