A look at the redesign process of horse racing organization Emerald Down's website.
What is Emerald Downs?
Emerald downs are one of the most prominent horse racing organizations in the Pacific Northwest. It's widely known for its fun racing events with the community.
Emerald down's website needs a proper rebranding of visuals and layout, especially in missing features like other horse racing websites. They also didn't know what their users wanted and guessed based on other horse racing websites.
To deliver a personalized experience and intuitive user interface that fits their new visual branding.
Propose a more engaging and seamless experience so that users are comfortable accessing news, racing info, and other events.
On a team of five people as the UI/UX designer. User flow mapping, wireframing, and visual design.
Tools Figma, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop
Website Users Demographic
Emerald Downs's monthly unique visitors on the website are around 3,000, with 58% males and females around 41%, and 57% of the users' age ranging from 30–49 years old.
Conducting User Interview
I started my user research by conducting user interviews with eight users, which vary from weekly active users to infrequent users of the website, to understand what motivates or demotivates them from using the website and their information consumption habits.
I conducted some phone interviews while some I ran in person.
The male interviewees ranged from 25 to 49 years old, while all three women ranged from 22 to 37 years old, which I felt was a fair representative sample of Emerald Downs's current viewer base.
Some key insights from the interview:
Almost all the participants visit the website once a week, mostly at night.
Most participants said that the newsletters grab their attention, and eventually, they visit the website, while some even felt that it could get annoying.
Most participants want to browse just the events to stay updated quickly. If an event grabs their attention, they read the entire event, so they want it to be clear and to the point.
The features they use most often are live streaming and recap videos.
Most said they want the website to show more information but would always want to be aware of vital information such as dates and horse changes.
Emerald Downs' Old Website
Understanding the Existing Users
After the user interview, I asked the same participants (eight participants) to test the Emerald Downs website (Virtual and in-person Usability Testing).
I wanted to see how they would interact with the website’s features.
Some of the tasks that I gave them during the testing were:
Visit the website and read the news, videos, and live stream
Sign up for the Emerald Racing Club
View the calendar
View the racing charts
Defining the Problem
After identifying and analyzing pain points through user research, I defined the following pain point that most users had trouble with.
Pain Point 1- Incomplete mobile website
Multiple users expressed that they would prefer the mobile site, as the Emerald Downs mobile site lacks the complete set of features as the desktop site version. Users pointed out that the mobile version was not as user-friendly as the website. They also suggested that they would prefer the mobile site if the app followed the website's footsteps.
"I am disappointed, and I'm not always by a computer, and I rarely face any problem with that."
Pain Point 2 - Confusing and cluttered UI
Most users complained that UI made reading impossible, and had to keep scrolling horizontally to find relevant news. Font and spacing made it look overpopulated. Most of them found the body text font small and the heading font large, leading to a terrible viewing experience.
"The moment I clicked, I felt like I was fighting to get the horse racing info I needed."
Pain Point 3 - No recap videos
The user wanted more segmented news to browse through various categories. They felt there was no organization of news, videos, or information.
I know the excellent content, but I can't find any categories! Why would I waste my money on this?
Pain Point 4 - Poor access to online betting
Almost everybody showed their frustration about not having enough access to online betting. Every user expressed a need to have at least a proper way to find out how to do so.
"I don't know where to bet, and I hate having to go somewhere else to find it."
The Needs of the Users
Need 1- Customization
Participants expressed that they wanted more customization options for font size, theme, notifications, and categories. They want the content shown to be prioritized based on their preference.
Need 2 - More diverse features
The users wanted more features than cropping and sharing, such as saving, commenting, reading offline, and reporting.
The outline process of what the wireframing will look like. This includes the main page and event info.
The wireframing of the Emerald Downs redesign
UX Suggestions and the Redesign
The proposed solution of the redesign. 1. More features in the navbar
Having more straightforward navigation was the primary focus of the redesign. Emerald Downs wants to include many different features and events, so the menu must reflect that.
2. Race replays and updated betting information
A prominent feature that was missing the most was based on the user interviews. I've made sure to include them and have other opportunities for marketing via social media to help promote the races for those who couldn't attend.
3. A dedicated page to Emerald Downs Racing Club
The Emerald Downs Racing Club is a seasonal membership that gives unique access to areas, outfits, and passes for all races. I wanted to highlight the main features and why people want to sign up.
4. More focus on events and news
This section gives a glimpse of all the latest happenings and media organized into categories to give the user an idea about the content. I added categories like 'press confidentials' and 'tv and radio.'
New menu system The user can now find events, memberships, races, and news as efficiently as possible.
A 360-degree virtual tour of event rooms
Now the user can see themselves at the event without having to be there to know if it's the right place.
Social media updates on the home page
The user can now get a glance at what the latest update is.
The Emerald Downs Racing Club The user can find all the information to see how and why they should purchase a membership.
Upcoming events page A calendar system for the user can visually see the events of Emerald Downs in advance.
The News and Media page It is now sorted based on categories for the user to find what they want.
The race betting system
Now the racing system has a lot of information, from online betting to offtrack betting and race results, all available on the website.
What was the main challenge in the project?
The secondary research about the brand, i.e., collecting demographics, data, vision, etc., was the most challenging part. As Emerald, Down's website experience made a lot of people not want to use it, and finding those who did was difficult.
Reflection and lesson learned
This was my first time working with a team on a live website.
Looking back on the whole process, redesigning this website, and working on this case study reminded me that users are always the center of every design decision and the impact the smallest of things can have, such as changing an element's position. I learned about figuring out what works and what doesn't and implementing them; the best part is that it doesn't end. The learning process is continuous.
I've also learned the complication working with developers can have in ensuring the media and racing information can be seamlessly updated without much hassle on Emerald Downs' end.