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Gay Games optimizes content for mobile, social media

Gay Games 9

The 2014 version of the event, which takes place around the Ohio cities of Cleveland and Akron, is expected to draw 20,000 to 30,000 athletes and spectators. The organizers had previously created a responsively designed Web site that automatically optimized itself for mobile devices, but this week they revamped the content for mobile so that it focuses primarily on only the most useful information for attendees. 

?Our site also was done with responsive design, but this week we switched up the mobile site, so that it only highlights the most important information we felt people would be looking for,? said Ann Gynn, communications director for Gay Games 9, the non-profit organizers of this year?s event. 

The Gay Games is an international sporting and cultural event held in a different geographic area every four years. Launched in 1982, the Games include more than 35 sports and invite participation from everybody, regardless of sexual orientation or athletic ability. The 2014 Gay Games is being presented by the Cleveland Foundation. 

Streamlined for mobile 
The main desktop site for the Gay Games was designed to be a more robust site with extensive content, including videos and other materials, Ms. Gynn said. The mobile site now opens with a menu of the most relevant information selected from the desktop site, including the schedule, a list of sports, information about tickets, things to do, news and sponsors. 

Users can link to the full content of the Web site through the mobile site by using a drop-down menu. 

The mobile site was created by Cleveland developer firm Aztek, and was designed by the Gay Games 9 committee chairman Jeff Prystajko. 

The site also links to the Games? social media channels on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, where followers and sponsors have been highly active in promoting the events. The Games include not only the sports competition, but an array of social activities such as a Festival of Lights, tours of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum, and conferences on health and other issues for the gay, bisexual, lesbian and transgender community. 

The multimedia campaign promoting this year?s event uses the tag line ?Go All Out.? Organizers have been actively promoting the games and the surrounding festivities on Facebook and Twitter, where they have garnered 13,655 ?likes? and 3,273 followers, respectively. 

Local sponsors have been leveraging the #GoAllOut hashtag in promoting their tie-ins to the event, including special deals. Cleveland?s Pier W restaurant, for example, is offering 15 percent off a meal for the duration of the Games for spectators or athletes who bring a ticket stub. 

Similarly, restaurant and entertainment venue Dave & Busters Cleveland is offering 30 percent offer food and game play for those wearing the Gay Games 9 StaytoSave wristband.

Mobile site versus app 
While the organizers of the Gay Games considered developing a mobile application, they decided against it. Creating a streamlined, responsively designed site for mobile offers a more accessible and practical experience, especially considering that visitors from more than 50 countries around the world are expected, Ms. Gynn said. 

In addition, having a streamlined mobile site that draws content from the main site offered cost savings for the organizers because content would not need to be duplicated. 

?We chose not to do an app because with people coming from all over the world, we weren?t sure if everyone would be able to download it, and we wanted to make it accessible to everyone,? Ms. Gynn said. ?We thought having a responsively designed site optimized for mobile was more practical and cost-effective.? 

Final Take 

Mark Hamstra is content director at Mobile Marketer, New York