When Yale Director of Athletics Vicky Chun tasked the department’s Director of Creative Services and Digital Strategy Nina Lindberg with a redesign of the Yale Athletics website, the first thing Chun pulled up was apple.com.
Apple’s visual branding embodies the sharp, attractive appearance Chun seeks for the Elis, and last month’s launch of the new athletics website marked her latest step in polishing the Blue and White brand. Having received her lofty mandate, Lindberg set out to accomplish the design — working with the site’s new host, SIDEARM Sports — on a project Chun said she had been planning since she started at Yale in July 2018.
“The social media restructuring was a top priority, and the website redesign was definitely up there as a priority [of Chun’s],” Lindberg said. “It was nothing against the old website. It was just to make it a little cleaner, make it easier to access for people, easier to navigate and find, [for example], ‘I’m going to a game or I need to buy tickets. Where do I go?’ … She’s a really creative thinker and she knows branding. That is her bread and butter — brand management. She showed me Apple, and to me, it’s just a clean, sleek, cool look. So that’s where we started, and then you start incorporating your design elements.”
Lindberg said she worked to incorporate Yale’s navy and white color scheme, the Bulldogs’ primary logos and the victory stripe — a navy slice of the Yale “Y” victory logo and its outline — that has been featured prominently in the department’s graphics and digital image since Lindberg arrived this past February.
In addition to design changes, Yale Athletics also sees the new site as an upgrade in regards to functionality. The Bulldogs’ social feeds feature prominently on the home page, allowing fans without Twitter or Instagram accounts to experience the Elis’ coverage on social media by just navigating to yalebulldogs.com. A new ticket website also links from the main Yale Athletics page, advertising chances to see the Elis’ ticketed teams — basketball, football, men’s lacrosse and men’s hockey — with large, site-spanning graphics.
“We really upgraded the ticket website, and it just looks like a Division I … Power five ticket website,” Lindberg said. “[Director of Ticket Operations] Eliza [Keogh] in our ticket office has done a really good job of working with that company and making that fresh and new and really pop. I was really excited to see [it] come to life.”
Additionally, a new Under Armour team store, housed on a third-party online marketplace, will link to the site. Lindberg said the site will sell gear “from Yale football to Yale fencing.” Although that aspect of the online upgrade has not yet launched, Assistant Athletic Director for Brand Management Broc Hazlet is leading the effort and preparing to open the store, which will sell Under Armour sideline gear — pullovers, T-shirts, sweatshirts and more — to Bulldog fans.
Women’s teams now feature on the left side under the “Teams” heading, while men’s teams feature on the right, a small change that symbolizes Chun’s desire to highlight women’s teams as much as their male counterparts.
Yale started discussions around the new website with SIDEARM Sports in March 2019, Lindberg said. The company, which houses college athletics websites across the country, has emerged as an industry leader and currently works with six other Ivy League schools, the Ivy League itself and 27 other Division I conferences ranging from the Atlantic Coast Conference to the Big East. The firm has their own creative team and worked with Yale to actualize the look that they wanted, which was originally a Photoshop document that Yale sent to them.
“We were with Presto [Sports], and we decided to go with SIDEARM. They’re basically the best in the industry,” Chun said. “[The site is] transferring millions of [pieces of] information over to almost a completely different site and model … It just looks so clean and awesome, so we’re real proud of it.”
Due to the vast amount of information that was transferred, the department has continued to make small updates and edits to file organization since the website’s launch in early August. Of course, as the Elis compete, news releases, scores and game photographs continually flow onto the site’s front page and into its permanent repository.
Chun reported that feedback she has received on the site “has been incredible.” Student-athletes interviewed by the News have also received the site positively, including women’s cross country’s Kayley DeLay ’21, who added that most of her teammates are “happy with it” as well.
“I think it’s a lot more clean and professional looking,” softball pitcher Nicole Conway ’22 said. “[It’s] definitely different and took me a little time to get used to, but I like it and think it was a good change overall.”
The new website officially launched on Wednesday, Aug. 7.
William McCormack | firstname.lastname@example.org