GuavaPals: Conceptualizing a Fitness Friend-Finding App for GuavaPass
Launched last year, GuavaPass is a fast-expanding Singapore-based fitness startup that operates on a similar model to New York’s ClassPass. Through monthly memberships, GuavaPass users can sign up for classes at their multiple gym and studio partners in Asia and the Middle East. Keeping in line with the GuavaPass motto “A Journey Together to Empower Yourself,” we explored how to further this goal by creating a friend-finding and social discovery product.
Disclaimer: We are in no way affiliated with GuavaPass. This was a case study project done for General Assembly User Experience Design Immersive to exercise newly-acquired UX tools and skills.
RESEARCHING THE PROBLEM
We (Shirley Lai and myself) were initially interested to explore how new friendships have started and evolved with the rise of social discovery apps. On one side, we were interested in pinpointing a real problem. On the other, we wanted to discover a product opportunity for a brand and company that we could feasibly conceive. Ultimately, we wanted to marry the two.
Prior to researching the problems and opportunities related to GuavaPass, we macroscopically looked at the issues with friendships made online. Maria Konnikova in her New Yorker article “The Limits of Friendship” discusses what determines a friendship made face-to-face from one made online.
“One of the things that keeps face-to-face friendships strong is the nature of shared experience: you laugh together; you dance together; you gape at the hot-dog eaters on Coney Island together.We do have a social-media equivalent — sharing, liking, knowing that all of your friends have looked at the same cat video on YouTube as you did — but it lacks the synchronicity of shared experience. It’s like a comedy that you watch by yourself: you won’t laugh as loudly or as often, even if you’re fully aware that all your friends think it’s hysterical. We’ve seen the same movie, but we can’t bond over it in the same way.”
The nature of shared experience was an area of opportunity for us to research deeper. We started by sending out a general screener survey, inquiring about how people’s social circles were formed and how they sought to expand them and make new friends. We focused on the physical places where they’ve recently met a new friend and discovered that nearly half of our survey respondents had met friends through sports and fitness.
When we interviewed six of these survey respondents, we probed deeper to not only understand their friend-finding behaviors but also pains, pleasures, and behaviors associated with working out and exercising.
From the interviews conducted, we found out that:
- People across the board enjoyed being in an energetic environment where they were motivated by others and took pleasure in both receiving and giving motivation.
- There were a lot of awkward and uncomfortable pains associated with meeting and approaching someone new in at the gym.
- For the most part, people enjoyed working out with others but found pains in scheduling conflicts, different levels of experience, contrasting attitudes and ethics towards working out, and being put in an unsafe environment.
- They were more inclined to meet someone new if they were put in touch through a mutual friend.
Although these findings present an array of smaller problems and the possibilities of designing for them, we had arrived at the big problem: it was difficult in general (even daunting and intimidating) for people who wish to try and attend a new fitness class, to do so alone.
RESEARCHING THE OPPORTUNITY
GuavaPass, KFIT, and Passport Asia all allows their members to sign up for studio classes at studio partners using the website or native app booking service. The GuavaPerks program, multi-city membership, and bespoke standard of boutique studio partners differentiates GuavaPass from its competitors. However, we wanted to provide the brand with a unique business opportunity to further stand out in the market.
A key and unique business goal of GuavaPass is to build community. We believed with this in mind, there was huge opportunity to continue fostering a social and fun environment of feeling good, but with the added aspect of mutual empowerment and shared motivation.
We wanted to avoid creating an online dating app. The objective of this product was not to match members interested in pursuing an intimate or romantic relationship. The objective was to promote a safe place that will encourage those with similar interests, lifestyles, and passions to connect and pursue shared experiences that will hopefully evolve into lasting friendships. We not only wanted to connect people digitally but tangibly through fitness and healthy living.
The GuavaPass member demographic consists of working adults between the ages of 25–45 years old: highly connected and on-the-go. The app launched in December 2015, which gave us greater flexibility to deep link the two products together and greater opportunity for member buy-in. The company’s frequent social media activity are on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Members can use their Facebook login to create accounts and profiles. And lastly, GuavaPass has app integration with Uber to get members to their studio destinations; and with MindBody to allow members to sync their calendars across apps and book on both portals.
Our proposed product, GuavaPals, is a social discovery and friend-finding native app through which members of the GuavaPass community could connect with other members attending the same classes or types of classes. It would give the brand ability to further fulfill their goal of building community by facilitating members to interact, meet, attend fitness classes together, and inspire each other towards a healthier lifestyle. We simply aimed to bridge two products into one: GuavaPass’ booking app with a social discovery app.
After arriving at our product, we conducted a heuristics analysis of the GuavaPass iOS native app using the Nielsen Norman Group’s 10 Usability Heuristics for User Interface Design to understand the how the app was built, what was done well and what needed improvement, and where we could link the app with ours.
USER RESEARCH & ANALYSIS
Our interviewees mainly consisted of two types of people at the gym: the super energetic fitness pro and the more reserved newbie. Personas Michael and Lily embody the pains, pleasures, behaviors, needs, and goals of the GuavaPals users.
With Michael and Lily in mind, we plotted out their user journeys and highlighted the areas of opportunity where GuavaPals and its features could come in.
Designing & prioritizing features: Throughout the research process, we were always thinking of design implications and features. In our design studio, we brainstormed a list of features.
We prioritized these features using several methods, including the MoSCoW method and measuring desirability against feasibility (both to develop and design). For the users and for us, features related to ensuring security and safety were of the upmost importance, followed by features that designed for pleasures and pains.
Designing UI: Certain pages in the GuavaPals app was modeled to look and feel similar to an online dating app (Tinder, Hinge, Bumble, etc), where browsing between member profiles involved swiping gestures. This would allow for quick and easy learnability, as most users are now familiar with the UI of these dating apps. However, swiping through GuavaPals would not cause any positive or negative action to the profiles, merely a gestural tool to alternate between profiles.
Wireframing & Usability Testing: Wireframing GuavaPals, we chose to focus on the prioritized features and the tasks flows for the personas. For Lily, the task was to change privacy settings so to avoid unwanted contact and interactions; after which, to meet a pal with mutual friends. For Michael, the task was to find and message someone with similar experience and membership level. We first wireframed a low-fidelity version, after which usability tested both task flows.
We listed the issues we found in the low-fidelity usability tests, measured the severity of the issue, and came up with a redesign to solve in the high-fidelity version. With the feedback we received in usability testing, we wireframed V2 and tested with the same task flows, parameters, and evaluation. See the changes made below.
Prototyping & Usability Testing: After usability testing the high-fidelity version, the feedback we received was only slightly erroneous: mainly confusion with icons and buttons, and expectations of home and launching pages. We proceeded to prototype using the high-fidelity wireframe and adding small changes. Click here to view our high-fidelity tappable prototype.
With the final GuavaPals prototype, members are able to:
- Meet other GuavaPass members through filters: by all members, by type of workout, and by experience/membership level
- Send and receive messages
- Interaction features outside messaging, which would deep link to the GuavaPass app
- Like GuavaPass, sign in using Facebook, which would pull profile photo, name, and age information
- Control their privacy settings: who could see them and message them. This ensures the gyms and studios would remain a safe place for women
- Block a person from contacting you to also ensure security
- Personalize their profiles, which could allow for more in-depth specifications on experience levels and workout attitudes, behaviors, ethics, preferences, etc
- See mutual friends through Facebook login
Below are the app maps with all the (ideal) task flows available in our prototype.
- Design how GuavaPals could be linked from the GuavaPass app
- Design notifications for receiving messages and invitations
- Develop the app for both iOS and Android users
Our biggest design challenge was how could we create a digital product that would ultimately lead to inspiring what Maria Konnikova called “the nature of shared experience.” How could we facilitate stronger, authentic friendships in today’s social media dominated world? How could we transition an interaction and connection made online to the physical space of a GuavaPass class? GuavaPals does exactly that. It incorporates the behaviors and habits which have become ubiquitous and “natural” in a society full of friend-finding, dating, and social discovery apps. It allows a friendship to begin online; but ultimately, encourages and incites an offline shared experience through the opportunity and environment GuavaPass already provides.