Sports Reference, Baseball Reference's parent company, is a source for current and historical sports statistics that enables users such as fans, businesses, and publications to access, explore, and share knowledge about the sports they follow. While Sports Reference has served a loyal user base for twenty years, they began to experience a challenge in retaining casual users who arrived on the site primarily through search engine results.
Craft partnered with Sports Reference’s product team to rethink the digital experience of Baseball Reference and increase its effectiveness and resonance with more casual users. The primary goal of the engagement was to deliver both tactical recommendations and conceptual design direction based on findings from iterative user research.
Craft worked collaboratively throughout the process to bring in stakeholder perspectives from Sports Reference’s product team, user voices of baseball fans, and fresh design eyes within Craft.
From assessing the competitive and comparative product landscape, to conducting exploratory and evaluative interviews, Craft engaged the client, users, and internal teams throughout the course of the design process to garner a holistic understanding of Sports Reference’s situation, challenges and opportunities, and make informed engagement, usability and design choices.
Craft uncovered near-, mid-, and long-term opportunities to enhance users’ engagement with Baseball Reference’s wealth of baseball content.
For the near term, Craft explored areas to improve discoverability, delivering tactical UX changes designed to help users find what they need.
For the mid-term, Craft developed concepts around customization, designing user flows and high-fidelity screens that would allow users to tailor site content to their broad or specific interests.
For the long term, Craft delivered a vision that would leverage the breadth of Baseball Reference’s historical data to resonate with the nostalgia users associate with baseball.
After conducting exploratory interviews, we returned to users with low-fidelity concept screens around the themes of discoverability, customization, and nostalgia.
The goal was to design an experience indicative of potential user flows and information hierarchies, and leverage user feedback to iterate before delving into high-fidelity design. Craft reimagined the player page to demonstrate the value of discoverability; the onboarding flow and dashboard layout to showcase customization; and finally, historical franchise data to experiment with pulling elements of nostalgia.
Gathering user feedback on these concepts enabled Craft’s team to align further and refine the intended experience based on users' expectations and preferences.
Craft delivered a range of potential solutions from immediate UX improvements to future vision for deeper connections with Baseball Reference users. To support the final design concepts, Craft also delivered a UX Assessment of the current Baseball Reference experience.
Beyond the deliverables, Craft demonstrated the value of the process. By stepping through the approach with engaged stakeholders, Craft showcased the value of an iterative user-centered design process in which Research and Design inform and complement one another.
That gives us a ton of paths to follow for future research. You touched on a lot of things that are already on our radar, but also surfaced some insightful new strings to pull.
Adam Darowski, Sports Reference