And the results are in! For the past semester, I have been tracking ESPN’s website, which can be viewed here. The following are some of the best (and worst) aspects of espn.com, starting with the bad news first.
1. The site’s layout is too cluttered at times.
Yes, advertisements are one of the main sources of income for a website, but the number of ads scattered within articles can be a deterrent keeping people from reading an article in its entirety. There is also, as pictured above, a lot crammed on to espn.com’s homepage. There are subcategories within categories on the site’s homepage that contain videos, ads, game scores and articles.
Although putting all of this information right next to or on top of each other makes it easier for readers to access information without having to scroll very far or click through many tabs, it can be easy to lose track of or just skip over important information. This brings me to the second issue I found while tracking ESPN.
2. Is it a story with visuals or maybe eye-catching interactive graphics? Or is the story just a block of text? You won’t be able to tell from the outside.
Despite every article displayed on espn.com following the same format-a headline paired with a still image pertaining to the topic being discussed- there are plenty of articles that contain videos, photos or interactive graphics. The issue here is not that there is not enough of this type of content, the issue is that this content is not displayed on the site in a way that signals to readers what they can expect when they click on that article.
3. ESPN: the source for all breaking news in sports
Whether it’s a score update or news that the Bruins finally beat the Toronto Maple Leafs in game seven, ESPN’s multiple social media accounts, as well as espn.com, have audiences covered.
4. Speaking of a social media presence, ESPN sure has one.
Snapchat, multiple Twitter accounts, Instagram, Facebook, a SportsCenter show on Snapchat and a built-in widget on the Safari homepage of every single are just some of the many ways ESPN reaches its audience. The site has developed a following across virtually every mainstream social media platform, gathering thousands of shares on its material.
5. Looking toward the future, don’t hide behind a facade.
Despite the success ESPN has on social media, espn.com needs a bit of a facelift. Declutter the site’s layout, and don’t hide visually interesting articles behind static images that are not even in the article. The site has the content for both the avid sports fan as well as the person that only watches the Super Bowl maybe once every other year. espn.com just needs to learn how to flaunt what it’s got a little bit more.