Blog Entry

How 'Usable' is Our Site?

Posted on: April 27, 2009 2:08 pm
One of the problems about being the most customizable product in the industry is having to figure out where to put all of the features.  We have always prided ourselves on being the most customizable and that presents a difficult challenge.  The features that 99% of our users love, need to be a lot more prominent than the features that only 10% of our users value.  On the other hand, we also feel the need to make everyone aware of all the great features that we offer.  For years, even though our product has evolved, we’ve kept the same interface and have continued to cram features into it. 

For you commissioners, you’ve probably noticed (or maybe you haven’t) all of the ‘Advanced Features’ in your league setup area or in other places around the site.  This was the product of us adding features that appeal to a smaller set of our users and needing to find a place to put them.  Some of them aren’t even advanced features…they are features everyone should have/use.  Anyway, I mentioned in my previous blog that we are doing ‘usability’ testing on our products for the first time in a long time and it’s something that is long overdue. The results have been eye opening to say the least. 

I used to think that usability was a subjective term. What might be usable or user-friendly to me might not work for a friend. I thought maybe it was a preference thing, or might have had to do with a person’s particular way of thinking. Some users like the way certain sites/features work, others do not.  And to a certain extent, usability can be a subjective determination.  But when 100% of your users can’t make sense of something, there is nothing subjective about it, it is a problem.  And as it turns out, we have a couple of problems.         

As I’ve learned more about usability over the last year, I’ve formed my own opinions about what it means to our fantasy leagues.  In its most basic form a useable site should make it simple for its users to accomplish basic tasks. Our fantasy leagues are a tool where users come to accomplish certain tasks (setting a lineup, add/drop/trade players, checking stats, setting up a league, etc.).  And the main goal of a tool is to be a facilitator in accomplishing those tasks and that the tool should never get in the way of a user accomplishing those tasks.  And for the most part I think our leagues do that.  It’s very easy to set a lineup and check your live scoring.  It’s a little more difficult to conduct an add/drop or trade (it could be easier).  It’s even a little more difficult to look for certain stat sets (a more complicated task, but should still be easier than it is).  All of these things, despite my comments after them, are relatively easy to accomplish.  That doesn’t mean we’re not looking at ways to improve them…we are.  Usability goes much, much deeper than what I’ve described, but what is most troublesome is that even for the most basic definition of usability our product has failed.  The area that is currently under the heaviest scrutiny is the Setup area. During the testing, trying to accomplish even simple tasks that the tool was asking of the user was difficult and led to high frustration levels. Some of our more seasoned veterans may already know how to get around that area of the site and might not find it that difficult to navigate.  But to new users it is like speaking a foreign language.

Anyway, like I said earlier, it’s a trade-off.  We like being the most customizable, so we’re not looking to remove any functionality.  But we want people to enjoy setting up a league on our site so much so that they in turn look to explore all of the features we have to offer. Just like most of you have. So we’re going to spend some time working on that area.  Like I’ve said in previous posts, it’s better for all of us if more people are playing Fantasy, not less.  And I don’t want to be responsible for someone not getting into Fantasy just because it was too frustrating to setup a league.  I know this post doesn’t necessarily apply to a lot of our more hardcore Fantasy users, but I am interested to know if there are any areas of the site that continue to cause you frustration in terms of usability.  I’m not looking for every single area that we can improve upon, I know there are plenty of those and in time I’ll hopefully provide a forum for each area of the site.  But if there are tasks that you think are difficult to accomplish with the existing set of tools, please don’t hesitate to let me know. 

Category: Fantasy

Since: Jan 3, 2007
Posted on: November 16, 2010 4:44 pm

How 'Usable' is Our Site?

I think there is a big gap in the functionality of the CBS fantasy baseball site when it comes to late season injuries to MLB players.  As everyone knows, once September 1st comes around MLB teams have a lot of extra players on their bench.  So, when a starter suffers an injury that might well have put him on the DL earlier in the season, that is frequently not the case in September.  The problem is, September is when fantasy leagues are having their playoffs, and if a player is out with say a pulled hamstring but doesn't officially go on the DL, then in most fantasy leagues that player cannot be put in an "injured" spot on the roster page and a replacement player pick up from the free agent pool.

I know that the commish can use Setup to allow owners to put their own players on injured, but in my leagues I want to use CBS's timeframe for listing the player as "DL" before owners can move the player to injured.  This works fine throughout the baseball season until you get to September 1st.  The commissioner can go in and move the player to an injured slot, but within a day or two CBS goes through and reverts those players to reserve, thus causing an Illegal Lineup.

I want CBS to allow such changes made by the commissioner not to be automatically reversed.  And, although the commissioner can make those changes for any player on any other team, he cannot move non-DL players to injured on his own team.  What I'm asking for is the abiltiy for the commissioner to move players to the DL for all teams, and for those changes to remain in place until the commissioner changes them.

In my leagues, if an owner has a player get injured, and if that injury "probably" would have resulted in the player going on the DL had it happened earlier in the season, then the owner can ask the commish to DL that player with the understanding that he will not be eligible to play again for the rest of the fantasy season.  That seems like a very reasonable way to handle late season injuries, yet it is not easily accomplished with the CBS product.  Can this be changed for 2011?

Since: Feb 9, 2008
Posted on: January 23, 2010 10:37 am

How 'Usable' is Our Site?

Help us play through the whole season.  I'm talking football for this one, but the concept could go for other sports also.

Most leagues try to wrap up early to avoid the "rest the veterans" weeks.  Our league play's 3 weeks beyond the season.  We use CBS but we also have to take it to Excel for results.  If you could make a play-off system like we use you would have people frequenting your site for 3 or 4 more weeks than they currently do, (which is good for business).

We play multi-week Superbowl.  Week 15 is our quarter finals. Week 16 is our semi-finals.  Week 17, 18, 19, 20 is our Superbowl.  When you set your line-up for week 17 you "lock" it in for the 4 week period.  All teams are still playing in week 17 so all players are still available.  You get the best score your set players produce on any of the 4 weeks mentioned but only their best score. 

It's not cumulative.  So, on week 17 you have to chose, do I start Devin Aromashodu who will give me 1 game, or do I start Roy Williams who may give me multiple scoring opportunities?  Line-ups are locked, you can't change your mind after week 17.

If you could make a way for these multi-week, "best score" play-off formats to work on your site, it would encourage leagues to run longer. 

Week 16 becomes the tough week to survive, but week 17 is no longer a problem for players like Peyton Manning.

Since: Jan 22, 2010
Posted on: January 22, 2010 12:28 pm

How 'Usable' is Our Site?

On the baseball side: would be nice if the creation of a league story didn't get rid of the columns that usually take up that space on the page. (I'm thinking specifically of the "Top 300," "Rankings," etc. -- which have disappeared now that a league story has been posted, and I can't find them anywhere else on the site).

Since: May 6, 2009
Posted on: May 6, 2009 1:01 am

How 'Usable' is Our Site?

I think that the site is worth the money and is very user friendly.  The only real problem that I have come across for our particular league is the DL spot in conjunction with our salary cap.  I know our particular league doesn't want the DL spot to count against the total cap at all.  As of right now that is not possible, while the disabled player doesn't count towards your team's active salary he still counts towards the total.  The only reason I mention it is not having this tool now makes me monitor everyones roster all of the time.  We may be in the minority in how we work our league, but just thought I would put that one out there.  Thanks.

Since: Apr 28, 2009
Posted on: May 5, 2009 7:15 pm

How 'Usable' is Our Site?

Having been forced to use Yahoo for another league, I can tell you sportsline is very 'usable' at least comparatively speaking.  What I also love that you just cant get anywhere else is how granular I can get with reporting.

I would gladly pay an extra $25 per year to be able to get ridiculously granular with stats like RC/9, BABIP, GB%, OPS you name it.

I think you guys have a really solid core product.


Canice Murphy

Username: Canicemurphy - sole proprietor of the Yellow Bulldozers Fantasy Baseball Club.

Since: Apr 30, 2009
Posted on: April 30, 2009 12:48 pm

How 'Usable' is Our Site?

I guess I figure that $150 is a pittance (split 15 ways by my fellow owners) and that the ads are an easy way to subsidize the costs.  I used to play in an ad-free league run by STATs and we paid $60 EACH ($900 a year) to play.  Okay, maybe we were idiots, but....

Since: Jun 4, 2007
Posted on: April 30, 2009 3:59 am

How 'Usable' is Our Site?

In the football program, you offer an option for Score all Positions the Same or Score Different Positions Differently.  It seems that if I choose Score all Positions the Same, then any player should be allowed to score via any stat.  In this method, you should not have categories broken down by offensive or defensive.  Last year there were a handful of offensive players who recovered a fumble after the defensive team took possession of the ball either by interception or fumble but the program would not credit the offensive player with the fumble recovery.  It should credit them with that since it was a change of possesion.  Also, I use IDP and some people select players such as Jared Allen or Mike Vrabel because they know they will also get a chance to lineup on offense and catch an occassional TD.  By choosing the Score all Positions the Same, they should get credit for a TD, but your program won't allow that.  I have used other programs in the past where it would score these for me, but CBSSportsline won't.  It seems like an easy fix, so why can'y you do that?  I have sent my request in for 3 years now but am always told by the people who respond to my questions is that they can't do it.  I run 2 pretty elaborate leagues and have been doing so for 16 years.  We started out by doing stats by hand and eventually found websites until we made our way to yours.  PLease help and correct these issues.

I also run a salary cap league with predetermined salaries.  Is there a way that you can allow me to enter salaries intot he system prior to the draft.  I currently have to enter salaries for drafted players after the draft takes place.  If an owner trades or drops a player, then I have to re-enter the salary.  

PLEASE HELP !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Since: Apr 1, 2009
Posted on: April 28, 2009 3:21 pm

How 'Usable' is Our Site?

Agreed.  I don't understand why we have to see 1/4 of the screen taken up with advertising when we pay $150 to run our league each and every season.  <br />

Since: Apr 1, 2009
Posted on: April 28, 2009 3:20 pm

How 'Usable' is Our Site?

I think one of the bigger issues in regards to the usability of the site is with the draft application.  I saw a few drafts this baseball season and I heard of one from this football season where the system was not easy to understand or fix.  <br /><br />One example is if a player times out on their draft choice, it autopicks their next player in the queue.  If the commissioner went back to change the pick, they would click undo last draft and then it would redraft that same player over and over again.  Eventually the commissioner wouldn't know how to fix this, and unfortunately, the whole draft went that way with teams getting players they didn't want.  The commissioner didn't understand that he had to suspend the draft, back out the pick, then draft the new player, and then start the draft again.<br /><br />Basically, the draft application is outstanding, but there is no guidance, direction, or anything that will help commissioners learn it or fix a problem quickly.  I know first hand that many commissioners use Yahoo because of the ease of use with their draft application.  <br /><br />If this is a problem to make the draft application more user friendly or "user understandable" then maybe it would help to have an easier way to contact customer support during a draft to ensure a quick fix.  Getting a draft screwed up and waiting 8 hours for an email support notificiation isn't going to fly with owners.<br /><br />Thanks.

Since: Jan 15, 2007
Posted on: April 28, 2009 12:48 pm

How 'Usable' is Our Site?

How about losing the annoying add banners that adorn both sides of the screen on any given page of the league sites. We pay good money for the Commissioner product and still have to deal with in your face advertising.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or