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Stupid Usability #72

ESPN Fantasy Football

Written By: High Monkey
Posted: 10/6/2014

From the mind of Joe Cronin, Project Manager at High Monkey:

Like millions of other Americans (and a growing number in London now), I love watching football each and every Sunday during the fall. For the past few years, my fandom has changed from being solely a fan of the Minnesota Vikings (the best and most heartbreaking of all NFL franchises) to following all NFL games every weekend. The reason why I have started watching more games is Fantasy Football, the addicting pastime where fans can “draft” NFL players onto a virtual team and watch as each player’s performance on Sunday racks up points for their squad.

As fantasy football has exploded in popularity, so have the methods of checking your team’s score. When I started playing fantasy football, the only way to follow my team was on my laptop. Every Sunday night, I’d log on to ESPN and check my teams’ scores. Over the past few years, ESPN has spent a lot of time and money to develop an app that allows players to manage their fantasy team directly from their smartphone. ESPN rolled out their new app this year and while it looks pretty, it’s not a very user friendly app.

Let’s start with my biggest pet peeve of the app, the navigation system. When you open up the app for the first time, it takes you to a home screen that shows you the status of all of your teams. (I currently have three teams this year, including our very own office league “The Monkey Bowl”).

The problem with the navigation is that any time I hit the back button on my smartphone, it takes me back to this home screen. It does not matter if the home screen was not the previous page I was viewing. The default action for hitting the back button is to bring me back to this home screen. This gets very frustrating because if I am looking at my weekly matchup and then decide to look at another matchup in the league to see how my co-workers are doing, I can’t hit the back button to see if my score has updated. Hitting the back button takes me to this home screen where I then have to navigate through the menu in order to see my matchup again.

My other big pet peeve of the app is that they did not make a very usable way to look at players in the free agent pool. When you want to add a player to your team, first you go to the menu and hit Add Player.

This takes you to a page that recommends the best options for you to pick up based on their expert recommendations. This page is all fine and dandy, unless you want to be a homer like me and add Teddy Bridgewater, the Vikings next superstar QB, because the experts don’t recommend him as a top 3 choice. If I want to find a player who isn’t in the top recommendations, I will need to search for them by name, but there is no search option on this free agent page. If I click on the More QBs link, I could go down a list of players until I find Bridgewater. But there is not an easy way to find and select the specific player I want.

After poking around awhile, I finally find the search option. It’s back on the menu page.

It’s not a very intuitive place to look for a player name search option. This is an easy thing to fix. They could just move the search bar to the top right corner of that “add player” screen. That way if the player I want isn’t on the top 3 recommendation list, I can easily search for him without unnecessary steps.

Overall, the fantasy football app from ESPN is a clean and simple looking app. There is not a lot of clutter and the font and color stylings are easy on the eyes. The biggest issue is the navigation and usability of the app. ESPN could benefit from usability testing which would ask users to perform simple tasks such as “find a specific player on the Vikings” or “switch between 2 different matchups”. By performing usability testing, they would know how users are actually using their app and would know to move specific features (such as the search bar) to more usable locations.

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More About Virgil

Virgil Carroll is the owner and president of High Monkey – based in Minneapolis Minnesota. Virgil also wears the multiple ‘hats’ of Principle Human Solutions Architect and SharePoint Architect.

Virgil is one of those rare individuals who can dive deep into technical topics while speaking clearly to the business owners of a project and never forgetting that the end user experience has the highest priority. He calls it using both sides of his brain. Virgil is passionate about leveraging technologies ‘out of the box’ as much as possible with a focus on the strategic use of content to create websites that deliver the right content to the right audience on the right device at the right time. Virgil brings high energy, an ironic wit, and a sense of grounded perspective whenever he speaks to an audience. Virgil regularly speaks at conferences and user groups throughout the United States and occasionally in Europe.

Posted: 10/6/2014 12:00:00 AM by | with 0 comments