Product & UX Design Lead
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Maria Casino - Product reinvention

A case study of my work as User Experience lead on the transformation of Maria.com - Unibet's online casino platform. Our brief was to create the most innovative and user friendly online casino for the elite player of tomorrow. Create a responsive, cross-channel gaming platform to support the wider business initiative for market leading innovation. 

 

Re-defining the online casino for the elite player of tomorrow

Re-defining the online casino for the elite player of tomorrow

 

Project year: 2014

The problem

With a natural shift in customer demographics from female Bingo players towards male Casino players, Unibet’s global gaming platform Maria.com was in need of a complete product revolution.

We were tasked with creating the most innovative and user friendly online Casino for the elite player of tomorrow. Working closely with the Maria team we created a new responsive, cross-channel gaming platform to support the wider business initiative for market leading innovation. 

The client

Unibet are a global gaming & gambling business with over 15 million registered players across a portfolio of 13 brands. Maria.com represents a small part of Unibet's revenue and has a smaller user base than their core Unibet.com product. With this in mind, the business was open to an increased level of innovation and wanted to test and launch potentially disruptive, game changing features.

 
The new product VS The old product

The new product VS The old product

 

My role

I was the User Experience lead for this project and worked closely with a small product team of designers, developers and strategists to deliver: 

  • A product strategy - to meet business objectives and user needs.
  • An updated brand proposition & identity - UX, UI guidelines & look and feel.
  • A game changing Casino product - for desktop & mobile web as well as native apps.

Defining success

Product KPIs

  • Increase conversion from registration to first deposit by 11% (from 36% to 40%)
  • Increase number of high value customers by 40% (from 250 to 350 players per month)
  • Reduce bounce rate for key pages:
    • Homepage from 34.11% to 30%
    • Registration page from 48.35% to 40%
  • Decrease average page load time to = <1.5s
  • Increase NPS by 25% in comparison to old site
  • Increase number of cross channel players (Desktop, Mobile, Native App)

Business Objectives:

  • Grow mobile revenue to 50% of total.
  • Increase average revenue per user (ARPU) from £56 to £80 pcm in Casino
  • Increase Mobile ARPU from £104 to £120 pcm
  • Decreased user churn from 18% to 15% pcm
  • Increase casino game revenues by:
    • Increasing number of active players
    • Driving an increase in spend per session
 
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Our discovery process

Unibet had provided us with a huge amount of research and data they had already commissioned and leveraged across their portfolio of brands. With this in mind, they wanted to get an innovative product into the market asap and get feedback from users rather than commissioning further research. We ran a lean discovery phase consisting of:

  • Product Immersion (Maria & Unibet products)
  • Analysis of supplied data & reports (customer research, brand research, analytics)
  • Competitor heuristic review
  • Brand & Innovation: research & workshop

Learnings: the market

  • The market was crowded and products lack differentiation. Most offered the same selection of games from third party providers.
  • Existing products fail to offer an experience beyond simply structuring the games into categories and facilitating gameplay.

Learnings: the new Maria brand & proposition

  • The new brand was designed to appeal to the target audience: 25-35, mostly male with limited free time and many social activities. Living in lager cities or their suburbs.
  • The brand character "Maria", an experienced, highly skilled casino play would be used to advise players, delivering first person messages, recommending games, etc.
  • The brand should be thrilling, smart, cool, edgy yet inclusive and charming.

Learnings: customer attitudes & behaviours

  • 27 individual players (VIPs) were responsible for 80% of Maria’s revenue.
  • Most users play the same game all the time and don't try others.
  • The audience (the largest segment in gambling) lack reasons to stay loyal to one gambling product/ brand.
  • Customer service teams deal with queries around withdrawing funds and bonuses.

Learnings: the existing product

The sign-up & sign-in experiences were not optimised.
Opportunities to drive new user sign-ups by delivering a compelling proposition, promotional messaging and a slick UI were being missed. Returning users (signed-out) were shown the same 'new customer' focussed homepage and had to search for hidden sign-in functionality rather than having it clearly visible on the page. Signed-in users were given a similar experience instead of being taken straight to a game browser page with content personalised to them.

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Registration, on-boarding & customer verification journeys were not optimised to drive registration & first deposit (conversion).
This journey was a big point of friction, causing many users to drop-out or give up before making their first deposit. Forms were clunky and not optimised for mobile devices, the identity verification process was challenging and customer concerns about security/ privacy were not being alleviated. Where users were shown a tempting offer message on the landing page, this incentive was not visible on the registration journey where it could have most impact.

Game selection & presentation experiences were failing to encourage players to try other games.
Games categories and subcategories were no longer fit for purpose, taxonomies were outdated and the vast majority of gameplay was with Casino games. Game category landing pages and gameplay pages were failing to help users find games they might like and failing to persuade them to try new games.

 
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Opportunities to increase ARPU and differentiate from competitors with value adding features were being missed
The product was missing features that could drive ARPU and loyalty such as cross-selling, personalisation, more relevant rewards or gamification (e.g. a points/ social competitive element). Adding value to the experience "around" the games would be key as we were not able to change the selection of games available on the site.

The "top up your wallet" experience was a major pain-point for users and limiting revenue.
When a user was playing a game and ran out of credits, they would have to interrupt their gameplay and go through a clunky payment/ checkout process to add funds to their wallet. Payment methods they had used before were not saved, default or suggested top-up amounts were not offered and best practice payment UX was not followed. This was impacting the experience for users, leading to increased churn and limiting spend. Users would often end their gameplay session when they were out of credits because the top-up process would distract them from gameplay. We estimated that this was limiting ARPU by as much as 14%.

A game-changing product vision

The Empowered Player. In a competitive sector where all gaming platforms were offering the same selection of games and similar offers, an intuitive yet distinctive user experience would help Maria stand out from the crowd.  It is accepted that when it comes to game play all sites are similar in what they are offering their customers. Maria’s point of difference in the market will be founded upon the experience it wraps around the games themselves. ‘The Maria Experience’. Through brand, clever interaction, simple usability, speed and smart technology Maria.com will be designed as the premium platform of choice - encouraging loyalty amongst it’s customer base.

Key drivers for desktop site

  • Immersive brand experience
  • Full canvas view port 
  • Use of branded video content 
  • Use of interface animation and transitions

    Key drivers for mobile site

    • Fast access to game play
    • Page load speed
    • Familiar gesture base interaction

     

       
       

      Product definition & design

      We ran several workshops with the full agency & client team where we explored potential feature ideas. With our target of >50% of gameplay on mobile devices, we worked with a mobile first approach. Initially sketching features, I would then create more refined ideas using Axure. The small screen size of a mobile device meant we needed to take an off canvas approach to menus and additional features such as the notification centre and wallet/ account management. Here are some early stage designs.

       
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      Feature: Fluid responsive layout on desktop devices

      On smaller devices such as phones and tablets the core experience (game selection & gameplay) would take up the entire canvas and other functionality (e.g. the notification centre) would be accessible when needed. On devices with more screen real estate we would show additional functionality without reducing the size of the game area.

       
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      Feature: registration, on-boarding & guided deposit

       
      Registration & on-boarding 1/4 - Homepage for new user Messaging and offer, immersive brand content focussed on converting a new user.

      Registration & on-boarding 1/4 - Homepage for new user
      Messaging and offer, immersive brand content focussed on converting a new user.

      Registration & on-boarding 2/4 - User signup step 3/4 Simple, frictionless form with inline validation and bonus incentive shown as last step.

      Registration & on-boarding 2/4 - User signup step 3/4
      Simple, frictionless form with inline validation and bonus incentive shown as last step.

      Registration & on-boarding 3/4 - Key feature tour Guiding users to their first deposit (conversion) within the context of a short product tour that introduces key features.

      Registration & on-boarding 3/4 - Key feature tour
      Guiding users to their first deposit (conversion) within the context of a short product tour that introduces key features.

      Registration & on-boarding 4/4 - Set your preferences Encouraging users to explore other games by customising their interface and choosing categories they like.

      Registration & on-boarding 4/4 - Set your preferences
      Encouraging users to explore other games by customising their interface and choosing categories they like.

      Product navigation V1

      Product navigation V2

       

      Product overview & key features

       
      Surface level gameplay The interface is designed to facilitate instant access to games from anywhere in the site, using a sophisticated recommendation engine to encourage discovery of new games.

      Surface level gameplay
      The interface is designed to facilitate instant access to games from anywhere in the site, using a sophisticated recommendation engine to encourage discovery of new games.

      Player On-boarding
      The new player on-boarding process encourages users to to personalise their experience through gaming preferences and selection of skill level. The interface then responds to the criteria and delivers a tailored experience.

      Performance Dashboard
      A first of its kind player performance dashboard allows users to track their performance metrics including wins, deposits and success trends, in turn promoting responsible gambling.

      Customisable Interface
      A customisable interface allows users to configure their game screens with their favourite games and game types all through a simple off canvas tool.

       
      A first of its kind - Performance Dashboard also lets players monitor their deposits and winnings, providing live feedback on their daily performance.
       

      Personalised Promotions
      Promos, offers and bonuses are served to the player on arrival and bonus progress can be tracked through the performance dashboard.

      Multi Platform The product is available across desktop, mobile and tablet and in native versions.

      Multi Platform
      The product is available across desktop, mobile and tablet and in native versions.

       
      Working with Delete has allowed us to establish an innovative cross channel platform that will undeniably be a game-changer for the online casino market and provide us with a distinctive, competitive position in the market.
      — Josefine Bin Jung - Marketing Director, Maria Casino
       
      The mobile (web) experience showing (from left) my wallet, registration & on-boarding and player homepage.

      The mobile (web) experience showing (from left) my wallet, registration & on-boarding and player homepage.