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2023

Creating diverse functionality for equally diverse audiences.

Steel City FC was the product of two clubs merging in 2021, and its website felt like the collision of those two entities.

It was a cluttered and confusing set of pages, but its initial premature launch was necessary to capitalize on the new club’s momentum. Now to maintain that momentum, the site needed to add to one’s experience, not detract from it.

With a unique offering, the challenge lay in transforming the website into a versatile resource catering to varied audiences, encompassing lead generation, ticket sales, and player recruitment, all while streamlining user navigation.

Copy

Web

Design

Brand

Strategy

Steel City FC was brand new to Pittsburgh’s soccer scene and was still finding its feet (pun intended!) when it arrived in 2021. Its leaders were boldly ‘building the plane as they flew it’ and the club’s website echoed that. It was an amoeba of pages that, while technically functional, was a labyrinth for a user to navigate.

Being one of the only clubs in the Pittsburgh area to offer teams for boys and girls at both the youth and adult ages, Steel City FC needed its website to be a resource to many more audiences than youth clubs are typically prepared for. It needed to wear many hats including lead generation, ticket sales, player recruitment, and more.

Through close collaboration with those who know the club best, I sketched out a site map that stressed a clear user journey above all else. From the moment a user arrives at the home page, the plan was to identify them and usher them through an efficient but immersive journey to what they were seeking.

For youth players and their families, I focused on the club’s development philosophy and programs offered. For adult players, it was about tryouts. And for fans, easy access to ticket links and the club shop. The websites of huge professional clubs served as inspiration. If Steel City was going to be built in the likeness a professional club, its website needed to stack up.

With the goals, journey, and functionality in place, it was time to get creative. How can this club stand out visually among loads of competitors—even if the bar set by other clubs was rather low? I arrived at three main differentiators:

Most importantly, every area of the site, despite serving very different audiences, needed to have a consistent look and feel. No matter a users goal, he or she should always know they are in Steel City FC’s site. I chose a consistent hero design, layouts and call-to-action buttons throughout.

Secondly, the navigation had to be clear and prominent. I used a side navigation menu because it allowed for a larger menu than a horizontal one would, and it would remain visible on desktop, always framing the content in the Steel City branding.

And finally, it was all about attention to detail. The article titles and social share images are all designed consistently—a small feature that gives the feel of a club powered by a big marketing team. I left behind a simple set of directions to recreate these items so that consistency can be maintained long after my time with this client was finished.

In true ‘build the plane while we fly it’ fashion, the redesigned pages were launched in batches as they were completed. Once the entire site was public, it was impressive to see it in action. During its first two months, the site maintained its strong engagement rate of 58% while boasting a 96% increase in pageviews and a 64% increase in users.

Steel City FC was brand new to Pittsburgh’s soccer scene and was still finding its feet (pun intended!) when it arrived in 2021. Its leaders were boldly ‘building the plane as they flew it’ and the club’s website echoed that. It was an amoeba of pages that, while technically functional, was a labyrinth for a user to navigate.

Being one of the only clubs in the Pittsburgh area to offer teams for boys and girls at both the youth and adult ages, Steel City FC needed its website to be a resource to many more audiences than youth clubs are typically prepared for. It needed to wear many hats including lead generation, ticket sales, player recruitment, and more.

Through close collaboration with those who know the club best, I sketched out a site map that stressed a clear user journey above all else. From the moment a user arrives at the home page, the plan was to identify them and usher them through an efficient but immersive journey to what they were seeking.

For youth players and their families, I focused on the club’s development philosophy and programs offered. For adult players, it was about tryouts. And for fans, easy access to ticket links and the club shop. The websites of huge professional clubs served as inspiration. If Steel City was going to be built in the likeness a professional club, its website needed to stack up.

With the goals, journey, and functionality in place, it was time to get creative. How can this club stand out visually among loads of competitors—even if the bar set by other clubs was rather low? I arrived at three main differentiators:

Most importantly, every area of the site, despite serving very different audiences, needed to have a consistent look and feel. No matter a users goal, he or she should always know they are in Steel City FC’s site. I chose a consistent hero design, layouts and call-to-action buttons throughout.

Secondly, the navigation had to be clear and prominent. I used a side navigation menu because it allowed for a larger menu than a horizontal one would, and it would remain visible on desktop, always framing the content in the Steel City branding.

And finally, it was all about attention to detail. The article titles and social share images are all designed consistently—a small feature that gives the feel of a club powered by a big marketing team. I left behind a simple set of directions to recreate these items so that consistency can be maintained long after my time with this client was finished.

In true ‘build the plane while we fly it’ fashion, the redesigned pages were launched in batches as they were completed. Once the entire site was public, it was impressive to see it in action. During its first two months, the site maintained its strong engagement rate of 58% while boasting a 96% increase in pageviews and a 64% increase in users.

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