Football Index is a successful betting start up which has the aspiration of becoming the first live sport trading platform with multiple gaming licenses.
The business had a suite of iOS and Android native apps and a static website, each of which had been produced by different design teams; all with varying opinions, product visions and features.
The project required improving the usability of core customer flows across all platforms, improving consistency and efficiency alongside envisioning a tradable order book. The latter being the cornerstone of a future business model allowing customers to trade directly with each other, offsetting any potential financial risk with increased platform liquidity. Think a Betfair odds exchange with the bells and whistles of a crypto trading platform.
Important Bit: To comply with my non-disclosure agreement, I have omitted and obfuscated confidential information in this case study. All information in this case study is my own and does not necessarily reflect the views of Football INDEX.
Football INDEX trading platform has over 300,000 active users, many of which have become successful Traders investing their knowledge and passion into an exciting new tradable market containing the world’s top footballers.
Traders can buy up to 300 shares in one transaction at the buy price and can sell up to 300 shares of the sale price. The aim is to beat the spread, although it is possible to cash out at any time and sell shares instantly if required; at a cost of 2% of the total transaction.
Like any market, the price is driven by supply and demand. When Traders buy the price goes up, and when they sell it goes down. The basics are simple capital appreciation, buy low and sell high. Football INDEX holds multiple gaming licenses in the UK & EU and all gains are tax-free.
Traders can view all their shares in their personal portfolio where they can check their position held and decide when they want to buy or sell. Neymar, Messi and many others have shown big returns over time, buying shares are considered a long bet on the future performance of a player.
Traders are also able make to make a profit on their portfolio of Footballers through dividends. Dividends are daily payouts on players which have been purchased in the last 30 days based on how well they perform on the pitch or in the media. Players with the most positive media mentions each day (collated from 25 UK news publishers) win media dividends.
One of the challenges facing experience design within the gaming community is designing an ethical platform that protects Traders. It’s important that we don’t forget to think about the consequences of our solutions. Sense-check at every step: is what we’re designing in the best interest of the people using it?
Football INDEX is different to the traditional sports book, it’s considered a long-term investment by Traders as the bet isn’t over at the final whistle. It is essential as Designers we stick to regulatory license requirements as a core part of the design process to safeguard Traders.
I joined Football INDEX as a consultant in May 2018, my role was to oversee Design Operations within the business and create a product driven, customer centric design process within an agile development workflow. All results would lead to measurable product improvements.
I inherited a team of three designers, a product owner and a team of Full Stack Software Developers working under a CTO. My position was accountable to the COO and CEO directly.
Due to the experience levels of my team the role was predominantly hands on. Once of the core challenges was creating a UX function within the business that worked as efficiently as possible, while training a team on the core principles of design thinking and strategic digital transformation.
The lucky devils.
Product and Operations
Football INDEX aspired to improve their product by adding a tradeable order book allowing the exchange of shares between Traders. With this goal in mind I initiated a full redesign of iOS and Android native apps. The core challenge involved understanding who the business was building the product for and being able to measure what success looks like. I adopted a research first approach to the project aligning a product vision with a development roadmap, assisting with setting a realistic timescale at an executive level.
The first challenge would be to take a static, legacy website and create a responsive version with a vastly improved user experience ready for the integration of an exchange proposition. The responsive mobile breakpoint would eventually replace both variations of the native apps with a single Football INDEX experience which traders would know and love.
An exchange is a marketplace where two parties exchange services, for example cash for an asset or one bet against another. Simple examples of exchanges are places like eBay or Gumtree, however the important thing to remember is that the purpose of an exchange is to facilitate a transfer agreement between two counterparties whether they know each other or not.
Technically speaking the Football INDEX platform is already an exchange. The definition of their exchange is that when a Trader owns shares in a player, other Traders can buy directly from them via the sell order queue where there is no middleman, although there is no visual representation to illustrate this to them.
Football INDEX were in the process of putting through a formal exchange application which could come with certain requirements to be fulfilled on their part, such as providing an order book for matching, the ability to edit, remove or change an order, and view their position within the order book itself.
There are specific differences between a financial exchanges and a betting exchanges, this would prove to be the the biggest challenge of the project. Betting customers needed to be able to understand the proposition through simplification, clear signposting traditionally built for the financial services industry. Traditional financial exchanges require 3rd party clearers and brokers to allow the public to access them, although Football INDEX planned to implement NASDAQs architecture to assist with the process.
This complex framework would need to be simplified for a traditional betting customer through research into users capabilities.
I ran a series of co-design workshops internally across Football INDEX in order to best establish any stakeholder biases regarding the platform, the brand, who Traders are, and what are their motivations. This exercise included teams across marketing, customer service and members of the executive board, all with their own varying opinions and customer touch-points.
Participants were invited to note down who they believed their users were, what motivated them to use the product and where they believed Traders challenges were.
The output of each session gave a clear view of internal bias which became a target to ratify or disprove through quantitative and qualitative research. Interestingly the variance in answers between teams highlighted a business need to increase communication internally and process regular feedback from Traders. This exercise fed into prioritisation of a product roadmap for future features which would be added to the new platform.
Football INDEX had a predefined persona of who their Traders are, produced by an agency who were only looking for one type of user. I hypothesised there were many more in the system from a biased perspective I believed 30,000 active users would never fit into a single mindset.
The approach taken was to combine different research methods in order to get the complete picture and understand exactly what Traders do in context. Using the output from the workshops I was able to translate a card sorting exercise into quantitative data points which were accessible via business intelligence reports from the current customer database.
The study gave me an outline of the archetypal Traders who use the platform which in turn would help recruit participants for an observational study. I also produced a digital survey and script delivered by the customer service team which would be updated whenever a customer would reach out to the contact center, I had to plan for bias, generally Traders only reach out to this team when that have a negative experience
The archetype personas delivered are based on real people who use Football INDEX and focus on what they do, how they do it and why. The output of the study reflects a true segmentation of 6 user types who don’t make rational choices and are influenced by their environment, social standing, and an array of cognitive biases. Behaviours were then applied to use-cases, ensuring the design process catered for everybody who uses the platform, and their goals.
The process of observation conducted via diary studies was used to track behaviours and emotional states of participants who fitted archetypal personas, helping my team explore the whole user experience of the end-to-end journey from first deposit through to withdrawal of funds from the platform.
The insight gained from these studies would produce a wider behavioural landscape, develop the trader personas and improve the product at its core. Methods of interaction proved to be simple and straight forward for both the participants and the team, with preference to keep the Trader diary entries simple, using a dedicated mobile for text, and a dedicated email address for emails.
I provided participants key dates for contact and follow up, and example entries to use as best practice containing clear explanation of minimum entry expectations.
Contextual interviews took place alongside usability testing of the legacy product implementation to gain a clearer understanding of features Traders love and loathe to help them achieve their personal goals.
Using both diary and lab based insight techniques Trader behavioural mapping was analysed and ratified alongside digital analytics from google to build a behavioural landscape and persona archetypes.
Based on customer research I established Traders liked and understood how to best purchase and sell shares within the legacy interface and didn’t want functionality to be impacted as a result of implementing an order book. Using the feedback as a framework I set about creating wireframes from a mobile first perspective (80% of Traders use a native app). The research demonstrated that Traders wanted more stats and better charts for each footballer on the platform and the ability to view their overall profit and loss. These features were fed into the development work stream as there were very limited data points available to make this happen for Traders in the short term.
When designing the exchange I worked alongside expert consultants hired internally provide internal service feedback on wireframes which incorporated elements of other successful financial exchange applications which would define a minimum viable product. The aspiration was to simplify traditional finance led interfaces for a traditional betting customer. Key signposting and contextual help button from any screen within the app assisted Traders.
Using a responsive approach was taken in order to test designs before feeding into native development streams. The information architecture of the wireframes was developed from card sorting with customers and stats via internal analytics platforms. The data highlighted core features and flows from the legacy site, including search functionality which translated across to wireframes as stakeholders were nervous not to dilute conversion metrics. This would be iterated later on in the product lifecycle.
Black and white wireframes were produced in Sketch.
Football INDEX put into motion the creation of a new brand identity at the beginning of the project with the clear instruction the brand open to being extended and adapted within the product UI, aligning consistency and build trust amongst the trading community. The task of aligning consistency of all platforms required building out a custom UI kit, establishing a visual language to enhance user recognition.
Buttons were made consistent throughout the app and adhered to native application design standards creating a visual hierarchy within the design pattern adopted. Colours are used to communicate success and failure, although stakeholders were still nervous of the colour red, although this was tested customers to remove any bias.
The UI incorporated a visual feedback loop for notifications and colours used visual contrast standards to allow full accessibility. Charts across the platform also got a fresh makeover, removing dead space either side of the trend line and incorporating new colours.
I produced prototypes for both stakeholder feedback and customer testing. Clickable interactive prototypes were created in InVision, and a more in depth solutions was produced in Axure RP. The latter containing clear and consistent animation, transitions and feedback loops based on variables to give the impression of a full and usable experience.
Using the archetypal profiles from the customer research conducted earlier in the project I enlisted exisiting Traders and potential prospects to come and join us in various settings which would be as close as possible to the real contextual experience of using the app.
Armed with a discussion guide, task-list, screen recorder my team and I used a social pub environment to gather feedback alongside a more formal studio setting. To test light, noise and environmental distractions.
The product is now available in beta.