Enterprises are launching “corporate portals,” gateway sites that act as an entryway to both a company’s Web presence and its intranet. In this column, Web consultant Kelly McKnight gives his opinion on a corporate portal, highlighting strengths and weaknesses that may translate to your company’s Web presence. The following index provides an objective look at the site’s features.
Kelly’s thoughts on the Major League Baseball Web site
This is the first in a series titled “Who’s On The Ball?,” where we will review major league sports Web sites. A good place to start is the granddaddy of all sports leagues: Major League Baseball (MLB).

Once upon a time, I think MLB thought it was bigger than its fan base. With strikes, salary disputes, lockouts, off-the-field player behavior, and competition from other sports, MLB began to make efforts to cater to its fans—and actively market to them. The MLB Web site is a monument to this effort.

From an informational standpoint, MLB does a good job identifying the needs of its fans and guiding them to where they want to go. They have broken their site into three key areas:

  1. Home
  2. Store
  3. Fantasy

“Home” gives you general league info. Very quickly, you can get a good baseball overview and then zero in on your specific team. There’s lots of interaction with stories, polls, and chats. Team standings were up-to-the-minute. Terrific team stats are at the fans’ fingertips.

The “Store” area is loaded with the traditional—and the unusual. For any fan of any team, there’s something for you here. I couldn’t believe the variety of products that is available—everything from authentic jerseys to mouse pads.

Since I’m a recovering “Fantasy” participant, I had only one question: Why wasn’t this section available when I was playing? If you don’t know what a Fantasy League is, my answer is go no farther. This is an addiction. Here’s how it works: A group of people get together and form a league; draft players to build individual teams; and then the teams compete based on baseball stats like home runs, batting average, RBIs, runs scored, ERA, strikeouts, wins, saves, and so on.

The prize? Usually money, and sometimes this means lots of money.

Fantasy League competition is based on facts, and the MLB site is a gold mine for this type of information.

Kelly’s verdict
While I like the interaction and information available at the MLB site, I was kind of disappointed in the appearance of it. In my opinion, the site was a home run in information, and a strikeout in character.

It isn’t just on the MLB site where I’m seeing this trend, but a lot of sites.

According to research, 40 percent of adult Internet users changed their views of specific brands due to an online experience. Wake up, corporate world! The Internet is about information, but it’s also about image. Too many sites are ignoring this important factor. It goes a lot further than just slapping your logo at the top of the page.

In the next couple of reviews, I’ll be reviewing other sports-related sites. It will be interesting to see how they step up to the plate when it comes to these issues.

Kelly McKnight is a principal of Via Internet Studio , a consulting firm that specializes in corporate Web site design, Internet marketing, and e-commerce.

Now it’s your turn to review the Major League Baseball Web site. Just click on the Rate this Site! button, and you can help separate the good from the bad from the ugly. It only takes a minute or two to complete your rating, so don’t waste any more time—rate this site now! For Kelly’s rating, scroll below.