- July 10 2012
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Over the past five weeks, Aqueduct and the RFU have been working with each other, and planning for the upcoming, NEW, Fixtures and Results platform on RFU.com. We have many obstacles to overcome, but we have a dedicated and talented team that will deliver a reliable, fir for purpose product – that is also technically sound.
So what are the main considerations for the project?
1. We need to create a design that works across all devices and browsers, and is also beautiful in its look and feel
2. We need to build a robust database, that ties into Rugby First, which is currently where all RFU match data is stored across all levels
3. The views of our users must be considered during the process and how this fits in with our key objectives
As rugby fans ourselves, we realise how important it is to get this right and we are striving to work as closely as possible with the RFU digital team and other RFU departments, to deliver a world class destination for fixtures, results and competitions. The F&R project will span across several departments at the RFU, from I.T, to tournament’s and competitions, to the comms departments to the game data suppliers – with approximately 1,100 teams and 13,000 fixtures, this platform affects a wide cross section of people who must take into account throughout the process.
We want to bring you into the action and take you on a journey – get you inside the ropes of agency life and the steps we are taking, this will include the following areas;
1. Responsive Web Design: the ability to achieve a truly consistent experience across all devices – a single code base with an optimised layout for the device or screen size you’re viewing on. As more users consume content and information online across devices, it is key we enhance this experience.
2. User centred testing: we must be user centred in our approach. What works for our audiences? This will come in the form of testing actual prototypes with our audiences, so we can learn from any feedback and implement this back into our work.
3. Development: our highly skilled back end and front end developers will be responsible for making this system work from end to end, ensuring that designs are fulfilled in the front end and that data and validation with RFU databases are robust.
4. UAT: before the new F&R platform is released to the general public, we have to go through a rigorous testing procedure that includes us testing various scenarios from a script and also setting up load testing to ensure the system does not fall over.
It is our aim to be as transparent with you as possible and involve you in the process. If you have any questions, please do ask.
Below are some photos of our design team at work.
- March 21 2012
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Optimism is high among England fans and around the RFU offices. Regardless of who gets the head coach job full time, Lancaster, Rowntree and Farrell have set England on a new path, but as the players and media look ahead to the summer tour and ultimately a home world cup in 2015 I’ve spent this week looking back at the 140 year history of the RFU.
We’ll be rolling out our new Facebook timeline in the coming weeks and we’re not doing it by halves. By go live we’ll have images, ‘as live’ status updates and the odd video dating all the way back to 1871.
To a digital comms geek like me it’s an intriguing proposition; Taking a communication channel that is seven years old, which we started using so that we could reach a younger demographic and more casual fan, and filling it with black and white photos and 140 years of rugby heritage.
There’ll be nothing else like it for England rugby on the web and if we nail it it’ll help us create a deeper engagement between the fans and the game.
Much of the culture that Lancaster has instilled in the current squad is around playing for the sake of the game and the pride in the shirt and we’re attempting to share some of that with the fans by laying England rugby’s history out in front of them.
Here are a few other brands who are using timelines well. Let us know if you’ve seen anymore you like or if you have any ideas for using Facebook timelines.
- March 9 2012
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With the odd exception, less is more when it comes to social media initiatives. The simpler you can make them more likely people are to engage, it’s why I’ve never been a fan of Facebook apps – permissions tend to get in the way of engagement.
This premise throws up a tricky little challenge though. How do you make an easy, casual engagement into something meaningful for your brand? Enter Liverpool FC’s new Tumblr image blog and a shining example.
The club has a huge archive of images dating back decades, useful for a brand whose history forms a big part of its identity. They are posting one or two of these images each day with a couple of paragraphs explaining the picture, and the result ticks a load of boxes for the social media marketeer.
•It is bang on brand, reinforcing the history of success at the club
•It educates fans around past icons and stories, giving them a deeper engagement with the club
•The content is great and utterly shareable. My experience on the RFU’s social channels has shown that images are consistently the most viral type of content
•Because its dealing in archive footage fan engagement is not so dependent on the vagaries of team performance
•It’s very Pinable
•Thanks to a link to the clubs online print store the content can be immediately and directly monetised.
All-in-all, not a bad return for posting a few pictures on Tumblr!
- January 24 2012
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RBS 6 Nations homepage designs
The poll a couple of posts ago told us that more than anything else you want to see previews of new designs.
The next project in the pipeline is RFU.com’s 6 Nations homepage, which is due to be launched during the build up to the opening weekend of the tournament. I’ve attached some screenshots for you to feast your eyes on before the big launch. The 6 Nations homepage lets you see team announcements, read exclusive news content, and watch live streaming games for the women and U20’s on your PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad or Android device.
Let us know what you think using the comments box below.
- January 20 2012
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This is a post I originally wrote for the excellent UK Sports Network site a couple of weeks ago, but as we’re looking ahead to the RFU’s upcoming projects, here’s a broad sweep of what 2012 may hold for sport and social media:
Let’s start with a safe bet, while the planet’s finest are setting records in east London this summer, the social sphere will generate a record amount of noise around a single sporting event. Sports fans will get unprecedented Olympic access from athletes, journalists and volunteers alike (sorry BOA, but you can’t control 70k of them!). It will be one of those events that throws so much into the social sphere that what works will quickly find its way into other sports.
More broadly, there are a handful of significant trends set to hit in 2012, but the two that will have most visible impact for fans are Social TV and online Stadium-Based Services.
New devices and software will start to put social media at the heart of the home-viewing experience. I think we can expect broadcasters to roll match specific hash tags at the start of all games and events, instantly creating a way for brands to engage with very focussed groups of sports fans for the duration of an event.
As wifi and 3G coverage improves in stadiums, the sharing of live match experiences through social media will become easier and sponsors and organisers will focus more on harnessing these opportunities. The eager ones will troop off to live events with tablets and promo staff to capture data and social sign-ups. The integration of offline content, like programmes, with social media and online commerce should also make a step change.
Finally, a couple of personal thoughts around social and sport for me in 2012: firstly how, as a Governing Body, the RFU can best use social media to increase participation; and secondly what would an organised F1 assault on social media look like? The sport is ripe for it and 2012 may finally be the year they nail it.
- January 13 2012
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It was the day of the student protests in London, thousands marching because they wanted something different. I remember because we got 200m from the offices of Aqueduct, the RFU’s digital agency, when we hit the path of the march and had to make a two mile detour.
We were late, Aqueduct were full of ideas.
"What about starting a blog?" they pitched moments after we sat down.
"We could use it to source ideas and feedback on upcoming digital projects," we said.
"Yes," they said.
"We could use it to show people what actually goes on in the RFU offices," we said.
"Yes," they said.
"The RFU’s never done this before," we said.
"No," they said. "So how about it?"
A helicopter thudded overhead, keeping an eye on the placard-waving mass outside.
"Let’s start it soon," we said.
So here I am a few weeks on, travelling to a social media seminar on a packed commuter train, tapping this out on my phone.
Over the coming months we’ll show you how we develop our digital projects, we’ll give you a first look at some works in progress and we’ll show you into the RFU and Aqueduct offices.
Most importantly we’ll be asking about your needs and ideas for the RFU’s digital projects so we can work them in wherever possible.
Here goes then, something different from the RFU and Aqueduct.
- January 12 2012
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Welcome to RFU Labs…..
What is it?
RFU Labs is an open door for digital gurus to interact directly with the RFU, specifically around a few select themes, such as:
1. RFU.COM (likes / dislikes)
2. The digital landscape
3. What your likes / dislikes are in the world of digital
4. Up and coming innovations for RFU.com
This blog will be flexible and fun and we want you to get involved as much as possible.
Why not ‘meet the team’ from the link in the right hand module.
We feel it is important to be open and take into account your views and opinions
about what makes our digital world tick and how sports, rugby and digital fit
together. With our digital agency friends at Aqueduct, we’ll
comment, post and grow this blog with your best interests at heart.
The blog will grow organically over time, but we don’t want it to be arduous,
we need your help in pushing this forward. Ideally, we aim to make weekly
posts….so keep coming back.
We really hope you find it interesting.
Team RFU and Aqueduct.