The Gears of War franchise is an award-winning and billion-dollar AAA title video game that has redefined the third-person shooter genre. Gears5.com was launched in 2019 and used by more than 8 million players in the first year of release. The Gears of War franchise has over US $1.2 billion in gross revenue with more than 50 million unique players. Gears 5 is the sixth installment of the Gears of War series and is published and owned by Xbox Game Studios for Microsoft Windows, Xbox Series X and Series S, and Xbox One.
As the first designer for the Gears franchise and product websites, I collaborated closely with the product owner, web producer, and lead developer to ensure the success of each milestone. Working alongside three developers and three QA testers, I spearheaded the development of a reusable, scalable, and shareable web design system for The Coalition.
Using wireframes and high-fidelity interactive prototypes, I created and rapidly iterated on design ideas to effectively communicate design strategies and detailed interaction behaviors. Additionally, I delivered comprehensive sitemaps, information architecture, and user flow for seamless website navigation on all screen sizes.
Based on the acquisition, engagement, retention, attract and monetize goals, I saw how there can be a split between a franchise site for legacy games and a product site for each new video game.
There was a need to establish a design system that meets Microsoft content accessibility standards. The design system increases the design efficiency as the websites evolve and create websites from scratch faster for brand new games at The Coalition Studio.
Define UX goals and metrics for features that will meet user needs and determine success.
Understand product direction based on user needs and problems. Create a user needs report asking about players attitudes towards gaming websites, what they use them for, and what would entice them to return regularly.
Deep dive pie tree visualization of highlight and lowlight tasks. Study participants were Gears and shooters video game players.
First-click heat map testing. Content click rates, highlights, lowlights and additional findings with participants with less, some and more experience with the game.
Targeting our most invested players.
Microsoft Azure user insights and Power BI reporting.
Wireframe and sitemap. View ideas and not to have a fully functional prototype.
Review initial concepts, user flow, wireframes, and prototypes and iterate on concepts.
Define and develop web brand and personality (look, feel and voice). Begin content iteration across wireframes and prototypes.
Design prototypes for overall interaction, visual, content and then prioritize. I also ensure good content while limiting character count.
Guide user experience components of product features and accessibility specs.
Guidelines, color, typography, iconography, and more.
Watch developers Live and news push notifications.
The strategic goals for Gears5.com are centered around increasing exposure, game engagement, and revenue by promoting Operations and in-game features. To accomplish this, the site needs to align with Gears 5 game messaging and support the needs of potential players, new players, and invested players alike.
To better understand the player's journey, I created a detailed player journey map that highlights each touchpoint between the website and the customer. This map includes key journey stages such as the user's past experience, awareness, exploration (homepage and get the game), and engagement (community and in-game). The image below provides a high-level overview of the player journey, which helped me tailor the new website to meet the needs of each player group.
To better understand our target audience, I conducted an investigation into the number of sign-in Xbox user IDs that visited each page group. I was able to identify the most invested Gears players, who make up the largest population size and generate the most revenue share for the game. These players are often heavily invested in the game and have a large network of Gears friends. Specifically, I identified the following types of players:
Used to find out how users navigate away from a page and what do they click on a page.
Investigate numbers based on The Coalition's telemetry events to find:
To ensure that our website design met the needs and preferences of our users, I partnered with a Xbox User Researcher to develop and evaluate user needs and usability studies. This involved conducting extensive research to better understand our target audience, including their preferences, habits, and pain points, as well as their expectations and requirements for our website.
Two surveys were sent out to Gears of War 4 players asking about their attitudes towards gaming websites, what they use them for, and what would entice them to return regularly. Questions to find included:
Participants rated their appreciation of each design and selected their favorite (light versus dark). Participants ratings for each design were similar regardless of their experience with Gears of War and whether they had seen the Gears 5 Announcement trailer or not. Rating goes from strongly dislike it, neither like nor dislike it, to strongly like it.
The intent is to increase customer conversion and task-oriented success rates before our Software Engineers implement them. Participants see a mockup and click on the area where they expect to be able to complete the task. Questions to find included:
I assessed task highlight and lowlight results for the navigation and information architecture. Questions to find included:
Following Xbox Game Studios' prioritization of Gears 5 among Xbox Game Pass subscribers and Xbox Series X|S owners, I designed a streamlined and simplified approach to showcase the release stock-keeping unit (SKU) on our sites.
To achieve this, I created a set of 'Get The Game' components for web that provide a clear and concise breakdown of the different purchasing options available to players. These components are designed to be easily accessible and user-friendly, enabling players to quickly and easily navigate through the purchasing process.
Access to 100+ games
Released on Sept 6, 2019
Released on Dec 15, 2020
Released on Dec 15, 2020
The primary goal of the home page design is to attract and engage visitors, encouraging them to explore the website and ultimately convert into customers. To achieve this, I focused on creating a visually appealing design that effectively highlights key content and encourages visitors to explore further.
One of the main challenges in designing the home page was determining the call-to-action priority and improving content discoverability. To address this, I utilized a user-centered approach, conducting extensive research to better understand our target audience and their needs. Based on this research, I strategically placed call-to-action buttons and relevant content throughout the page, prioritizing the most important information while ensuring that all content was easily discoverable.
The Explore page is a key component of our website design, designed to fascinate and spark the interest of potential players, ultimately driving subscriptions to Xbox Game Pass as a growth driver. To achieve this, I focused on creating a visually captivating design that effectively showcases the unique features and benefits of the game. Our users are price conscious, but price isn't an obstacle if the game is good enough.
The Operations are a critical component of Gears 5, providing players with large quarterly updates that offer a wealth of new content, including Tour of Duty rewards, ranking system rewards, new heroes and villains, new modes, and new maps. To ensure the success of these updates, I focused on creating in-game web features that would increase exposure, game engagement, and revenue.
To achieve this, I utilized a high-quality visual design, developing interfaces and interactions that were optimized for multi-screen sizes. I was able to create a visually captivating and engaging experience that effectively drove player engagement and revenue.
To further enhance the user experience and drive engagement, I created highly visible call-to-action buttons that directed visitors to live stats and rewards progression web in-game features. These buttons were strategically placed throughout the website to encourage visitors to engage with the game and to incentivize them to continue playing.
To ensure that the website remained up-to-date and relevant, I leveraged Gears 5 live CMS to pull specific in-game features onto the web. This enabled us to provide visitors with real-time updates and information, ensuring that the website remained current and engaging.
To facilitate the design and development process, I created a comprehensive design system library, which included a range of components and page templates that could be reused and customized as needed. This not only ensured consistency and efficiency but also enabled us to deliver high-quality designs and features more quickly and effectively. By leveraging this library and working closely with the development team, I was able to create a dynamic and engaging website that drove user engagement and revenue for the game.
|Lead Software Engineer
|Fernando De Bem
|Sr. Product Marketing Manager
|Sr. Xbox Brand Manager
|Director of Communications
|Sr. Community Manager
Increase game exposure & engagement for PC & Xbox players. Make game web features fun & have value for our invested players.View case study