Olympic Usability – How did the Rio 2016 app do?
The official ‘Rio 2016’, Olympics app is only rated 1.5 stars in the Apple App Store, with 59/70 ratings giving 1 star. The majority of problems with the app are issues with bugs causing the app to crash and not provide updated results. However, there are also reviews about bad user experiences and these could be due to poor design. This article will discuss how the app could have improved the users’ experiences of the games helping fans to keep up with the events, time differences, and medals won with ease.
After downloading the app, there’s a friendly ‘Hello’ and instruction to ‘Choose your language’. With ‘English’ preselected, it’s quick to get started. Although it seems like it will be a quick process, there is no indication of how many steps there are, or how long it will take. ‘Next’, in the bottom right allows you to move forward through the process. The app continues to preselect options and clearly shows the time difference between the selected country and Rio. Preselecting responses based on a users’ location helps them quickly move through the process without making unnecessary choices.
Users have the opportunity to ‘Skip’ the next steps. At this point in the process, users are unaware of how many steps are left or what the benefit of completing these may be; making users more likely to use this ‘Skip’ function. If users were aware of the number of steps, they may be more engaged, especially if they were aware of the benefits of completing them.
Users are asked to ‘Set up your favourites’, however it is unclear why they should do this or what they are selecting their favourites for. As there is a list of countries it may look like the user should select their ‘Favourite countries’. However, the page is actually instructing the user to ‘Choose your preferred country’, the one country they would like to support throughout the games. The benefit of selecting this is that the users preferred country will be highlighted on the medals page, allowing the user to quickly see their country’s overall position. As the reason for selecting this is not clear, some users may skip this page and therefore miss out of this feature of the app.
Great Britain has been placed at the top of the list with a location pin next to it, identifying the user’s location. This is a nice addition as this will save users time and prevent frustration from scrolling through the full list of countries.
On the next page is another call to, ‘Set up your favourites…’, this time for favourite sports. There is no stated minimum or maximum number of favourite sports you can choose. However, after selecting one sport, the light grey text instruction changes to, ‘You can choose 3 favourite sports’. This is easily missed and only available after making at least one selection, which may be frustrating for users as they will have to limit their favourites. The stated benefit of the users selecting their favourite sports is to receive notifications about these during the games, however, this information is lost after selecting a sport and may be missed as users ‘Skip’ or begin to select sports.
Using the app
Once on the main screens of the app, there are multiple usability issues. The first issue being that users need to be familiar with using left and right swipe gestures in order to reveal both the ‘News’ and ‘Medals’ pages. There is little contextual help to encourage users to explore in this way. Another way of interacting is through tapping the faded headings, this would rely on users noticing these and tapping the title. As these gestures may be unfamiliar to some, users may find the app hard to navigate, and therefore not find important information which they may be looking for.
The main page of the app where users land upon opening the app, lists the events for the day. This is under the heading ‘Right now’. On here, there are two main issues.
One issue is the wording used on the app to notify an events status. Events are ‘Scheduled’, ‘Running’ or ‘Finished’. The term ‘Running’ could cause confusion as this could be an events status, or could be a ‘Running’ event in athletics. To save confusion, the app could have used alternative labels to indicate status, such as, ‘On now’, ‘In progress’ or ‘Happening now’.
Throughout the day, events change from ‘Scheduled’ or ‘Running’ to ‘Finished’. However, events that are ‘Finished’ stay at the top of the page, forcing users to scroll through past events in order to find current ones. This may appear to be confusing and overwhelming as there is no function to help users filter or sort the events. Because of this, some users may find this page difficult and frustrating to use.
When accessing ‘Sports’ pages from within the hamburger menu there is a lack of consistency across pages within the app. The example below shows the ‘Rhythmic Gymnastics’ in a status of ‘Running’ on the ‘Right now’ page. However, at the same time, when accessing the schedule from within the ‘Rhythmic Gymnastics’ page under ‘Sports’ in the main menu – this event is still ‘Scheduled’. This simple error could cause users to miss the event they would like to watch if they are looking at the page with out of date information.
The app offers to send users notifications for the results of their ‘Favourites’. I wanted to test this and disappointingly received none whilst using the app throughout the games. As I felt this was strange, I checked within the settings of the app. I was initially unsure when looking at the sliders whether they were showing an off or on state, due to the design and not receiving notifications. The screenshot below shows that all of the notifications were turned on, however were not working.
Users could be disappointed by the lack of interaction the app encourages. Notifications, would encourage users to engage with the app, as each notification about the results from their favourite sports would make them want to open the app to see more. Users may be looking for more details around the notification, and may check the schedule to see if there are other events that they’re missing. As this function is not working, the app is missing a key opportunity to engage and aid its users’ experience of the Olympics.
Instructions throughout the app are in light grey, meaning users may miss these due to the size and colour contrast of the text. This text would be especially hard to read for users with poorer vision. The images below show the html colour of the text and check the colour contrast. The images show the colours used for this text fail to meet the accessibility standards set by the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0.
After the ‘Closing Ceremony’ of the event
The app was especially disappointing as the games drew to a close on Sunday. The app missed the opportunity to notify users of the closing ceremony and celebrate this year’s success and the end of the games for another four years. As seen in the screen shots below, the main landing page says ‘No events right now’ with an inactive link to ‘Schedule & Results’, swiping left to the ‘News’ section shows ‘Magic moments’ from ‘Rio 2016’. However, there is nothing final to show the Olympic games have ended. What an anti-climax to signify the end of the Rio Olympics.
An alternative app was the ‘Olympics’ app, which celebrated the end of the games on Sunday with their, ‘Good-bye Rio 2016’ article. This met expectations of how the end of the Olympics should be celebrated; the article and links below reflect on the games, the results and showed photos from the events. The feature recaps the events of the ceremony itself as well as allowing users to easily explore related areas, and information about Rio 2016.
Looking ahead to Tokyo Olympics 2020
In order to meet user needs for Tokyo 2020, it is important to carry out research to discover what users need to support their experience of the Tokyo Olympics. This should take place before an app is designed and built, with user testing of the app throughout its development.