Wellness Tools: Empathise.

Uliana Musikhina
Oct 16, 2017 · 4 min read

Here I start a journey of developing a tool for The National Wellness Institute — an organization founded in 1977 with the mission of “providing health promotion and wellness professionals unparalleled resources and services that fuel professional and personal growth.”

About the client:

The Wellness Institute is very excited to explore how they can leverage technology to help people live a healthier life.

The institute defines wellness as: an active process through which people become aware of, and make choices toward, a more successful existence. While brainstorming what the new tools should do, the board realized that when it comes to translating the concept of wellness into a digital product, the possibilities are endless. They envision the tools will be used by their members to track things like:

  • Diet programs
  • Fitness Programs
  • Mental Wellness
  • Stress Management
  • Time Management

but they are not exactly sure where to begin… Despite the vast availability of personal metrics and health apps, people continue to struggle to maintain a healthy lifestyle.


I’m required to conduct user research to understand people’s relationship with mental, physical, and emotional wellbeing and choose one in order to develop a tool that will drive them to action.

Step 1: Empathise

I had to start somewhere. I picked fitness and nutrition and began with the assumption of what people might need. My proposal is an iOS app. I would like to fuse the aspects of fitness and diet, to create an app that builds individualized diet + exercise programs depending on the user’s profile. Also, the user can have a guide (coach) and everything necessary to reach the goal in one single app. My assumption is that people need a workout + diet plan to achieve their fitness goal and be active.

To figure out if it’s right or wrong I created a survey and made several interviews. What questions to ask? Well, I had a canvas that helped me with the questions for the survey:

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Let’s have a closer look on it:


Here you can see the 8 questions I made. And the reasults I’ve got were:

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  1. Users clearly prefer mobile (so the idea of building an app is not a bad idea)
  2. A lot of people use a fitness app and most of them don’t use a nutritional app ( I thought that users would use some nutritional apps, but I wasn’t right here. This data is great!)
  3. Most of users have a fitness goal.
  4. Most of participants responded that they believe that a fitness couch is important.
  5. A huge number of users believe that motivation is a key.
  6. A lot of users aren’t really satisfied with their previous fitness and diet experiences. (How might we make it better?)
  7. Users seems to be interested in a customized fitness plan made just for them (when I saw this data, I thought that I nailed it, but let’s see what happens next…)
  8. The last question was what people hate about fitness (Let’s detect some pain points. Users mentioned: lack of motivation, boring routines, no adequate plan, the struggle to get used to it and many more. I’m sure this is familiar to many of us.)
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I already had a survey results and more questions to ask. Seeking for the insights I made several interviews. My interview questions included some questions from the survey (with many whys) and few questions about preferences. I wanted to know how their schedules and lifestyles influence on their fitness decisions and how can I help build healthier habits. What is the pattern that turns down our fitness routines?

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I’ve got a lot of information to analyze. During the interview I asked about the customized fitness plan made just for them. (Do you remember a survey? There many users said “Yes”)

During the interviews I found out that many people are interested but aren’t about to follow it. Many of them don’t want any strict program, but they want a guide. A helper. All of the interviewed persons were pointing on motivation and exercise. I’ve got very interesting insights about doing what you love and doing what is fun. I listened about how people try to fit exercising into their routines and what are the things they struggle the most.

I decided to adapt my original idea to help people have better experiences with fitness. I will tell about in a next post: “Wellness Tools: Define” that will follow very soon.

Thank you for reading and let me know what do you think about this “empathise” phase.

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