This one is for the sports fans. I’m an avid NY Yankees fan and a big NY Giants fan, but I’ll go to any baseball or football game that’s offered to me; it’s also a personal goal of mine to visit all of the Major League Baseball (MLB) stadiums in my lifetime. It’s always nice to have a resource to help you figure out how good your seats are (I recently ran into this problem when buying tickets to a Broadway show) as I am willing to pay a little extra if it means a better view.
While (for MLB sites anyway), you can use the team’s official website to get a shot from the section you’re sitting in, these photos are designed as a marketing tool. What you want is to see how a fan sees it — that’s where a View From My Seat comes in.
A View From My Seat is a website and Android app that allows you to see user-submitted photos from sports venues all over the USA, and other parts of the world. From their website:
Our goal is to bring sports fans photos from every seat in every sports venue. We want you to truly know what your view will be like before going to the game. Never get stuck behind a foul pole or end up with an obstruction. Find the seat with the perfect view.
While it’s always questionable to rely fully on user-submitted content, this approach gives a true view of what you’d see while actually at a game: you get to see the stadium from your seat while the seats around it are full.
Finding and Viewing Venues
The app offers venues for the following events, all accessible from the home screen: Baseball, Basketball, Football, Concerts, Tennis, Cricket, Hockey, Futbol (Soccer), and Racing.
You’ll have to scroll left and right, up and down, or both depending on your phone’s orientation. I did not realize this at first.
Once you select a sport, you’ll be taken to screen that has the subcategories for that sport. For example, with Baseball, it’s got MLB and MLB Spring Training
Home Screen and MLB subpage
Once you select one of the subcategories, you’ll be taken to a list of venues, where you can select one to view all of the photos uploaded for it.
The venue page has some nice information on it, including some stats about the venue (capacity, cost, date opened, and surface), as well as the ability to search for a section you’re looking for. The default view of photos is a blog-style view, where you see the photos posted in reverse-chronological order, with the date, ability to comment, and a button to flag the photo.
MLB Venue List & Yankee Stadium
A nice feature for viewing the photos is the ability to view them in a slider format. Simply select one of the images to bring up an Android-like slider to view a select of photos from that venue.
The best part of this app is the ability to search for a section. On the search page for a venue, you can do a manual (text-based) search, choose from a list of shared sections, or (for some venues), choose your section from a map of the stadium. This is a really nice touch by the developers.
Stadium Map and Section List
Another nice feature is the app’s Search function. Just put in the name of a venue or team, and the results will show up. With teams it’s really nice, as all of the venues for that team will show up. For example, the Yankees have the new stadium, the old stadium, their spring training facility, and one of their minor league fields listed.
In order to contribute a photo or make a comment you need to have an account, which you can get by signing up on the website or by pressing the menu button to reveal a context menu with the button to create a profile. If you already have an account, you put in your credentials by pressing the Menu button then selecting, “Log In.”
Adding a photo is pretty easy. From the home screan, press the “Share Photos” icon, and you’ll be able to add a photo from your gallery or take one with your camera. Any shots you add with automatically be added to a photo gallery that a View From My Seat creates called “My Seats.”
Select and Upload Photo Screens
As I mentioned before, on top of adding photos, you can comment on photos, flag photos as inappropriate, add venues as favorites, and gain trophies.
Trophies are a lot like foursquare’s badges or Xbox’s achievements; you gain them for posting photos. Most of them are attributed to the number of photos you post, or the number of venues you post from. Each team also has trophies for posting 1, 3, and 20 times from their venue. You can view a full list of the trophies here.
On top of that, there is a section for other photos, including some user-submitted fan pics — a nice little addition to make the app more personal.
While the app has some really nice ideas and features, its overall design is lackluster. It seems the makers just built their own browser and framed a mobile site in it. Because of this, the app is slow to load and does not maintain state very well. Whenever my screen switched off, getting back into the app meant going back to the list of venues for a sport, even if I had been currently viewing a venue. This does not make for a good user experience as I was always at least one click away from my target screen.
The app is also really cluttered with icons and the user has to do a lot of (very slow) scrolling to get to where he needs to go. the screen space can be utilized a lot better than it currently is. The fact that I had to scroll sideways to view more venue categories is a big no-no; there is no indicator that I should scroll sideways, plus most people using a mobile phone will not think to scroll sideways as the vast majority of the phone UX is a vertical one.
I love going to ball games and am always curious as to what the view from my seat looks like. a View From My Seat has some nice features and can really create a nice community atmosphere with their fan photos, commenting, and trophies. However, that user experience is largely unenjoyable because of the slowness of the app and the misallocation of screen real estate. That said, because I find the app so useful I’ll probably still use it when going to a new venue, hoping the developers fix some of the issues I’ve outlined here.