The world has been thrown into unprecedented uncertainty and isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic, threatening the lives of everyone, from the rich, famous, and powerful to the poor and marginalized. At the onset of this event, sports organizations were among the first to speak up of the danger of this new virus, and, as a result, the first to take initiative in halting their own operations. In that moment, the sports community realized that both watching and participating in athletics, specifically with others, is a luxury that we have taken for granted at times.
For this course, our assignment was to “create a digital experience that will address the topic of social distancing.” Immediately, my mind went to sports and how teams are keeping up their activities during this time.
How do teams stay connected, build culture, stay motivated and engaged, maintain relationships with coaches, and prepare, both mentally and physically, for the future while social distancing during the pandemic?
Once I identified the subject and the design problem, I interviewed student-athletes on their current experiences with their team. Not surprisingly, many of them were not satisfied with their current system. Athletes, much like other students, are overwhelmed with the scattered assortment of emails, group chats, zoom conferences, spreadsheets, and YouTube videos. Not to mention, many of them desperately miss the in-person interaction and the motivation they receive from training alongside their friends on a daily basis.
I analyzed the results of my research and devised a plan to organize the athlete experience by literally naming the app’s menu options after locations in an athletic facility. This would not only give the user a familiar framework to navigate, but help focus their attention.
The proposed outcome is an app called Omada. “Omada” means “team” in Greek, and represents the sacred bond of the sports community, one that remains connected despite social and physical isolation. The hope is that this product will provide teams with a virtual space of their own to operate while facilities are closed. The program allows players to message each other through channels, schedule virtual meetings with their coaches and trainers, access training schedules and techniques, and keep a mindfulness journal of their activity.
Overall, I believe that the concept will be successful once it is built out and tested more. There is a lot I can do to push this product further in every aspect, especially the user interface. There are more screens that need to be made, but the basic foundation is here.
The navigation could be reinforced, as it is not currently clear how the user should move between “rooms.” However, I’m proud of the organization and purpose of each portal and think that the system is sustainable. One aspect that could be looked at differently is the backend of the app and what it will look like from the coach’s administrative position. Like Canvas, I imagine how the coach uses the app will differ from the players.