Whatever your bracket picks, there's more than basketball teams competing in the Final Four. Which college athletic website will win? Read our predictions.

March Madness: Who Will Win in the College Website Final Four? Percussion's Predictions

Fri May 2, 2014

In offices, classrooms, and living rooms across America, March Madness dominates conversations, with everyone focused on the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship. Being big fans of higher education websites, we analyzed the athletics sites for each team in the Final Four and offer our predictions over who scored highest on the web. 

Florida Gators

First Impression

The Florida Gators team has been predicated on defense all year, earning them the overall number one seed coming into the tournament. Their unique full court press zone system is almost as distinct as the Gators prominent orange and blue colors in all of their branding. When you visit their website, the first thing you notice is the consistent use of branding in the navigation, calls to action, and even the photos.

Responsive Design

Mobile searches for #MarchMadness content grew 120% from 2012 to 2013. Even before this year’s numbers are in, you already know it’s time to go mobile first. Unfortunately their website isn’t responsive. On a mobile phone, you get a mobile version of their website. Although this is an acceptable solution, think of it in terms of the old basketball saying: “defense wins championships.” Just like the web, basketball is a quickly evolving game. In order to win today, you need a balanced mix of defense and offense. If your website is your home court, adopting responsive design allows you to carry that advantage onto any device.

Search Engine Optimization

Another important factor is how search engine friendly your site is.Gatorzone.com currently has a MozRank of 6 out of 10. Some ways to increase the Gators’ rank:

  • Add Alt tags to images in order to help search engines “see” the images
  • Include more specific keywords in the page title tags
  • Include the school’s address in the footer

Calls to Action

This website is loaded with calls to action, which can be a good and bad thing. Too many calls-to-action can result in confusion and high website bounce rates and too little will result in no click-through pattern on the website. Although driving ticket purchases is the main reason for this website, recruitment is a major concern even for athletics sites. Unfortunately, it’s hard to tell what school the Gators belong to with the school logo located at the footer of the page. Having a seamless navigation element to the school website, is one recommendation to improve this.

UConn Huskies

First Impression

Spoiler alert, the University of Kentucky Wildcats website looks almost exactly the same. Both the UConn Huskies and Wildcats have a history of success in the college basketball world, but came into the tournament as 7 and 8 seeds after sub-par years. Similar to their teams, the only thing different from these two websites are their mascots and team colors. Good thing they are both in the Final Four, because you wouldn’t be able to tell their teams apart outside the basketball court.

Responsive Design

70% of mobile searches lead to online action within an hour. If you’re in the Final Four like the Huskies you would think you want your website to render properly in all mobile devices, letting fans follow your every move. Sadly, this website hasn’t been made responsive, and will prompt you to download their iPhone app—fans who aren’t on iOS might be out of luck. The Huskies similarly rely on standout guard, Shabazz Napier. Being reliant on one option weakens your position both on the court and on the web.

Search Engine Optimization

Not only do the Huskies have a MozRank of 6, they also have 21,800 indexed pages on search engines. This is important for web crawlers, the more content produced the more web crawlers are able to index the school’s website helping them show up higher in search engine rankings. One thing hindering the Huskies website, is their use of page descriptions, as of right now they only have one unique page description.

Calls to Action

Positioning “Tickets” in the navigation on the top right is a great location for the primary call to action of the Huskies website. Also the constant footer that scrolls with the page keeps four important calls to action front and center, allowing prospective students and sponsors to learn more about the school.

University of Wisconsin Badgers Website

First Impression

When you navigate to their website, the Badgers load a landing page instead of the homepage to all visitors. While this is fine when receiving traffic from a marketing campaign, the last thing most users want is limited options and inability to quickly get to the content they want. The Wisconsin Badgers embody a similar style with a hard-nosed defensive mindset. They look to force the opposition into making an impulsive decision and shutdown lanes their desired to the basket. Even though they have an attractive website (once you click through to it), there’s a lot going on, and no clear hierarchy of information.

Responsive Design

Like their Final Four peers, the Badgers force mobile visitors to their mobile website. Compare this to facing 7-foot tall forward, Frank Kaminsky. When all you want to do is go in for a lay-up you’re stuck retreating to the perimeter looking for a second option.This means I’m going to have a limited user experience if I try to the website on my phone, tablet, or even a netbook with a smaller screen.

Search Engine Optimization

There’s some SEO work to be done here. From adding alt tags to images and adding the UW Badgers team name to each page on the website. The good news is that they have 52,900 indexed pages to help with web crawlers.

Calls to Action

Once you can click through to the main website, there’s lots of information, and calls to action are buried in the navigation and layout, making it difficult to quickly buy tickets or merchandise.

University of Kentucky Wildcats

First Impression

As mentioned above, this site looks a lot like UConn website, and upon closer inspection you’ll find both using the same web content management system to build their site, which has a limited template options. Both top tier programs show similar traits to their basketball teams. Built on consistency and relevance year on year, they look for a solution that provides results and is reliable. The problem with the Kentucky Wildcats website is that they don’t stand out and the ads between each site are the same.

Responsive Design

A lack of responsive design is a constant theme among the Final Four websites. Much like the Wildcats standout rookie class, this year they’ve been unable to live up to the hype. However, throughout the tournament they’ve shown any team (or website) can evolve, mature, and adapt to the demands today.

Search Engine Optimization

This website also has 77,900 pages to index and a MozRank of 6. But they only have one unique page description, making it tougher for searchers to know which page is most relevant to them.

Calls to Action

Just like the Wildcats website, the call to action for tickets is on the top right, but there’s no floating navigation allowing you to visit the school website or sponsor the school’s team.

Percussion's Final Four College Website Tournament Pick for 2014 Is

From the Florida Gator’s powerful use of branding, and clean navigation, to their above the fold “Purchase Ticket” call to action, Percussion Software predicts that this team has the right foundation and strategic forward-thinking to win the 2014 NCAA Brackets. They’re certainly champions in our book.
Greg Allen
Greg Allen
Territory Account Manager | Percussion Software

Greg is a graduate of Merrimack College with a degree in business administration and concentration in marketing. As part of Percussion's sales team, Greg spends his days helping new customers discover how easy web content management can be. His experience in the content marketing and SEO world has helped him assist prospective clients in understanding how to reach their business goals. Greg is also a passionate sports fan with a deep love for basketball, and a longtime contributor to the Celtics Green blog.