The Sweeper: New MLS Website Disappoints

mls-soccer-site

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Let’s say this first: as far as English-language football league websites go, MLS already had the best, as cluttered and ugly as it was in parts. There’s really never any reason to visit the English Premier League’s site, for example, whereas MLS’ site at least has long had plenty of content, video and information.

It was just buried in a design that suggested someone got way too excited when they discovered the hyperlink HTML tag.

A new site was needed, and MLS have clearly made a considerable commitment to beef up the content in a cleaner design. All good intentions from the league’s perspective.

And today, their new site, MLSSoccer.com, launched.

In lieu of a full review to come later, here are a few first reactions. I understand that a new site has rough edges, but overall, I’m  fairly disappointed. Quick thoughts:

  • The design is cleaner; fewer links, larger headings. Unfortunately, it’s grey. Really grey. Why not incorporate more of the colours of the logo into the design?
  • The news section has good, clear formatting in the main column, but the sidebar  bullets don’t even align correctly with the links.
  • This points to an obvious fact: this site is not finished. I realise the first game is tonight, but a standings page that doesn’t even list the teams in MLS does not look good.
  • The “supporters” page has a prominent link, which is nice, but the actual content is abysmal. It links to two poorly-formatted listings of bars and supposed “stadium guides”, which is in fact a badly presented list of links to existing information elsewhere. There is nothing about supporters’ groups; how about some links to each team’s recognised groups? How about some creative, fun information about being an MLS supporter? Some photos? Some video? A visitor who clicked on supporters to find out about fans in MLS would learn absolutely nothing from this section.
  • The stats page is a good overview of things from on the field numbers leaders to attendance figures, though again, the table formatting is sloppy, and the information is hardly comprehensive.
  • The schedule page is sadly not sortable by team, but just a complete list of every game. An option to sort and view nationally televised games would also be useful.
  • The clubs page is just a list of links, with the actual link to each club’s site a curiously small button. How about some general information on each club from a league-wide perspective? A listing of trophies won, for example?
  • Apparently, the Chicago Fire have no players. Crap!
  • The video page looks good. Unfortunately, I can’t play any of the videos from Firefox on Windows; attempting to auto-find the plugin needed fails. Maybe it works in IE?
  • The Photos page is simply bizarre. The most prominent link is to “Hot Players” — seriously?? It appears to mean “hot” as in Adriana Lima hot, and features 12 photos of players with their shirts off. I’m sure Kickette will like it, but your average MLS fan? Huh?
  • I can’t even find a link to the MLS Insider blog anymore, when one would think it would be featured on the homepage. The front page of the site’s largest sub-section is curiously about Americans Abroad, rather than about MLS.
  • The mobile site isn’t done yet.

You know what I think? Development on the site fell seriously behind schedule, and at some point the decision was made to simply launch it in time for the season opening tonight regardless of the quality of the production. Big mistake. Frankly, it’s amateurish in quality, with incomplete information, poor formatting, and at-times bizarre content.

MLS 3.0, hope to see you soon.

Quick Hits

The Sweeper appears daily. For more rambling and links throughout the day every day, follow your editor Tom Dunmore @pitchinvasion on Twitter.


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