FIRST website is an embarasment


I cannot tell you the level of frustration in dealing with our new website. I am about to quit FIRST due the summation of all the frustrations I have dealing with this horrible website. I am wits end.

Not only has it been a nightmare for registration for events, nor for trying to get people signed up, nor trying to find things, nor trying to navigate through it, but as a coach, it gets worse.

You cannot organize your team roster, export it to excel, and copy&paste it easy. Plus when new people sign up, they are randomly placed in the current roster making it very time consuming double checking each student. It might not be a problem with 10 students, but 50 it’s very time consuming.

And then when you sort on “applied” students, you cannot accept them without going back to the full roster and scrolling through everything again.

Then trying to have people sign up in VIMS, especially if they are not computer savvy is a horror story.

It really is an embarrassment when you think people in robotics should be good at computers. Thank you for hearing my rant. It helps. I think.


Now it won’t print the students with the full roster. YEAH! I have to do print screens!

I sure miss DOS>

I have given up trying to get the students signed up in STIMS. Even if we had a day where parents could come in and use the computers while I step them through it, I’m sure it’d be a mess. We’ve gotten a couple set up for awards submissions, but I’m just having everyone else do it via paper, and then I’ll make copies for competitions.

It is an embarrassing aspect of FIRST, I agree.

At our demos we get asked all the time, “How can I contact a team near us so my child can join?” Good luck doing that with the FIRST website.

#YouHadOneJob #ImNotInspired

Hate to pile on… but one other fun one discovered recently.

When you give your attendance numbers for local kickoff registration, the maximum you can enter is equal to the number of people registered through STIMS/TIMS. Sure… it logically makes sense, but not every team is likely to have every student/mentor registered in STIMS/TIMS in October, especially with the issues noted.

I’m expecting having to follow up with teams individually to ensure we plan for the proper numbers for kickoff. As a PSA, if this happens to you, you might want to proactively contact your kickoff coordinator to discuss.

Yeah, FIRST definitely needs to check on how that system is operating. Things I’ve noticed this year:

  1. I was good for YPP screening with my old team, but when I started a new team as a lead mentor, I wasn’t good any longer. I thought YPP was about the individual?

  2. Lead Mentor YPP changing unexpectedly. We registered for our second regional event a week ago, and both lead mentor YPP status was green. Now, one of us (not me, so it’s not related to my #1 above) is no longer green. No change of team, no change of name, no change of address, just one week to the next.

  3. Another local area team saw their parent invites disappear.

  4. Texas is so big that if you search by ZIP code with the maximum radius for events, you often get no results. You need to leave the ZIP code blank to get the full state results. Ironically, providing extra information invalidates your search.

I don’t even bother using the FIRST website to find events; Blue alliance is so much more easier to use, and quicker.

I cringe when ever I need to go to FIRSTs website…

I had to phone FIRST HQ to get the YPP to process properly. There was some data field that someone there had to manually type in (but it all looked okay from my screen).

I have tried to tell people where to go to find information on teams and other things like that. When I have done this they have not been able to navigate the website well. It is very difficult to figure things out. The website looks very nice but does not feel very logical to me. My biggest complaint is the amount of screens you have to click through to maybe find the information you are looking for.

The consent forms are annoying and pointless anyway. It’s unfortunate that the online system makes them worse.

What if FIRST put out a survey asking everyone to respond in an evaluation of the website? Or what if everyone on Chief Delphi who has issues with the website responded on this Thread?

I suspect it would break every record of thread responses in the history of Chief Delphi. I’ve been annoyed about the website since they made the changes in the first place. FIRST, IF IT AIN’T BROKE, DON’T FIX IT! :mad:

What do you tell a parent?

“We keep getting an error. We contacted first robotics through an email for help with no response.”

I’ve also had my issues with getting students signed up in STIMS. I think we’re going to have to take a meeting or two and just try to get them through the process with someone looking over their shoulders. It’ll be slow because we (the team) don’t have that many computers.

Earlier in the year, I sent out a message with a specific link to STIMS. By the time some tried it, FIRST had moved the page. So not helpful.

I miss the old calendar. I use the archived site to find teams that are registered for an event. And I use Google to search for specific things on the new site because trying to find it in there is frustrating.

I wonder if the UX designers for this site know that FRC mentors typically don’t have a lot of time to spend on the site. We need to just find targeted bits of information, not have a pleasant experience looking at great photos to inspire us. I’d pick easy to work with over pretty at this point.

While I’ve suffered my own frustrations with the site, I have to ask… do you really think this redesign was about making the site better for mentors? When I look at it, the intent I see is to draw in those not already affiliated with the program - new schools, students, sponsors, volunteers. That’s why it’s so picture-heavy. For people already involved, you wouldn’t need any pictures at all. Heck, just give me a sitemap so I can find the link to what I want and I’ll personally be happy. But such an interface may not serve FIRST’s overall goals with the website.

You might be right but once FIRST has drawn in these new people (students, mentors, volunteers), the rest of the interface has to actually work or they will go away.

The new website certainly brings up the question of “who is this made for”. It does not seem to be for the participants (students, teachers, and mentors) in FIRST, but rather for the sponsors.

I’d argue that while pretty and it would draw in a new person that for some reason stumbles to FIRST without knowing what it is, I don’t find it to be helpful for them either. The design is there to be helpful - but clicking on “parents” “kids” or “educators” takes you to the same area. It does just enough to maybe convince someone they want to do it, but then provides no useful information beyond that. It’s also pretty blatantly biased towards “starting a new team” rather than finding an existing team. I know I would never recommend someone to start a new team without first finding an existing team.

Seems to me that those 4 things of parents, kids, educators, volunteers should be something more like “new participants”, “existing participants” and “volunteers”

I think the website is just another example of how FIRST is more worried about growth than it is about growing a sustainable, respectable program. They seen to forget (or not care) that this program is run by volunteers and many of them have full time jobs. We don’t have time to try to figure out how something works this year differently than last year. They should be making every effort to make it as easy on the volunteers that are making the program work as they can.
If FIRST keeps going on its current Marketing heavy path and ignoring the volunteers that make the program work, it is going to suffer a huge drop in workforce.

Yep, once they have set the hook, you are food.

I agree with Ron. I brace myself every time I have to click on FirstInspires.
I know I am entering the rabbit hole of poor customer service.
A significant time vampire.

I am about to begin the STIMS process. Trepidation looms large.

I am choosing to soldier through this misunderstanding… for now.

STIMS is terrible. Very hard to find information. Not intuitive at all. The old one was much better. I have used High school sites that are much better (not ours but…)

It’s just more evidence that FIRST doesn’t understand who their customers are.