A UXDI P1: FitMatch

Creating a fitness app to help change people’s lives.

Introduction

The class was split into three groups with each person working solo to develop an app prototype within the category they were assigned. I was very excited to be placed in the Health & Fitness category because fitness is such an integral part of my life. I knew that I could connect with the material and deliver something I would be proud of.

What was particularly difficult, as I know every UX designer struggles with this, was to not come up with the solution before I knew what the problem was. Perhaps I had some inkling of what I wanted to do, but I really needed to do the research and find out the current state of fitness apps before I could hope to create a product which was truly unique and inspired people.

Interviews

The key to these interviews were developing open-ended questions where I could gather rich information from the user. They had to gather the data desired but also had to be open in such a way that allowed the user to offer up additional insights that I may not have thought to ask. The nine questions I developed were:

  1. Would you consider your self a “sporty” or “athletic” person?
  2. Do you track your fitness?
  3. Do you currently use a fitness app?
  4. How often would you say you use it?
  5. What about fitness do you believe is important to be tracked?
  6. Tell me about a time where you felt like you received value from tracking your fitness.
  7. Tell me about the support you feel you need to achieve fitness goals.
  8. How would you say being a “sporty” or “athletic” person makes you feel?
  9. How would you say tracking your fitness makes you feel?

Then the interviews began:

Interviewing Sarah regarding her current fitness habits.

Synthesis

The next step was to take the data and synthesize it. I had to find out what the core message was amongst the various interviews I had done. To do this I used an Affinity Graph with the four sectors being Behaviors, Contexts, Pains and Pleasures. From here I placed notes taken from the interview and began to group them by recurring patterns.

Affinity Graph of key notes taken from interviews.

Getting all this data up on a wall was great but what did it all mean? I had to really look at what was happening in the groupings. I firmly believe that synthesizing data in this manner is the hardest part of the UXD process because there is no exact science to it. You are dealing in abstract thoughts and trying to mold them together to obtain a cohesive vision to move forward.

What I found were these ongoing and universal ideas surrounding community and goal making. It broke down like this: people wanted community but the ability to be private when they wanted. They also wanted to set goals but be supported in their goal making and they wanted very detailed analysis of their ongoing progress.

An Idea Is Born & First Iteration

When looking at the interview data I had what is commonly known as the “a-ha!” moment. It came about through the development of a problem statement: “I want to share fitness but I don’t want to be judged.”

This lead to my idea for FitMatch. FitMatch is a fitness tracking app that allows users to find other users of the same experience level and share their progress.

I finally had a concept to work with that I believed in and that my data seemed to suggest would meet the needs of users. I first had to come up with an iteration and get feedback from my peers.

First Iteration.

Some key feedback I received:

  • “Solid Idea! Does it share workout tips, diets and trainers? People motivating each other is so smart!”
  • “Once people are matched, what relationship or interaction fo they have or see through the app?”
  • “Great solution. Would develop more privacy features. ie. block/allow users from seeing my fitness program.”

From the feedback of my peers I gathered that the concept was simple and people seemed to really enjoy it. All of the questions and comments my peers challenged me on were not regarding the core concept itself but rather the functions and other particular details of the concept. I had the validation I needed to move forward with my first prototype.

First & Second Prototypes and the Adventures of User Testing

Index Cards used for development of First Prototype.

The next step was to come up with my first prototype which is what I also affectionately refer to as the process of discovering my love of index cards. We use these index cards to mimic the screen of a smart phone and develop the Lo-Fi sketches that will be the basis of creating a prototype using POP software program.

Flow chart of Prototype one as well as Scenario & Task for User Testing

Once I had arrived at the design and flow of the first prototype and created it using the POP software system, it was time to do some User Teasting. User Testing is crucial because it allows us to see how people use and react to our app creations. These were video recorded interviews that allowed me to see, first hand how people used my project and most importantly, their subconcious response to design. I often noticed peoples physical reactions to my design before their brain was aware of it because UI design has become synonymous with intuitive design.

A video still of a participant testing the design of my prototype app.

The key findings from the User Testing experience was that my concept was, once again, received well. Testers enjoyed the simplicity of the design and it’s generally easy navigation. Where testers experienced some difficulty had more to do with navigational cues than actual errors in the program. For example, one tester thought a button was supposed to be swiped instead of tapped. This kind of valuable insight helped me to refine my idea into what would become my prototype 2.

Some concepts for Prototype 1 matched with their replacements from Prototype 2.

From here, I had arrived at my final prototype design and used the material to create the prototype that was presented to my class. I also researched what common next steps would be if I were to take this project and move forward with it in a “real world” setting.

You can find a link to the prototype I developed using the POP software here:

Conclusion

This first foray into the world of UX Design could not have been more valuable to me. Through it, I learned the steps necessary to conduct proper research and launch a product that genuinely met the needs of users. In addition, it afforded me valuable insight into the kind of world that UX Design is all about. Testing and re-testing. Asking “why?” about everything. And the kind of deadlines and pressures that UX designers face when trying to deliver products.

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