Tennis Racket Selector

An interactive tool for selecting the right high performance tennis racket

Audience

Tennis players of all skill levels

Responsibilities

Needs Analysis
Visual Design
eLearning Development

Tools Used

Articulate Storyline 360
Adobe Illustrator
Adobe XD
Adobe Photoshop
Google Docs

Audience

Tennis players of all skill levels

Responsibilities

Needs Analysis

Visual Design

eLearning Development

Tools Used

Articulate Storyline 360

Adobe Illustrator

Adobe XD

Adobe Photoshop

Google Docs

9 Skill Level / Play Style
Combinations

Users can combine any of 3 skill levels with 3 styles of play and 2 power level choices to narrowly focus the curated racket list to their exact needs

Complex Problem,
Simplified

There are so many different factors that determine what racket is best for any particular player. This tool simplifies the process down to 3 easy questions.

The Problem

Serious tennis players of all skill levels typically look to upgrade their rackets every few years. But with a growing list of racket brands, each with their own unique racket technologies, combined with the seemingly endless other factors that determine the best racket fit for a player, the process of finding the right racket can be extremely intimidating and overwhelming. This is true even for highly skilled players who have been playing for years!

The Solution

This interactive tool aims to simplify the process of choosing a high performance tennis racket by breaking the process down into answering up to 3 simple questions that do not require any formal knowledge of racket technology.

The user starts by selecting their skill level.

Beginners can choose between rackets that would be good for them now as beginners, or rackets that they could grow into as their skill level improves. Users who choose rackets to grow into can choose between rackets that provide more power or rackets that provide more control.

Intermediate level players can choose from 3 play styles: Baseliner, Net Rusher, or All Court player. Baseliners typically may prefer more power or control, so users who choose the Baseliner style of play are asked to choose between rackets that provide more power or rackets that provide more control.

Advanced level players typically are more knowledgeable about how different racket specifications affect the way the racket "plays". Accordingly, users who choose the Advanced skill level are then asked to choose between heavier, thinner rackets or lighter, thicker rackets.

Once all selections have been made, a curated list of the top racket choice from 9 leading brands is presented to the user, complete with multiple racket images and a brief description of the racket.

The Process

The goal for this project was to create a tool that is extremely easy for tennis players to use. This meant I had to find a way to break down the enormous amount of information related to racket types and specifications into a condensed, simplified system.

I started by deciding on the main categories that every tennis player would fit into. Naturally, skill level is the starting point. From experience as a tennis player myself, I know that there are generally 3 categories: beginner, intermediate, and advanced.

After that, I thought carefully about what each skill level would likely be looking for in a high performance racket.

Since beginners typically have not developed a play style yet, I knew that offering those choices to them would not be beneficial, and instead focused on allowing them to choose between rackets that are great for beginners, or rackets that approach the intermediate level so that they could grow into it and use it for a longer time as their skills progress.

As an intermediate player myself, I know that intermediates have or are starting to develop play styles for which different racket specifications fit best. Naturally, I knew I had to offer intermediates a play style option first. Then, knowing that baseline players may want to choose between more power and more control, that would be the last choice point for intermediates.

I have some experience working with advanced tennis players, so I asked a few that I know well what types of things they look for when choosing a new racket. They all said essentially the same thing: It mostly comes down to the thickness of the frame and the weight. This is because advanced players know that the combination of frame thickness and weight will determine how much power or control the frame provides. Of course advanced players have different play styles, but they already know their play styles well and they know the combinations of frame thicknesses and weights that will serve them best. Accordingly, I decided to offer advanced players a choice between heavier, thinner rackets or lighter, thicker rackets because those are the most common combinations that advanced players look for.

Design and Development

I decided that Articulate Storyline 360 was an effective tool for this project because of its natural interactive capabilities.

Because I had already mapped out the question trees for each skill level, it was natural to use separate screens for each question to reduce cognitive load. I wanted to make sure users only had to think about one racket selection factor at a time.

The more difficult challenge was deciding how to present the racket information in an efficient, yet not overwhelming way. I knew that for each question pathway that a user might take, they would need to be presented with racket images and descriptions for rackets from 9 different racket brands. Further, I wanted to ensure they could easily jump from one racket in the list to another, regardless of the order of their selections.

To reduce the amount of information on the screen at any one time, I decided on a layout that included racket images to the left of the racket description, with a navigation bar directly below them that includes only racket brand logos. This navigation allows the user to select a racket that fits their preferences by brand.

But, knowing that not all players will be familiar with the logos of the different brands, I also included a menu option on the left side of the screen that lists the full brand and name of each racket in the list. This menu is hidden by default to reduce screen clutter. It is available if users need it, and can be opened and closed at any time.

After sharing the design with others for feedback, it was suggested that I include a way for users to quickly jump to another category altogether. In my original design, the only way to do that was to start over completely, answering each question again.

Given this feedback, I included drop-down menus at the top of the screen that allow users to jump to any of the final curated lists the could end up with by answering the questions. Conveniently, these menus are available from the very beginning of the experience, so users can choose to skip the questions altogether, even if it is their first time using the tool.

Screenshots of the final design can be seen in the picture slider below.

Results and Takeaways

This was a highly enjoyable project to work on because I love playing tennis. This alleviates a personal pain point for me, and likely many other tennis players. We like to look at new rackets, but are overwhelmed by all of the choices available, which lessens the enjoyment and excitement of choosing a new racket. The process turns into more of a chore than a fun experience. Using this tool allows tennis players to focus on what they REALLY want to focus on when choosing a new racket - checking out all the great brands, styles, and technologies available.

I anticipated my harshest critics would be the tennis players I would ask to try it out. I asked players from all ability levels for their opinions, and I was pleased that they all felt this would be an efficient way to narrow down the list of options that would be good for them. The general consensus was that the tool was aesthetically pleasing and easy and fun to use. Mission accomplished!