In December of 2015, Turner Media, a long time partner of the company decided to expand their suite of March Madness apps onto the Windows Universal platform. This decision was made with encouragement from Microsoft looking to grow their Windows Phone user base. And while the timeline for development and design was short, our company was excited to tackle this new challenge and platform.
When faced with a short timeline, a well organized project kickoff is of utmost importance to guarantee success. It is with that knowledge, that once the decision was made to go forward a team of lead design and technical lead traveled to the client’s offices and began planning. During our initial conversations, all responsible parties laid out plans for an MVP while also creating a strategy on how it could be accomplished. As Turner Media also had an existing suite of March Madness apps, it was also key that this new experience did not feel separate or different from what fans were used to. As many users seek the ability to juggle from device to pc, meeting the quality standard was top priority. After successfully completing planning and returning to our offices, design was to begin with no time to waste. Knowing that no time could be borrowed from development, my first step in the design process was to understand all the platform guardrails by thoroughly reviewing all documentation provided by Microsoft. A key to design for Windows Universal is understanding the way their system automatically displays populated content. Similar to responsive web design, knowing the device primer system and logical breakpoints were taken into consideration during the initial UX flow and wireframe legs of the project. Once the navigation flow and display logic approaches were approved, we then set out applying the established branding to our UX. An interesting note about Windows Universal, the platform utilizes almost completely vector elements, meaning that our traditional production path of cutting icons and elements was not needed. Instead, the approach was to build the existing assets into a custom typeface, provided to the development team for incorporation into the builds. Fortunately, my past experience had been designing for responsive web, so I was able to provide production in this manner with no impact to our design schedule. In order to best reduce the development effort, design was involved heavily at every step of the process, providing detailed interaction notes, break point and responsive logic, and finally primer display support when challenges did arise. As the primary team were working towards releasing the full app suite, the design team also provided support with schedule and delivery review, keeping detailed documentation around adjustments and providing adjusted designs when called for.
Our work with MML resulted in the release of a unified March Madness experience on the Windows Universal platform for the event in 2016, providing fans' a wide range of ways to enjoy their favorite sport on their preferred platforms. In addition to exceeding all client expectations for what we were able to accomplish in a short period of time, our take-away learnings for this new platform assisted our team in approaching a new client base with a fresh expertise and skill set. As a final added benefit and result of our efforts, we were also engaged by Turner Media to design the March Madness experience for the XBox platform the following year, further growing our client status and reputation as a product partner.
From time to time, deadlines and challenges may work to encourage us to go the route of hasty execution. Certainly, knowing this project had to be designed, developed, and released prior to the event in 2016 may have encouraged the team to shortcut; the biggest highlight of this project was working together in this situation to learn and execute on an experience while never losing quality. Through our efforts together we were able to both craft a new design and development process set, adhering to the guidelines set by Microsoft, while growing our knowledge base. Every new lesson or system learned works to advance us as experts, building on our professional experience, and fulfilling us with the satisfaction of a job well done.
Project Kickoff and MVP
Design Strategy Approach
User Experience Alignment
Platform Adapted Designs
Schedule and Delivery