Workout Application Case Study: Personal Record

Setting a new high bar for workout applications

Daniel Boyce
Draft · 5 min read

I aimed to conduct thorough user research into the essential features required from a workout logging application. Making note of the frustrations, motivations, research, and workout habits of as many people as possible through user interviews and survey responses.

Skills Utilized:
Survey writing, survey analysis, user interviews, MVP Diagram, project presentation, portfolio creation, sketch

UX Research Lead

Project Duration:
11 day design sprint

I have been working out regularly for nearly 6 years now and in all that time I have never found a method of recording my workouts that I have wanted to use long term. I have lost paper copies, misplaced computer files, been too lazy to create my own forms, been annoyed with the lack of customizability in predetermined ones, and found apps that did some things amazing and others absolutely terrible. I have thought repeatedly, how hard can it be to make a workout app that is at least passable at everything… yea I know, how naive. When my class was given the option to start a new project rather than re-iterating on a previous project I decided it was finally time to give the workout app design a shot of my own. I decided due to the time crunch to focus exclusively on the research for the application. As it turns out the issues I have have and features I want in a workout application only scratch the surface of what other users seek.

Survey Analysis:
Total Responses= 24

Gender: 50% identified as male while 47.83% identified as female and 2.17% as other.

Mobile Application Use: Less than 28% of respondents have used a mobile application to record workouts in the past.

Measurements Currently Recorded:

Other included responses such as Date, number of steps, and calories

Necessary Features Included: Cardio Recording (75%), Weight Training Recording (<70%), Pre-designed Workout Programs (50%), Calendar View (50%), Exercise Reference List (<41%), Add New Exercise to Reference List (<45%), Workout Statistics (<41%), Picture/Gif Instructions (<33%), Body Measurements (<31%)

Competitive Analysis:

As I decided create my own application rather than re-design an existing app, I compared the general features of several existing forms of workout logging options to one another. I chose the five most prevalent options I could think of and wrote out a list of pros and cons for each. Unfortunately I did not have the opportunity to gather much information from other users so the majority of the data come from myself. I have at least used all the options at one point in my life, so I have in-depth knowledge of all.

User Interviews:

For my research I conducted 7 interviews with people whom I know workout in a gym including an extremely knowledgeable personal trainer whom I worked one on one with for over 6 months.

Sample Questions:

  1. What features are a necessity for a workout app?
  2. Where would you utilize the application?
  3. Describe a time when you tried to find a new exercise to perform?
  4. Describe a time when you wished you had a log of your exercise history?

Key Findings:

  • There are more than 30 separate features in all that users cited as necessities for a workout recording application
  • Where users are likely to utilize the application varied from person to person but most agreed that it had to be as non-distracting as possible especially for use during a workout
  • Most people use google to find new exercises, but often run into the same issue of always getting the same basic results or not being able to find instructional depictions of how to do the exercise
  • “My biggest problem is when people say something is an awesome workout, but there is no description of how to do it.”
  • Nearly every interviewee had at least one experience where they wished they had a log of their past workout history
  • “At the end of the weeks I was like crap where did I start?”
  • “When I got back from abroad, I gained the abroad bod, knowing what I had been doing before I left would have been helpful”

Feature Analysis:
While it is likely the future prototypes of this application will be missing many of these features; these are the features that potential users most often listed as must haves in interviews and survey responses. I received assistance from a web developer in order to better understand how easy-difficult it would be to implement these features in a mobile application.

MVP Diagram:

Next Steps:

  • Competitive analysis between most commonly used workout apps based on features requested by users in interviews
  • Observe people who record their workouts doing so
  • Re-design the survey with new list of specific suggested features for larger sample size data analyses
  • Choose most commonly suggested features and begin paper prototyping