Friday, February 3, 2012

I Want to skate THERE!

One of the things that puzzles me about the rink business, it that most of the rinks have the most appalling websites.  I've  been in some heavy duty software training for the last week, with nothing to do in the rare breaks but surf the internet, so I started randomly looking at rink websites. Most are awful, some are god-awful.

Sin Number 1:  A web page that looks like it was designed in 1998. Mysterious resolution changes between the home page and the rest of the webpages show up at the Pittsburgh Ice Castle along with a host of other formatting issues. At least they don't use <blink>,
Sin Number 2: Pages that run on, and on, and on. People don't scroll down to find your latest update, or older up date. The Ice Castle was bad, but I think Prince William Ice is even worse. Major items of importance such as the schedule and the map are at the bottom of the home page.
Sin Number 3: Rink information that is written for the 'entre nous' group. I give as my primary example, the Robert C. Crown Center, Evanston, IL. The new customer will type in the name of the rink or 'chicago ice rinks' into Google, and for this (apparently) huge facility, get a single web page with a few PDFs linked to it. There doesn't even appear to be any online Learn to Skate registration. This must be the few rinks in the US without online registration. There may be a better webpage for the rink with better information, but the one that comes up at the top of the Google list is the one new people will go to. Way to go Evanston!
Sin Number 4: Limited coaching information. Voila! The Desert Ice Castle. This rink has Frank Carroll, the premier singles coach in the US and 4 other coaches. They all seem pretty high level coaches. Are they manning the learn to skate program, or teaching adults? Probably not. So how does a skater find out about coaches that might be more appropriate for 'the rest of us' who aren't headed to the Olympics? Some other rinks don't have any coach information AT ALL! How are less famous coaches supposed to get customers if they can't have a bio posted?
Sin Number 5: Mysterious, poorly explained Learn to Skate programs. I hate to hit up one rink twice, but The Desert Ice Castle wins again! Here's a link to their LTS program. I like the total description of the skating school levels, "Levels 1-5". WTFO? It's using both ISI and USFSA. What does that mean? Even more reason to have more detail on the LTS program. Here there's not even any exhortation on how to dress a child for skating, or even any information about whether you get passes for publics or if the registration pays for skates. No online registration. And here's the kicker. The cost of the class is on the skating class form, but not on the registration form. Way to go Desert Ice! Making it difficult for your customer to spend their money at your establishment.
Sin Number 6: No mobile compatible website. Rink Management -- get over it--people use their phones. Get a mobile compatible website up.

Best Rink Website I've Found: Ice Chalet, Knoxville, TN. Home page is a little long, but the important stuff is at the top. Group lessons and the ISI skating program is detailed so it's clear to the parent. For private lessons, there's both an outline of the program and a list of coaches, with bios.  Lot's to admire about this website. No wonder the rink looks like a fabulous place to go!
I want to skate THERE!


  1. My rink website is useless. The only thing it is good for is a schedule (assuming there are no changes, it is updated bi-monthly).

    The LTS form is usually a few months out of date (no online registration). Right now it isn't too bad- you can register for the January session that ends soon- haha

    There is no coaching information. The coaches page has some boiler plate stuff about your "pro" that I'm sure they stole from someone.

    There is no pricing information except for public and skate rental. What's "Cheap Skate"? What's "Freestyle" (they used to call it "Freeskate" but people thought that meant Free skating, understandably). How much is "Stick and Puck"? Are there minimum qualifications for freestyle or stick and puck? (really, I don't know...)

    There is information on birthday parties that is fairy extensive, and the presentation isn't offensive- so I guess that's a good thing.

    1. I've had people tell me figure skaters just can't be bothered to learn technology, but the hockey rinks are just as bad.

  2. I think both rinks I skate at have decent websites. &

    I have been curious what is going on with Desert Ice Castle's website since they first announced it was being built. So frustrating, but then the Ice Castle Training Center in Lake Arrowhead is just as bad.

  3. Ooooh, I looked at the Ice Castle Training Center website, the links to sign up for the skating school lead to a 404. Classy. And no pictures of coaches. And no explanation of LTS classes. And more 'under construction' pages than a housing development in the 50's. Thanks for the point out.

  4. I would not take LTS online registration for granted. My previous rink has long waiting lists for youth LTS program, and they put out chairs in the lobby several hours before registration starts, grandmas sit there and knit for hours waiting for numbers to be passed out one hour before registration starts... It's really outrageous.

    I do think it's a must to put some schedule / coaching info on the website to promote the rink's program, especially in a saturated market.

  5. The Crown Center is not a large rink, but it may well have more figure skaters than any other in chicagoland. There is a wiki where some Robert Crown Center skaters have tried to compensate for the rink's IT failings.

    1. I've seen it before, and it's very useful. I think one of the commenters in this blog is a volunteer on it. My favorite quote on the wiki " Expect 20 weeks for a check to clear [at the center]". WoW. Just. WoW.