THE ULTIMATE NBA FANTASY COMPANION
My vision for this app was to design a Fantasy Sports app that one would want to frequently use while watching a game and also easily get the information you want when you are taking a minute out of another activity to check up on your team/league.
I did not want to add a tremendous amount of features to confuse the user. The vision and goal was to add just the right amount of features that work in conjunction with each other as well as provide the necessary information to entice users to frequently check the app.
The business goal is to increase engagement from as many users and encourage them to use the app multiple times a day, if not multiple times an hour while watching games. This is in order to increase ad clicks and/or engagement with Yahoo’s Daily Fantasy Sports app.
LEAGUE AT A GLANCE
I designed the League Page to contain pertinent information for the user. Unlike Yahoo!'s current app for example, I put both the league rankings alongside each week's matchup. This was done to allow the user to compare and contrast each matchup with a specific league order. For example, a user could filter the league in order of 'points' to see if team X is better than team Y for a specific matchup. It was also a great information-architecture exercise to consolidate different information on the same page - thus reducing confusion and unnecessary pages.
A user can also go straight into a matchup's chat or an opponents profile from this page.
Throughout the design process, increasing engagement was always on my mind. However, unique engagement was as important as a high usage of the app.
This is why features like the 'League Chat' are designed to increase one-on-one communication but also allows you to chime in (or 'smack-talk') your friend's match-ups. I didn't want users to just check the app for stats - I wanted them to be immersed in the match-ups.
Another feature is the built-in trade manager within the 'League Chat' allowing you to propose and accept trades within a conversation. This allows both time and effort being saved by: being able to look up and group players together mid-conversation (instead of having to move back and forth between different pages); analyze trades; and make actions all in one flow.
THE ULTIMATE LIVE NBA COMPANION
There is nothing that gets you more removed from watching your players play live than constantly pulling down on your smartphone to refresh their stats. The 'Live Stats' page is a real-time feed of your player's stats that allows you to see how your players are doing with minimal friction - stat per stat. This is a much needed improvement over the current Yahoo! Fantasy Sports app. The current app overwhelms you with all your players and their stats on a spreadsheet-like interface which also forces the user to keep track of player's stats each time they refresh and compare to see their progress.
DESIGNING ENTICING FEATURES TO USE IN-BETWEEN GAMES
Other than catching up on last night's games, potential trade offers, and unread messages, there isn't a feature that entices users to use their fantasy app during the day or when there are no scheduled games.
The 'Analytics Page' is a feature that gives you short and long term analytics/projections of how your team is doing. This is to encourage a deeper engagement with your team, the rest of the league, and how to make improvements. Helping users make adjustments and improvements to your team is a way to keep players engaged throughout the season even if they are currently out of playoff contention.
There has been an influx of Fantasy Sports and Daily Fantasy Sports that has run parallel with the growth of the internet (and specifically mobile phones). While Fantasy Sports have been around for decades, the access to information and organization of Fantasy Sports leagues has become much easier and more accessible. However, the mobile apps available to start and play in a league is far from ideal.
My challenge was to design a new Fantasy Basketball app that was more user-centric and mobile optimized.
THE PROBLEM, THE PRODUCT
I first tackled this challenge by using a Product Thinking methodology. While the current selection of Fantasy Sports apps available were designed with a solution mindset (i.e. how do we get the online stats and league information on mobile), I wanted to approach with a problem-first mindset.
So instead of asking what features would make for a better fantasy app, or what UI would be more appealing, I first asked myself: “why do people play Fantasy Sports?”.
The answers will vary but at the core of it, people play Fantasy Sports to connect to their favourite sport(s) at a deeper level and make spectating more exciting and enjoyable. There is also a level of competition and community with those you play with that is also foundational to the success of Fantasy Sports.
USER-CENTRIC DESIGN THINKING
The current major players in online Fantasy Sports are ESPN and YAHOO! Sports. The problem with both of these fantasy apps is that they feel like they were built by shoving the desktop experience into the mobile. Furthermore, they were not designed with the user in mind leading to disorganized information architecture and user flows.
With both the problem and the user in mind, I set off to design a Fantasy Basketball app that would be a companion to live NBA games as well as a delightful experience competing against your fantasy league.
I conducted qualitative research from three separate basketball Fantasy Sports leagues (approx. 10-12 users per league) to drive the planning phase. I also scrolled through countless reviews/complaints from both the Android and the Apple app store for existing Fantasy Sports Apps.
From the research I was able to create a mental model to organize and represent the user’s thought process on how a Fantasy Sports app should work. Since mental models are based on incomplete facts, prior experiences and intuitive perceptions, I was able to understand the behavior of my targeted user base
Some Key Insights from my Research:
1) The primary use for the fantasy app by users is having a ‘companion’ application while watching games live, or keeping up with games while doing other activities.
2) Competition is a huge aspect of Fantasy Sports, so users want to be able to communicate and compete with their fellow peers in an engaging and efficient manner.
3) Users want to be able to build and analyze their team using the app as well as learning from their transactions.
4) Connecting to the National Basketball Association (NBA), in the form of lives scores and news, was an important user demand. Instead of using the Fantasy Sports app for their fantasy-league and another for lives scores and updates, users would prefer to have it all in one great experience.
5) Managing funds is also a huge aspect of the Fantasy Sports. Users, specifically a league’s commissioner, demanded an easier way to collect and distribute winnings.
USER CENTERED DESIGN CANVAS
I took my findings and consolidated them into a User Centered Design Canvas (UCDC) to have an organized list of my analysis on the business and users. This tool helped me frame the psychological aspects of a user's behaviour as well as the business requirements and goals. I would turn to this sheet throughout the process and update it as necessary.
(more information about the UCDC can be found here)