With most of the world still dealing with the effects of Covid-19 and many across the world under some sort of mandated restrictions, the Olympics face a unique challenge – no spectators can attend the game in person . While broadcasting the games to as many people across the world as possible has always mandated the need for some sort of digital user experience, this year no one besides the athletes, those running the events, and members of the media will get to experience the games in person. Because of this, designing with empathy to improve the digital User Experience will be more important than ever.
In the United States, NBC is tasked with bringing the games into the homes of Americans across the country. To improve the digital experience, they have implemented some technological innovations:
- Some markets will have access to the games in a 4K Ultra High Definition (UHD) format with High Dynamic Range (HDR) and immersive Dolby ATMOS audio.
- NBC will be live streaming the games through a partnership with Twitch.
- A Friends and Family production group has been charged with capturing Olympians’ loved ones watching them perform amazing feats throughout the games (since they cannot be there live to react in person).
- NBC will also have microphones “as close to the athletes as possible” in order to make up for the lack of crowd noises at the events.
While these new elements will be used to help improve viewers’ digital experience, NBC has also improved its Olympic website to help optimize the online experience of the U.S. streamer.
The Olympics’ website is organized in a subjective scheme by topic; “information is arranged based on specific subject matter”. These subjects (in the global navigation system) include – Schedule, Medals, Athletes, Results, and Team USA. It also has an option to “Explore Sports” where you can click on whatever event you are interested in from a drop-down menu. This type of structure, combined with a clear labeling system that uses familiar copy, makes it easy for users to find what they are looking for because all the important categories users want to know about when looking up the Olympics are featured front and center.
While the global navigation system discussed above is easy to use, learnable and helps users move through the site efficiently, the local navigation systems on each sport’s page help the user cement their overall satisfaction with the site. For example, on the swimming page, the local navigation system across the top allows the user to easily find the Schedule, Replays of events already passed, Highlights of the games so far, and information on the Athletes participating in each event.
Finally, if a user wants to look for something on the site, the search system is large and in the corner on the home page. When you click the search bar, you can type in what you are looking for or you can use one of the prewritten questions or click on a trending video. This is extremely helpful for the user because most of what you would be searching for can be found as soon as you hit the search button.
Overall, the digital User Experience NBC designed for the 2021 Olympic Games has been stellar – whether you are watching the events or trying to navigate the highlights on NBC’s website. . If only they would change the Opening Ceremony so that we wouldn’t have to sit through the Parade of Nations to see the rest of the show…Go team USA!