In March 2015, we launched the new site for Baseball Factory. Here’s a quick look into our process and a few of our favorite parts of the site.
Devising Our Game Plan
We began by diving head-first into site analytics, customer surveys, and stakeholder interviews. Then we distilled this learning into three key goals:
- Create clear user paths that help people get excited, get informed, and take action,
- Use videos, images, and copy to tell compelling stories that help players visualize themselves on the field,
- Design with mobile in mind so the experience is perfect on every device.
These ideas drove our design and development decisions throughout the process. At every point, we were able to assess whether a new feature helped us get closer to these goals.
From the Field to the Screen
From the first sketch, we set out to create an immersive experience with two main functions: Give an exciting introduction to Baseball Factory, and provide players with a glimpse of what their futures could hold. While photos and videos are a driving force, the site is anchored by subtle design cues like diamonds and real-world textures taken straight from the field.
When navigating through the old site, users often ran into dead ends and were left unsure of what their next action should be. We took care to ensure every page had a clear next step and helped users make good decisions. We also created reusable modules based on our site grid that could be easily utilized by the Baseball Factory team.
How It’s Built
In our early research, we saw that mobile would soon become the primary traffic source. With this in mind, the site was built to be fully responsive using the same codebase, thus making it smarter and more efficient.
The site is managed by a highly-customized WordPress installation. One of our main development goals from the beginning was to allow the marketing team at Baseball Factory to easily add content, including news, special events, videos, and more. We also loaded a series of modules and templates into WordPress so the team could publish new content while sticking to the design guidelines we created.
In addition to the content managed in WordPress, we were challenged with integrating events, shopping, registration, and special event content from Baseball Factory’s proprietary ASP.net platform. With a bit of PHP wizardry, all of this content is seamlessly integrated within the site and easily editable by the in-house team.
A Few of our Favorite Features
Registering for the Tryout Tour is the most important event on the site. The easy part was redesigning the process from one long, laborious page to three simple steps. The real challenge came in connecting the front-end forms to the proprietary ASP.net platform that Baseball Factory uses to handle registration. With a unique cross-platform build, we were able to improve the user experience while capturing all of the necessary data. Since the site launched, this registration process redesign has had a significant impact on conversion rate.
The National Tryout Tour is the starting point for everyone. It’s where each player gets evaluated and placed on the appropriate path to improve his game. Needless to say, it’s pretty important. With the old site, there wasn’t a way to understand what happens at the Tour. And although it’s a fun day, some players were nervous about signing up before knowing exactly what they were getting into. With our Tour Experience, players can now walk through a visual itinerary of the day. They get quick insights into the process of meeting the team, running sprints, playing the field, and more. With this knowledge, players are now prepared to perform at their highest level and make the most of their tour experiences.
For high school athletes, player pages are their greatest assets in getting recruited. With the Baseball Factory platform, college coaches from around the country can view players’ evaluations, watch their videos, and get in touch with them directly. We redesigned these pages to include players’ key stats, videos, and scouting reports in a clean, scannable, shareable format.
Every year, Baseball Factory scouts go through a rigorous process to evaluate and rank the 100 best high school players in the country. In our research, we noticed that this was consistently one of the most popular pages on the site. To take advantage of the interest that already existed, we redesigned this page to allow visitors to quickly scan or spend time getting to know each player. With this design upgrade, Top 100 has become an even more important tool for players, coaches, and fans.