Data Collection on the Fly

For Pro Football Focus's analysts, keeping up with the nuances and details of every game was a daunting task — but it didn't have to be a pain. They just needed a data entry solution tailored to their needs. By upgrading their tech stack and taking a considered approach to field entry, we allowed analysts to complete a game's worth of data entry in hours instead of days.

01 / context & considerations

Pro Football Focus is a leading sports analytics company, specializing in in-depth player performance analysis for American football. They provide teams, fans, and media with comprehensive, data-driven insights and player grades that allow for an unparalleled understanding of the game and enhance the football experience. Following the success of the reporting app we had built for them previously, they came back to us to craft a data collection application intended to replace their system of spreadsheets.

They were in desperate need of a bespoke system that worked for them. The goal was to create an app that was snappy enough for their analysts to register play data in near realtime so game insights could be shared live over social media while they were still relevant.

Using a series of spreadsheets got the job done, but left analysts bound to Microsoft Access and Excel's limitations.

02 / process

Given the arduous nature of the task, ensuring the data entry process was as seamless as possible was crucial.

I spent plenty of time on film study (i.e. screen recordings of analysts going through the process of entering stats from each play) to identify pain points and worked directly with the chief analyst and several of his colleagues in putting the product through its paces. Their feedback helped optimize the system, streamline the flow of form fields, and create visual cues that helped them keep their bearings during a game

With so many data points to capture, utility of space was key.

03 / solution

We created a form field order and tab system that worked with their established process and introduced a system of hotkeys to allow for easy play traversal to make any updates to the data during breaks in the action. As we continued to fill out functionality, I also further refined the app's navigation to cut back on visual noise and irrelevant and inaccessible information to help keep analysts focused.

The new system greatly sped up data collection, providing analysts with a frictionless process so they could stop fighting both their software tools and the DVR.

The end result was the synthesis of analyst savvy in play dissection and design's best efforts to mirror that thinking process.