LeBron James is the King of the NBA – and Usability?

Sports fans everywhere know that LeBron James is arguably the greatest basketball player of all time. After leading his Cleveland Cavaliers to their first championship in franchise history on Sunday, “King James” has further cemented his place among the basketball immortals.

James can teach us a lot about what it takes to be great at sports. Budding basketball players everywhere would be smart to model their game after him. But could it be that James can teach us about more than just basketball?  Is James not only the perfect model for how basketball should be played, but how websites should be designed?

When you think about it, LeBron’s style of play teaches us almost as much about website usability as it does what it takes to be good at throwing a ball through a hoop. Don’t see the connection? Let’s take a look.

Simplicity – LeBron James Style

Websites like Amazon, Ebay and Netflix all have one thing in common: they’re simple to use. Amazon, in particular, is hailed as being one of the most usable e-commerce sites on the web, with search optimization widgets that allow users to find exactly what they’re looking for. Netflix is similarly usable, with a conveniently simple search engine. These sites show us that the most usable sites have features that exist to simplify the user-experience.

The same is true of LeBron James. Not only is James one of the most prolific scorers in NBA history, he is an equally skilled passer. James’ unparalleled basketball knowledge and court vision allows him to anticipate plays before they happen, helping him devise ways to make things as simple as possible for his teammates. Whether it’s delivering an on-the-money pass at the perfect time, setting an effective pick for a teammate, or making an extra-effort defensive play, all that James does is done to simplify the game for those around him. Despite the fact that there’s nothing easy about what he does, James makes it look so simple. Why do you think people love to watch him?


A website’s usability largely depends on its ability to identify and adapt to problems. Can my website anticipate issues before they happen? If so, can it resolve those problems in a timely manner? Having an adaptive website cuts down inefficiency and significantly increases site usability. If users have to jump through hoops to use your site, you should reconsider the way you’re doing things.

Just as the most usable websites adapt to problems and act to decrease inefficiency, so too does “King James.” LeBron is one of basketball’s most capable and aggressive rebounders, with a knack for cleaning up the messes his teammates inevitably leave him. What’s more, James is a magician when it comes to adapting his style of play to whatever schemes opposing defenses throw at him. This ability to adjust on the fly and reduce inefficiency makes him one of the best to ever grace the court.


The way that Netflix has designed its site makes it not only easy to use, but appealing to look at. Though convenience is the most critical aspect of a website’s usability, visual appeal should not be entirely neglected. The most usable sites don’t overdo it – they show you only what you need to see. This makes them not only easy to visit, but fun to use as well.

There’s no question that LeBron is one of the most entertaining players in the league. His sheer strength and athleticism make him wildly appealing to watch. That said, what’s special about LeBron is that his appeal doesn’t have an expiration date. As with the most usable sites, LeBron is constantly changing his style, making sure to never compromise on the appeal of his personal brand. If the goal is to attract people to your site, and ultimately keep them coming back for more, it’s critical not to underestimate the importance of visual appeal.


LeBron James should probably stick to professional basketball. After all, he’s one of the greatest of all time. But if there comes a day when LeBron wants to venture into the world of web-design, he won’t have a tough time making his site usable and appealing. But for those who are actually in the web-design world – take note of the “King.”



Jessica is the Lead Author & Editor of UsabilityLab Blog. Jessica writes for the UsabilityLab blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to usability.