huskies121
The new University of Washington athletics homepage.

The Pacific-12 athletic conference just got a virtual makeover.

pac-12_logoEight of Pac-12’s schools launched brand new websites today based on a “unified network of digital properties” established across the conference.

As part of the creation of the Pac-12 Network in 2011, each team in the conference will now have their website content hosted by New York-based NeuLion. Schools must adhere to a few general guidelines and expectations, but for the most part have flexibility over the functionality and design. Each site features Responsive Design and allows for easy video integration.

Colorado and Oregon were already working with NeuLion and are not slated for redesign, while Utah and USC have existing contracts with other providers and will switch over later.

But the rest of the schools all have new designs. Here’s a look at each home page:

Arizona Wildcats:

wildcats

Arizona State Sun Devils:

sundevils

California Golden Bears:

goldenbears

Colorado Buffaloes (no redesign):

buffaloes

Oregon Ducks (no redesign):

ducks

Oregon State

beavers

Stanford:

cardinal

UCLA:

bruins

USC (still with CBS Sports):

trojans

Utah (Still with CBS Sports):

utes

Washington Huskies:

huskies121

Washington State Cougars:

cougars

We caught up with Carter Henderson, who serves as the Assistant Athletic Director for Public Relations at the University of Washington. His team placed a big emphasis on retaining its own image and character, even though every Pac-12 school is now part of this unified web platform. 

“For us, we want to build a great brand and use our digital properties to do that,” Henderson said.

As you can see, the UW probably has the cleanest and most simple top-half of a homepage out of any school. Here’s what the old website looked like:

gohuskiesoctober2012

I like this old design, which launched in 2011, better than the new one. The rotating carousel of stories was nice, but now that’s been replaced by a simple “brand message,” as Henderson calls it.

“The homepage is designed to communicate the UW Athletics brand and everything it stands for,” he said.

gohuskiesfootball
The new UW athletics website features special landing pages for every sport, complete with big images of athletes and coaches.

Essentially, the UW is pushing away a hand-picked selection of written content for one image, video or story. You’ve got to remember about who’s coming to the site — sure, there are the fans and alumni looking for information, but more than ever, these websites are becoming big recruiting tools as schools try to attract star high school athletes to their campuses.

“A key audience is the recruits,” Henderson said. “With the website, we’re trying to identify what characteristics make the UW unique and special to so many people.”

That isn’t to say the written content that’s always been there is going away — it will just be a little more difficult to find.

“We want to make news and information readily available, but we believe people looking for information are savvy enough to find what they are looking for,” Henderson said.

Just for kicks, I went through and tracked down some old GoHuskies.com screenshots to see how the website has evolved. Keep in mind that the whole world of recruiting has changed drastically as technology and social media have improved.

Enjoy:

March 2000:

gohuskiesmar2000

January 2002:

gohuskiesjan2002

December 2004: 

gohuskiesdec2004

October 2006:

gohuskiesoct2006

January 2010:

gohuskiesjan2010

July 2013:

huskies121

Previously on GeekWire: See how this UW football ad comes to life with your smartphoneTwitter limit: University of Washington caps live game coverage for media, threatens credential revocation … Should sports reporters be permitted to Tweet every play? Here’s what Pac-12 schools have to say about it

Comments

  • Guest

    I’d have to say the only one that got it right, especially for promoting ticket sales, is WSU. UW’s looks like a WordPress template.

    “You’ve got to remember about who’s coming to the site — sure, there are the fans and alumni looking for information, but more than ever, these websites are becoming big recruiting tools as schools try to attract star high school athletes to their campuses” I’d disagree. The core of your audience are fans and alumnus. Recruits are a small fraction of your visits to these sites. Your recruits should be looking at the full picture of your school (the main school site) and not only the marketing, latest game stats and ticket sales.

    • Taylor Soper

      That’s a good point. Henderson did mention that fans and alums are still a focus. But it seems to me that they are really trying to speak to recruits, especially w/ this new design. Interested to see how they use the extremely simple above-the-scroll layout. Like I said, I prefer the last design.

  • rayburt456

    Stanford’s is the best.

  • Taylor

    What’s the point of a responsive design, if the site would be 960 px wide (UW) or the background would be 1400px – 1600 px cut off real bad .. faded it at least! (WSU)… or am I missing something? these must be the mobile sites – tablet & phone… I should check for the desktop versions later ;) LOL

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