I don't play fantasy sports. I don't watch sports. Honestly, I'm not even sure when football season starts and ends. But when Sportsy, a startup that launched into the tech space with sports training apps for kids, decided to experiment with a new project called Sportsy Duel, I found myself diving right into the deep end of the fantasy sports world.
As young startups are wont to do, we ran a lot of experiments at Sportsy while on the hunt for product market fit. Enter: Sportsy Duel. The idea was to pit two players against each other in a "duel", and the user simply chose which player they thought would perform better in their next game.
Sportsy Duel was a particularly challenging project for me because, as I said, I had no idea how fantasy sports worked. And to further add to the chaos, it was baseball season. This meant we were launching with baseball, and that just happened to be a sport I knew especially little about.
Because nothing can get us down, my partner-in-crime, Kelsey, and I started studying the rules of baseball. To build a fantasy sports app that revolves around baseball, we needed to understand which player stats mattered most, how scoring worked, how often games were played—the whole kit and caboodle. We also started playing online fantasy sports—we downloaded every app we could find that had anything to do with fantasy. We'd bet $1.00 against each other, and the winner would buy the other a coffee (I think losing was the real way to win with this arrangement).
I think most people who know me would be in shock that I have a DraftKings account and that I know that the American League uses a designated hitter to replace pitchers during at-bats and that the National League does not.
We spent a lot of time at the whiteboard and developing paper prototypes during the initial phase of this project. Luckily, we worked in a co-working space at the time, which just happened to be filled with some huge sports fans who were very patient with us. Here are some artifacts:
We turned this project around extremely quickly and ended up launching both an iOS app and a web app within about a month.
In the end, it turned out to be beneficial that two people who were clueless about fantasy sports were leading the design of a fantasy sports app, because for us to understand it, it had to be dead simple and very easy to understand. This meant it was easy for our users too. Here are some of the final iOS designs: