Usability and User Experience of ESPN Website.

Link: http://espn.go.com/

By any definition, I’m not a sports fan, and I probably only visit the ESPN website once or twice in a year. However, whenever I need to check out something on ESPN, I find it amazingly easy to catch the information I need.

On the top navigation, users are able to select editions and cities to customize their reading contents. Right now I’m browsing the USA edition with top stories about World Cup with picture on the left, and headlines on the right column.

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If I live in Boston, I can select from the “CITIES” menu on the top of the website, which leads me to a new layout of ESPN. Both the top stories and headlines changed.

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Majority of people who visit ESPN would look for scores, that’s why the website designer made such information the most easily accessible – you can select scores for soccer, WNBA, NFL, NCAAF, etc.

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As we scroll down the website, more information is available. With large amount of information, ESPN website followed Krug’s first guideline — make clear visual hierarchy on each page.

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Viewers receive the most relevant information first – scoreboard on top of the site. Then the most eye-catching cluster is the top stories section with pictures, while another cluster of headlines is located right next to it. Features such as videos and widgets are used to give viewers a clear view of what each cluster is about. The site only shows readers what they are looking for, but also what the ESPN team thinks people are looking for.

The site also follows the second rule — follow simple conventions such as putting text under pictures, so readers understand immediately what the picture is showing. The third rule is to break each page into clearly defined areas. From top to bottom, we see the contents change from top stories, headlines to extra videos, comments and feedback section. While we are reading and scrolling up and down, it’s easily identifiable what is clickable as well.

Although the site didn’t follow the last rule of Krug’s guideline – minimizing the noise,  I think it did a pretty good job in giving viewers information they need, since usability is about the ease with which users reach their goals by using the site,

Although the ESPN website is very informative, organized and rich in content, it’s not a very interactive website for viewers to enjoy their user experiences. I think the web design could be improved by adding more interactive elements, such as making the comment and discussion section more obvious for viewers to contribute their thoughts, and adding more pictures and videos on the main page. 

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