Buffalo Soccer Club (BSC) was established in 2007 to enhance the lives of young people living in the City of Buffalo through sports and educational activities that are rooted in fun, ethical principles. BSC utilizes sports as a platform to encourage youth and family development in a safe environment by focusing on healthy life choices, the development of athletic identity, and positive behavior changes – specifically an increase in self-discipline, personal responsibility, and respect for self and others. Since its inception, BSC has provided over 400 children with an opportunity to play soccer in the City of Buffalo.
Traditionally, BSC programming was focused on providing winter and summer House Leagues for children ages 4 – 14 and a Travel Team for players 8-12. In 2011, Anna-Lesa Calvert, BSC’s Program Director, applied for a Soccer for Success grant from the U.S. Soccer Foundation and in 2012, BSC was awarded the grant which represents a two year, $600,000 investment in an after-school program in the Buffalo Public School system, expanding BSC’s reach to an additional 1,000 children.
BSC’s Board of Directors realized that, thanks to the grant, interest in BSC programming would be increasing and recognized that new parents and potential partners would likely be visiting the Club’s site, looking for information on programming and participation, and volunteering and sponsorship opportunities. Unfortunately, the club’s existing web site was outdated, didn’t represent the club in a fun, uplifting, and playful way, and actually hindered the Club’s goal of being able to update information quickly and presenting it in a clear, concise way.
The Algonquin Solution
BSC benefitted from a 360 degree marketing attack with Ms. Calvert meeting with members of Algonquin’s Sales, Marketing, and Web Design and Development teams to begin work on a new site, better tailored to fit the ongoing communication needs of the Club.
Working with Algonquin’s Marketing team, Calvert determined that the new site should have three distinct and overarching paths for visitors to follow, based on their personas and informational needs. These paths – Participate, Programs, and Donate – are easily accessible from any page on the new site and direct interested parties to information and opportunities to volunteer with, play in, or financially support BSC.
Algonquin also helped Calvert designate current parents and coaches as groups with whom she wanted to easily communicate with via the new site. Tailoring specific sections of the site to highlight information that is relevant to parents was an easy way to ensure they have access to the information that’s important for their families and child athletes but the information for coaches proved a bit more challenging.
“I was concerned that including coaching information on the site would really bog it down, navigation-wise,” says Ms. Calvert. “Our existing site felt very muddled and overwhelming because of the complicated mix of information that wasn’t relevant for all of our visitors. While I wanted to be sure our coaches could easily access schedules, curriculum, and club policies, I didn’t want new visitors to get distracted by those same pages and documents.”
Algonquin’s developers worked with Calvert to use the internet feature available in QuantumCMS as the perfect compromise. All necessary BSC coaching information is stored on the site, easily accessed and updated through the same CMS as the rest of the content, but it lives in a secure section of the site that only BSC coaches can access, using their individual passwords.
“It really is the perfect solution,” says Calvert. “I can easily add and edit all the coach-specific information while I’m making other changes to the site but, from the outside, there’s a definite separation between “public” information and the stuff BSC staff needs to have access to. It simplifies our site for new visitors and parents but maintains all the necessary functionality for those of us actively involved in running programming.”
The addition of mobile styles was also identified as a priority for the new site, as Calvert and her staff use iPads for registration and other tasks on the playing field and busy parents often search for game and practice schedules from their phones.
Algonquin’s team had to take into account the priorities of the site design along with how users on mobile devices, such as tablets and phones, expect a site to function, particularly without a mouse or keyboard and a smaller screen. Applying best practices in web design that respond to these different screens, users on mobile devices see the same site as users on desktop computers, but the elements on the page arrange themselves differently to fit on the screen, account for finger touches instead of mouse clicks, and maintain readability by keeping the text at a practical size.
The site still offers the same information to all users regardless of how they get to the site. It even formats itself for the printed page, as some parents prefer to print schedules or FAQs from the site. As more devices come to the market from which users can access the web, the site will support them without the need for regular changes.
Buffalo Soccer Club’s new site offers a dynamic user experience that’s representative of the fun athletes and their families can expect to have when they participate in BSC programming. Hosting the new site on QuantumCMS allows Calvert and her staff of interns, coaches, and volunteers the ability to quickly and easily keep the site up-to-date and full of information that’s useful for each of the Club’s three target audiences.
“I’m beyond pleased with our new site,” says Calvert. “Not only is the design so much more colorful and engaging than our old one, but the work the Algonquin team did with me to help define the site’s focus and determine our target audiences has made a huge difference in our ability to successfully tailor our delivery of important info to those individuals and organizations. Parents can find schedules and program details quickly; volunteers can learn how to lend a hand; and sponsors can see where and how their donations are being used to help the children of Buffalo make healthier choices and lead more active lifestyles.”