Site Offers Customizable Experience for Sport Enthusiasts and Event Planners
While Design Mimics Professional Sports League and Merchandise Sites

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., Aug. 18, 2015 – If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, than the West Michigan Sports Commission (WMSC) is showering companies like Reebok, Nike and the NFL with praise in the launch of its redesigned website.


The WMSC just launched a redesigned website (westmisports.com) whose design mimics sites of professional sports leagues and athletic clothing and footwear brands, highlighting the excitement and action of the sporting world. But beyond visual improvements, the website more clearly showcases West Michigan’s event offerings for both sports enthusiasts and sporting event planners.


“Our new website is all about giving visitors a highly personal, customizable experience based on their interests and needs,” said Mike Guswiler, president of the West Michigan Sports Commission. “Combined with more high-energy visuals and imagery to convey the exhilaration of youth and amateur sports, our site packs a punch in terms of rich, relevant content presented in an easy-to-digest format.”


Customizable Content for Sports Enthusiasts

A key improvement of the site is the ability for visitors to search for customized content by topic – whether a sports fan or a sporting event planner. For example, if a site visitor loves basketball and types it into the search bar, a page will appear aggregating all information on the site relating to basketball – upcoming tournaments and events, basketball venues, basketball events that need volunteers, recent blogs about the sport, etc.


Enhanced Tools for Sporting Event Planners

Other site enhancements are geared to more easily support the event planner considering Grand Rapids as a sporting event location. New site features for this audience include:


“Venues” link – Provides a featured list of Grand Rapids’ sports venues, including data such as photos, square footage, seating capacity, past events, and other details.


“Host an Event” link – Aggregates all information and services offered by the WMSC to assist with hosting an event such as bid and event services, plus includes a fill-in-the-blank form to request support from the WMSC in hosting their event. Another benefit for event planners is the “Add Event to our Calendar” feature where planners can upload their local event details to a master calendar housed on the WMSC website.

“Submit an RFP” link – Event planners and rights owners can upload their event RFP to the WMSC site so the WMSC can bid on the respective event for Grand Rapids.


Customizable event microsites – While the WMSC has always created microsites for larger events, the new website design allows as many microsites as needed for events – and in a style that complements the WMSC’s site for branding consistency. Microsites are available to sporting events planners hosting events in Grand Rapids as an added feature to market their event, with the WMSC setting up the initial design template and then giving content control to the organizer. An example is the Reeds Lake Triathlon (www.westmisports.com/reedslaketriathlon/reeds-lake-triathlon-home).


Design to Mimic Professional Sports Leagues and Merchandise Sites

Another major enhancement of the website is from a visual perspective. WMSC website developer Ben Routson hired local design firm Visualhero Design (visualhero.com) to create the site’s look and feel. Visualhero took design inspiration from websites for the NFL, X Games and athletic merchandise brands like Reebok that feature large action-oriented images, color-saturated navigation panes and minimal text on the home page.


“The WMSC website is not a small site – it has lots of deep pages full of content, and it can be a challenge to make them visually connected. My goal was to build a site that is colorful, visual and engaging that would still work with pages full of content. I think we’ve accomplished that,” said Routson.


Media Contacts

West Michigan Sports Commission:

Katy Tigchelaar

Kim Skeltis, Blue Blaze PR

Meijer State Games of Michigan:

Eric Engelbarts, II

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