Yahoo! Sports


Jan. - Apr. 2018




Bicheng Xu

Nalin Bhatia

George Lu

Zhengkuan Yan       


User Research Lead



Usability Testing

UI Design


This is a three-month research and design project where I worked in a group of five for our client Verizon via UMSI Design Clinic. Given that 84% of likely cord-cutters consider themselves sports fans, the overall trend towards mobile usage, and Verizon’s desire to grow their audience on their sports platforms, we conducted in-depth user research to explore sports fans’ behaviors and motivations for following their favorite teams as well as to identify a missing demographic. Based on the research insights, we designed key features that focus on team affinity factors to attract this demographic and to increase user engagement for both new and current users on Yahoo! Sports mobile platform.

Design Opportunity

Focus on young mobile sports fans

Young mobile sports fans are important for “mobile strategy”. U.S. adults are spending more than 3 hours on mobile devices daily. Among people who use mobile to follow sports, young people (age between 18-24)  have the largest population. Given that the current target user of Yahoo! Sports’ starts from age 26, we considered young people to be the key missing demographic for the platform’s audience growth.

Leverage team affinity factors

We approached this opportunity by looking into team affinity factors in the college student demographic. We defined team affinity as the degree of an individual’s sense of identification and connection to a sports team and others who identify and connect with the same sports team. Team affinity factors are important as they directly determine sports fans’ devotion to their favorite teams. 

How might we use team affinity factors to grow engagement of young audiences on mobile sports platforms?
Final Design Concept Overview

Design Concept 1:

Team Popularity Rankings

Sports fans can be more engaged and connected with their favorite teams by earning points to increase the team’s popularity. Team Popularity points are earned by users’ engagement on the platform.

Users can access team leaderboard from the homepage. Leaderboards are grouped by both by sports type and divisions

The ranking updates daily and each team is compared to the previous day to provoke user contributions to their favorite teams.

The accumulated points of each team on the leaderboard resets every month

Team Leaderboard


Design Concept 2:

Team Popularity Rankings


A community for sports fans to compare and compete with each other. Fan loyalty points are earned by users’ engagement on the platform. Users can find more details about how to earn more points in the level up page.

The ranking updates daily and each team is compared to the previous day to provoke user contributions to their favorite teams.

The accumulated points of each team on the leaderboard resets every month


Level Up Rules

Team Page

Fan Leaderboard

Design Concept 3:

User Profile

Users can show their “Sports Identity” and discover other sports fans who share similar sports interests on the platform.

Fan Leaderboard

User Profile (Stroll Down)

User Profile

Users can view other sports fans' identity based on the major team affinity factors: College, Current Location and Hometown 

Users can get a better sense of this sports fan based on his comments and activities on the platform

Display achievement to give sports fan the recognition of how devoted they are for their teams and the sense of pride 

Design Concept 4:

Game Centric Social Interaction

Users can share their thoughts and feelings among the audience who are using Yahoo Sports to watch a live game at the same time.

Watch Live Game

Watch Live Game (Full Screen)

Users can choose to turn the live comments off

Users who have more  Fan Loyalty Points will have highlights on the comments to demonstrate their devoted fans status 

Design Process
User Research
Understand sports fans’ behaviors and motivations

Literature Review

We explored multiple different avenues to inform our knowledge of sports fans psychology, in particular, how to categorize different types of sports fans and what are the factors that influence their sports following behaviors and their devotions to the team. We also explored the sports marketing strategy and consumer behavior. Our extensive review led us to understand sports fans’ mental models as well as built knowledge foundation for the following survey and interviews.

Finding: Self-concept is the key that determines a sports fan’s devotion to the team.

Self-concept is defined as “the individual's belief about himself or herself, including the person's attributes and who and what the self is.”


We designed the survey with the focus on:
      - Types of sports people follow
      - Trigger events and factors motivated people’s

         sports following
      - People’s sports following behavior such as time,

        frequency, device, and platform usage etc..

The survey received 160 respondents mostly from students and full-time employees from University of Michigan.



Followed Sports

Finding 1: College, hometown, and social influences are the most important team affinity factors that affect fans’ self-concept.

Finding 2: There is a slight difference in team affinity factors distribution between male and female

- Social influence, current location, and team popularity are more important for females

- Team achievement and star player are more important for male


Finding 3: Only 6% of the survey respondents use or have used Yahoo! Sports

This result identified that college students are an unserved demographic for Yahoo Sports.


The survey provided us with the breadth of the sports fans motivations and behaviors. Based on the results, we selected 10 people and conducted semi-structured interviews to look in-depth for the motivations we uncovered in the survey. The main interview goals are as followed:
1) To understand what creates emotional responses associated with team affinity
2) To explore how and why sports fans follow their favorite teams and what was

    their experience like


Affinity Diagram is used to analyze our interview data with over 600 data points.


Finding 1: Team affinity influences positive self-concept.

Team affinity maintain positive self-concepts

Sports is spirit and pride.

Team affinity maintain positive self-concepts

Final Design Concept

© 2020 by Beijia Wang. All Rights Reserved