Demand for content on AtlantaFalcons.com rise substantially with the rise of social networks and mobile devices. The existing AtlantaFalcons.com in 2009 was designed like a magazine - heavily editorial, and every element required manual refinement. This wasn't going to cut it in 2010. So I kicked off a project to design a new kind of content management system, and a new kind of interface for a pro sports website. The challenges were to empower content producers, make any content easily findable, manage the key components of the website on mobile phone, and engage fans deep into the content.
Deep research into how an NFL franchise produces and capitalizes on content
The Flagship CMS system allowed content producers to use any online/cloud service they preferred (i.e., Flickr) based on their individual needs, and our content indexing engine would scrape it on a routine. This fairly simple routine was revolutionary in terms of reducing our work load and making Falcons content searchable and distributable from a REST API.
Because every piece of content was tagged with metadata, fans could browse through AtlantaFalcons.com using only tags representing the topics they're interested in. Tags would take the fan to an indexed search result where all content was broken out by type (i.e., video, photo, news, blog, etc).
The MVP design went a bit too far into the data realm and did not test well, but we learned a lot from this and it informed us how to do much better.
The 2010 Home was met with significant fan appreciation. From a performance and content organization perspective, it outperformed any other franchise in the NFL. We could handle ten million concurrent fans searching millions of content records per second with ease.
The heaviest trafficked page on AtlantaFalcons.com continued to be the photo galleries, which now enjoyed simple keyword filtering.
Depth Chart - another high traffic page - was instrumental in tracking most popular players by name click. This informed which players tags would appear in the top menu (trends).
The 2010 AtlantaFalcons.com enjoyed record revenue from higher volume traffic, which was a challenge at the time due to the massive loss of direct engagement as a result of social media. Furthermore, we won a McKinsey & Co. award for best site search and structure across all 32 teams in the NFL. Members of NFL Media visited us the following summer to understand how this was built. Some key components they were able to copy were applied to the NFL Team Sites platform, which all teams are now required to use.