Mobile First – Sounds Simple Enough, But As We Learnt, It’s Simply Not.

July 25, 2014

In a conscious quest for bigger market share in Nigeria, we decided to test the much lauded potential of mobile in Nigeria. Our plan was pretty bare bones – build a cool mobile site that focuses on football. Build something we would like to use.

Why are we doing this? What do we want to give users? This is much harder than it sounds because you want to make sure the user gets as much as you can give them, but you can’t overwhelm them with information overload.

The challenge is to find a balance; to make sure the priorities are taken care of first, then the extra stuff. Being in a SCRUM environment definitely helped – you have to prioritise the most important features first.

We cover over 20 leagues, so on a busy Sunday, users would be inundated with scores and results. We decided to make it easier by featuring matches and putting that up front, on the mobi homepage. Basically, we know why the user is here, this is probably what they want. The same is true for the news and leagues we feature. This can get political, so the decision is based purely on analytics.

The design constraints were difficult: design for 128, 240 and 320 wide screens and no Javascript. Oh, and make it as small as possible. The designers felt like Picasso being told to build a shelf, armed only with wood and some nails. Instead of a vivid iPhone sexy looking thing, we had to go for functionality and UX.

Clear business goals. We know people in Nigeria want football news. Let’s cut the fat of multisport and give them just that; football. There is also a focus on pidgin news that we are experimenting with to localise the content.

Plain paper design. We literally wrote out each element on paper. This makes you really pay attention on what you absolutely need first, rather than, “oh look there is some space to add something”.

Content up front. This is different to the current mobile home page, which is just a list of links (a legacy of having a multisport site). By adding content on the homepage, chances are, we taking care of two reasons you would go to the mobile site – information (scores) and killing time (news).

Connection speed. We kept the site as small as possible, even using two different style sheets for different screen sizes. There is also device detection which serves two different types of sites.

Real life is better than an iPhone. After each version of a homescreen, we had a dummy phone we used to see what the display would look like. This painfully emphasised that we were still gorging on content like desktop-focused users. To be honest, our first attempts were abysmal with a very long page. After a few scrolling-forever designs, if you wanted a feature, you had to justify it. In fact, there is still disagreement on how much news should be on the homepage of the site.

We have already seen exponential growth in the Nigerian market with this highly focused Nigerian mobisite. Currently, we have over one million visitors, almost half of those unique users and over four million page views. Not bad for month’s traffic

The Nigeria mobile site can be found at:

-          From the SuperSport team.

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