TeamSnap is a Really, REALLY Nice Site

Just a few hours ago, Matt Triplett and the fine folks at SparkPlug released a site called TeamSnap.

It is quite simply the bees’ knees.

TeamSnap is an application built on Rails designed to help people manage their amateur sports teams online, and it’s one of the best executed pieces of communication design I’ve seen in awhile. Not only is the site beautiful but everything is exactly where it should be. Within seconds, you know exactly what you can do with TeamSnap and exactly where to click in order to get started.

There are just so many things the site gets right that it’s hard to know where to start:

  • Feature set — Not only can you do the basics like publish a calendar of your team’s games, but you can even coordinate who’s bringing “refreshments”. For some reason, the team chose to make the beer icon blue which I don’t quite understand, but whatever. A lot of thought has gone into exactly what needs to be organized in sports leagues and these guys are clearly designing from experience.
  • Tour — The walkthrough is easy to follow and the screenshots are crisp and illustrative.
  • Testimonials — Everyone knows testimonials are often suspicious and overly pithy so TeamSnap created satirical ones instead.
  • Beautiful iconography — Every icon exudes a cohesive, friendly tone that makes me want to click.
  • RSS Feeds — You can follow all of the latest developments with your team not only via email, but also with your newsreader.
  • Structured data — TeamSnap ships with support for 24 sports (including “Dragon Boat”) and one of its important capabilities is storing structured statistical data for each sport. This means, you’re not just uploading a Word Document with play-by-play in it. You’re actually entering stats for all players on your girlfriend’s beach volleyball team (and then hopefully explaining everything in personal sessions later). Hugely powerful.

I’ve always thought the most interesting social networks out there were not pure social networks but rather networks built around an existing subject matter. While TeamSnap may look on the outside like a beautifully executed organizational tool, it’s actually social software built around one of the most technologically dormant (and ripe) social constructs around: recreational sports.

I expect TeamSnap to do very, very well once it’s out of beta, and I give Matt and crew a huge thumbs up for designing an excellent product at an excellent time. I will also be hiring Sparkplug the next time I need something awesome designed.

Well done you!

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40 Responses:

  1. I’ve not checked it out beyond the homepage — but what a brilliant idea for a site. What I love about this is it’s such a simple idea, but not one anyone else had covered yet. Build a site like this with the modern web frameworks isn’t tough from a programming perspective. The beauty is in the great idea and the execution of the user interface (which they appear to have gotten right, from their homepage and your review).

    I just love that a great (if simple) idea and modern tools can result in something so impactful when done well.

  2. Ryan says:

    eh nothing new, but a nice site nonetheless.

  3. Mike D. says:

    Ryan: Thanks, I hadn’t heard of MyTeamCaptain. It’s interesting though how big of a difference good design (MyTeamCaptain) and *great* design (TeamSnap) make towards first impressions of both sites. MyTeamCaptain looks like a site I could easily tolerate and make use of, but TeamSnap really makes me *want* to use the site, even though I don’t have a team to manage.

  4. Wondering why the mix of Rails and PHP?

  5. Jean says:

    I am the email guy for a soccer team I play with. TeamSnap is a nice , well executed app, for sure. But you know what? I can’t see how it makes it easier to manage a team. Way too many fields and too much info to enter. And players need to be invited and create an account to access the team info? They’ll never do that – they barely read their emails. It might work better for the more competitive teams or the more stats oriented sports though.

  6. Kim Joar says:

    TeamSnap really looks great, and it really makes me want to use it. But my soccer career ended some years ago, so I don’t think I will ever use this site more than to just check it out.

    By the way: I really love what they have done with the testimonials ;-)

  7. I am definitely digging the interface for that site. Very nice preview that walks you through each piece of the site. The colors make the site very vibrant and inviting – especially for this market. I hadn’t seen anyone else do this either (until the link above) – but a job well done to those involved in putting this app out there.

  8. AJP says:

    It definitely is a slick app. And it seems great for managing a small team. If you’re managing a soccer league, or real youth swim team (300+) it would seem a bit limited. Hand entering all that data would be a bear. I’m really interested to see what they do with the statistics section.

  9. Paul says:

    Looks pretty cool. I agree that it makes you want to start up a team just to try out the service, makes me want to get the ol’ paintball squad together.

    On another note, World RSP Society? And they have tourney’s for money? Wow…I’ve been known to throw a mean paper, I need to check this out!

  10. Devon Shaw says:

    Whoa. Nicely done. They could almost exclusively take over little league with this, thereby knocking out the ridiculously poor eteamz.active.com.

  11. What no dodge ball? This app is amazing, I’m going to use it for my rec volleyball team.

  12. Tom Q says:

    Wow. That is one well-executed site. i just set up a quick team and schedule. Simple, easy and great looking.

  13. Rob Paller says:

    Devon, I can’t agree more. I have just shared TeamSnap with the head of our little league division. It would be great to see TeamSnap offer a league level where teams can be maintained, league standings are available for each division, and there is a central point of communication for the league.

  14. Excellent site. I love the interface – like Mike said, it makes you WANT to use the site, even if you don’t have a need to.

    I play for a soccer team in Houston, and they actually have a decent league site with stats, profiles, etc, but I still think I’ll create a team page on here for use because it just looks so damn good.

  15. Holy crap! I went to High School with Matt. That’s bizarre. And WTF? I know 3/4 of the people on their management team. Small world…

    And slightly on topic: I think the “See how easy it is” button needs to be on every page for a little while. I was browsing the site and forgot where the tour button was. Not that it’s a big deal to go back to the home page, but during this initial time it’d be nice to make it easy to get involved from any page as you never know when a user wants to commit or where they enter the site from.

    Otherwise it looks pretty nice.

  16. Don says:

    All that without saying is it free, subscription, advertising based? What?

  17. Mike Papageorge:
    Wondering why the mix of Rails and PHP?

    I don’t think it is a Rails-driven site.

    As you inferred, the headers and file extensions (visible extensions are anti-Rails to the max) point to PHP – it would be a big pain in the rear to fake some sort of masking, and for what gain?

    The site’s UI and flow do kick ash, though :)

  18. Or, I’m an idiot and the welcome site is a mix but the Team app is Rails.
    Apologies :)

  19. Mike Montgomery says:

    Mike – thanks for sharing the site. I’m really digging it. It’s well organized and looks great. I’m testing it out with my company’s softball team. It took me about an hour to input all the player information (including uploading photos) and the schedule/results. I like the 500MB of space the provide for uploading photos. I’ll be interested to see if the rest of the team finds it useful. We’re an IT company and all the members of the team are web savvy. I think that will help with buy in for using the system.

  20. Love the site and like the team management concept. I’m in agreement about how TeamSnap makes me want to use the site even though I don’t have a team to manage, which is something My Team Captain definitely doesn’t do.

  21. Matt Triplett here from Sparkplug (the TeamSnap guys). First of all, thanks for all the great feedback! We’re really excited about TeamSnap and hope it turns out to be as helpful as we think it is. :) We built this product because it was something that WE wanted for our own teams. Since we started beta testing we’ve gotten a lot of great feedback on features to add and we’re actively working to make TeamSnap even better.

    Now, here are some answers to questions folks have asked:


    Mike Papageorge:
    Wondering why the mix of Rails and PHP?

    Good question, boring answer. We have an existing PHP templating engine that we used for the TeamSnap marketing site, but it’s all Rails when you get into the app.


    Jean:
    Way too many fields and too much info to enter. And players need to be invited and create an account to access the team info? They’ll never do that – they barely read their emails.

    Keep in mind that almost everything is optional. Fill in as much or as little information about your team and players as you want. (Or if you LIKE lots of information, add unlimited custom fields to track pretty much anything you can think of). Don’t need a feature? You can turn it off with one click of a button and never even have to see it.

    We hope TeamSnap is useful whether you get full, partial or no participation from your team. A manager can use it to keep track of the roster and payment status, send out emails to the team and make the schedule available via iCal or web even if no players choose to participate. On the flip side, if all or most of the players join up, they all can participate in updating their player information, setting their availability, messaging and the full TeamSnap goodness. We think it works both ways.

    The best case scenario is the Manager enters player names and emails and then players join up and add their own information so the Manager doesn’t have to do it all.


    Kim Joar:
    By the way: I really love what they have done with the testimonials ;-)

    If you enjoyed those, make sure to check out some of the hilarious email we’ve received about automotive spark plugs.


    AJP:
    If you’re managing a [...] real youth swim team (300+) it would seem a bit limited. Hand entering all that data would be a bear.

    Actually, a swim team with 300+ players would rock on TeamSnap. One of the great things is our “Availability” feature, which shows you exactly who’s showing up to what event. Imagine how cool it would be to know if all 300+ of your swimmers were going to show up!

    We are working on some cool “bulk import” features for the Roster, so stay tuned on that one. :)


    Jared Christensen:
    What no dodge ball?

    Yep, we support Dodgeball!


    Rob Paller:
    It would be great to see TeamSnap offer a league level where teams can be maintained, league standings are available for each division, and there is a central point of communication for the league.

    Yep, we’re in the early planning stages for “LeagueSnap” which will be exactly what you describe. Stay tuned!


    Don:
    All that without saying is it free, subscription, advertising based? What?

    We’re still in beta, so the details of pricing are TBD. But we’re basically looking at a “one team, one fee” model with Free, Basic, and Premium plans, probably $5-$10 per month. You will also be able to drop your team into off-season mode so you don’t pay when your team is inactive. We don’t like paying for stuff we’re not using any more than you do.

    Thanks again, and keep the ideas coming!

    Matt

  22. AJP says:

    I’ll admit, attendence is a big thing for big team like I mentioned. I’ve written a few sites and have looked at doing a similar system focused on swim teams.

    The big things lacking, that I know timed-event-based teams are include per-event registration, result archives, and easy import/export with current systems for their sport. There’s just too much data to hand enter for 300+ participants, in 3-10 events over given days. Results and archives are huge for those teams.

    This app is FLIPPING sweet for smaller teams, but without division of groups (age/performance groups?) I couldn’t imagine managing a huge team with it. It’s just too much hand entering. If you supported existing software systems, then we’re talking.

  23. AJP: You’re totally right about not wanting to hand enter 300+ participants. Yikes! What software system do you currently use? And is there an API or something for integrating that systems with others?

  24. AJP says:

    Swimming and Track and Field consistently use Hy-Tek LTD’s software. So I wrote a few parsers that allow us to import and export files between the web app and their software. From meet results, entries, athlete lists, contact sheet, escrow balance, etc, is all handled on web and coaching staff side. Shoot me an email (anything) at ajp.net and I’ll talk more about it.

  25. Eric says:

    How can all this amazing work go into a website – then they leave out a favicon! I am not trying to be annoying but when comparing team snap to my team captain, it stuck out.

  26. AJP: We’ll check out Hy-Tek and see what we can find out about integration.

    Eric: Good point. We’ve been so busy with the rest of the project that we overlooked a favicon. If you refresh now, you should see it.

  27. Ruby on Rails is really the new “shit” isn’t it?

  28. John S. says:

    LeagueSnap huh? Clever name.

  29. Karinne says:

    Nice site … nice app too … but man those testimonials are killing me! LMAO!!!

  30. Chad Edge says:

    Matt

    Great comments in reply to the posters here. I especially liked your “300+ for swimming would rock…” comment, as I’ve been working for months on a melee-style sports scoring system, and it’s absolutely killing me.

    I’ve tried out TeamSnap and have been quite impressed with the interface (especially the ‘enter-once, use again later’ features), however, I must confess I’m a little disappointed* in multi-event sports and multi-team sports being treated as ‘team A vs team B.’ In cases such as Track and Field, Swimming, and even Golf, you may have many players from many teams/schools. Therefore, having a team manager tracking only a single opponent may not be appropriate, not to mention the case of a dual or double-dual matchup, or even team/school combinations (team A and team B combine players against team C).

    I wonder if some of the thought behind TeamSnap may have come from the same thoughtlines of 37signals and their Basecamp etc products. The mantra at 37signals seems to be ‘do the bare minimum, the features that are missing will prove themselves to be necessary or limited in actual need.’ That said, perhaps TeamSnap is ‘good enough’ for most, and putting the effort to managing melee-style sports may be so limited in need that it’s not necessary to bog the entire user-base with even more fields.

    Anyway, just a rant as I’m bogged with my own nightmare of how to interact with a potential of hundreds of players records, scores, distances and events…. sigh.

    * My disappointment is not in the usefulness of your product, I suppose my disappointment is in the fact that I was hoping so much that TeamSnap would have an answer to how best to support multi-team events.

  31. Excellent comments, Chad. We should probably follow up offline to talk about how we can modify TeamSnap to meet your needs. While we do want to keep the interface simple and the overall experience easy-to-use, we *are* committed to making improvements to TeamSnap so that it meets the needs of as many people as possible.

    Thanks!
    Matt :)

  32. I looked at the testimonials page and laughed my ass off for about 30 minutes.

    That web site almost intrigues me to start a team!!

  33. Wow, looks like somebody is already trying to “clone” TeamSnap:
    http://www.scriptlance.com/projects/1181582490.shtml

  34. Like everyone else who has been commenting, I LOVE the design. Very clean and crisp. Kudos.

    However, I just wonder if the subscription model will be profitable? Sports is a tough niche. We’ve had one heck of a time trying to monetize our preps app. But it’s good to see someone thinking different and taking a risk.

    Best of luck TeamSnap!

  35. teamsnap looks good, but it’s a pitty you have to pay for it.
    There is a free alternative called mysportsplanner.com.
    this site has almost 20.000 users.

    Cheers,

    Aart

  36. Alex Kolina says:

    Guys – nice touch on the graphics and AJAX, but charging for stuff like this is passe – especially when you are trying to break into the business with new users.

    Check out other sites that give you tons of functionality for free: LeaugeLineup.com, eteamz.com, myteamcaptain.com, myteamhelper.com and actually quite a few others. I have been trying a few to setup my new hockey team.

  37. Karen says:

    Our teams love the site. They like knowing who to expect to show up at each practice and game. However, we have five teams in our women’s ice hockey club and we aren’t going to pay for each one once you start charging. We will have to look elsewhere for a free site or one that can handle a club with multiple teams.

    Thanks for the free trial!

  38. Dmitry says:

    Here is another site in this arena extremely well done http://firefield.com — super easy to use, loaded with features, and free!

  39. Deanna says:

    i agree about the fee-for-use comments. i’d rather see them make $$$ on advertising than charging non-profit sports teams for their service. as someone who manages multiple teams per year in multiple sports i’m not going to pay money out of my own pocket to do so even if it does save me a bit of time.

  40. Allen says:

    Seriously? An outstanding site that’s incredibly useful and you’re whining about paying for what you get? I’m managing two girls’ soccer teams and the cost is less than $10 bucks a kid per year for the deluxe subscripton.

    I do wonder what happened to the ideas for bulk import and leaguesnap.

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