Case study – the sports bar – part one

team huddleOver the next few weeks I will be documenting the progress with this project.

The pre-match
A local sports bar, well appointed, with friendly attentive staff, serving good beer and food, with a website badly in need of a rework and an all-round ‘experience’ uplift as well.

The site is an SEO disaster area: the homepage contains no visible text. All navigation on the site is in Flash – just to get rollover and a sound effect. There’s a music player that loads up by default and makes the site a liability for someone to visit at work. The title tag says simply ‘The Pack’, the meta description is in Czech (the site was put together by a Czech web designer), the meta keywords don’t contain any references to the most popular events (English Premiership Football). The one link on the homepage that’s not done in Flash is to another company’s site. There’s no differentiation between the www. and without versions of the web address. All this combines to create a situation where the site doesn’t come up in the first 10 pages for a Google search for ‘Sports Bar Prague’ (though Google suggests ‘the pack sports bar prague’ as a related search). The content pages are a little better – there’s human and machine readable on most of them.

The ‘experience’ part of the study is all about lifting the quality of service at the same time as making sure that opportunities are not missed to improve ‘share of customer’.

The crowd
There are several distinct sets of visitor to this sports bar:

Tourists – in small or large groups, usually in Prague for a long weekend, can’t resist the opportunity to watch live football while drinking Czech beer. Owing to its proximity to Wenceslas Square and the guys paid to give out fliers or just pointing groups of lads in the right direction, there’s a fair amount of walk-in trade, as well as people that found the address online.

Expat locals – foreigners living in Prague, usually relatively well paid. This bar is a little pricier than the one further up the street (further away from Wenceslas Square) but it is better equipped and has better service so often groups of them will go here to watch live sports from their own country via satellite.

Native locals – Czechs don’t often go here to watch games – when there’s a match on that’s of ‘local’ interest it’ll be shown in any number of regular pubs, serving cheaper beer. The odd group however will come here to watch games not available on TV or seeking a change from the typical Czech fare served in other pubs.

The team-talk
Without spending too much time on redesigning the site, rectify the biggest SEO failure points, replace the Flash navigation and improve the usability for regular visitors, adding more information – a map for example. The key constituencies that the website needs to better serve are the expats and the tourists. The site needs to be easy for tourists to find and to do as much as possible to make sure that once they’ve found the site, this is the bar they go to. For expats the single most important page is the one listing the schedule for the week. Presently that schedule is updated by the non-web savvy bar manager – updating a text file on the ftp server which is displayed by a flash app.

Once the various issues with the website are resolved, giving a solid foundation to go out and create outposts I will move on to the more creative side of the project.

Photo credit: Bring back Buck

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