Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Designing for the user

All right...I figured out how to add tags/categories using Blogger so I think I'll just stick witht his over here. Every time I try to leave, Blogger just pulls me right back here's my post from yesterday which I posted over at Wordpress:

Okay...before I get started with this topic, let me just say that this attempt at using Wordpress stems from the featureset, namely the ability to tag posts. Let's see if I like this and continue here or go back to blogger. I'll post more about my thoughts on Wordpress as I spend more time with it.

Moving on...

There's a couple of things I noticed about CBS's Sportsline website during the recent NCAA Tourney (I'm bummed about the Bruins losing in the Final, but gotta hand it to the Gators...Noah is a MONSTER!). A couple of things really showed me that CBS sports gets their viewers. They may not have the best TV graphics (Fox still wins in style and utility), but CBS has their website down.

Firstly, this was the first year that they provided free video of all of the early round games. That alone is recognizing their users. Followers of the Tourney are going to head to a bar anyways to watch games they really want to see. Why not make it easier to watch them when you can't get out of the office. On top of that though CBS did a few things which made the experience thatmuchbetter. They required logins (which is no big deal considering you're getting something worthwhile), but gave quicker access to the people who signed up early (me being one of them). They called it a VIP line. Why do this? Because they knew that traffic to the site would be huge and it would take some time to get people logged into the site to actually view video. So for people that signed up later, they would have to wait longer. Not only did they create these different types of access, they showed users how long it would be until they could actually view video. They didn't just leave it up to the servers to pop up a video when there was bandwidth. They created sort of a countdown. In many cases, that countdown was very long, but at least users could get an idea of how long they'd have to wait. And once in, video actually worked! Consistently! So this whole waiting line thing was used as a way to regular the server load, but they kept it clean and user-friendly.

Now...the other thing that I thought was just really smart was the game logs which show all the details stats. Here's an example of the FLA-UCLA game. During the game, this page updates specific information without having to refresh the entire page. That's sort of ld technology but perfect for sports. I hate having to set refresh settings then having the refresh get hung up since there's some ad which needs to load up. And speaking of ads, here's where CBS really gets its user. During the game, there are no ads, but as soon as there's a timeout or ad on TV, a video ad loads up within the page. It's smart since they're recognizing that many people (like me) will have both the TV and laptop going at the same time. We're only looking at the laptop to be able to get instant info about some stat. I've been doing it since at least 2000 when I got my first laptop. So then why show ads when the user is really just paying attention to the TV, right? Exactly. Just show the stats. But during a timeout, the page automagically shows a video ad. And it got me every time. I'm taking a mental break during the timeout and the ad just loads itself. I didn't really care for the ads, but I did glance over to see what the ad was for. Now, I'm sure CBS and it's advertisers would like for me to view the whole ad, but hey, at least I know the specific companies that had ads. And that's a win for both the advertiser and CBS.

So now I know that if I'm watching a sporting event on CBS, rather than load up like usual, I'm going to load up since they will probably have something extra which makes it worthwhile. Good stuff.


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