Thursday, 30 May 2013

Designing the goalunited "next" User Experience

Hey everyone!

It’s been a while since the last entry, but today we will give you more insight on what the new design and restructuring looks like in detail.

Before digging into the topic, I’d like to introduce myself. My name is Eva and I am the User Experience Designer at northworks, the goalunited developer. In the following, I want to show you why and in which way things are redesigned from the User Experience Design point of view, based on some examples.

Requirements and Challenges

First of all, “goalunited next” is a cross platform game, which will be available for browser and tablets. Although the focus lies on browser, we build only one design for both platforms. This arouses many challenges:

  •    Client needs to be scalable due to different solutions
  •   Design is not tied to the platform
  •   Game is complex and has a lot of content on every screen
  •   Recycling of components, in order to gain speed in production
  •    Keeping corporate identity in mind, since the brand “goalunited” is the same

We also had the task to innovate the whole look and feel of the game to reach a very high level of quality, in order to be competitive with other Football Manager games. The game “goalunited” is round about 7 years old and has grown so much that it was time to restructure the features and give it a new color.

Additionally, we decided to move more to an adult appearance, away from the cartoony icons and buttons. The clean and bright look helps to focus on the important areas and orientate more easily.

The left extract shows the tablet navigation (simple swipe to the left or right).
The right extract shows the browser version, where you can either drag the slider element, click on the page dots or use the arrows at the left and right end to step through the slides.
(Still work in progress) 

Layout Redesign

Of course we know that you like the current design, but when examining “goalunited 2013” more closely, we learned that some things needed to be improved. The everyday click paths are unnecessarily complicated and the tutorial isn’t that user-centered. It doesn’t really give you a full view of the upcoming game and is lacking attractive mid- and long-term goals. Many screens are not as intuitive as they could be and some features are too hidden without reason, not allowing you to plan strategic, like the locked buildings on the playfield for example.

In many cases it helped to change the appearance to make it more playful, e.g. the trophies. The achievements will get a whole new look and feel to them and lose their rather standard tabular form. 

This is the popup that opens when clicking on the trophy container on the home screen. We added more to it, like the rarity indicator and also visually enhanced it to make it more rewarding. (Work in progress)

There are also some things that are added to existing features in more than one way. The match display on the top of the screen will not only show you the next or currently running match, but also the level of the opponent or his strength as an alternative option.

More important is the fact that the match itself can be swiped left to see the next 2 upcoming matches where you will be able to click on the context-sensitive button to adjust the line-up. Swiping it to the right will reveal the last 2 matches with a button to read the according report. (Work in progress)

Accessibility and Transparency

As part of the restructuring to improve your click paths towards smoother navigation and more comfortable daily sessions, we want to achieve a level of transparency to show also new players more easily what will await them after the tutorial and later throughout the game via a new quest and event system. This is not only interesting for new players, but also for those of you who play “goalunited” already.

The current game does not introduce all the feature details to you, which is why some of them are only known by few players. Therefore a quest based tutorial will be built, which guides you more efficient on the one side, while granting you a little more freedom in terms of fewer restrictions on the other side. Since I am no friend of arrows, blocked areas and inactive buttons, I rather want to urge everyone to be curious and explore. Doing so, you will get a really good picture of what can be unlocked or done, together with the information of how to do so.

This tutorial isn’t like other tutorials, which end at one point or sometimes can be skipped. We want to expand this over the whole game, meaning that the mentor appears, whenever something new is unlocked or we decided to bring in a new feature.

In combination with the new event system there will be more transparency about what’s going on and especially what had happened during your absence when returning to the game. (Work in progress)

This kind of event system is very important to keep an eye on everything a lot easier and also stay on track by tackling the incoming issues immediately. You will get informed about finished building jobs, nearly ending contracts, general hints and advice and many 

New Features

Due to the restructuring, a whole series of new ideas for features and general improvements will be realized, which came from many of you in the community and the goalunited team as well.

Despite from the new quest and event system, we decided to give all players more freedom, when it comes to customization for example.

In “goalunited next” everyone will be able to individualize his or her own logo with colors and shapes. Uploading an own logo will still be an alternative option. (Work in progress)

All other improvements will be revealed and introduced to you during the production. Thanks for taking your time to learn more about the major redesign and its background. We hope that you like the direction “goalunited next” is heading to and count on your support.
So stay tuned for future enhancements!


Coming up next:  
Formations, Positions, Matchengine