UXDI Project 1 - EasyFit App

A lesson in art of iteration…

Our first week at General Assembly started off at a breakneck pace as we only had 4 days in our week due to a holiday on Monday. We were tasked with 3 different genres of apps that we would be assigned to create for a specific audience:

  • A news aggregator
  • A media player
  • A health/fitness app

I immediately started brainstorming solutions for my own preconceived notions of what people used health and fitness apps for — being that I had never really used health/fitness apps in the past. I started thinking about what I would want to see in an app. This was an obvious mistake as I wasn’t designing the app for myself, and I needed to speak directly with people who used fitness apps regularly to gain a better perspective of what their needs were. As I continued to dig though I realized that I didn’t need to design an app for a fitness junkie (as they already had a healthy routine and habit set in their lifestyle), but something that could apply to as many users as possible. People who were already in the habit of taking care of themselves felt like they didn’t need the assistance from an app, it was the people who had the desire but lacked a means to act on that desire.

Potential User Interviews:

I started out by asking a number of potential users very closed ended questions like:

  • What are your fitness goals
  • How often do you use these apps?
  • What kinds of outcomes do you look for?

I realized that I was leading my users with my questions and leaned on my experience as a recruiter to pivot and dig deeper into their lifestyles and behavior.

  • What is your definition of fitness?
  • Why have you created this habit for yourself?
  • What do you mean by…?

By pivoting and digging deeper I was able to start identifying trend in what they were saying. Listening to your users is the most important part of this process, because they are the ones who are “keeping the lights on” or paying the bills — so to speak.

I started honing in on trends of what they were saying and using that to start developing some hypotheses about user perception of the app/space and what they really need. What I found was that people were less concerned with what they were eating all the time, because they already had a general guideline or a conscious of what they were eating. The concept of ACTUALLY being healthy wasn’t as important to them as feeling like they were taking some type of action was. They wanted to know that they had done something and feel validated for taking that action.

I took my interviews and started plugging them in to the second part of our process which was known as an Affinity Map:

By doing the Affinity Map, I was able to visually contextualize the habits of the users I had interviewed. I quickly spotted trends in their behavior and spotted similarities in their verbiage that I could use to create something that would be useful to them. Using this method led me to discover my user problem at large.

Problem Statement:

“My schedule is too hectic to to have a regular workout routine.”

From this statement I was able to see the direction that I wanted to take my app. I started to look at the issues that my users had with their fitness apps in the past:

  • It’s too complicated
  • I have to put in too much information to make this app useful
  • I don’t have to be bothered all of the time (app becomes a nag rather than a friend)

First Draft:

I started out my first draft based on trends I was able to identify in most of my user feedback. They wanted something that was simple and easy to use while putting a minimal amount of effort on themselves. What I discovered was that the users were typically inundated with options, which was the opposite of what they wanted. They craved direction and most importantly validation in what they were doing.

First draft of my app

I decided that users had a general idea of how they needed to stay in decent shape but lacked the means (context) and motivation to do so. I concluded that I should create something that would give them the roadmap to help them get into the habit of keeping themselves in shape with the intellectual curiosity and motivation to stick with it.

Next Steps — Development and Testing:

I had an idea of what I wanted to make; an easy to use app that fit into a busy users schedule. People didn’t want to feel like they had to fill out a census survey in order for their app to tell them what they needed to do, so I wanted to break their work outs down into “easy to digest” quantities that would work with their schedules. Keeping it simple here was definitely key. Below is a lo-fi screen shot of how I wanted the app to be structured:

We used the POP app (Prototyping On Paper) to experiment with the functionality and overall usability of the app we had in mind. This was a huge help, since I had a ton of idea and flows already in mind and kept me focused on solving one user need at a time.

Testing:

Next we had to test our app with some prospective users. I loved this because it made a number of my design flaws apparent to me and I might not have recognized them before I presented. We used a DIY method called the “hug” testing model to get a first hand look at how our users worked their way through the app.

From this I was able to see the mental and physical roadblocks that my design had put on my users and immediately started to iterate my design based on the majority of feedback I received. From here I was able to go back, reassess what I had done wrong, or made assumptions on, and redesign my layout according to the feedback that I had received. The layout ended up looking something like this:

My goal is to continue to test this and keep digging deeper into what my prospective users would want out of an application. The positive feedback I received let me know that I was on the right track with the overall direction I was taking. Hopefully I’ll be able to revisit this project in a few weeks and provide some more quantitative and qualitative updates that solidify my design…

More to come!

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