Keeping my runs with Runkeeper

A couple of months ago, I started using the Runkeeper app to record and track my runs. I previously used the Nike+ Running app, but after the GPS tracking continuously failed on me, I ended up switching to Runkeeper based on recommendations from my friends.

So far, the app has been great. Some of the stand out features that I love about the app are:

Social centeredness

My running friends use the app — this is probably the most important factor in me choosing this app over others. I get updates from my friends as they finish a run or an activity and the socially reinforcing cycle motivates me to exercise more.

Challenges

In addition to personal challenges that most apps have, Runkeeper has sponsored challenges that one can sign up for. The last one that I completed was running 26.2 miles for the Saucony Run for Good challenge that donated 26.2$ to children’s health causes upon finishing the challenge.

Setting and Tracking different kinds of goals

Runkeeper allows me to set and track different kinds of fitness goals. One of the goals that I have is to run 135 miles by Jan 1, 2016. Upon finishing each activity, I immediately get a notification on the progress I’ve made against my goals.

Potential Improvements

As I’ve used the app over the past few months, I’ve noticed that there are a couple of areas of improvement that would make the app a much better product for the user.

Adding Friends

As I mentioned above, Runkeeper is very socially centered and special emphasis is laid on running with friends. The App supports a news feed of runs and also maintains a leaderboard of activity across friends. On the website, your home page is this same fitness feed from your friends. In a sense, one of the core value propositions being offered by the app is to be able to connect with friends and make running a social activity.

While this is a good value proposition to have, the app doesn’t make it easy to add friends on either the mobile app or the website.

Mobile app

The mobile app lets you add friends in two ways. The first is by searching within Runkeeper by name, but it is almost impossible to find a friend if their Runkeeper name is a common name like Bob or Bobby. On the Add Friends page, the app also gives a laundry list of all the contacts on the phone and the option to add each one of them as friends. There isn’t a way to see which of set of contacts are already on Runkeeper without having to scroll through a super long list.

Upon making an account on Runkeeper, I also connected my Facebook account to my Runkeeper account and there isn’t a way for me to add my Facebook friends who also use Runkeeper.

The obvious improvement here would be to enable better friend addition by allowing users to add contacts who already use Runkeeper and giving options to add friends based on connected accounts such as Facebook, Twitter etc.

Website

The home page on the Runkeeper website is your fitness feed and it shows you the list of your friends and their activity, but there isn’t really a way to add friends from the fitness feed. There is a separate Friends tab on the Me section on the website that let’s you add friends, but only by searching by their exact Runkeeper name. The Friends tab also only lets you add random local users despite connecting your Facebook account to Runkeeper.

From the website, I can add random local users, but cannot add my Facebook friends despite connecting my account.

The simple improvement for the website as well is to allow users to either add friends from connected accounts who already use Runkeeper or invite friends that don’t.

Quirks in Navigation / Use

Overall, the app interface is clean and the primary use cases are supported well. That being said, the app has many navigational quirks that make it hard and unintuitive to use at times.

Unclear workout selection

If you previously carried out an activity that is something other than running, then the home-screen the next time you use the app does not clearly indicate what the current selection is. As a result, each time I have to make sure that the workout setting is actually set to the one that I want to use.

Inconsistent Leaderboard navigation

I really like Runkeeper’s ability to tell me how my friends have been working out and how I compare to them in number of activities. If I go into one of my friends profiles from the Leaderboard and select return to Friends, I expect to be brought back to the Leaderboard, but instead I’m taken to a separate page.

Page level selection to edit individual goals

The app shows all my goals in a carousel instead of showing it in a list. As a result I have to use a page level settings menu to edit the specific goal being shown in the carousel. I realize that an upgraded account will have insights for a specific goal below the summary. Although I still think having an overview of progress across all goals in a list is a more suitable starting page for Goals.

I would expect the interaction in a list of goals to be similar to the way I interact with a list of emails in my inbox. I could then edit/ delete individual goals by sliding each goal left and potentially add goals with a plus menu at the top corner instead of having a settings menu.

All the screen captures in this post are taken from the version 6.1 (223) of the free version of the Runkeeper app. They are obviously subject to change in future versions or from paid accounts.