mSports™, A successful mobile solution designed from understanding users

A few years ago InContext was looking for another outlet for our creativity and constant desire to produce cutting edge designs and technologies. Our goal was pure innovation: create a new commercially-successful product that would take advantage of the emerging mobile platforms. What might that be?

Challenge

  • What business model based on mobile devices could attract a large number of consumers?
  • What content rich application/service is appropriate for mobile devices?
  • Can InContext leverage existing intellectual property to support these markets?

“There is no better application and interface out there — this quality enhances our brand message.”

Ken Fuchs, Director of Business Development for SI.com

Delivering Results

As a proof-of-concept we designed and implemented a new mobile application: Baseball ScoreCast. It delivered a rich graphic experience with navigation so natural it won’t interfere with watching TV or live games. Our unique software platform, the Mobile Object Browser, ensured that all play-by-play content and player statistics were available immediately or just one click away.

  • Live, play-by-play scores of ongoing and completed games, as well as logs of past games
  • Up-to-the-minute game and seasonal statistics for every player
  • Built upon a platform that can be the basis for a consistent user interface design from platform to platform, from cell phone, to PDA, to web tablet, to interactive television
  • An overall design that can be extended to other sports, promising users a consistent experience from sport to sport

Were fans happy? Here are some of their responses:

  • “It’s head and shoulders above where we are now.”
  • “It’s good; you have everything you need here.”
  • “You didn’t have to show me anything and it was easy to figure out how to use it.”

The Process

msports2.jpgTo find the answers to these questions we did a market analysis investigating surveys, market trends, literature, and analyst recommendations to explore what kinds of mobile applications might spark market interest. We soon selected city guides, financial data, and sports as the most likely areas for commercially successful innovation. Through further analysis, we chose sports as the most likely to succeed in attracting a large audience.

We put together the mSports project to develop an application that supports the fan experience by understanding the needs of sports fans and leveraging new and emerging mobile technologies. As part of Red Sox Nation we selected baseball! More importantly, baseball, with many games a week, was the best candidate for a mobile application.

As a proof-of-concept application, mSports Baseball shipped under the ScoreCast brand of SI.com, the website of Sports Illustrated.

We created our new product using the Contextual Design process from start to finish. Our design team used the method’s full range, starting with developing a deep understanding of the users’ needs and ending with creating a user-tested interface design. We used:

  • Contextual Inquiry field interviews to understand the primary customer audience
  • Data consolidation to show a big picture view of the situation
  • Visioning a new design to solve the problems
  • Prototyping and user mockup interviews to test designs based on customer data
  • Product development of the tested interface with iteration and release updates
  • A usability test with the running product

msports3.jpgWe also invented new processes to better suit mobile devices and to engage a consumer audience.

Field interviews with baseball fans in their homes, stadiums, and on the go revealed design requirements for a mobile application that could:

  • Track the game play-by-play up to the minute
  • Track and display statistics about the game, the field, and the players
  • Drive data to a device about related information like local restaurants, merchandise purchase, stadium history, traffic, and trivia games
  • Be affordable for people of every socioeconomic class and available across sports