Thursday, July 31, 2014

My first experience of a race does not happen at the starting line, it begins with the event website

First, I'd like to thank organizers of races everywhere. I can only imagine how much work is involved: soliciting sponsors, getting volunteers and training them, marketing, producing shirts to give away, securing a safe route, and more.

I have never organized a race myself, but I have participated in many. I am a strong supporter of various causes. In choosing a race, however, the cause is not my number one consideration.

Here are the top 3 factors that influence me in signing up for a race:

  1. Location 
  2. Registration Cost 
  3. Organizers' Website 
“A bad web site is like a grumpy salesperson.” - Jakob Nielsen, Web Usability Guru

A poorly organized website, or one that lacks vital information gives me the impression that organizers don't care about participants. It's tough to support an institution that ignores my needs.

It's sad to see races get cancelled because of poor registration.  Races abound, and compete for participants.  To help entice racers, websites should vie to b
concise or entertaining

So what makes a good website? To answer this, it helps to get to know your audience first. As a runner,

  1. I'm in a hurry.  I still have 5 other races to look at so give me the information I need in 60 seconds or less
  2. This is my first time participating in this event.  What can I expect?
  3. I have never been to the event location before.  Maps would be helpful.
  4. I am willing to travel for a good race.  Any hotel recommendations?
  5. I might take a car, or use public transportation.   Where to park? Is there free bag check in?
  6. I might be with my family who is not racing.  Are there amenities for them?  
Here are the general qualities of a good website:
  1. Visually appealing — simple,  easy to read fonts, left-aligned text, meaningful graphics
  2. Content—  relevant and necessary,  answers the question, “what’s in it for me?”  
  3. Navigation— grouped and organized content, list pertinent info and not hide them in paragraphs
  4. Call to Action — link to a registration page made for your event, NOT to the registration service site.  Please don't make us work more than we have to.

To help organizers, here's a checklist of information that participants need.  Please consider including these to your website to help persuade visitors into joining your event. 

Examples of good websites:


  1. Great post! I agree, websites are the starting ;line for any race so to speak so it should be appealing!

  2. Thank you SD Mom. Good to know someone agrees. I'm hoping to make more organizers aware of this.

  3. Jimmy Fallon highlights the importance of a website in this funny segment: