Fit Friends- A UX case study

The health benefits of regular exercise and physical activity are hard to ignore. Increasing research supports that physically active people of all ages, shapes, sizes, and abilities can benefit from improved mental health and mood, life expectancy, muscle and bone strength as well as lower risks for many chronic conditions including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and high blood pressure. In addition, the economic impact of physical inactivity can be substantial and has been estimated at $6.8 billion. New international and proposed Canadian guidelines recommend adults accumulate at least 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity a week to obtain substantial health benefits. Even so, in 2013 just over 2 in 10 adults and 1 in 10 children and youth met the Canadian physical activity guidelines.

Based on these alarming statistics I decided to tackle on this problem and come up with a solution that would get people more physically active.

I first started my process by conducting 1 on 1 interviews with 3 of my friends to gain some insight into their habits and general opinions about physical activity. From these sessions it was clear that my respondents were very much aware of the benefits of being more active and wanted to exercise more but a lot of excuses came in the way such as lack of time, lack of motivation and exercise being boring.

With this information, I was then able to narrow down a set of questions that I wanted to deep dive further on and with a larger audience. A survey could provide insight about the user’s needs, pain points and attitudes. I also wanted to validate my assumption that if users had a training partner to keep them accountable then they would be more likely to exercise regularly. I created a list of 24 questions on Typeform that I then circulated through friends and social media to get as many answers as possible.

My survey was completed by 58 respondents and the answers were enlightening:

  • 74 % were woman
  • 79%wanted to increase their workout frequency
  • 45% evelatuated their motivation at 3 on a scale of 1 to 5
  • 49% owned a wearable activity tracker or planned to purchase within the next 12 months
  • 22% had a workout partner and the most frequent reason for not having a workout partner was due to conflicting schedules
  • 86% evaluated their competitiveness at 3 and above on a scale of 1 to 5

With my survey results in hand, I was also able to narrow down a target user persona that I wanted to focus my solution around, Lauren Thompson.

As I continued my research, I noticed that XX survey respondents used activity trackers (or planned to purchase one in the near future) to track either their steps or calories burned throughout the day. All the data collected from the activity trackers synchs with a companion app on a mobile phone and I wanted to explore the different options that these apps offered.

The apps from the various activity trackers had very interesting features but also one major limitation. Since the apps were developed by the activity tracker manufacturers to support their products, it was understandable that users needed to own a specific activity tracker to be able to connect to it’s companion app. One interesting feature that the fitbit app had was the ability to participate in challenges against your friends but again, all participants had to own a fitbit. I then concluded that gamification would be the basis for my solution.


Fit Friends is a mobile app that aims to get users to increase their workout frequency by providing motivation and accountability. The main feature of the app is that users can connect with their friends to participate in challenges and earn milestone badges. Users can earn points by completing a workout with a wearable activity tracker (ex:Fitbit) that will then sync the data to the Fit Friends app. Once a user is active in a challenge the hope is that they would feel challenged to earn as many points as possible which can only be achieved by increasing their workout frequency and/or duration.

I then started to draw a few screens that would capture the essential features and user flow that I wanted my app to have:

I rapidly tested out my user flow with a few friends to see if they even understood the objective of my app. From their feedback i made 2 more iterations to my app and was then confident enough to continue to my next step which was to create the wireframes for my app and test it out with more users:

With the feedback I received on my wireframes I quickly realized that I was missing a few steps that would be necessary for a user to complete my user flow end to end. I then added some wireframes and was able to get my users to complete an end to end scenario.

The following step in my process was then to create a high-fidelity prototype of Fit Friends in sketch and upload it to Invision. For my usability testing, I selected 5 users that fit my target user persona to validate that the way I had designed the app although very clear to me was just as clear and seamless to others. I specifically chose to test it with fitbit users as they were alrady knowledgeble with the concepts of activity tracking and challenges.

The functioning prototype can be found at the following link:

For my usability testing I told all 5 users to complete the following task:

As a new user, I want you to create an account and invite friends to the “First to the top” challenge.

My findings that were repetitiv with all users were as follows:

  • The create account button wasn’t noticeable enough and they skipped that step even as a new user.
  • The users went to the friends menu as the first step to start a challenge to select friends as opposed to going to the challenge menu
  • The users didn’t expect to see the settings options within the profile menu
  • The feed menu displays activity updates from all the friends added within the app as opposed to only the uodates from the participants in the current challenge
  • The users expected in the friends menu to automatically see all their contacts that were users of the Fit Friends app wihtout having to search for them
  • they had difficulty find the leaderboard within an active challenge

From my usability findings I then redesigned certain sections of the app as I realized that my users were accustomed to the layout in the fitbit app & were expecting Fit Friends to follow the same design guidelines. Even though I didn’t want to make my user flow identical to the one in a Fitbit app (as in my opinion it could be improved) it became clear to me that it would be difficult to change my user’s behavior with fitness apps and instead align my design to what they are used to.

The design that I created is valid only if a user participates in 1 challenge at a time. Future considerations would be to modify this design to accommodate the ability for a user to participate in multiple challenges simultaneously.