I’m having a bit of Tor de France withdrawal today as there’s no cycling today. July is one of my favourite months because the Tour de France shows the best of teams, individuals and strategic dynamics of a sport like no other for an entire month. This year might be the first when I’ve finally understood how points are won and time is saved. While I don’t have a favorite racer or team I thought it would be interesting to look at some of the trends and special features of a couple teams sites.
Overall I think team Sky has the best site for those interested in getting up to date Tour de France news on the team. Within seconds a viewer can get news highlights of the days stage, photos and videos in an easy to identify way. They keep the site up to date with their posts and make it easy to find archived items. In terms of typography they’ve balanced the headlines and body text simply with Verdana but added a bit of punch with their titles using a font called Cafeta. On their right rail, I really like how they’ve integrated a Spotify playlist though all songs do not play in the US. The only thing missing is a Twitter feed of the riders participating in the race or a feed of the images that the racers are taking.
There isn’t a huge difference in terms of easy to find info with Team RadioShack-Nissan’s site to Team Sky’s. I would have liked to see more posts on the home screen to balance out the right rail modules. The density of info is a bit much for the first time viewer but can easily navigate their way once they’re familiar with the site. Unlike Team Sky, they do integrate a standard Twitter feed. While helpful to see who is saying what, the actually content from the tweets is minimized which makes it less useful. Typography wise, they’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the hiearchy using different weights and sizes including Matrix, Engschrift and Lucida. While they have large image galleries, the UI for the player is pretty poor. Half the time the buttons to advance the images was missing. Overall it’s a strong site design wise, though a bit predictable with no real technical surprises.
Technically in terms of detailed small extras, Moviestar team excelled. I really liked seeing the number of wins they’ve had, the km biked and how they integrated media types together. I was able to listen to after race commentary with the ability to download the audio file if wanted. I’m not sure how many times I would do that but it shows that they’re thinking much harder than the typical video and photo galleries that the other sites showed. They’ve also got their own custom font called Moviestar. I think it works really well for display purposes but feels pretty heavy for body copy. With that said I like how they’re looking at all the details. The home screen falls a part a bit as it’s essentially a bunch of modules. While not hard to find up to date news by clicking on the news section, I think they should have brought more headlines to the first page. Overall this site has a decent amount of creativity that the other sites missed out on.
I think the aesthetic heaviness of the site threw me off. Ignoring that big issue the site is practical as it is simple. It’s pretty easy to find the latest news on the racers. Unfortunately they don’t update the site after each stage. That inconsistency might throw a person off to wanting to come back over time. They too have audio podcasts but don’t take the experience as far as Moviestar.
In terms of layers, Garmin-Sharp makes scrolling a lot easier than the multiple layers that Moviestar has on the homescreen. Unfortunately a lot of those additional modules are for merchandise as opposed to helpful content. With that said the large images really add a lot of impact compared to the smaller thumbnails from the other team sites. They’ve also got a pretty decent article detail page with lots of thumbnail images. It would have been nice to have a gallery view inside the rail though they made the choice to go full screen with images and give the ability to advance images that way. It’s a pretty decent solution. My biggest confusion is the url: www.slipstreamsports.com, I’m not sure how that relates to the team name.
Below are the other team sites to compare with the sites that I thought were worth taking note of.