NFLPA

Technical and Brand Overhaul

  • NFLPA
  • Challenge

    The NFL Players Association wanted a top-to-bottom technical and brand communication overhaul to usher in a new era, paired with a newly ratified collective bargaining agreement.

  • Solution

    Use in-depth research to understand what the NFLPA truly means to players and apply those learnings via innovative development and content strategies.

  • Results

    A reimagined digital home for the NFLPA that redefines what it means to be a strong, active, tech-savvy, and culturally relevant labor union. In the first four months after launch, it saw a 21% increase in user logins. Additionally, 74% of NFL players who did log in to their profile returned multiple times.

There is power in a union. The NFL Players Association (NFLPA) is the union that represents the players of the National Football League. As they negotiated and entered the 2020 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), the 'PA' wanted an updated experience for their members through reimagined digital services and brand communication. Together, our goal was nothing short of redefining what it means to be a strong, active, tech-savvy, and culturally relevant labor union.

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  • Our NFLPA work
  • The Starting Point Always a Player

    Organized in 1956 as players were struggling to get basic necessities like clean uniforms and safe equipment, the NFLPA is now a full-service union. The PA represents active and former players’ interests in everything from wage agreements to marketing royalties. And while the average player’s active career is only 3.5 years long, they are touched in a myriad of ways by the union from their early 20s onward, and often throughout the rest of their lives.

  • The NFLPA in action
  • This project was more than a cosmetic redesign.

    We started by questioning all existing assumptions about the site and its audiences.
  • Research Union of Many Interests

    Our research began by asking a series of fundamental questions about what the PA means to players and what they expect from its website. We conducted dozens of interviews with active players, former players, agents, financial advisors, marketing reps, and PA stakeholders. We then used this information to build out a comprehensive NFL Player Career Journey Map and to identify the organization’s key communication challenges and opportunities.

  • In one workshop we inventoried the common questions active and former players ask PA staff.

  • workshop brainstorming

    Our collective goal was to build a site that provided answers before the players needed to ask.

  • Our branching, nonlinear journey map helped us keep in focus the different paths players’ careers can take and how certain situations influence their mental states and what they need from the PA.

  • Leveraging information gathered directly from stakeholder interviews, we identified a core set of communication challenges and opportunities to use as the foundation for our creative strategy.

  • The Approach One Site, Two Sites

    A key insight that came out of our research was that PA audiences often want very different things. Agents want no-frills access to contracts; players want easy-to-find answers to complicated questions; marketing reps want to attract sponsors; and PA leadership wants to bolster credibility with each stakeholder group. We needed to balance the needs of these distinct audiences within a holistic information architecture, tailoring each experience directly to our users’ needs.

  • The PA’s core audiences are small — measured in the 1000s at most — but very specialized. We needed to find a way to effectively serve the specific needs of these different “micro audiences”.

  • We discovered that agents were actually the power users of the site, and that active players — part of the union’s core constituency — were not frequent visitors.

  • User Experience Personalization

    The PA does so much for players that just learning about it all can feel like work. We realized leveraging personalization — surfacing customized content after a user logs into the site — could be a smart way to show players content they didn't yet know they needed. We decided to create a dashboard that would serve as the starting screen for users after they log in, providing personalized, up-to-date information and relevant action items.

  • Every player’s dashboard is a reflection of their unique career stage and situation. There’s no one-size-fits-all way to talk to players because there’s no “typical” NFL career. The player audience in particular was heavily mobile-oriented, so as with every other page, we made sure the dashboard design was clean and usable on mobile devices.

  • The Data The Back End

    To realize this level of personalization we needed to surface data from the PA’s CRM. We consulted on potential solutions with the PA’s technical team who ultimately decided on creating an API for communication between the site and the CRM. We helped define their team’s API implementation and then integrated it into the site; we also developed customizable “automation recipes” that can be scheduled to trigger specific types of personalization.

  • Automation recipes allow the website to do things like show alerts, suggest content, and surface FAQs based on certain status conditions of the user. When a user sees these messages on the website it obviates the need to send those same messages in more interruptive channels like email and text.

  • Creative Strategy Get Open

    As a foundation for communication on the public side of the site, we developed a creative strategy called “Get Open.” Get Open is a metaphor for getting ahead as a professional athlete, but it’s also about getting real. It’s about players showcasing their lives beyond the uniforms and speaking truth about how the game needs to improve. It encourages players to take what football has to offer, while also seizing opportunities available beyond the stadium.

  • As part of our creative strategy workshop we worked with the PA’s communication team to identify a set of brand attributes and messaging priorities for their distinct player audiences.

  • We aligned brand attributes to larger messaging objectives that were then tied to our overarching communication goals.

  • NFLPA creative strategy
  • To finalize our creative strategy we created high-fidelity explorations to understand how the concepts would translate into real-world design and messaging.

  • NFLPA creative strategy

    We created sample messaging and design to provide the NFLPA with a tangible understanding of their new strategy.

  • Content Strategy Balancing Findability and Identity

    When it came to content strategy, we wanted to promote both content findability and organizational identity. While active players were a key audience, many rookies didn’t even realize they were part of a union; we needed to optimize for attracting and retaining players, while also aiding discoverability. Lastly, we needed to keep content brief and scannable for an audience on mobile devices who would be itching to get back to Instagram.

    Becky Radnaev All You Need Is C.R.U.D.
  • We decided that links to the sections for active players and former players should live under a single heading called “For Players”. While this adds another step in navigation, based on our research it was important to make a gesture of solidarity and inclusivity, because whether you’re playing now, or played in the 1960s, you’re part of the same lifelong community. When we showed former players our new designs they noticed and appreciated this decision.

  • We designed a step-by-step evaluation process by which the NFLPA could determine what content to create, reuse, update, or delete.

  • We extended the creative strategy into the content strategy through a content litmus test we called “T.A.P.” To get onto the site, content needed to highlight at least one of these subject matter areas: Tenacity, Authenticity, or Possibility. Content that featured all three would be a candidate for promotion on the homepage or on social media.

  • Content Strategy Questioning the FAQs

    FAQs are sometimes just a way to dump a ton of content onto a single page instead of structuring it intentionally to promote better understanding. In this case, we learned from PA staff that there are literally dozens of frequently asked questions they are fielding repeatedly. To make the site more effective at answering those questions directly, we decided to break FAQs into reusable modules that can be presented when, where, and to whom they are the most relevant.

  • We rewrote FAQs in the conversational language that players actually use. We wanted to make sure players could get the information they needed, even if they didn’t know exactly how to ask for it.

  • The Build Out of the Box Customization

    Craft CMS is a robust content management system out-of-the-box but also provides a framework to easily extend its capabilities. This meant while Craft handled the content, we could focus on building the site’s custom functionality — integration with the PA’s user data and SSO, personalization recipes, integration with Azure Blob Storage, and automated testing of our custom code. Craft multi-site will also let us add additional sites to the install in the future.

  • Launch Going Big

    As we wrapped our final design and development, we also helped the PA think through some creative ideas for rolling out the work at their big spring player rep meeting. We discussed everything from turning the site FAQs — which were a player favorite during our user testing — into IRL FAQs around the event, to booths where attendees could nominate a standout player to become the next PA cover story.

  • "The level of thoroughness, communication and expertise we’ve experienced with Viget has been phenomenal. Grateful for your whole team!"

    Stephanie Blackwell, Digital Content Manager
  • the range of our NFLPA work

Summary

As they entered a new agreement with the NFL, we helped reinvent the NFLPA’s approach to serving their members in the digital space and repositioned the way they communicate their identity as a highly relevant next-generation union.

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