In 2010 I was fortunate to be able to take a career break from Design in order to follow one of my other passions — health and fitness. Working as a Personal Trainer for one of the UK’s largest gym chains provided me with a great way of being able to directly shape the health of the local community as well as surrounding myself with expert trainers from whom I learned so much.
When I returned to the design industry I spent considerable time sketching and prototyping ideas on how I could merge both passions in order to spread health and wellness much further than was possible through face-to-face personal training sessions.
When the opportunity to work with FitInfinite came together in 2015 I jumped at the chance to directly influence an area which I was very passionate about.
The UK Fitness industry is currently estimated to be worth £4.4 billion per year and growing. For the first time ever, 1 in 7 people in the UK are now members of a gym or fitness club.
FitInfinite, a fitness technology company based in the UK appointed me in April 2015 as the lead User Experience Designer to help spearhead the redesign and architecture of their iOS app prior to development beginning later in the year in India.
The intention of FitInfinite was to become a ‘location-aware, on-demand sports and fitness marketplace’. Users could explore a database of fellow members and professional trainers to organise a fitness activity of their choice, at a location and time they want.
By the time I came onboard, FitInfinite had previously developed an MVP which they were using in the fitness community to test assumptions directly with members and trainers. A number of key findings came to light which I used as the basis of structuring feature sets and logic within the new design:
- Professional verification: How can we vet trainers / professionals to enhance reputation and build user trust?
- The need for a premium offering: With India representing a large target market, many users noted the need to differentiate between standard trainers (those with basic qualifications) and master trainers who are leaders in their respective fields.
- Discovery: Provide an intuitive discovery mechanism where results needed to include the ability to factor in reputation and availability in order for members to find the best match for them.
- The service offering: To cater to a wide range of use cases that include searching by activity type, session type, location and price.
Interrogating the business model
From previous experience I understood the importance of taking the time to assess and interrogate the company’s business plan and model in order to question any assumptions made around the audience, revenue model etc. prior to beginning my redesign of the project.
There were a number of interesting concepts / business ideas in their original plan which suggested that they were passionate and knowledgable about the subject matter but lacked focus on a single validated problem that they were in a position to best solve.
Upon interrogating further, they settled on a single phrase which provided me with a top level mission statement that I could use to begin to formulate a more structured proposition:
“We want to be THE sports and fitness discovery of choice”
With that plus additional research in mind I had three initial goals that I wanted to achieve:
- Make the discovery and booking effortless, ideally with learned behaviour so that users can quickly find what they need and book it without carrying out steps 1–20 every time.
- Create a system that makes the adding, editing and managing of content effortless (e.g. pain removal to listing class timetables, availability)
- Create an architecture that is scalable and allows for the creation of a taxonomy that has been validated by both the trainers and the clients.
Improving the discovery process
The process of users finding a session that met their requirements however granular, was pivotal to the acceptance of the app within both the member and professional communities.
I began by listing all of the entities which users could select to filter and sort the returned data to find their session of choice. In order to make the process as simple as possible, I decided to split the list into two groups: primary and secondary entities.
Primary entities would help to reduce a potentially large number of results into something more manageable for users e.g. from 1,000 down to 30.
- Activity name
- Date and time
From there I wanted to develop a set of secondary entities which would then help users to fine-tune their results further using filters from 30 down to approx. 2–3 before making the best selection.
- Qualification type / level
- Participant skill level (e.g. beginner, intermediate, expert)
- No. of participants (e.g. 1–2–1, group exercise)
Designing the primary selection flow
Activities could be selected from a finite list of options and structured in an A-Z list covering all activities currently listed in the database. For returning users I added the ability to view their recent selections in order to speed up the discovery journey.
Evidence uncovered during prior user research suggested that for the majority of standard members, time would remain a fluid estimate and therefore had to be reflected in the choices available to them. To mitigate against a broad range of use cases I chose a ‘fast-select’ range of common times (In the next hour, today, tomorrow, this week) along with the option of selecting a more granular time from the default time picker and repeated this process with date (morning, lunchtime, afternoon, evening, custom).
The location view would incorporate an autocomplete field connected to the Google Maps API and would recognise phrases based on 3 or more characters being inputted into the form prior to returning results.
The form would validate with 1–3 of the options above selected and return the total number of results within the call-to-action button prior to submitting the form through to the results template. The benefit of this approach is to stop users from encountering zero results within the results view and having to go back to update their choices.
Separation of personal and business
The existing prototype which I inherited funnelled users into very distinct user groups — members and professionals.
For the new product I wanted to redesign this behaviour by recognising everyone in the first instance as a member who can view and book personal sessions with friends or a trainer yet make the signposting and profile creation for professional users easy to use and navigate.
By creating one unifying experience with an easy conversion path we provided a way for professionals to become acquainted with the system as general members before making the switch to include the use of the business toolkit.
The toolkit, accessed from the fixed bottom navigation contained a temporary view beyond which the business tools (pricing, availability etc) can be accessed. This provided multiple benefits:
- A full screen promotional space to highlight the benefits of becoming a professional member.
- By styling the business toolkit differently, it created a separation for professional members to understand which role they were in to prevent confusion and usability issues with the platform.
A complex set of business rules was needed in order to allow professional users the ability to customise how they set their prices for various activities. This in turn would be reflected within the dynamic pricing area of the main discovery section of the app.
The outcome of this UI would allow users to complete a set number of important tasks:
- Specify the activity type, participant number, location and price per participant for that session
- Whether the session allowed for cash collection (a definite possibility for adhoc outdoor training sessions / bootcamps)
- Whether the session was peak / off-peak (a common payment scale for the fitness / personal training industry) and if so, how the spread of those payment grades were implemented across a 7-day week.
By building a more complete business model, professionals were able to better reflect the drain on their resources to include additional costs for travelling to more remote locations as well as apply a discount structure on each session for additional participants or specialist sessions that required more pre-session planning.
FitInfinite is in the final testing stages of their closed beta phase. Launching initially for iOS only, the product that I have created bears little resemblance to the original prototype and instead provided a fresh slate in which to take a more user-centred approach based solely on solving validated customer needs.
This in turn puts the FitInfinite team in a strong position on which to capitalise on the groundwork they have put in with the fitness community throughout 2016.
Thank you for taking the time to time to view my work. If you have any comments or questions please get in touch.
Jamie Hylands is a Designer and owner of Manaseven, a UX strategy and design company based in Scotland.