TV4 Fotbollskanalen, the largest Swedish source of football news, recently updated their website and apps after a collaboration with Screen Interaction. Erik Westerdahl was part of the team where service design, user experience design and development was closely integrated into a new design process. These are his stories from behind the scenes of the making of the new and improved TV4 Fotbollskanalen.
In November 2014, I started working at Screen Interaction. On my very first day, I was assigned as Project Leader and Digital Service Designer to a new project. The second member of the team from Screen Interaction was Anders Jacobsson, working as Service Design Lead in the project. The third member of the team was Creative Director Jonas Theder.
The client was TV4 Fotbollskanalen. Their website and apps for both iOS and Android dominate Swedish and international football (what Americans call soccer) news reporting in Sweden. After eight years with few updates to these platforms, they decided to go “mobile first,” remaking everything from scratch. They contacted Screen Interaction to help them develop the new concept.
In collaboration with TV4 Fotbollskanalen, we decided to develop the new concept through qualitative interviews and user testing together with the service experts ‒ their customers. We identified the needs, expectations, desires and driving forces that exist today, and with that knowledge we developed the new concept in close collaboration with both TV4 Fotbollskanalen and its customers.
The new concept was tested over and over again with trigger material (three loops), digital prototypes (three loops) and with the programmed app (three loops) in order to ensure customer satisfaction. Each time we performed the tests with new customers to ensure that the solution would meet the needs, expectations and desires of every type of customer. Our aim was to raise the bar for what a football service is, can be and should be.
By understanding the customers in depth, we understood the importance of allowing each client to customize his own experience and follow his choice of teams, players and leagues without having to miss the latest football news or get the right information at the right time.
The end result was a hybrid between a new, responsive website and a new mobile application with new content structure as well as updated, long-awaited features and innovative solutions that we knew the customers needed but couldn’t pinpoint themselves.
The new solution allows the customer to maintain his football experience regardless of the digital channel. The ability to tailor the content through customization and constantly stay updated on important news, view football live and see the latest highlights and game statistics was a winning concept. All for a seamless and personal football experience.
You’ll see that in the end, this project turned out to be a huge success. But let me first tell you briefly about what we did in order to reach this success.
TV4 Fotbollskanalen had previously had bad experiences in the handover processes between different consultancy agencies and internal departments, and they had learned the hard way about the importance of cross functional teams and close collaboration. We showed TV4 Fotbollskanalen how we could collaborate with them from idea to finished service by going through the following phases.
First we began with a start-up-meeting with the client, performing a workshop in order to fully understand the project scope, limitations and business goals.
Then we continued with in-depth qualitative interviews with the customers currently using the service on a daily basis. We asked broad, open-ended questions and let them describe why football was an important interest for them, how they usually get their football fix, with whom and why. We used early sketches as trigger material in order to understand the customer’s need for information even better. We included the project team from TV4 Fotbollskanalen in our interviews, analysis and ideation to give them a deeper understanding of their customers on an intangible level and to help us create great solutions based on customer needs. Throughout the whole process, we also made sure to include the business goals and project objectives.
All material was analysed, and insights, customer journey maps, behavioral groups and early sketches of the new concept where formed as a partial delivery for the next phase.
What the customers say and what they actually do are usually two very different beings. By trying our solutions with digital prototypes, we were able to understand the customers on a deeper level. We recorded their interactions with the digital prototype, including their facial expressions and what they said when interacting. We quickly found flaws in terms of logics, visual design and flows. We could quickly revise the digital prototypes between the user tests and we always took the digital prototype longer in each loop. We also analysed data from Google Analytics on the current visitor on TV4 Fotbollskanalen, both from the website and the apps, and used that knowledge to improve the new concept. As a partial delivery from this phase, we had a well-functioning and tested digital prototype with design elements, product backlog, roadmap with MVP recommendations and a prioritization between customer value and business value.
TV4 Fotbollskanalen had its own front-end and back-end developers. We made sure that they were a part of the project from the very first day together with the rest of the project group throughout different levels of the organisation. When it was time to go from digital prototypes to code, everyone knew what had to be done and had already started. This was made possible thanks to their input throughout the entire project.
During the actual coding, we performed user testing with the beta-versions of the real app in order to see how it worked, if there were any bugs and most importantly, how the customers reacted. At the end of this phase, a new responsive website and new hybrid apps for iOS and Android were released.
The project started in november 2014 and the app was released in june 2015. The service design, user experience design, development (including QA-testing) and project management from start to finish took 4200 of work hours. The deadline was met in time and below budget. Thus far, TV4 Fotbollskanalen has seen a 5% increase in video streaming (and reached a new all-time high record with 200,000 streamings on a single day) and a 22% increase in sessions, and more than 140,000 teams and players followed through the new customization function. They also lowered the bounce rate on mobile traffic by 50% and for desktop traffic by 70%. The traffic from mobile devices has increased, and each session lasts longer than before. The app is also one of the most downloaded sports apps in the Swedish App Store.
TV4 Fotbollskanalen is a great example of what can be achieved when merging service design with user experience design and development in a process with a close collaboration with the client and its end customers. If you want to know more about this project, watch this breakfast seminar (in Swedish) from September 3 with me, Anders Jacobsson, Tobias Rosvall, Jonas Theder and Mika Packalén.