First Thoughts: MLSSoccer.Com

First Thoughts: MLSSoccer.Com

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On March 25, 2010
  • 14 Comments
  • MLSsoccer.com

Its really been a long time coming for Major League Soccer to get a new look on their website. They recently went out and hired new folks to get their site off the old MLB.com system and onto their own stuff. They then hired editors and writers to fill the new site and finally they announced the new location of the site, MLSsoccer.com.

Well today was the big day, the new site launched. On the surface its all shiny and new but when you dig a little deeper and a lot still needs to happen to make it what it will be.

Some of you know I work full-time at a web company that builds media sites for companies. So I know the ins and outs of a site launch. My company has launched four new sites over the past few months and still has another three to go in the next couple months. I know the ups and downs in launching a site – there’s always issues, bugs and problems. But usually we try our best to get those worked out before a launch. We have a long test plan or check list for each site before we launch to make sure we haven’t missed any little details.

Sad to say whomever did the league’s new site didn’t have a similar plan in place. You can blame the possible players strike all you want on the reasons why a lot of this new site isn’t what it will be but I believe someone dropped the ball big time in this launch. I don’t want to sound like I’m bitching here with this long list but I really expected more out of this launch. I know it will get better but I just wanted to give you my perspective of things due to my familiarity of launching a site.

Below are my thoughts on the site launch. The good, bad and ugly if you will.

Design:

  • Good: Its fresh and new, the design is much more browser friendly than the old.
  • Good: I like the addition of the American’s Abroad section on the home page…
  • Bad: …however where did the links to MLS Insider blog go? I have a feeling it will get integrated with the new site somehow but at least link the site until it does.
  • Bad: some pages still load funky in the good browsers like Safari, Chrome and Firefox. I’d be scared to see what they look like in a browser that doesn’t know what to do with CSS elements like Internet Explorer.
  • Bad: The top par with the upcoming games is nice but sometimes it doesn’t load at all. When it does it doesn’t link to any of the previews which was disappointing.
  • Ugly: They went a little too much into the gray look. Its bold and shows off different sections of the site well but overall its not eye catching.

News Section:

  • Good: Lots of new writers and columns. They definitely hired some good folks.
  • Bad: This goes back to the design but the bullet points aren’t lining up well. Plus I have a feeling in each release or column the box at the bottom with the share links isn’t where it is suppose to be, I have a feeling it should be further up the left-hand column on the page.
  • Bad: On the news section there is a preview for each release with a short blurb about the release and a photo. Well most of the photos are terribly pixilated.
  • Ugly: The news section page seems to go on forever and ever. After the first few releases there is a page navigation below a release but then a long slew of old releases show up. That has to get fixed, it just looks clunky.

Standings Page:

  • Hate to say but nothing good (yet) about this page. It shows the site isn’t finished when there is literally nothing on this page. That doesn’t look too good if you ask me.

Schedule Page:

  • Loads of potential but again not too much good yet when it doesn’t look finished. Plus you can’t sort anything. I got a feeling that isn’t wired up properly yet.

Stats Page:

  • One of the better looking parts of the site. A nice makeover but another design nit-pick if you will the tables look a bit junky, some images aren’t loading where they probably should be.

Clubs Page:

  • I really like what they did with this page. Nice boxes for each club showing their logo and social media links. Kind of surprised some clubs have MySpace pages, what is this 2003? I kid, I kid.
  • I would have liked some more general information about each club though. Just a logo for each seems like they haven’t done much with this page since they first designed it.
  • One thing though the Vancouver and Portland thumbnails aren’t working. At least for me they aren’t.

Players Page:

  • Improvement as a hole but it shows a lot of old players here. I don’t know if that was intentional or just a carry over from the old site that was never updated.
  • Each team’s player list isn’t correct. Dallas showed about 15 players too many, most of which had been gone for one or two seasons.
  • Some players aren’t on the right teams either. Shows Chris Albright in New England still.

Videos:

  • First of all I can’t believe they haven’t announced when their online package will be available for the new season yet. The season starts tonight folks, that info should have been up weeks ago. (Though as I was writing this I got word it would roll out tonight for $39.99 – still not a bad price)
  • I do like the new video section, loads more content but I really don’t like the fact they are using Microsoft Silverlight to play the videos. Not all browsers play nicely with that plug-in. Then again its better than all the junky flash on their old site.
  • Embedding video from this page isn’t hard but the codes it spits out aren’t great for blogs. A 960×401 video sounds nice but it won’t play nicely with most folks blog designs. Scale it down and we’ll talk.
  • There’s some duplication of info on here that clutters the page as well. The four scrolling stories under the first video look good at the top but there’s no need for them to be at the bottom too.

Photos Page:

  • I hope this stays current and updated through the season but right now its a bit interesting. I like the different break down of each section.
  • Not quite sure what to make of this “Hot Players” section either. Some will enjoy while most of the fans in the league will not.

Supporter’s Page:

  • Not a lot of content on here yet. Stadium guides are nice to have but again there’s little there just yet.
  • Would have been nice to see each club’s supporter’s groups mentioned and linked out to their respective websites.
  • No info for joining any of these groups either, that would be helpful.
  • New fans will click on this link and really get little to no information. If they’re going to hype up this site tonight on the ESPN broadcast they’re going to need more info here I would think.

History Section:

  • Where did it go? No seriously…where did it go?

Mobile Site:

  • Coming soon. – Hopefully that soon doesn’t last long.

Final thoughts:

Honestly launching a site on deadline isn’t easy. I hate to say that my company has missed some deadlines recently in launching some of which were our fault and some that were not. Still launching the new site to meet the First Kick date wasn’t easy.

Obviously some development issues came up along the way but for me this doesn’t come down to content. Some folks will think the players potential strike had a lot to do with the lack of stuff on this new site but honestly folks that should have had little to do with the development of this site. The league already had people in place to build and design this site well before all the CBA mess started up. They had a tight window to launch which is never easy.

As much as I wanted to see this site I have to admit I think we all could have waited a little longer to see the final product. I hate hammering the folks that did this site but it seems as though they really dropped the ball here in this launch. I see the potential here, I really do but there are so many kinks that need worked out before we see this site reach that potential.

I just hope for the league’s sake it happens sooner rather than later because the site is live and people can easily see its shortcomings. I see a little more than probably most do but that is just because of my background in these sort of things.

  • grumpdogg

    One more tiny thing. On the schedules page, the times listed have no time zone associated with them. I assume they are all Eastern times, but they should specify it as such.

  • As a SW Tester, I kind of looked at the new website in much the same way that you did.

    One thing that I found odd was that in Adam Spangler's piece about the USMNT and his role with the site he asked for feedback.

    Well, there was no email link to send him a note and there weren't comments on the article.

    So………

    Also, if you click on News and then the MLS tab, the “newest” piece is from January and doesn't have any of the new MLS stuff like say the preview for tonight's game!

    That stuff should fall under an MLS query to me….

  • OleGunnar20

    A. Rosters: what is it with MLS and rosters? HEY! GET IT RIGHT! A person might just want to see their offical, accurate, opening day roster for their team … and maybe even the rival team's too.

    B. Video: the video works fine for me, guess i am lucky, but should you be sent to an isolated page to watch a video and have to navigate backwards to get to another? seems unwieldy. i have been to plenty of sites where you can navigate from one video to another.

    C. Photos: Hot Players? ColUmbians (sic)? World Cup Bound (with 4 out of 7 wrong?)

    D. Teams: No quick nav bar to each team? Weren't the teams supposed to get mlssoccer or their own non mlsnet sites? (the ones that didn't already have them) Nice way to link to KC Wizards old and not functioning Twitter instead of their actual official twitter.

  • OleGunnar20

    is that fancy scroll box thing at the top supposed to be empty?

  • KCB

    Huh. MLSsoccer.com is down. (Temporarily?) Maybe they saw your post.

  • Ali

    Patience, is all I’m going to say. Patience!

  • anonymous

    no bigsoccer link?

  • Ben

    That’s an interesting way to make MLS more popular in the rest of the world – disabling people from “the rest of the world” to watch the games!

    No MLS MatchDay Live for outsiders = only available in USA and Canada

  • grumpdogg

    One more tiny thing. On the schedules page, the times listed have no time zone associated with them. I assume they are all Eastern times, but they should specify it as such.

  • As a SW Tester, I kind of looked at the new website in much the same way that you did.

    One thing that I found odd was that in Adam Spangler's piece about the USMNT and his role with the site he asked for feedback.

    Well, there was no email link to send him a note and there weren't comments on the article.

    So………

    Also, if you click on News and then the MLS tab, the “newest” piece is from January and doesn't have any of the new MLS stuff like say the preview for tonight's game!

    That stuff should fall under an MLS query to me….

  • OleGunnar20

    A. Rosters: what is it with MLS and rosters? HEY! GET IT RIGHT! A person might just want to see their offical, accurate, opening day roster for their team … and maybe even the rival team's too.

    B. Video: the video works fine for me, guess i am lucky, but should you be sent to an isolated page to watch a video and have to navigate backwards to get to another? seems unwieldy. i have been to plenty of sites where you can navigate from one video to another.

    C. Photos: Hot Players? ColUmbians (sic)? World Cup Bound (with 4 out of 7 wrong?)

    D. Teams: No quick nav bar to each team? Weren't the teams supposed to get mlssoccer or their own non mlsnet sites? (the ones that didn't already have them) Nice way to link to KC Wizards old and not functioning Twitter instead of their actual official twitter.

  • OleGunnar20

    is that fancy scroll box thing at the top supposed to be empty?

  • anonymous

    no bigsoccer link?

  • Ben

    That’s an interesting way to make MLS more popular in the rest of the world – disabling people from “the rest of the world” to watch the games!

    No MLS MatchDay Live for outsiders = only available in USA and Canada