The Pacific-12 athletic conference just got a virtual makeover.
Eight 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:
Colorado Buffaloes (no redesign):
Oregon Ducks (no redesign):
USC (still with CBS Sports):
Utah (Still with CBS Sports):
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:
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 The rotating carousel of stories was nice, but now that’s been replaced by a simple “brand message,” as Henderson calls it.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.
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.
Previously on GeekWire: See how this UW football ad comes to life with your smartphone … Twitter 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