Masters Madness: WMA website snores while athletes go all-world
In June 2005, I interviewed Stan during his first, failed run for prez:
Me: The WMA Web site is the public face of world masters athletics. But two important features are lacking â€“ a message board (or forum) and an up-to-date seasonal list (such as the IAAF top lists). Will you commit to adding these elements to the WMA site? If not, why not?
Stan: In some ways our Web site is nowhere near as effective as it should be as it is not vibrant and not always up to date. Nowadays the public face of an organization is as you say, its website and I agree entirely with you in this regard. There are many aspects of the Web site that need to be improved and new elements that need to be introduced. I believe we have tried to achieve a low-cost solution but it has not worked and this aspect requires budget support to a level that will allows us to have something that is functional and more importantly positively portrays the worth and values of our sport to our membership and the general public â€“ and other sporting organizations. This is a key part of the development of our sport.
In July 2009, I interviewed Stan again:
Me: The WMA Web site is rarely updated and has been a tool of the WMA president in the past — rather than satisfy a global hunger for news and information about World Masters Athletics. What would you do to expand and improve the WMA Web site?
Stan: I think it is fair to say that the WMA website has been disappointing in that it has not been regularly updated, not just from a WMA perspective but also by the regions who each have allocated space within the website. There have been some administrative problems in the past with the website and whilst this is no excuse for poor performance, it is something that needs to be dealt with by the new Council. Getting the right person with the dedication and drive to make this website an effective information and marketing source will be one of my key objectives when I am elected as president.
Stan made good on his promise to find “the right person.” He hired American Jeff Brower.
I asked Jeff what changes or improvements he has in mind. He replied:
Iâ€™m performance minded, so many things I do are under the hood. Iâ€™ll simplify wherever possible and look at improving the performance of the site. But regarding the look and feel of a website, I am the brush; the customer is the artist.
So the ball is in Stan’s court.
But being the helpful guy I am, I suggest some immediate steps:
2. Keep the news fresh. I could blog a dozen times a day if time allowed. Imagine what WMA could do if it leveraged its network of affiliates?
3. Patch in John Seto to post a seasonal listings on the WMA site. That’s the money shot. Everyone wants to know how they rank. John’s efforts at a world masters rankings should be rewarded â€” and co-opted.
4. Invite athletes to contribute stories and comments. Interactivity â€” via a message board or comment function â€” would boost page views and profit potential.
5. Start a Google Adsense account. It’s free money if traffic flows. (But steer the cash to athlete needs, not council perks.)
6. Be fun and unpredictable. Post polls. Get a Twitter account. Be more active on your Facebook page.
7. WMA muckymucks, check your egos at the door. This isn’t all about YOU. It’s the sport, stupid.
8. Recruit photographers and videographers to tell our stories. Many of us would work for peanuts if the platform was suitable.
9. Post the Age-Graded Tables on the site in a lookup form. In other words, don’t force us to visit Howard Grubb’s (outdated) site to calculate our percentages and open equivalents.
Get a grip, WMA. If the world masters movement is to grow and thrive, it needs a kick-ass online presence. Today, a visitor to world-masters-athletics.org gets the sense we’re a sport of tired self-indulgent fuddy duddies. That’s not us, and you know it.
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