Giving Boxing Back to Fighters and Fans
For the past 25 years, boxing has fallen into disfavor with sports fans. Cable's pay-per-view fights are expensive and for many new fans simply cost-prohibitive. The sport has suffered from perceptions of manipulation and poor fighting quality. Lastly, and perhaps most crucially, boxing has seen increasing competition from newer, more accessible sports like Ultimate Fighting and Bellator.
Haymon Boxing has a vision. They want to give boxing back to as many fans as possible through prime-time television and digital channels with their new Premier Boxing Champions brand. They tapped MCD to design and build the digital experience that fans can use whether they are in the arena with a smartphone, watching from home on TV, with a tablet, or even sneaking a peek from their desktop computer at work.
Sprinting to the Main Event
To meet Haymon's goal of launching the site within six months with a broad media campaign of press, television and social media we dedicated a cross-functional team and used an agile methodology.
They key to working agile is close team collaboration and our team members were located in New York, Chicago and Mumbai, while our Haymon Boxing team members were in London and, of course, Las Vegas. So we put together a robust online toolkit in which everyone could get real-time updates and the status of work in progress without the need for reams of documentation and specifications.
To build smart and ship fast, we presented tested working code in two week sprints on actual devices, from mobile to desktop. Each sprint involved setting a goal and agreeing on the work to complete, concepting, architecting, designing, coding and testing.
Early sprints were low fidelity to focus on the user experience and architecture with high fidelity coming in later sprints. Real-time feedback from Haymon Boxing on each sprint was essential in launching the site with the campaign in only 12 sprints.
While at project start we met with fighters and fans for insight in how they engage with boxing throughout the project we got working code in their hands in one-on-one sessions for true user feedback.
Actor & Web Designer
65 years old; boxing fan for 12 years
In and out of gyms, currenly at Mendes
Favorite boxers: Muhammad Ali, Floyd Mayweather, Tommy Hearns
Commercials at FOX
Avid fan since childhood; dad was a fan
Favorite boxer: Sergio Martinez
Actor & Standup Comedian
Likes boxing, martial arts, MMA
Favorite boxer: Floyd Mayweather
Boxing for 3 years at Church Street Gym
Roommate is MMA Fighter
Favorite Boxer: Floyd Mayweather
Mental Health Counselor
Boxing fan since the 80s
Favorite boxers: Tommy Hearns, Ruselin Sabarakov
Every Fan Gets in the Ring
To keep fans connected with their favorite fighters we envisioned a site with rich fighter biographies, extensive news, exclusive videos and video playlists. We made fight schedules available right in their calendars, and provided email updates on fights.
After locking down requirements, we added videos to the site with Ooyala, email subscriptions through MailChimp and, after launch, Salesforce's ExactTarget.
Also, we ensured every fan possible could use the site by designing, coding and testing it in accordance with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). In the site's first year, fans watched 178k videos, 31k signed up for email updates and 40k subscribed for calendar updates.
Fan Energy Builds Brand Momentum
For fans to stay connected with Premier Boxing Champions we made finding and sharing fighter and fight info easy. We integrated fighter stats and fight history with an API from BoxRec and augmented with Premier Boxing Champions data. With SEO essential to every MCD digital experience, we included structured markup with microdata, as defined by schema.org. This gets fans accurate boxing info right when they search, whether on Google, Bing, Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube. And when fans get excited by what they find, sharing is available for every fight, fighter, boxing news and boxing video. As of April 2016, fans shared more than 14K times.
High Definition and Device Independence
Dedicated to present the highest quality images and video possible given a fan’s device and connection we configured Ooyala to present an appropriate video stream and scripted custom code to present suitable images. Mobile is 70% of the site’s traffic, and we wanted to take advantage of showing high definition images on retina devices when appropriate.
Performance Isn’t Only Crucial to the Sweet Science
With performance critical to the user experience and SEO, MCD architected and built a technical infrastructure comprised of a Drupal content management system (CMS) with rich content authoring tools on Pantheon’s scalable cloud-based multi-dev site management platform with Akamai’s content delivery network (CDN).
We applied clean, semantic HTML5 markup, which requires minimal external assets, loaded in a non-blocking way to ensure fast page speeds and rendering. To further optimize performance, we concatenated and minified code, enabled lossless image compression, and delivered static assets through the Akamai CDN. As of April 2016, the site was performant for more than six million visitors. We continue to work as a day-to-day partner with Haymon Boxing in optimizing the customer experience.
Visit Premier Boxing Champions at www.premierboxingchampions.com
Throughout the design process the team worked with intelligence, insight and agility in accommodating evolving needs. The quality of the code, thoroughness of testing and overall site performance are extremely impressive. It’s a rare thing to work with a team so committed to understanding the brief and navigating complexities to deliver great work.