Providing insight from huge data sets using Craft

A groundbreaking monitoring, screening and menstrual cycle tracking tool for Vodafone and Welsh Rugby.

Craft CMS agency
Web Developers Nottingham
Web Designers Nottingham

webdna partnered with Sports Science Agency to deliver a groundbreaking monitoring, screening and menstrual cycle tracking tool for Vodafone and Welsh Rugby.

As part of its sponsorship of the Welsh Rugby Union Women’s team, Vodafone had ambitions to deliver a tool that would enable the performance team to monitor and track their players in a much more holistic way than had previously been possible. This would enable the WRU to deliver the best possible training, recovery and performance advice to the players, anywhere and at any time, using the power of Vodafone 5G.

This project required a combination of something very bespoke and very technical that is functionally complex but needed to be beautiful and easy to use. These requirements meant that webdna was the perfect partner as we could use our expertise in design and UX and best-in-class technical expertise to deliver something groundbreaking.

The project has been so successful that after the first day of user acceptance testing with the players, the WRU asked us to set it live three weeks ahead of schedule. They also credited it with helping to make significant improvements to their performance.

Vodafone and WRU Player Tracker App by webdna

Discovering what would make a difference.

In the early stages of working with the WRU we identified a lack of actionable information about the players’ menstrual cycles. The performance team at the WRU felt that there was an inability to effectively track and aggregate that data, and combine it with information about the players’ energy levels, sleep quality, mood, and performance metrics from training measurement tools like GPS.

The WRU's needs could be broken down into three key areas:

  • Monitoring of player mood, energy, sleep, injury, soreness, etc.

  • Screening players to flag up early indicators associated with the risk of injury.

  • Menstrual cycle tracking to provide insight for players, coaches and the performance team.

Providing insight from huge data sets

With a significant volume of data from a variety of different sources, a clear and easy-to-understand user interface to deliver useable insight was vital. There needed to be a balance between getting the maximum amount of relevant data and providing straightforward, actionable insight for the performance and coaching team. We presented snapshots in an easy-to-digest format and creating something straightforward that players could quickly complete.

In addition to the reporting tools created, the app also provides raw data for the coaching team directly into their Google Workspace, as a Google Sheet that matches a format they were already using.

An easier process for the players

The biggest process change was for the players who previously logged all of their data via a series of clunky Google Forms on a device in the team room. With 35 players turning up around the same time, this was an arduous process which created bottlenecks. With the introduction of a personal app, players were instantly able to complete their morning monitoring from any location on their own phones. Inputting data via the team tablets is still an option in a specifically designed interface.

The improved user experience has resulted in increased uptake and adoption. We delivered the app to Welsh Rugby in February 2023, shortly before they started their Six Nations training camp. The plan was to do user testing ahead of the camp, get feedback and make necessary iterations. The response to the app was so positive during user testing, however, that we had to move it straight out of UAT to live. It has been used ever since.

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A UI for meaningful interactions

The brand look and feel were very much informed by the collaboration between Vodafone and the WRU. Our design team used their broader experience to take the brand in a direction that would enable players and coaches to get the most out of the product and interact with it efficiently.

Much of the data collected on the platform relies on the players responding to questions that sit on a scale. To get the best possible results, we developed a set of tools to capture information about player energy, mood and sleep quality that does not lead the players to a specific answer or positively or negatively lead their sentiment. Using specifically designed sliders and adding a coloured gradient to the scale encouraged players to respond based on feeling rather than overthinking their answers. We found that the players quickly adopted the slider input fields, allowing them to complete daily monitoring sessions efficiently and providing the performance team with meaningful data to analyse for the day ahead.

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web designers nottingham

Our goal was to create a tool that can aggregate data from different sources and deliver actionable insight in a visually appealing way.

Built on Craft, this is a private web app which enables different users to access different parts of the site. Players access data capture tools and their own data whilst coaches and performance staff can access more detailed information about each player, the team and specific units, both as a snapshot and more longitudinally.

The system is also designed to notify the coaching team of any changes to well-being via WhatsApp, the preferred method of communication for the Performance Team at the WRU. They can select the specific areas that they want to be updated on, for example, soreness, mood, energy and sleep, electing to receive notifications when categories score above a predetermined point. Notifications can be scheduled and received at optimal times for coaching staff allowing them to address each area at the appropriate time and in the best way.

The strength of Craft for this particular project is its ability to handle data from multiple different channels and then do something useful with it. Craft allows you to structure the data in the way that you need to, including connecting different APIs to aggregate it and deliver it in a way that is powerful and has the right level of visual elements to create something premium.

Our in-house expertise enables us to maximise the potential functionality of Craft to fulfil our client’s objectives. Gaining a deep understanding of the goals and purpose of the project, placed our developers in a great position to be able to advise the best approach.

"For this project, like all of the work we do, our whole team spent time understanding the requirements of Vodafone and the WRU, we even spent two days embedded in their camp watching how they engage and how they train. We combined this in-depth knowledge of the WRU’s needs and our deep knowledge of Craft CMS to ensure we are delivering the right insight in the most efficient way possible."

Sam Birch
Technical Director
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Improved workflows and empowered players

Welsh Rugby’s performance team historically spent a significant amount of time chasing data. The introduction of a personal app for players has changed this instantaneously. Quickly adopted in the early testing phase, it has resulted in much-improved workflows, so much so that the camp has never returned to the previous system or processes.

But success for this project can be measured by much more than improvement in workflows; players are now empowered with the tools to inform the coaching team about their wellbeing. To report soreness, for example, they can simply tap on a visual representation to identify the area. This makes it much easier to articulate the problem and the right information is reported effectively to staff in an accessible way.

With such an excellent level of engagement, we have started to see some player-led suggestions for their own personal wellbeing tracking such as level of menstrual flow. We are continuing to make these slight updates and improvements to ensure that we have the best product available.

“PLAYER.Connect gives us information in real time and is far more user-friendly. That means we can quickly implement strategies, inform change, avoid injuries, and help players reach their peak preparation ahead of each fixture.”

Jo Perkins
WRU National Women’s Physiotherapist
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What does the future hold?

Long-term plans include building a suite of reporting tools which will allow the performance team to instantly access a snapshot of how each player is doing and then compare it with historical data. We will also build in the ability to take historical menstrual cycle information and overlay data such as mood, energy, sleep, the volume of training etc. The goal is for the coaching team to build up a view of individuals as well as the whole team, enabling them to get the most out of players.

The aspiration is that the approach Welsh Rugby are taking here will be rolled out so that players are accessing the technology right from junior level and their data moves with them at all stages of their WRU journey. This means that at every point the performance staff will know best how to program for that athlete.

To find out more about this project or to have a chat about your own plans and aspirations for your organisation, get in touch.