Played App

Finding and booking sports facilities in London and the UK was, and still is a problem. The first version of the Played app set out to solve this. The product was a marketplace for sports facilities that could be instantly booked inside an iOS and Android app.




Product Designer and Manager



My Role

My role was initially that of product designer which then quickly morphed into the product manager. I worked closely with multiple stakeholders including external clients to identify design and implementation issues and how we would overcome them. I managed the build of the MVP, which was built out quickly with an in-house and remote team.

The Product

The front-end experience of the app was simple, and allowed users to find nearby facilities for various mainstream sports, and then book that particular court or pitch. Behind the scenes it was a far more complex beast. Data was pulled from the open active date source which in turn pulled data from individual systems within each facility. The management and organisation of this data into a clean interface was where many complex issues arose. Data is not always user-friendly, so many systems had to be designed to filter this into something consumable for the customer. 

The challenge for the Played app was clear - it was scaling with data limitations. For this project we relied on open data to integrate with the third-party booking systems. Upon launch we quickly discovered that the data we had been promised was simply subpar and key integrations had stalled. We aimed to be first to the market with the use of this data and 5 years later it is still not there.

Evolution of the project

The product was strong, the design seamless, and it was well received. It allowed users to find the nearest available facilities and book instantly.The issue was the lack of data. There was not enough to reach a critical mass for engaging customers. In its most basic form, it was a great database but that was not the goal nor was it enough to make the product stay on the shelf.It did however illuminate a number of issues within that market which allowed the company and I to successfully pivot into a new product line, Played Reach.

Key take aways

> Building a strong proof of concept model to adhere too, kept the MVP clean and minimised the risk of clouding the product’s core purpose.

> Understanding the influence of multiple stakeholders and their need to be carefully managed in order to satisfy key people and still create the most effective initial product for all.

> Increasing communication across teams that would not normally be involved with each other was shown have an important outcome on the product in its early stages.

> Emphasising the importance of testing. In this case, testing the data. With more structured upfront tests and processes, we would have been able to understand and use the data more effectively.

> Appreciating the importance of user testing throughout the design process, in particular the initial wireframe journeys.

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