ESPN and User-Centered Design

Espn.com is home to largest Sports News organization in the world, and it is where I go every day to see what is happening in the world of sports. They have whole teams of employees that work on the website’s functionality and ease of use, always with the user in mind.

Screen Shot 2017-02-14 at 9.12.06 PM.pngThe concept of user-centered design is simple; designing a website or other media with the end user in mind. How easily a user can navigate the site, how clear the articles are, and how the actual articles are structured are all things that must be kept in mind when designing a site with a user in mind. ESPN has a site that is enjoyable and simple to use.

Document Design

The document design of the site is very well organized. There are clear tabs at the top of the page that indicate each sport, with drop downs that help further navigate users. On the top right of the page, there is an option for users to login or search the website, which is common for most websites. The whole website is indexed well, with every section having a clear purpose and description to users.

To further expand on document design, there is a thread of the most popular news stories in the middle of the page, taking up the most room. The main objective of the website is for sports news and information, therefore they gave the most room on the page (and most viewed spot) to the articles written. All of the scores of games, highlight tweets/news, and other smaller information is arranged on the sides so users can quickly see all of the information they may seek.

Information Design

In terms of information design, the articles and documents are organized very clearly. The title of the article is clearly stated in larger, bolder text, followed by the author of the article and date written so users know it is current. The first few sentences of the articles are usually summing up the main point of it, followed by all of the detail.

For example, this article has a clear title, followed by a broad statement that sums up the article. As you read further into the material, you see that broad details on the player are provided, and finally funneled into the details and situations on the how the time can acquire him this offseason.

Sentence Design

The sentence design of all the documents are consistent; every writer is a clear, concise writer. Many people who read ESPN may not know all of the technical terms, so writers for ESPN explain any industry terms that may not seem obvious to the normal reader. There are more informal documents that may have slang or mistakes, but the main articles published under team categories all have clear writing that flows well.

Any time that something may be unclear, such as a term or reference that could have been missed by readers, writers link to information or previous articles that can be of use. This helps any readers that may be hung up on information they are confused or unsure about. 

The sentences are mostly user-centered and not very complex, for the target audience of ESPN is very wide, including young children that do not have as high of a reading capability. By using simple sentences that include the subject at the beginning, users can more easily read through their articles. It follows the BLUF methodology by telling you exactly what the article will be about in the title, along with good information design that clearly states what the article is over in the beginning.

I don’t believe that ESPN has to worry about shadow readers very much, for sports crosses most boundaries that designers and writers must consider. There is nothing vulgar or offensive about sports, so the risk of anyone reading it that was unintended to is low.

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