Simplicity in Sports Business


Based on hours of research I’ve done from books (Yes!, Made To Stick, etc) to videos (Kevin Rose, etc) to websites (, etc), a simple conclusion can be drawn: simple sells.  What is simple?  How does that translate to sports?

Let’s look at ticket sales and website design to further examine this idea.  One of the primary drivers of revenue for a sports team is ticket sales.  Therefore when looking at an organization’s website, one of the goals is to convert a website visitor into a customer (someone who purchased tickets).  That suggests the following idea:

Simple leads to ticket sales.

I randomly selected a team website from each of the four sports as a visual example to see how “simple” factors into the design.  Take a look at the sites (click to enlarge):

NOTE: The original team website images are now outdated. Feel free to choose any random four team websites to run an updated analysis.

What is your first impression? Simple?  I don’t have any information on these sites conversion rates, but my guess is the sales conversions (assuming that is a goal of the site) are not as high as they could be.  What if a team site used a simple approach that is increasingly popular in the current web era (Google, Twitter, etc.)?

For example, (creator of popular iPhone and website applications) started with this site that looks similar to those above, and ultimately ran an AB Test to settle on their current design.  The final results?  The simpler design yielded a 20%+ increase in conversions.  Granted, its only one company, but feel free to look at several others who have had success altering their websites to make them simpler and clearer.

What would a 20% increase mean to an organization?  Or even a 5% increase?  Organizations don’t necessarily have to hire new people or increase the number of cold calls to sell more tickets.  There are certainly other goals to a website (sponsors to please, stories to post) but simplifying the website design may yield some surprising results.

7 responses to “Simplicity in Sports Business”

  1. Russell Avatar

    I completely agree. At one of the previous places I worked, we specifically redesigned the ticket sales webpages to make them simpler and easy to follow. We started with a basic flowchart of the process and stuck to that logic as we updated the pages. I don't have any numbers to show an impact on sales, but there was definitely a decrease in customer services requests related to purchasing tickets online.

  2. Christopher Lee Avatar
    Christopher Lee

    There seems to be a trend in sports towards more information on sites, when a lot of research is showing the opposite yields better results. The flowchart is a great way to visualize the sales process, although ideally it would even start on the home page instead of starting on ticket sales pages.

  3. […] 9, 2009 by Christopher Lee · Leave a Comment  In my last post, I talked about the affect of simplicity on sales conversions.  There are many simple changes, […]

  4. Grant Christensen Avatar
    Grant Christensen

    Well stated. There seems to be a lingering problem in that teams try and meet too many objectives with their websites which limits their ability to maximize the buying power of each visitor. Sports teams seem to pattern their websites after newspapers and magazines. Wouldn't it make more sense to model their web business after retailers such as Amazon instead?

  5. jamiefavreau Avatar

    I agree. You need to know where you came from and what goals you are trying to accomplish. I guess I am trying to convince a person I am going to be working for to measure the correct things and to get away from the tools and realize a lot of stuff goes into a good campaign. I am not trying to sell anything I just want the correct stuff measured.

  6. nlh33 Avatar

    I completely agree. Whenever I visit the Blazers site to purchase tickets, I get so lost and frustrated that I throw in the towel. Simplicity is key-franchises have too much clutter on their sites these days, with advertisements for apparel and affiliate groups-it's distracting and annoying. Sales will spike and visitors will become customers if the sites are easily navigable.