Bates launches ‘vibrant and immersive’ Athletics website

The redesign of the Bates Athletics website plus improvements to the livestreams combine to make fans feel like they're in the Bobcat huddle. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

LEWISTON, Maine — A major redesign of the Bates Athletics website delivers the Bobcat sports experience with far greater immediacy and power, says Jason Fein, director of athletics.

"This redesign mirrors what Bobcat sports is all about: excellence, pride, energy, and community."

The new site, at GoBatesBobcats.com, strengthens the backbone of sports information — schedules, rosters, results, and statistics — while delivering a vastly better user experience.

"The aesthetic is completely new," says Nicholas O'Brien, director of digital communications for the Bates Communications Office, which partnered with PrestoSports, a website design and hosting service, on the project.

Key features of the redesign include:

  • On the home page, an expanded global menu with direct links to what fans want most: schedules, team rosters, statistics, livestreams, and social media channels;

  • A spotlight on social media plus better cross-channel support for social media, with up to 16 social media posts featured at a time on the home page;

  • A new Bates Front Row app, available on Google Play and the Apple App Store, for mobile and tablet users, which account for 44 percent of Bates Athletics web traffic;

  • Energetic graphic design that showcases Bates' award-winning photography;

  • A feature known as "infinite scroll" that automatically adds related content as a user scrolls a page, providing an efficient way to browse large amounts of information;

  • Prominent links to the Bobcats Team Store and to recruiting resources for prospective students.

"Bates now offers a vibrant, immersive experience to Bobcat fans across the nation and around the world," said Sean Findlen '99, chief communications officer for Bates. "Whether you're an alum who's been following Bobcat sports for years or a prospective student just now learning about Bates, GoBatesBobcats.com will bring you to the center of the today's action across 31 teams that compete in the most competitive conference in NCAA Division III."

"In our partnership with Bates, we've come to expect that Bates doesn't just want what's best now. They also want to look at what is around the next digital corner," said Ted Bardach, vice president for business development at PrestoSports. "Bates never stands still."

In summer 2017, Bates used survey feedback from more than 1,100 users to inform  the redesign effort. A majority of the respondents were positive about the existing site, complemented by those seeking "a more modern look."

Besides offering insights into users' needs, the survey results "will give us a good baseline from which to evaluate the success of the new site," O'Brien says.

The addition of the Bates Front Row app recognizes that Bobcat fans are a mobile crowd, says O'Brien. "While about a third of all devices that access the Bates website, including the Athletics site, are mobile or tablet, for Athletics alone, the percentage jumps to 44 percent."

The early reviews from Bates athletes suggests that the redesign is a win. "The photography really pops," says Bates football and lacrosse player Max Breschi '18 of Carlisle, Pa., while Julia Middlebrook '21 of Ridgefield, Conn., a guard on the women's basketball team, is impressed by "the ease of watching the livestreams."

The website redesign follows the college's new livestreaming partnership with the Northeast Sports Network, announced early in September; an expanded social media footprint, including the Instagram account @GoBatesBobcats and optimized student-athlete portrait photography for social media; and various enhancements to the game-day experiences for Bates fans.