TIMELINE : Ongoing
ESPN is a mammoth in the industry and the statistics given in the website https://disneynews.us/espn-statistics-facts/ is just mind-blowing. As an ardent sports fan, I use multiple applications to check scores, analysis, or just read up on sport-related stuff. Being the accessibility freak that I am, I tried using this application with voice-over and found it extremely difficult. Hence, I decided to improve the usability of the application for a broader audience.
Disclaimer: This is a personal project. I am not affiliated with ESPN in anyway, I took this case study as I am passionate about sports and usability studies.
Improving the usability of the ESPN application to enable a better experience and engaging a wider audience
Things i put into use to get some initial insights
It should be known that with almost 86 million subscribers, ESPN might be in a league of its own. People who have want information at their doorstep or people who do not prefer scrolling may have a hard time with the application. Additionally, people with low vision and color blindness may have a hard time navigating through the application. With a drive to make the application accessible and easily usable, I devised a case study to redesign the ESPN application. I took one step at a time and made sure that I followed a simple procedure throughout. I started with the Exploring the application, the users and checking how other applications do with respect to ESPN.
The motive of this case study was to find new material to learn and improve myself in the world of User research, and subsequently, the design. I wanted to explore hidden paths through this challenge. I followed the given process – Explore, Define, Ideate, Prototype, Evaluate.
Who are the users?
ESPN has a variety of users. From the young to old, the application is used by a broad spectrum of people. This not only includes users who pay for their service (ESPN+) but also people who want just in time information. The application is also used by people who want to watch live streams, tune in for quick news. Additionally, due to the large coverage in sports, different sport fans tune into the application. NBA fans, soccer fans, ESPN attracts them all.
I am an admirer of data collection as I get to know in depth about what the users think about the application. I conducted a survey and then interviewed users, went through the application reviews on App Store to come up with the possible issues.
WHAT TYPE OF RESEARCH DO I CONDUCT?
I want to get my hands on information that can would be vital to the redesign. For this purpose, I decided to proceed with Evaluative Research. Some of the methods that I used for the same are:
- Application Reviews.
- Existing Product Analysis.
- Heuristic Evaluation
- Usability Testing
Some of the main issues highlighted by the users in the app reviews are:
- Notifications do not function as intended.
- Content issues. (Deflection from what is given to what is expected by the user)
- More commercials than content.
- Not accessible to people who are blind (Navigation issues)
- Hard to map the content on notifications and the application.
- Layout for videos are not up to the mark.
- Content overload.
- Preferences are not prioritized.
Existing product analysis
I searched for other products existing in the market, to give me a clarity on what those applications offer in comparison to the ESPN application. The pros, the cons, and to get a deeper understanding of the product space. For the purpose of simplicity, I chose the CBS Sports app, the NBC sports app, and the Athletic sports application for iOS. I wrote down all the thoughts and my observations on index cards and kept them side by side for understanding.
15 people were surveyed to get a basic idea about the users when they interact with the application. This was primarily done to check the user journey, and to get a clarity of thought about the users and their thought process.
Some of the pointers of interest obtained from the users are:
- Soccer is their main sport choice.
- The application is slow to load.
- Ad popups are a cause for concern.
- 50% of the users cited the need for a better design for either simpler navigation or a better user experience.
- Content management.
- Over 70% of the users thought that a change in the look and feel could offer a better experience than the current version.
- 60% of the users think that the application is inaccessible to other users (People with vision impairments).
- 33% of the users use the ESPN sport application on their phone each time their favorite team plays.
Keeping the usability metrics in mind, I evaluated the application to get a glimpse of where the critical usability problem may lie. From previous experiences, I decided to use the Usability Aspect Reports (UARs) to check the criticality of some of the heuristics of the application. This process was done separately to extract maximum data and to populate all the findings for future brainstorming.
JTBD vs persona – a debate.
Having read and used personas in previous projects, I was keen to see if there was an alternative to the persona and I came across the Jobs-To-Be-Done Framework. While the JTBD as a framework is based on the fact that the user uses the product when they do a particular job. The framework is typically output driven. On the other hand, personas explain who the users are and what they do. The JTBD explains why the do it. I felt at a certain point in time that the application is heavily dependent on the motive of “using the application because of a certain event”. However, from a lot of reading on the framework, I got an idea that it does not focus on the empathy. Hence, I chose personas as I wanted to empathize with the users by putting myself in their shoes.