Making fantasy sports easy for anyone to play

UI design: Kelsey Cavitt

Project overview

On the hunt for product market fit, my co-worker and I designed a fantasy sports app on iOS and web to experiment opportunities for creating new impact in the sports tech space.

About Sportsy

Our mission at Sportsy was to give any kid with an internet connection access to high-quality sports training videos.

Company: Sportsy

Role: Lead UI/UX designer

Team: Katie Porter, Andy Briggs, Stefan Vaziri, Stephan Dalyai

Timing: Mar 2015 – May 2015

Photo credit: Joshua Peacock, Unsplash

The problem

As a young, scrappy startup, we ran lots of experiments at Sportsy in pursuit of product market fit. Enter: Sportsy Duel. The idea was to create a fantasy sports app that would be easy even for anyone to participate and play. This sounded perfect for my design partner-in-crime, Katie, and I, as we were fairly clueless about sports in general, let alone fantasy sports.

Sportsy Duel was a particularly challenging project for me because I had no idea how fantasy sports worked. And to further add to the chaos, it was baseball season. This meant we were launching with baseball, and that just happened to be a sport I knew especially little about.

The objective

Make fantasy sports easier to play, game-like, and appealing to fans and casual fans alike.


1.) Be familiar, yet unique. We wanted to stand out from other popular fantasy  apps that were more complicated and confusing. We wanted to move away from the idea of “contests” to a different idea called “rounds.” Rather than have users decide which contests to enter for different prize types, like FanDuel or Draftkings does, we decided to simply place users in “rounds” where they were placed with other users automatically and quickly, that way the game flow wouldn’t have as large of an interruption. Every time a user wants to play a “round” we placed them with 30 other people to compete against.

2.) Create return engagement, people want to play it over and over again. We had to figure out the best way to keep users engaged while still keeping track of their progress through the game. With other fantasy sports apps, you are done “playing” when you’ve picked your team for the day, for a contest, or for the season. With Sportsy Duel, you are presented matchups of players, where there are several different possible matchups, allowing for more continuous play.

3.) Be fun and still competitive. We have done this through our simple “pick the player you think will do best” concept, but also through some fun wording that gave the experience more personality. We wanted to be a friendly face to new players while also making the experience more delightful and interactive with experienced fantasy players. We created a competitive aspect with presenting "live" score updates to show how your pick is stacking up.

Photo credit: Mark Rabe, Unsplash


To build a fantasy sports app that revolves around baseball, we needed to understand which player stats mattered most, how scoring worked, how often games were played, etc. Luckily, Katie and I are quick studies and we got to work on learning the rules. I’m proud to say I know what RBI stands for and the American League uses a designated hitter to replace pitchers during at-bats and that the National League does not (though this has changed since Covid).

We also began playing online fantasy sports, like DraftKings and FanDuel, downloading every app to get a better sense of the opportunities and challenges. We'd bet $1.00 against each other, and the winner would buy the other a coffee (I think losing was the real way to win in this arrangement).

We spent a lot of time at the whiteboard, developed paper prototypes, and talked with potential users who played fantasy sports at our co-working space, trying to understand what would serve them best.

Here are some artifacts from those early iteration days:

Starting on mobile

We decided to iterate through our ideas on mobile first, because we knew we could design it fairly quickly and we also wanted it to be the primary place our users would engage with the product. It was supposed to be a game-like experience that you could pick and play when you wanted to, like on your way to work, when you wake up in the morning, or during a lunch break.

Early visual concepts

Final solution

Within 6 weeks, Katie and I were able to quickly iterate and design a concept that was handed off to our developers to get built.

Web solution

Once we quickly figured out a workflow for mobile, we applied it to the web. We turned the designs around extremely quickly and ended up launching both an iOS app and a web app within about a month of handing off the designs.


In the end, it turned out to be beneficial that two people who were clueless about fantasy sports were leading the design of a fantasy sports app, because for us to understand it, it had to be dead simple.

We launched the app to iOS, but unfortunately it wasn't a product market fit at the time. We were glad to have experimented and worked through ideas quickly to test a new model at our company.