Tomorrow marks the 20th anniversary of ESPN.com… and it also marks the beginning of a new, redesigned, and reengingeered ESPN.com. As an avid sports fan, I remember excitedly trialing prior versions of ESPN websites and launches. Our current site and design launched in January of 2009 and has stood the test of time, scale, growth, and the emergence of new trends, platforms, technologies, and so on.
Today’s site works fantastically and the numbers (usage, growth, etc) all support that. In January we reached 94 million uniques in the US and those users spent over 7 billion minutes on our products. And considering that scale, the growth is quite staggering: +52% and +38% year-over-year, respectively. But the numbers also reveal other trends that just weren’t relevant during the last redesign in 2009. For instance, 61% of January’s 94 million users were mobile only… meaning that roughly 57 million fans only interacted with our products on a mobile device. Wild.
So tomorrow, on our 20th anniversary, we are excited to announce a new ESPN.com — an experience that is modern, elegant and personal… and will take us into the next 20 years. Note: the new site will begin rolling out to select users today and into tomorrow, when all users will have access to it.
Here are some quick thoughts on the new experience. Hopefully you enjoy it as much as we do.
We produce an enormous amount of content each day — and it comes in many forms: articles and analysis, live data and scores, video on demand and live streaming, audio clips and streams, social platforms, fantasy and games, etc. Organizing all of it into a structure that is inuitive, consistent and personalized is where we started and focused our efforts.
We set out to reduce clutter and make the content the star. Big, high-resolution imagery, clean lines, and clear organization are balanced with appropriate white space and definition.
We’ve made it easy to personalize the site and reward fans for doing so. Your favorite teams, scores and news are now prominently featured on the left column of the homepage. We even sprinkle in your Fantasy teams with live scoring cards. Fans can customize their navigation (adding, removing and reordering sports) and the new, persistent scoreboard features your favorite teams’ scores.
Of course, these are universal settings tied to your ESPN ID: the work you do across any of our properties (ESPN.com, ESPN App, Fantasy games, etc) will carry through.
It’s Fully Responsive.
From concept to design to implementation, we began with the mobile handset and worked outwards. This applies to navigation, feed layout, content treatments, and data / live experiences. Rather than optimizing for larger screens (which of course comes with more pixels and thus greater freedom), we wanted our optimal experience to coincide with our most used experience: the handset. From there, we responded outward and took advantage of the additional real estate.
It’s a fully responsive site — meaning it is a single site and experience on any sized device, screen or window. We believe this is important in achieving design, usability and content consistency. We also believe that it affords us — and our content — the ability to cleanly move beyond ESPN.com and across our apps and our partners’ experiences and platforms.
Terms like “surprise and delight” are often used for when setting out to craft and design products. I think you’ll find fun, surprising animations and motions throughout the site — little touches that hopefully add to the experience.
More importantly, I think you’ll find and enjoy new content (articles, analysis, videos, etc). We put a lot of care into showcasing new, related and interesting content — hoping to create some serendipty throughout your reading experience.
It’s Lively & Dynamic.
A core part of the new ESPN.com is a new product of its own: ESPN Now. This is a curated, lively and fun collection of what’s happening around the sports world right now. Content is from a variety of sources and comes in a variety of types: breaking news, in-game highlights, images, Tweets, Instagram photos, live commentary, on-air graphics from SportsCenter, and so on. Each item is presented as a Now Card and can be shared socially (Twitter and Facebook).
It’s dynamic and it’s totally new way to consume sports and follow an event.
It was important that we build and deliver a consistent experience across device and screen-size. Similarly, it was important that we unify our experiences across the website and our native mobile applications.
You’ll find that our interfaces, designs, treatments and content are indeed unifying — while of course remaining true to the core platforms (such as iOS, Android, and Windows) and taking advantage of functionality and features afforded by native applications.
Importantly, the new ESPN.com launches concurrently in the US and in the UK. It is built on a global technology platform that allows the content and product to be localized and customized specifically for each market — and this starts on April 1st in the US and UK. Over time, this will extend to other regions and properties. We have begun executing on this strategy with our mobile applications and are excited to more aggressively continue.
If you’re reading this, hopefully ESPN.com is part of your daily routine. For tens of millions of fans, it is.
Each person uses the site a little differently — has his or her own preferences, routines, and habits. The new experience will indeed be just that: new and different.
We fully appreciate that change can be jarring. We also fully believe that the new site is an exciting step forward. But we are committed to watching behavior, listening to feedback, and — as the next bullet notes — adjusting and evolving.
As mentioned above, this is the beginning of a new site experience. Features, ehancements, and new page types will roll out in the coming days and months. We have a robust roadmap ahead of us. We also recongize that there are features and ehancements that will be needed based on user behavior, data and feedback… and that’s the fun part of the process.
So while today marks both the 20th anniversary of ESPN.com and the launch of our new website… we consider it just another beginning.