Yahoo! Sports

Yahoo! Sport Website 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

Yahoo! News

Yahoo! News Website Design Improvement

Yahoo News Design Improvement before and after images

Yahoo! News requested a redesign of the their popular website. What started out as a dynamically generated set of text based news feeds was transformed into a customer centric, advertising friendly #1 news internet site on the web.

Challenge: Yahoo! News wanted to be the best and most relevant online news service on the Internet. Its goal was to create a compelling and customizable new view for users; build deeper feature and content packaging to enhance contextual advertising opportunities; and drive traffic from the site, deeper into other parts of the Yahoo! network.

Response: Making over the site involved introducing new skills to the News department who were reluctant to let go of the way things worked at first.

With the introduction of a six-month research phase consisting of focus groups, usability studies, segmentation analysis, field research, and advertising studies, I was able to bring the news team to a shared understanding of the scope and scale of what we needed to do from a design perspective to help them achieve their goals. Resources were approved and I built a world class team of interdisciplinary designers to transform the site.

Findings from the research phase informed the design of a customized digital news experience targeted at specific customer segments. Users were offered up-to-the minute, comprehensive, contextual news with features informed by consumer insights. Pages were easier to navigate and were laid out to be clearer to read.

For advertisers, the new site offered integrated and more valuable ad units. The design enabled sponsors to underwrite parts of the site by providing templates that they could “plug and play” their content and brand into.

Results: Yahoo! News moved to #1 news site category on the web according to Neilson Netratings enabling it to reach its goal of becoming the best and most relevant online news service on the Internet of its time.

Unique visitors to the News site increased five times within a year of launch. With new visitors and greater traffic to the site, advertising revenue increased and more people were drawn into the Yahoo! brand experience.

Testimonial from Kourosh Karimkhany, Senior Producer of Yahoo! News

“I met Sally when she was running one of Yahoo’s design groups and I was running the day-to-day operations of Yahoo News. My product had been performing well, but was not well respected and was not growing fast enough in comparison to our competitors. Sally was assigned to my redesign project – which turned out to be one of the most fortuitous turns in my career. She led a team that essentially invented the current form of Yahoo News – the largest news site in the world.

She came up with very clever solutions to devilish problems – like how to display a lot of information on one page without overwhelming the reader, and how to present the same story from several news organizations. These were radical ideas that Google News aped a couple years later. 

She was a consummate pro as well.

My team had several strong personalities (yours truly included), but she managed to keep egos and tempers in check. What’s more, even though different members gave wildly different suggestions, Sally managed to sprinkle just the right pinch of each of our demands into the final product. 

The result: Yahoo News’ traffic exploded. A year after the redesign traffic was five times higher.

I would LOVE to work with her again. While I like to brag about Yahoo News’ explosive growth as one of the highlights on my career, Sally truly deserves more of the credit.

Role: Design Director

Year: 2004

Yahoo! Movies

Yahoo! Movies Website Design Imrpovement

Yahoo! Movies Design Improvement

The web as a medium for promoting film had yet to prove its worth in Hollywood in 2002 at the time of the sites redesign. By making the presentation layer of Yahoo! Movies more familiar to often-conservative, middle-aged studio executives, Yahoo! was able to capture a major investment from the movie industry.

Challenge: Yahoo! movies was a popular site with users on a Thursday evening when people were looking for a film to see on the weekend. It did rather less well during the week. In the eyes of potential advertisers in Hollywood, it did little to entice them to spend advertising dollars. The challenge was two fold, create a site to attract advertisers and keep users coming back every day of the week to the website.

Response: For the site to be appealing to the movie crowd, it had to offer movie sponsorship opportunities and integrate broadband content, editorial reviews and, most important, the promise to sell movie tickets over the web.

Getting the right balance between content aggregation, movie promotion, ads, and editorial content was a new design challenge. By offering fewer larger ad positions at the top of the page, producers were excited to invest. By rotating the content on the home page according to the ebb and flow of the movie industries production and promotion cycle we were able to attract users back on a daily basis.

For example, traffic to the site peaked on Friday, when users wanted to find a movie and show times. Promotions of weekend releases drove users to the theaters for opening day. Monday’s home page featured the box office highs and lows over the weekend. Understanding the movie studios’ timing, established Yahoo! Movies as a part of the entertainment industry.

Results: Yahoo! Movies became the #1 entertainment site on the web following the launch of the redesign. Within a year of the launch, unique monthly visitors increased by 34%.

The Movies team relocated to Santa Monica and quickly became enmeshed in the glamor of Hollywood. The movie industry took this commitment seriously, and their influence on the team’s thinking benefited both industries.

Role: Design Manager.

Year: 2002

School Website

Website Redesign for FengShui School 2007

A new vision for the Golden Gate School of Feng Shui’s website. A great opportunity to enhance the brand appeal to attract new students to learn about the school.

Challenge: The goals of the redesign were three fold.

  1. To create a clean professional new look and feel that would appeal to a wider range of visitors.
  2. To create an exciting dynamic home page that would engage users to explore deeper into the site.
  3. To increase the amount of time visitors spent on the site by offering new content like video reviews, articles from past students, questionnaires, surveys, product merchandising etc.

Response: Establishing the right ‘mood’ for the site was key to its success. A competitive brand audit of other Feng Shui schools revealed a gap in the market for a high impact, professional design with strong visual appeal. Several  mood boards were created and tested. The one chosen used a rich color palette or reds and golds cut with green (image above right).

The mood and color palette brought a vibrant mixture of ancient oriental imagery combined with a modern sensibility which was how the school wished to position its brand in the market.

The imagery, colors and fonts from the mood board were applied to a new layout and a fresh set of page templates were designed to show case new and existing material in an easy to read, simple to use site.

Result: The new vision for the schools website was well received by its leader.

Date 2007

Role Designer