Background & role
Shakhtar Donetsk may well be one of the most successful teams you've never heard of.
Hailing from eastern Ukraine, Shakhtar has had a long and rich football heritage, beating the best teams in Europe to win the UEFA cup in 2009, triumphant over Dynamo Kyiv, Everton, Tottenham Hotspur, and Paris St-Germain (amongst others).
They approached Lightmaker in 2014 to revamp their online web presence, utilising a Sitecore CMS solution. This was no mean feat as the legacy site had many advanced features that had built up over the years, that whilst functional, were not overly user-friendly. They also needed a responsive mobile-friendly site to replace the outdated static version in place.
I worked as Lead Designer, alongside the talented Constantine Gavrykov, who then went on to work for Wargaming (of the popular World Of Tanks game). At this point, I took over the reins to steer the creative and visual direction for the remainder of the project (6 months).
We had to completely reimagine the whole online digital proposition: Player info, Match info, ECommerce, Video, Photography, News, Ticketing and Hospitality stands. We restructured (technically and aesthetically) everything from scratch, barring scraping the existing content from the legacy site.
To kick off (pun intended) we conducted a comprehensive research and strategy exercise that involved interviewing the clubs major stakeholders, including the fans. Right from the start, the website was designed to be a total departure from the traditional hierarchy adopted by many of the worlds leading football clubs.
We also had to take into account multiple languages, including, English, Russian and Ukrainian. This meant testing for areas where implementation may break and typically considering these before they even occurred.
The club has a long history of coal mining so a gritty, yet contemporary feel to the aesthetic was decided to be the right balance.
The Shakhtar brand is very much built around the players. We wanted to elevate the players up to legendary hero status by emulating the football playing cards of old.
In doing this we added stats and scores as well as features such as key skills. Each player had their own profile page, with a bio, key stats, social media links and gallery.
Core fans expect the latest up-to-date information to be available directly on the website as it happens. We designed the site to contain information pre-match, during the match (with live feeds) and post-match analysis with statistics.
The site expands on the match day experience by integrating a live match centre that draws on match stats from a local provider, as well as audio match commentary for a real-time “Live” feed.
ECommerce is a significant revenue stream for the club, particularly in clothing, so we looked at aspirational brand-centric clothing sites for inspiration.
By using Sitecore, a fully functional enterprise level CMS, the club could easily control and integrate stock as it changes through the season, importantly leveraging a full suite of Digital Marketing and Personalisation services to target fans with offers and products.
With a successful launch, as any good product, the club continues to make ongoing improvements internally to improve sales and conversion on their clothing range.
Another critical revenue stream for the club is corporate hospitality. They have a range of suites and bars available for hire at different price points, as well as large events outside of the football season, parties and even weddings.
We also produced an entire microsite that would promote these features as well as allow users to make enquiries and even bookings online.
The overall aesthetic needed to be upmarket, much like an online brochure, so we took a departure from the bright orange and introduced a more toned down aesthetic to reflect more elegance.
We restructured the templates to be unique for this part of the site to allow a fresher feel.
As a result, the club continues to have continuing successful sales, entertaining both fans and visiting business alike, with their event space and restaurants.