As I mentioned in a former post, many race websites I visit don’t have pertinent race information front and center. It’s frustrating and I can’t come up with any good reason to make users dig to find when and where a race is taking place. I think it’s mostly lack of expertise in web and information design.
Just today I was looking for a fall ultra and the first site I came across was not only missing a date and location on the homepage, it didn’t have any distance indicated. It took two clicks to find race distances and four to find the location.
Here are some best practices for race websites:
- location, distance(s), date(s) on the homepage
- use clear language in navigation (Race Details and Course Details could be used interchangeably, for example)
- be sure to update the site after the race and indicate when runners should expect to find information for the following year (you can’t predict what time of year a runner will find your site; don’t make them guess whether the info is old or current)
- if you include a map, make sure the map is marked; embedding a Google map is great, but if it doesn’t have markers, it’s not helpful at all
- make sure maps include aid stations and list what food/beverages will be available at each
- include an elevation chart–”flat” and “hilly” are relative
- don’t forget to let runners know what goodies to expect for their entry fee: shirt, medal, buckle, trophy, nothing, etc.
- if there are rules, list them: what happens if a runner runs off course? are there cut off times? are earphones allowed? are pacers allowed? etc.
If all of this seems like common sense, it is. But I’m shocked at the number of sites that either don’t have all of this information or have a site so disorganized it’s almost impossible to find it. Take a good hard look at your site (or have someone else look) and make sure it isn’t confusing. You work hard to put on a good race and your website should show that!
* Race directors: I’m happy to look at your site and offer a critique if you want. I am a web content coordinator with 12+ years of experience in site management and I have completed graduate work in information design. Contact me for information.