Euroleague has switched to a responsive design for its website, BiE’s editor’s day job is as a tech journalist. It would be flat out weird for us not to talk about this.
First up, it’s best to explain what responsive design means. It doesn’t hurt that you are viewing a site that actually uses it. BallinEurope switched to a responsive design during the FIBA Basketball World Cup last year, a particularly long overdue overhaul and Euroleague’s site was in similar need of a big time upgrade. Fundamentally it means that the same website adjusts to the screen you are viewing on. In the olden days of, well a couple of years ago, sites basically offered different versions for different platforms if they were doing it right. Euroleague was but BiE wasn’t, we basically forced you to squish and adjust the page. The downside of doing it right was that those going to the mobile version of the Euroleague homepage had a completely different user experience to how they accessed the desktop version.
A responsive design aims to fix all of that by essentially translating the site you know to whatever screen size you are viewing. This doesn’t mean squishing, it means adapting. Incidentally, this also makes life much easier for Euroleague’s own IT staff as they are making adjustments for the one site rather than two or three different ones. It also doesn’t hurt that they are relatively late adopters of the format. Early entrants to the responsive design format, influenced greatly by the tablet market, struggled. This kind of switch is a massive undertaking, be you Euroleague or BallinEurope it’s a completely different way of putting your site together and even my geek squad (he’s called Rob) had to overcome some difficulties for a far smaller and less diverse amount of content. The upside is it generally makes things better.
The desktop version is far better than the old version and that’s no surprise as the design of Euroleague.net on PCs/Macs looked a lot older than its mobile equivalent. The aim is to make content more organised and push more out through the homepage without overcrowding and they really do a solid job there. A good few people will be annoyed the team bar at the top is gone but contemporary design, particularly with a responsive format, meant it had to die. Visually the site is far more engaging, you log on an Bogdan Bogdanovic is just jumping out at you but it’s easy to see what else is there. Individual articles are easier to push below the fold and the navigation is familiar enough for most users.
The mobile version, despite undergoing a less radical change, is actually going to take users more getting used to. The navigation here is the big focus, the old mobile site was all about looking pretty but not terribly easy to get around. The right hand drop-down (as a southpaw, JEEZ THANKS GUYS) will be easy for most users to adjust to and while similar to the old site in position, how it brings you back and forth from content after that is smoother. The home page pushes the fixtures to the top and then follows up immediately with video content. That’s a good use of real estate.
One more thing
This may seem like a ‘well duh’ but Euroleague deciding to make sure the changes were implemented across the board, including EuroCup’s site, is crucial. The vast bulk of traffic goes to the main site and five years ago the IT guys inside would have pushed to get it all done at once and may have needed to settle for just the big dog. Instead the way organisations think about IT now makes it far easier for the geeks to sell the grand plan because quite often the people they are pitching to have seen what the experience is like when playing with sites themselves.
When I heard this was going to be a responsive design site, despite our site being the same and turning out great, I was a little concerned as it was a huge switch for Euroleague. Essentially, the only way it was going to work is if they did everything necessary. What stunned me, and it really shouldn’t because I cover this sort of thing a lot, is that they went all-in. It’s the only way to get the pay-off and this really delivers.