As a Professional Athlete myself, I’m always interested to see what other athletes are doing to promote themselves on the internet. One would think that with the amount of money flying around in most high-profile sports these days, the highest earning athletes on the planet would surely have the slickest looking websites; this is not always the case. What shocked me more is that I could only find 2-3 athlete websites using WordPress as a CMS. Suffice to say there are some great athlete websites out there but they are in the few, so I’ve compiled a list of my favourites for you everyone to check out.
I didn’t really want to join the list of billions on the web posting a ‘my favourite blog designs of 2008′ article which most likely they ripped from SmashingMagazine anyhow, but spending a few hours today doing some research I’ve discovered that there are absolutely zero resources on the web to list professional athletes websites (I got the list mostly from googling famous sports heroes and trying to find their websites) and it seems the more famous the athlete, the less they spend on their website budget (mostly I would think, because the internet is not a great marketing tool for sports compared to Television and Print media – sorry guys!).
Anyhow, I thought I could be the first to publish a list like this featuring athletes, and I would hope with a few Diggs from you guys out there this could be become a valuable resource for webdesigners who have been given the task to build the new Roger Federer website. So enjoy and read on to check the sites!
Click on the screencaps to go direct to the athletes website [ websites are ranked in order of best to 'least best']
1. Rafael Nadal
This is just a cool website, period. Big typography with a flash section in the middle; easy to navigate content and the grungy/come modern style of the site really suits Rafael’s playing style on the tennis court. The current World #1 Tennis Star has certainly made an impression on the web also.
2. Maria Sharapova
Another tennis star tops the list, this time the smoking hot Russian and former World #1 Maria Sharapova. Although I’m not personally a fan of full flash sites – this one does the trick. There’s almost no loading time and no horrendous intro that is common in full flash sites. The content is easy to navigate and the layout is clean and to the point. Great website!
3. Natalie Gulbis
This American born LPGA (women’s golf) superstar has a really cool website. Kind of reminds me of the old Hemingway theme for WordPress in its layout, but the website is full CSS and is nice and clean whilst keeping a ‘girly’ theme with the colours which some female sports stars don’t seem to want to portray. Golf never looked this hot!
4. Andy Roddick (using WordPress!)
Just using WordPress alone would have been enough to put American Tennis superstar Andy Roddick up the list, but the fact its actually a Revolution Theme mod and done very well makes it even cooler. Relatively clean layout (a little cluttered, but that seems to be the style for sports stars in America) and easy to navigate and not to mention – NOT using flash! Props to Andy!
5. Kobe Bryant
Nicknames are cool and so calling your website KB24 gets a tick in my book. The rebel American NBA basketball star has a very cool light-on-dark website with a nice woody textured background. The auto-play flash video at the top takes a while to load but once you’re past that the website is a head-turner.
6. Alex Ovechkin (WordPress!)
This site popped up on the WooThemes.com Showcase recently as it’s a mod of their VibrantCMS theme. A very cool featured slider is the first thing you’ll see then the site is kept very clean and simple with the blog and other content. Not a big NHL Ice Hockey fan but this website is really cool!
7. Kimi Räikkönen
Again I’m not a fan of full flash sites, however if you can manage to do them without a lame and annoying intro and take the load time down to almost zilch, then you get a tick from me. I’m a big Formula1 racing fan so I have to pay tribute to one of my driving heroes. The site is easy to navigate and really fits with the persona of the Ferrari brand’s own website – which is important when someone’s paying you +$30 million a season to drive their cars.
8. Amanda Beard
Unfortunately, this smoking hot American Olympic swimmer was beaten to the .com of her name by someone else so she had to settle for the .net extension. This is another full flash site (seems to be common with athletes) however its very clean and has a fairly small amount of information on it so it doesn’t feel cluttered. The menu at the bottom is nice and using big pictures of Amanda as the background is fine in my book!
9. Dave Mirra
Dave Mirra is one of my favourite Pro BMX riders and is widely regarded the best street BMX rider ever. I love his website because it goes straight to the action – latest pictures and videos are available without clicking a ‘media’ gallery or such. Only drawback is the background is a 1.76MB .png file (surely it could be smaller, its just a texture!). A cool grungy website for a BMX’er is a job well done.
10. Gretchen Bleiler
Snowboarding, what a cool sport. Gretchen was a silver medalist at the Torino Winter Olympics (I remember watching her compete) and this site definitely sums up what I think about when I think of snowboarding. Big colourful menus, confusing layout and big colourful photos of Gretchen airborne. Although its not the most practical website, it certainly sums up ‘hot’, ‘snowboarding’, ‘girl’ all in one hit – which is the aim of a personal website of a pro snowboarder.
11. Shane Warne
Now this isn’t exactly a personal website, more of a personal website of Shane’s next gig after sport (professional Poker playing) – however, I must give testament to one of the greatest Australian Cricket players on the planet as I’ve met Shane personally a few times and he’s a pretty nice guy. The website is really clean and functional and just wreaks of Shane goodness.
12. Çaĝla Kubat
Don’t ask me how to pronounce her name, but this is the hottest girl in windsurfing at the moment. She’s from Turkey, a professional model and now a professional windsurfer. I have the luxury of seeing this girl on tour quite a bit through the year. Her website again is full flash, but its clean and minimal and able to distinguish between her sporting and modelling career achievements.
I love it when athletes flash their cash, and the Brazilian soccer megastar is no exception. This awesome flash enabled (mostly CSS) website is available in 4 languages and features the colours of his native Brazil as well as a really cool signature logo of Ronaldo’s. The website just screams soccer superstar – and does the job so nicely as well as giving good visual cred to his sponsors (ie, Nike).
14. Tony Hawk
The world’s most famous skateboarder needs no introduction and neither does his website. Some would say this website is cluttered and ugly, but I’m impressed by designers who can accurately capture the essense of the sport the athlete is playing. When I think of Skateboarding or Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4, I think cluttered, messy, colour, grunge-graphics and lots of advertising – which is exactly what this website does best. Well done.
15. James Courtney
Last year I was a guest speaker at a lunch for athletes and spoke alongside James Courtney. He’s an Australian racecar driver and his website eeks of clean racing goodness. The colours are cool (green websites are hard to pull off) and I like his cleancut JC logo. The website features an update of the next race circuit on the tour which is a good plug for the race tour as well as for James himself.
16. Björn Dunkerbeck
Dunkerbeck is the greatest windsurfer ever, period. He won 12 Overall World Titles in a row – a feat which will never be topped I reckon. I’ve raced Björn a few times over the years and he is a true champion. His full flash website is a little difficult to read the content, but it makes up for it with some truly amazing windsurfing photography as his backgrounds. The black on blue content/background is a nice touch also. I don’t like the autoplay music but you wouldn’t say it to his face – he ain’t called The Terminator for nothing!
17. Antoine Albeau
If anyone could top Björn Dunkerbeck’s winning streak in windsurfing – its this guy. Antoine is from France and now that Björn has had his day, he’s winning everything that’s left to win. His site is kind of a copy of Björn’s I feel (that’s why he’s one behind) but I do like the graphics and the elephant on the splash page (Antoine is nicknamed little elephant or something I think) is so cute. Windsurfing rocks!
18. Daniela Hantuchova
Tennis players seemed to have figured out how to make a presence on the web (this is the 3rd in this list of 25). Admittedly, its usually the more attractive female players who make it and this Slovenian girl is no exception. This website is simple and clean and the top bar graphics are nice. The colours are a little “whack” for a tennis player but that’s the only drawback I think.
19. Wojtek Brzozowski
This Polish World Champion windsurfer is actually one of my rivals in the racing discipline of windsurfing I compete in. He’s a pretty nice guy to boot too! This is actually the 4th version of his website (I preferred v3.0) but its very clean and the colours are easy on the eye. Its available in 2 languages and has a decent amount of content on there. Only thing missing is videos …
20. Sasha Cohen
This American ice-skater is a good example of how to turn an Olympic Silver Medal into a long career in the public eye; she’s now a tv-star and advertising spokeswoman. The splash page to her website is horrible, however once you get past the purple you find this clean, cutesy, white website which is nicely layed-out with a left-alignment. The site really fits well with her youthful teen look.
21. Patrik Diethelm
Although the single column layout is a little strange on this site, I love the big windsurfing backgrounds on this Italian Pro Windsurfer and board designer’s website. It takes a little while to load (my pet hate with full-flash sites) however the backgrounds are just awesome and the content is easy to read, spaced out into each topic’s own block.
22. Allison Shreeve
Allison is a good windsurfing friend of mine from Australia and happens to be 3x World Champion in Windsurfing. Her website layout is nice – I like the colours matching with the water of the top graphic and the fact that the front page gets STRAIGHT to the point of what the site is about. Although I prefer CSS menus rather than images the site is really clean and fits with Allison’s squeaky clean image – good job!
23. Fernando Alonso
Another great Formula1 driver, this time from Spain. This website actually has a few things I hate about it, but if you wait for the flash section on the top left to play through you will find this AMAZING hand drawn image of Alonso (which I captured in the screenshot) which was the final point that made me include it in this list. I think the scrollbar moving to the right of the content must be an error with the coding because it looks terrible and the menu is kinda blurry, but otherwise the website gets the point across.
24. David Beckham
You really disappoint me here Becks. You’re one of the biggest names in the sporting arena worldwide and you’re getting paid more than most could even imagine, yet your website is soooooooo 2002. Its like a FashionTV ripoff. That being said, the site is clean and the information is presented in a very clearcut way. I do like the flip menus being used on the site so Becks did make my list of Top 25 (barely).
25. Serena Williams
Don’t click past the splash screen on this American Tennis Star’s website – it gets REALLY ugly after this sleek and subtle splash page. This picture of Serena screams glam and I think it really fits with the layout and colours of the splash page. Pity about the website inside, but I included it because I was so impressed with the splash.
… and finally, the one you’ve all been waiting for …
Worst Website Award Goes To …
Roger Federer (worst website ever!)
My god this site makes me want to stab myself in the eye with a pick-axe. Where do I start? Is it the awful colours, the 1997 layout, the horrendous fonts being used or the shear lack of ‘presence’ this website gives. For the man who’s undoutably the highest paid tennis player on the circuit right now and even has his face on a postage stamp in his home in Switzerland, I’m fairly disappionted with this site in comparison to his main rival Rafael Nadal’s who featured at No.1 spot in my list.
My contact details are here if you need a new website makeover Mr Federer.
I hope you enjoyed my list and if you do some research yourself you’ll find that there’s not as many pro athletes out there (as we might think) with cool looking modern websites and even less using the glorious WordPress as a CMS. I’d love it if you guys could Digg this article or at least spread it over the social bookmarking websites below as I’m sure there’s many up and coming athletes out there who see the benefits in promoting themselves on the web and want some inspiration when they build their personal website.
And feel free to post any more athlete’s sites in the comments!
One more for the road …
And Finally… this is MY personal website.
I’d be interested to see what you guys think of my personal website. Its using WordPress and I’ve tried to make it as graphic as possible while keeping a clean layout. AUS120 is my international sail number for windsurfing for those wondering what the heck the url is all about …