Yahoo! Sports Design Improvement

Yahoo! Sports redesign 2003 before and after

Evolving the popular sports website for Yahoo! was a huge challenge. With a very small team and resources compared to rival ESPN, becoming the leading online Sports editorial service and leader in fantasy sports and broadband programming for both users and advertisers was a tough task.

Challenge: Brian Grey, then head of Yahoo! Sports, requested a redesign that would compete head to head with rivals such as ESPN, Fox and Sportsline. The challenge was tough.

First, Making the site compete on content would be a challenge, because Yahoo! Sport creates less original sport content than media companies such as ESPN or proprietary right owners like the NFL and MLB.

Second, to attract fortune 100 advertisers to invest more heavily, the site needed to feel more sporty and less like a list of sport statistics and news feeds. This meant adding new content sources and new team members including user experience design.

Lastly, a new navigation experience was needed to accommodate more sports, enabling greater content and business to be developed in each vertical. Navigation had to be flexible to accommodate seasonal variations in sports, whilst remaining easy to use so repeat visitors could easily find sport results on a daily basis.

Results: The sports team had very clear goals and objectives, but no dedicated design resources to help achieve them. I argued the business case for investing in two dedicated heads (visual and interaction design disciplines) and negotiated borrowed headcount from user research and web development. With a world class design team hard at work, the site went through the full user centered design process. Within a year the news site was launched.

Results following the launch of the redesign were spectacular. The site moved from #4 to #2 on the internet behind market leader ESPN. Unique monthly visitors increased by 52%.

Three new sponsors, Pepsi, Ford, and KFC, invested heavily in the newly designed sponsorship templates for major league sports. Companies such as Ace Hardware, Nike, Cingular, Planters, and Tums followed suit, bringing new advertising to the service.

Our users were impressed, too. The amount of time spent on each page was greater than on competitors ESPN, Sportsline, and AOL Sports. The look and feel of the service set a new standard for online sport media that has been very hard to beat but often imitated.

Role Design Director

Year 2003