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5 Easy Steps to Build a Better Online (Rodeo) Experience

Reno Rodeo LogoLast week I asked a question about local advertising and used the Reno Rodeo as an example. Here the event has come and gone and I literally knew nothing about it.

While perusing through the Reno Rodeo website I noticed a number of issues, some little, some big, but things that they can fix that can help them build a better web experience. I thought I’d take that and turn it into a post that will allow all my readers to learn from a real-life example.

Step 1: Make ticket buying easy(ier)

It took me a bit to find it, but you can actually buy tickets online. You wouldn’t know it, though, with the header telling me to call an 800 number to purchase tickets. This image should be linked either to the tickets page on the site or to tickets.com where tickets are actually purchased.

Reno Rodeo 800 Ticket Number

In the top row header there is a “tickets” link, but when I mouse over there is a bit of confusion with the drop down. Do I click the main button or the “ticket sales” button? It doesn’t really matter as the information on both pages is 95% identical (duplicate content alert!). Getting rid of that unnecessary drop down will help.

Reno Rodeo Ticket drop down

Clicking either of the ticket links above I am again offered the 800 number or told I can purchase online. But how? I have to read through that first paragraph to know that I can go to tickets.com, which is actually linked, but not linked to the Reno Rodeo ticket purchase page.

Reno Rodeo Ticket Link

Scratch that, after several passes I see that the image tells me to “click here,” which leads to the tickets.com Reno Rodeo ticket page. This shows the value in having both visual (image) calls to action along with textual calls to action. I missed the visual one all together looking for the non-existent textual link.

I did find another way to order tickets easily. Go to the contact us link at the top which has a nice “Click here” for those of us who want to purchase online. That link takes you to the actual tickets.com Reno Rodeo tickets page as well.

Step 2: Broadcast your event dates better

Event websites like this need to broadcast the date of their events in the header. Right now you have to look halfway down the page, below the Reno Rodeo News, to find the dates of the event. Put that at the top. Throw it in the logo image below the 800 number. Make it bold, loud and obvious!

Reno Rodeo Site Header

Step 3: Fix your security errors

Not everybody types in the “www.” in the address bar. Normally it’s not a problem but here it is:

Reno Rodeo Error

This is easily fixed by implementing a redirect from renorodeo.com to www.renorodeo.com

Errors like this can stop a lot of traffic from moving forward. It’s smart to check your site on multiple machines and browsers to make sure you don’t get this, or any other visitor stopping errors.

Step 4: Organize your navigation

If you look closely you can see that the navigation is organized alphabetically. Now that’s a great way to organize your Blu-ray discs, but not the best for site navigation. What they need to do here is segment their navigation. Have tasks such as Home, Parking, Getting here, etc under a common navigational header, separate from video, cattle drive, team 355 and the like. I’d have to spend more time than I’m willing right now to figure out just how to do this right, but let’s just say that it’s all wrong.

Reno Rodeo Navigation

Find ways to segment your navigation into scannable chunks. Create categories based on how users are likely to be looking for specific groups of information. This makes everything easier to find and navigate to.

Step 5: Move your news more accessible

There are several problems with the “Rodeo News” that is at the top of the home page. First of all, its location is all wrong. The news box pushes the other important content down too far on the page. I say they should move this box off to the side, even outside the main content area completely. By doing that they can then have the news available on every page, not just the home page.

Reno Rodeo News

Next, I want to know how to get to news older than the few entries they have listed here. I don’t see any links to “more news”, but I assume that they’ve been posting news since the beginning of the event. Just give me a place to go to catch up on what I missed.

Finally, where is the RSS feed? This is 2008, anything “news” has to have a feed. This lets your true customers keep up on the goings on without having to revisit the site several times a day.

I could go on, but think this is quite enough to make a pretty significant improvement in web usability. If Reno Rodeo implements these few items I’m sure they’ll see their web satisfaction go up, if not selling additional tickets as well.

Stoney G deGeyter

Stoney deGeyter is the author of The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!. He is the founder and CEO of Pole Position Marketing, a web presence optimization firm whose pit crew has been velocitizing websites since 1998. In his free time Stoney gets involved in community services and ministries with his “bride enjoy” and his children. Read Stoney’s full bio.

One Response to 5 Easy Steps to Build a Better Online (Rodeo) Experience

  1. Great review Stoney – Do you think we should do a site review on a regular basis?

    Let’s look for Reno based site owners to submit their sites for a brief overview. Something like “5 things you can do to improve your site.”

    Come on Reno, send in your sites!