Song88 is a sportsbook and casino solution with a robust admin system which takes care of everything from agent creation to setting bet limits, from league/tier assignments to win/loss reports.
Tale of the Tape
2 flagship products
4 verticals (sb, virtual, slots, live)
9 months of development to launch
X white label clients and counting...
The Task At Hand
The challenge was to develop software that adheres to current standards set by top sportsbooks but is also informed by the user with some guidance from our principals who are very knowledgable in the space.
The Sports Edge
I did not know much about sportsbooks in the beginning, but the ace I have up my sleeve is I know sports and am a fan. Through osmosis, lots of research and actual betting, I've learned how sportsbooks work, how betting is informed by the unfolding action, and how various game elements affect betting behavior depending on the level of risk the punter is willing to take. Sports is at the core of the business so knowledge and interest of the former helps me understand the latter more easily.
Into the Weeds: Rolling Markets
As an initially Asia-focused product, the sportsbook put a lot of emphasis on the "rolling markets" which are Asian Handicap (HDP) and Over/Under (O/U). Asian customers prefer these markets as they usually offer better odds and therefore better returns. Match winner or 1X2 is always available though, and this was given much more emphasis when we launched the Euro View version of the sportsbook.
User and Audience
Song88's target demographic is the professional Asian punter who is used to betting relatively small amounts on high-risk markets especially during live matches. This predilection for risk is reflected on the heavy bet traffic towards HDP and O/U. This is especially true for live soccer where 95% of all bets go.
Desktop, then Mobile
We initially honed in on desktop users since most punters like to bet this way; they appreciate seeing a lot of the odds and are therefore better informed to maximize their choice of bets. After we launched v1 and saw usage statistics, we decided to develop the mobile experience to better serve the serious mobile punter and also the casual punter.
Roles and Responsibilities
I was tasked to design the entire interface of the consumer-facing sportsbook product and improve the look of the admin section. This includes the main betting interface which is called the odds display and the "sportsbook shopping cart" called the betslip, plus all the reports that relate to the placed bets.
Scope and Constraints
There are a lot of nuances in designing for a sportsbook. Design is more about the functionality than the style or aesthetic. There is also a marked uniformity in the product features of various competitors operating in Asia since innovation is immediately rewarded by the users. Competitors in the region are vigilant of emerging best practices as everyone is in pursuit of a better betting experience. No one wants to get left behind as well as leave money on the table.
I took it upon myself to do a refresh every few months to keep the homepage interesting. I started off by using unlicensed imagery of soccer stars in action alongside words that I came up with, all approved by the CEO. Once we started signing up white label clients, I had to use "safer" sports imagery which was still soccer-themed and striking but more generic (no more big-name stars).
The use of icons in interface design can never be understated as people tend to have "text fatigue" after even a short time of browsing through text-heavy displays. Icons provide visual cues that allow for quicker scanning of content, especially for navigation, so users can get to their content faster. I've created dozens of icons for the sportsbook UI and a few dozen more for the admin section.
The Mind of the Punter
I constantly use the sportsbook to see if there are details which can be improved by a little bit; this may include spacing, icons, colors, text, user flow, words. Big revamps or redesigns may be sexy, but it is in the small and constant tweaking where I think products really evolve to up the value for the customer in the long term.
What I learned
I learned about thinking in terms of systems than piecemeal design. This nudges a designer to always consider the macro while tinkering on the minute details. This allows for easy reuse of existing colors and patterns which makes the product more put-together visually; once the components are in place, it's easier and faster to scale up with additional screens that the prototype may need. Down the line, this also allows developers to focus less on additional styling as most of the styles already exist. I also learned how to use Adobe XD which I appreciate as it is a nifty UI and prototyping tool that allows for styles and components. Developers particlarly love XD for its ability to make the same styles and components available for dev use easily.