The World Cup is over and Germany has claimed their fourth title. But it's worth recapping some great digital experiences that appeared either as legitimate coverage or for fun.
It wasn't sexy design, but their tabbed World Cup widget was an exceptional tool if you couldn't watch the game. Google used three tabs to provide a timeline of the match, game statistics, and lastly lineup information.
What was done well:
Mobile & web used the same UI, I didn't have to relearn anything
Design simplicity meant fast page loading and quick-to-consume break down of information
Tabs! An unexpected but loved feature
Video clips of key events added into the timeline as they became available
Nit pick: Early in the tournament, Google did not use a pin line stroke on the flag graphics. This meant countries with large quantities of white in their flag, like Japan, didn’t have properly displaying flags (whoops).
NEW YORK TIMES
The full-gamut experience of fun-to-serious coverage is noteworthy of the amount of very specialized content NYT produced simply for the World Cup.
On top of that, most of the content was fully responsive. What wasn't fully responsive was still available in an alternate form on mobile. (Dear everyone everywhere, stop hiding your shit just because I'm on my phone.)
And lastly, an example of the live-blogging (also excellent and thorough!) coverage - US vs Germany.
What was done well
More depth and more breadth of coverage than I found on most other sites, even sports-related sites.
Live blogging included interactive elements almost immediately after key plays.
Many of the features were responsive (!!!)
Live blog was not as speedily updated as other sources. You can guess this may be in part due to the embedded play-breakdowns that required time to create, but even basic scoring updates were slow
Although most of their content was responsive, NYT has yet to figure out how to make some of their charts/graphics translate to mobile (to their credit, neither have most people)
Sites that were either too narrow in focus, or not quite engaging enough to be used more than a couple of times.
FIFA deserves a little bit of credit for creating digital experiences that were at least approachable this World Cup. iOS and Android apps were in the market prior to the start of the tournament. Unfortunately, they stumbled with some pretty weird interaction decisions in their iOS app.
FOOTBALL TO FOOTBALL, a "translation" tool to help American Football fans understand soccer. It’s a basic Chrome plugin but lacks a wide vocabulary and has some basic functional issues identifying whole words.
GOOGLE TRENDS' WORLD CUP section highlights data around mood, interests and other interesting tidbits based on keyword searches used before, during and after each match. The rudimentary feel to Google's new Material design aesthetic at times takes away from the experience, however. And there really isn't much to do here besides peruse once and move on.
TWITTER enabled users to follow their team's progress, use pre-created profile and background images, and follow a bundle of sports figures – all with a minimal number of clicks. Unfortunately, the generated feed ultimately felt muddied and I used it just once.
Thanks in part to some brilliant marketing (I Believe That We Will Win and One Nation One Team), and a general increase in soccer fandom, Americans paid more attention to the World Cup than ever before. Early in the World Cup, FIFA's data showed that the USA made up almost 20% of all of their digital traffic. That includes the FIFA website, FIFA's Facebook page, and the official FIFA iOS & Android apps. That is a huge increase from just four years ago. I'm excited for 2018.