Utah Governor Sports Contest: Is it Rigged?

I got an email this morning asking me to go vote for the First Annual Governor’s State of Sport Awards for Utah. Being a big sports fan in Utah I was curious who was nominated so I headed over to vote. I did this on my phone and immediately noticed a weird interface. There were three candidates, but only two “VOTE” buttons. This is what I saw:

Utah Governor State of Sports Awards

Now you can click on the individual BIO and then vote for them but it takes an extra click, and I would expect quite a bit of drop off for those who don’t know who they are and don’t care to spend the extra few seconds to find out.  Also, having the “VOTE” buttons in between two players led me to second guess who I was actually voting for.  Other than it being a pretty bad mobile user experience I didn’t think much about it until I got to work and went back to see if the experience was better on desktop.

What I found was everything looked the same.  As I was showing the guys in the office the poor experience, one of them pointed to a small red arrow that revealed an entirely new candidate (as well as the original missing “VOTE” button).  The first time I went through the candidates and voted I missed 25% of all of the candidates.  It was probably largely because I was on a smaller mobile screen, but I didn’t notice it at first when looking on a desktop browser either.  Here is what the desktop looked like (same as mobile):

Utah Sports Awards Poor User Experience

I’ve highlighted the arrow that I missed the first time around:

Utah Sports Awards Fail


Which leads to this:

Utah Sports Awards Poor Hidden Candidate


I’ve got to believe that there are plenty others like me who completely missed the fourth candidate on each page. Luckily for me, there wasn’t any “hidden candidate” that would have won my vote, but for the Real Salt Lake fans and a few other athletes, they are fighting an uphill battle to win enough votes from the casual voter. What started as a poor user experience turned into a poor administration of the contest.

As a marketer, the main lesson to be learned is helping users achieve the desired result. Pay special attention to the site layout and the user experience.  If you have a product you are selling on a site that isn’t easily found, chances are very good that it won’t be sold. Most people will scroll down to see more content on the page before they notice a small arrow leading to additional page content off to the right of the page.  It also would be a good practice to have someone else  (or a lot of other people) go through the experience on your site (including a mobile version) to see where the potential flaws and pitfalls are. While I doubt it was the intention of the Governor or whoever actually administered the contest, the poor administration leads to a biased contest.  For this contest, chances are pretty good that the “hidden candidates” lose the contest simply because according to most users they weren’t actually ever in the running.


Sports Commission Reply


Thank you for insights and comments about the State of Sport Awards website. We did testing on desk, mobile, and tablet devices with our design group and hosting & server company and had positive results when we launched it.

We were surprised and concerned that your experience was not all that it could have been. Would you mind telling us what type of phone devise you used originally?

Currently, we have received almost 40,000 votes on the site from a multitude of carriers, devices, and servers.

We are researching to see what your complication may have been. The winners will be selected from the fans’ votes, and most of the categories are still competitive.

Thanks again


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