I led design for the implementation of the brand new Titan Drill application. Working with the original creators of the Spinshot machine and their new partner Beijing Hachibot, the task was to build the most powerful and flexible ball machine in the Tennis sector.
Jason - Project Manager
Lily Jiang - Swift Developer
Bell - Software Engineer
What I Did
The delivery of the Titan Drill app to accompany the new Titan Ball Machine, allowing users to easily customise and create their own tennis drills.
With a successful background in distributing an industry celebrated tennis ball machine, Spinshot recognised a gap in the market for something even newer and more innovative. Working in close collaboration with Beijing Hachibot (their machine engineering partner), Spinshot developed an even more adaptive ball machine, targeting players from an introductory to professional level.
The Tital Tennis Ball Machine by Spinshot Sports, engineered by the world famous Beijing Hachibot Company.
We learnt from what we had
We spoke to coaches and tour players across the globe, asking a range of questions to understand the end user with greater context.
Observed User Testing
We referred to recent results (video recordings) gathered from user testing sessions Spinshot had conducted using their mobile application for the Spinshot ball machine.
Having released a survey yearly, Spinshot already had a fantastic stream of user feedback sat in a database that was updated yearly.
Whilst ball machines like the existing Spinshot machine, the Slingerbag, or the Lobster do a great job at allowing users to deliver balls left and right, they’re still not great at emulating real match scenarios.
It was commented that they’re great for stroke practise, but still unable to assist users drill wise to deliver real match practise.
Users are encouraged to use the Spinshot application to control their ball machine from the back of the court, but many suggest they simply ignore the variable drill functionality and only use the application to start and stop the machine.
It was regularly mentioned that inputting features like ball speed and trajectory felt easier to just input on the machine instead of using the app.
With the emergence of the Spinshot machine when it was released, users used social media and forum platforms to build solid communities without the help of Spinshot themselves.
It was mentioned often that Spinshot didn’t didn’t offer community features such as sharing drill settings or tutorials on their app unlike their rivals Lobster.
The current Spinshot app product (their first product the Titan App is building upon) is far to complicated to use, with an extremely dated User Interface and a complicated UX that users bypassed.
Visually the application used aggressive gradients that may have been delivered fit for purpose when the machine was released, but now omit a feeling of being old and dated in its design, and far less intuitive in comparison to modern application design.
Most ball machines, including Spinshots current model, felt a little more focussed on simple stroke practise and not advanced enough to emulate real scenarios.
As cited by professional coaches, ball machines are acquired for different reasons. Some coaches use ball machines to rely on consistent delivery to their students to contribute to training form and positioning. What ball machines do not do well is train for the complexities of spontaneous match scenarios.
The existing Spinshot application acted simply as a machine control, and lacked features that could support and empower users.
With no onboarding experience, users were reliant on a youtube video to learn how to use the Spinshot app (not presented in the application), often meaning users weren’t even aware of the tutorial.
This often rendered app use as a redundant task with users feeling the app wasn’t intuitive.
How might we
How might we
How might we
Drill Maker App Lessons
With the introduction of the Drill Maker app, Spinshot were able to introduce an innovative control in the pockets of their users, vastly improving how users operate and manipulate their machine mid-drill.
Off the back of two years of Spinshot X the Drill Maker app, we learnt that the user interface wasn't user friendly out of the box, and that users often had a bit of trouble operating the app intuitively.
The numbers on the application represent the drill type, with a long press initiating an 'Edit Drill' mode, and below the main drill selection section housing a manual control section. Whilst this offers a simple control system, users often felt the app offered little in terms of guidance and frequently mentioned in surveys the 'learning curve' required.
Drill Maker App Lessons
The drill editor offers a simple data input system that runs of a 6 ball delivery system. Users enter a number in the input parameters to dictate ball speed, height, spin, etc.
Users frequently mentioned a lack of understanding their min/max capabilities, and having to do a lot of guessing to get their perfect delivery for each ball within their 6.
It was often brought up internally that users with dyslexia or dyscalculia had struggled finding their sweet spot due to the user interface being awkward to understand, making accessibility an issue.
Drill Maker App Lessons
The help interface was found to be heavily used, with users often struggling with the control and edit interfaces.
Users rarely mentioned issues with the help screen, but often mentioned assistance and guidance being completely absent from the application, suggesting the help screen may have not been aptly placed or as helpful as it could be.
Users from our testing sessions felt that the help screen was overwhelming with the level of text presented at the forefront and suggested simplification.
Drill Maker App Lessons
The full application demo carried it's weight in showcasing how to utilise the app with the ball machine, and is a great example of how users were instructed to operate their machine.
To summarise most of our findings on the first and second iterations of the application, we found there to be significant gaps left out in assisting users in both how to operate the machine as well as the application.
Developed by a team of passionate tennis players and former engineers from Nokia, Google, and Siemens, the Titan Tennis Ball Machine bring a new level of innovation to the court. These premium machines combine the best features of traditional ball machines with cutting-edge advancements, offering ultimate performance and convenience.
It was pivotal that we built an application that perfectly accompanied and empowered the user experience.
The above image shows an example of the initial journey created for our MVP delivery. We worked through tackling a number of the main pain points found in our discovery and research, and positioned them in a streamlined flow that we found to effective improve how users navigate and engage with the application.
We took these wireframes into scenario with our professional coach participants and discovered we were still a little off even from an MVP stand point. We had executed a simpler way of listing our custom drills, created a visual reference interface that would assist users in understanding their ball delivery with context and clarity, and introduced advanced iOS ui features to improved the pace in which a user could commence in play and edit drills.
Users still felt a huge gap was missing in assistance, so we hit the drawing board again, tested again, and came up with a solution…
A visually excellent experience
With the application of a modern brand, it was important that the Titan App delivered in engaging with users from a UI standpoint.
Advanced drill control
Delivering placement variation with each ball delivered, it was imperative that the application was able to deliver real match scenarios.
Empowering users from the get go was the name of the game, and offering onboarding and guidance throughout the app experience was positioned to ensure no user felt lost.
Sharing is caring, and the new Titan Drill app knows it. Delivering a community forum that allows users to converse, share, and download drills directly onto their device.
Unique innovation was at the forefront of the reason for Spinshot to invest in and develop the new Titan Machine. Whilst the general use of the machine was considered the primary area of focus, we recognised the value in making sure users felt connected and supported both by Titan (Spinshot), and each other.
Through offering community from within the application, users would be able to share drills that they could download directly onto their application to train for scenarios, improve footwork and strokes. Implementing this feature could be utilised by professional coaches on social media sharing their drills, and general users alike.
With a community feature, sharing tips and tricks amongst owners would be hugely beneficial as well as moderators being able to help users needing assistance.
To remove ambiguity and confusion in how users operate the application, we delivered an introductory onboarding experience to guide and clear up initial set-up confusion. Onboarding continued to be an option prior to user sign in, and has been housed within the global nav.
We also added a universal help hub with search functionality to allow users not only the opportunity to have a central repository to scroll through, but to input their own questions to streamline results. Users are given the option within each question screen to submit a further enquiry. When presented with a 'no results' scenario, the user is presented with a 'Contact us' form.
We dramatically improved the control screen, refining the drills by utilising stacking. Each drill inherits 'long press' functionality that allows users to instantly edit drills when actioned. This dramatically enhances diverse drill implementation, allowing users to name, sort, and categorise.
The addition of an 'in-play draw' allows users to combine drills to diversify their sessions and replicate competitive play.
Being one of the largest drivers in creating an innovative application, the visual drill editor tackles one of the most discussed pain points amongst Spinshot Drill Maker users.
The court graphic and trajectory map delivers users a complete understanding as to where each ball will land, allowing flexible drill customisation for users like they have never experienced before. The swipe wheel allows users to quickly adjust each parameter without having to input random numbers. As they adjust, the court graphic amends in real time.
The implementation of a 'flight path' feature helps users understand parameters such as spin, bounce, response, and many other key areas that players require when creating specific drills.
Every ball within each drill can be customised powerfully, and machine position can be adjusted manually for complete accuracy.
Where users have been connecting on Reddit to discuss drills and machine issues for Spinshot, we saw an opportunity to introduce Titan as not only and innovative, connected app to machine experience, but with an accompanying community.
User profiles showcase dominant hand, grip style, surface preference, and uploaded drills that community members can download. This feature has been seen as one of the most unique and powerful advancements within the company and is one we expect to help with organic growth.
Users have the option to share their social information and build their social media following by sharing drills.
With user profiles containing downloadable drills, our professional coach participants saw a huge benefit in how they could train their students, as well as grow their social audience by offering professionally curated drills focussing on different surfaces, different game plans, and stroke improvement.
Quality Assurance using the Test Flight app is the most effective way of testing and improving when working agile, from an early stage.
Whilst I have vast experienced using the Test Flight app to QA my design works, we benefitted the development team uploading the application extremely early into the project, give us a much larger stretch of time to iterate and refine the application.