3 Reasons the Sochi Website Is Just as Cool as the Olympic Games
OK, I respect the athletes. But I suddenly found myself fanatical about the Olympic online marketing team.
Yes, I’m a marketing writer, so I probably have a higher-than-normal appreciation for good web content strategy. But I’m going to go out on a limb and say that, even for normal folk, the Sochi 2014 website could play a starring role in this year’s games. Here are three reasons I was impressed.
Why I’m Having the Sochi Online Marketing Team Flag Tattooed on My Arm
(Just kidding, I hate needles, and that doesn’t exist.)
1. Anything you want to know is one click away. That’s amazing when you consider how much information the site holds.
Imagine you’re in charge of organizing the content on the Olympic website. You have three weeks of schedules for 15 events, photos coming in every hour, medals to chase, teams to track, profiles of athletes to showcase, plus tons of information for spectators, videos, leader boards… It could easily become a mess.
Here’s what the Sochi team did. The schedule of events holds the hero spot on the homepage, and every piece of real estate around it has been optimized to make sure you never have to dig for information. You never even have to look behind a menu, because there are no drop-downs; every navigation option is naked, but it’s organized as a mixture of icons and links to make it manageable. [Writer’s Note: The hero spot has now been changed to show a list of results for today’s events, along with the medal chart.]
Whether you want to look up information by sport, athlete, or country, you can do it with one click. Or you can click straight to a chart showing the medal count for each country. The games haven’t started yet so there are no medals on the chart, but when there are, I bet they will each click through to a complete list of the athletes who earned them and details about the sport for which they were earned because…
2. Everything is clickable. Everything.
For example, hover over an event on the homepage schedule, and a pop-up will provide hyperlinks for the heats that are going to take place for that event on that day. From there, you can click through to see relevant photos or videos for the sport, look at the full schedule for the sport, or learn more about the sport (or the “discipline” as the site calls it – very Russian, I thought).
Say you decide to learn more about the sport. You’ll go to an in-depth description of the history of it and how it’s practiced today in Russia and worldwide. From there, you can learn about the Olympic athletes participating in it this year. From there… You get the idea.
This may seem like an obvious user experience, but what impressed me was the sheer depth of the content. It seemed bottomless. Every rabbit hole took me to a new, interesting place. This site ranks right up there with trash news sites when it comes to stickiness.
3. It makes you love the Olympics.
As if the countdown clock weren’t enough, the homepage is absolutely oozing with sugary things to get you excited about the games.
Scroll down to see a slider displaying action photos, inspirational videos (including one of the Olympic torch being shot into space so it could visit the International Space Station… alright, guys…), and snapshots of historic moments, side-barred by trivia and updates on what is happening at that very moment (usually with clickable links to deeper content, of course).
Scroll down from there to see a photo gallery full of highlights from the games. Scroll down a tiny bit more and take a poll on an Olympic-related topic, such as “What are you most looking forward to in the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games in Sochi?” (“Vibrant theatrical performance” was narrowly beat out by “The Opening Ceremony does not need to be divided into components.”)
And that’s just the homepage. The entire site is geared toward making you a die-hard, know-it-all Olympic fan.
Sure, some of the content reads a little like a Russian spam email. “Olympic medals are ready and waiting for their owners. Do you know what will they compete for?” But that only adds to the charm. Bottom line, the site is a great template for creating a user-friendly event website that can keep people informed and entertained. It might even change the way you watch the games.