James Lacerenza sent this in:

WWE.com Focus Group Meeting

First off, I guess I’m free to share this with the world since I didn’t have to sign any “confidentiality agreements” of any sort. The focus group (surprisingly) was made up of age 18-25 males and females.

We were asked what we liked and didn’t like about WWE.com – and judging from the moderator, he seemed a little surprised that quite a few of us read “insider / gossip” sites like Wrestleview.com (Shameless plug!).

We talked about why we’d even go there, and frankly, many went there to catch recaps, ticket information for events or to shop – but not much else.

They then showed us 4 different mock-up designs for WWE.com – all of them had white backgrounds, and the entire group HATED that! One had what can best be described as a “rotating carosuel” of WWE superstars and legends at the top. Clicking on Big Show’s picture, for example, would take you to info about Big Show.

Another had a MASSIVE video screen box. The design most of our group liked was a very clean, interactive design that would allow for Facebook and Twitter interaction, as well as ideas they were going to put in anyway, such as “WWE Radio” (streaming superstar themes, podcasts hosted by the wrestlers themselves, etc.) In fact, I even said “please make the music high quality!” since WWE has a tendancy not to.

Another feature of the design we liked is that it had a “breaking news” feature at the bottom that will (based on our suggestions) probably flash / have some sort of sound effect when a superstar is injured or there is vital news (a firing from the company, etc.) as well as an “ESPN-like” news box on the top right hand side.

Then we were shown a possible interactive website that would have backstage segments air during commercial breaks on RAW and Smackdown, if not the ENTIRE show, since people aren’t always home to watch it. It would have real-time fan reaction right there on the website.

Many of us made it clear that the news itself should focus on storylines – but only to a point – that it should be more “mature” in writing style – and that perhaps it would also include lifestyle and fitness tips, fashion tips, and other useful things from the superstars themselves (think of an online version of the current WWE magazine.)

We also thought the games on the website should be more interactive – I actually “pitched” an idea based on ESPN’s “Streak for the Cash” game that everyone seemed to like – somehow, predict the winners and losers of pay-per-views and other match outcomes that were already scheduled (known to fans), with monthly winners receiving cash, exclusive fan experiences or free tickets.

Another idea that everyone seemed to like was including non-televised event footage and unscripted stuff backstage. Let’s say you went to the WWE when it stopped in your town, but because it wasn’t on TV, no one knew what happened, and you couldn’t record it yourself without getting sued if you did it yourself. Well, this would probably change that.

At the end of the discussion, “the crew in the back” wanted to come out and say hello, so they sent a “representative”, (Mrs. HHH herself, Stephanie), who posed for pictures; and on a personal note, spoke to me about getting the office workers to vote for my Pepsi Refresh project idea for MDA. (http://www.refresheverything.com/mda). She took the project info and promised that it would be circulated, adding, “there’s gotta be some Pepsi around here somewhere!”

And of course, we were compensated for our time, plus they gave us a free T-shirt. All in all, not bad at all, and very, very interesting!

James “the MDA guy” Lacerenza
Stamford, CT