Apps like MLB.TV proves that successes of sports leagues are now defined by more than its superstars and playoff thrills. It’s harder than ever to snag the attention of sports fans—24/7 television networks, sports talk radio stations, a plethora of content websites, sports-centric podcasts and access to games, both locally and across the nation, muddy the playing field.
Leagues, teams and media businesses build products like MLB.TV to set themselves apart from the competition. Fielding a professional team requires the work of hundreds of people—coaches, scouts, front office personnel, players, grounds crew, human resources folks and more. Developing a major content website, a streaming service, a fan experience hub or any other new product needs far fewer collaborators. The men and women needed to create on-screen magic are paid well and in high-demand across the country. Here’s a look at some key product development roles.
Product management has been described as “the intersection between business, technology and user experience” with the role of Product Manager sitting at the crossroads. Just to be clear, Product Managers aren’t developers. They play the overseer, defining a product roadmap—the path from start to finish—that meets business goals as well as customer expectations. Product Managers lead design sessions while supporting the engineering team throughout sprint cycles (a.k.a. defined work cycles) by removing roadblocks to completion. Manage relationships with stakeholders and stay attuned to the competition so team members make the best decisions possible. Passion, attention to detail and the ability to inspire are all vital because you’re the product visionary, making a case to keep your project a priority, fighting for resources (people and money) and staying close enough to ensure quality and timely delivery.
Mobile Engineer (iOS/Android)
Software and services development no longer begins and ends with the desktop experience. Sure, software is still built for Windows and Mac operating systems but the phrase “mobile first” rings truer than ever before. Years ago companies outsourced Android and iOS software development to keep in-house costs low for a secondary priority but mobile is no longer a second-class citizen. The role of Mobile Engineer has matured in the world of technology. It’s someone that can guide mobile architectural decisions and technical strategy for a company. Define development and design best practices and implement the techniques, frameworks and utilities needed to create efficient, beautiful mobile applications. Leverage deep technical knowhow to explore native app development, responsive web design, scalable platforms, API interaction for data access and future-forward constructs. Mobile engineering is more complex than ever before because of the nearly endless possibilities demanding dedicated experts to lead the charge.
Front End Software Engineer
Launch the Yahoo! Fantasy Sports, ESPN, DraftKings or MLB At Bat app and you’re looking at a front end. Front End Software Engineers do the heavy code development on the presentation layer of a product whether it’s a mobile app, website, streaming service or desktop application. Developers utilize HTML and CSS to create interfaces to match product specs and system requirements. They spend their days upgrading existing code, creating new code and resolving bugs reported by internal testers and end users. Create the user-friendly interface that allows people to easily manipulate data and run transactions that are otherwise unusable. Collaborate with UX and UI Designers, Product Managers and Back End Engineers to make useful products and services.
UX Designer & UI Designer
A User Experience Designer (UXD) focuses on the feel of a product. Unlike a UI Designer that dabbles in most of the details, a UX Designer purposefully avoids the particulars of every button, textbox and label. Someone in this role ensures the product flows from step-to-step, task-to-task and across the workflow seamlessly. Consider each possible user problem, research potential solutions and make a decision that a UI Designer can help implement across the product. Gather users for in-person testing to determine where people struggle and see when design efforts thrive. Couple that real-world feedback with common user experience design principles to create products that feel good and flow well.
A User Interface Designer (UID) concentrates on the layout of a product. In this role it’s all about the specifics. Screen and page design matters—the order of content, font and style choices, swipes versus taps, input box sizes and tap target areas. UI Designers know if sliders, control knobs, radio buttons or checkboxes make the most sense and determine where, on a screen or page, each of them belong. A UI Designer must stay true to the maxim set forth by a UX Designer so the overall look-and-feel is preserved while challenging design decisions to create the best user experience possible.