HELPING KIDS IMPROVE PLAYING SOCCER
A SOCCER CHALLENGE
I join iSoccer in 2012 as a lead ux/ui designer. I was very exited to have the opportunity to help kids improve playing a sport that they love and that I also love. When I started, iSoccer was a very old platform that had a lot of passionated users, but to grow, we needed to rebuild the platform in a better technology. We also started to see that lots of kids between 6 and 14 years old where using mobile apps in their tablets and iPods so there was a big need for a mobile app.
UNDERSTANDING KIDS, PARENTS AND COACHES PAINPOINTS
iSoccer was a training platform that helped kids to get better at soccer. There where two types of users; players and coaches. Kids had to practice 16 different skills to get better at playing soccer, they could track their improvement and compete with their teammates. Coaches could also track their players progress entering their scores. In our first approach we decided to redesign the main features of the platform and translate them into a iOS mobile app. We wanted to get rid of the unnecessary tools and only map the essential ones. To be able to prioritize that we needed to understand deeply our users, an not only our users, also their environment. We noticed that parents played a very important role around the commitment of our users to the platform.
SKETCHING THE INTERFACE
We were building the new isoccer web platform when we started to design the new iSoccer mobile app. We started to wireframe all the screens to organize the content and workflows. We created some interactive prototypes in order to test dynamically the app and validate all the principles. I like to start with a low fidelity sketch and then refine it to communicate with teams and provide a common understanding.
With the skeleton and the prototype validated and tested, I worked on the User Interface. I wanted to keep the interface simple and minimal, yet colorful as well as playful and attractive for kids. I worked very close with the engineer to test all aspect of the design and interaction. Our users had mostly ipods and iPhone4 (iPhone5 appeared during the process), so I optimized the design for those devices.
SHIPPING THE PRODUCT
We launched the new App in August of 2013, one months later than the web platform. We had a really limited time to design and build it because the soccer season was starting that month and we couldn't miss it, we would loose lots of potential users. Some of the design details slipped through the cracks when the app shipped. However, I was happy to find out that our users didn’t seem to care about pixel perfection as much as I did.
ENGAGE NEW USERS
After the launching we where expecting a huge increase of the usage of our product, but it didn't became what we expected. Our existing users where very exited about having a mobile app, but what we discovered is that the new users didn't knew what to do once they downloaded it. We had to concentrate our efforts on create a better on-boarding and a better first time experience for that type of users.
We tested different hypothesis and we made several prototypes. We decided to create a new feature that allowed the user while on-boarding to pick one single soccer challenge and focus their energies on improving one single skill. That way, a kid could experience what was the app about from the beginning. After we launched this new feature, we found out that it worked much better, the users could set up very easily their goals and start using the app.
CHANGING THE STRATEGY AND ADOPTING LEAN UX
Several months after the launch, we decided to focus 100% team efforts on the mobile player App. We focused our energy on optimizing the acquisition and retention. And the most important thing, we started to talk more with the kids! We learned from our mistakes. It was also time to redesign again the product into ios7 guidelines, making it more clean and delightful for the kids.
We had been building the App in a waterfall process and we learned that being isolated wasn't a good idea. It was time to adopt new methodologies and we decided to apply the Lean UX cycle; Build, Measure and Learn. We had 2 week sprints and we focused on continued iteration.
REIMAGINE THE PRODUCT
After some research we discovered the need to turn soccer practice into a game. We wanted to engage all kind of users, not only the ones who want to improve playing soccer, also the ones that love soccer. After some brainstorm sessions we decided to test one new feature; a checkin game. Kids had to checkin every day in something related to soccer to earn points.
We quickly builded and submit the feature. After one week we discovered that it was a success and the kids where loving it! So we moved the training part of the App into itself section as a premium feature and we focused on the checkin feature as the central game of iSoccer.
FINDING THE BEST UI
We tested different ui for the checkin page. We sent some surveys to real users to be able to decide which layout and which icons made them more exited. We discovered that if something was cool for a 12 year old, the younger kids would also love it!
GAMIFICATION AND REWARDS
As we were noticing that the checking feature was really engaging the kids, we decided to introduce more gamification. Kids could win real prices for doing checkins everyday. And they could also win badges. We decided to introduce some animations to make it more playful.
We partner with soccer.com and we designed 3 types of prices. Soccer.com gift cards for kids were practicing 15 days in a row, 30 days in a row and 50 days.
REACHING OUT OUR GOAL
One of the things I learned in iSoccer was the importance of the metrics to support our decisions. Any time we submitted any change we were able to analyze the numbers to determine the success or failure around a feature.
Acquisition and Retention grown constantly and we accomplished our goals. We increased the DAY use 200%, and we increased the checkins 30% every week. Starting with 50 checkin a day, after some weeks we had more than 2000 a day. Here is our growth metrics from December 2013 to January 2014:
AND THE MORE IMPORTANT: WHAT OUR USERS THINK ABOUT ISOCCER
Reviews from Apple Store.