College football recruiting is big business with the success of recruiting websites like Scout, Rivals, 247 Sports and Hudl. And college football fans, especially those in Nebraska, closely follow recruit rankings for prospects and teams. We wanted to find a simple and interactive way to provide readers with the quick hits on the Huskers 2017 recruiting class. The Husker recruiting board was one of our most trafficked content items on Signing Day, with the opportunity to interactively drill down even deeper on profiles of the Husker class through video highlights, ratings, analysis and more.
In the lead up to Signing Day, the sports staff worked with the web development desk on a basic and executable plan. The sports staff produces relatively simple player profiles, with digital content already included and embedded, on all the Husker signees, including statistics, quick hits on how or why the player picked Nebraska, embedded video highlights and embedded audio analysis of the recruits.
Having done these profiles the previous three to four years, we had the basic content infrastructure in place. So it was matter of adding interactivity. Our web developer, Justin Parks, did that by creating a CSS based off an RSS feed of the recruiting profiles and displayed that through an HTML blox that we placed on page. The CSS display was controlled and managed with keyword functionality. If a recruit had “committed” within the article asset, the player profile appeared with a “committed” flag. As the committed players signed, the keyword was changed to “signed” and signaled a flag change on the CSS. We also included designations for “target” and “missed” keywords within in the article assets.
As recruits signed with Nebraska or elsewhere, we adjusted the keywords in real-time, and the board updated. The toggles on the top of the board allowed users to view who had signed, who had yet to sign and who was missed. The profiles themselves popped out to give you the quick info (stars, other interested programs) with the option to then view the whole profile.
On Signing Day, the recruit board brought in 162,909 pageviews (33.62 percent of total that day) from 30,478 users (25.36 percent of total) on 42,242 sessions (24.83 percent of total). That was a 12.82 percent increase in pageviews from prior year and a 6.99 percent increase in users from prior year. The biggest impact was on average session duration. Users spent just over six minutes (6:06) on the recruit board, which was an increase in engagement of 195 percent (site average 3:10).
The recruiting board provided readers with in-depth and interactive information, and it kept them on our site viewing content and coming back for more.