Designing an in-home fitness experience from ideation to prototype.
Tools And methods
Research Process - Generative and Ethnographic Research, Usability Testing, Mental Modeling and Behavioral Analysis, Personas
Interaction Design - Sitemaps, Task Flows, User Stories, Low-Medium Fidelity Wireframes, Low/Medium Fidelity Prototypes and User Testing
Tools: Sketch, Zeplin, Paper, Whiteboard, JIRA
Team and Duration
- 1 UX Designer
- 1 Visual Designer
- 2 Full Time Developers
- 10 Sprints, 20 Week
Brandon and Julie had created a unique cable training system that coupled pneumatic pistons with Smart Handles allowing the user to decrease and increase their weights on the fly.
The equipment was currently sold to gyms as part of a group fitness training regimen developed by Julie. Our clients wanted to expand their workout empire to capture the home market.
Flexline signed on with Yeti for a series of agile design sprints that would take their concept from ideation to prototype. I was brought in following the sprints to lead the UX portion of the project including research and early interaction design.
The Design Challenge
Without a deeper understanding of their user base, our clients faced significant economic and development risks.
Design workshopping revealed that our clients were missing key information around the mental modeling of their user base. Although the original prototype was successfully used in a series of group classes at Julie's studio, there was no user data around how, why and when this would be used in a home environment.
Our clients had an amazing physical prototype but no real understanding of who their users were in the home market. Without identifying distinct behavioral segments and developing attendant mental models to guide interface prioritization and user task hierarchy, our clients risked a significant drain on their resources and missed opportunity for delivering on their value proposition.
Design an onboarding path to accommodate a variety of fitness levels and styles, then use machine learning to provide individualized content and continued user support .
By thoroughly researching our user base, consistently testing our ideas through usability studies AND working side-by-side with engineers to develop a "smart" recommendation engine, we were able to provide an individualized experience of immediate and continued familiarity for our users, no matter who they were or how their goals differed.
Our Production Approach
Research, Prototype, User Test, Ideate, Repeat.
Designing for DRIVE meant creating everything from scratch. Like many of our agency clients, the DRIVE founders were investing a significant amount of their product funds in a design and development contract with us and the stakes were high.
As a shop, Yeti works from an Agile Methodology to complete their client projects, including daily scrums and TIGHT collaboration between the design and development teams.
Each sprint started with me whiteboarding, investigating competitive market offerings and sketching for ideas and interactions which I would then review with both the visual designers and development team before designing any screens so they could provide feedback and raise potential concerns.
The user stories and initial task flows provided a way for me to design interactions that would meet specific user needs and made it easier to prioritize and tested these initial prototypes on users.
We had weekly reviews with our client to communicate our shared goals for each sprint and hand off each sets of deliverables. This kept us all on the same page throughout the length of the project and allowed us to iterate at the rapid pace needed to hit our deadlines.
Our Design Process
Mental Modeling reveals easy user wins and an expanded target market.
Early research was a hugely important component of our overall design process. Identifying specific behavioral segments allowed us to guide the prioritization of prospective features and focus on those that really serve our user's goals. The research ALSO protected our client's budget in that it allowed us to eliminate features that were not supported by what we already knew about our user's needs and wants.
During the first sprint, I interviewed 12 people for an hour each over a 2 week period of time to identify both the mental models and behavioral segments present in the fitness world of our client's product.
Based on this early user research, I was able to undercover several shared characteristics and behaviors that existed across my research participants.
Retireees with a life-long interest in sport and physical activity due to their flexible schedules, strong commitment to health and purchasing power.
Married/Single Women with OR without children and a moderately demonstrated commitment to health and fitness based on convenience, privacy and an overall discomfort with traditional strength-training environments.
This provided value to my client by:
1. Providing an expanded marketplace beyond that of the singular persona to include the most highly prioritized behavioral segmentation aka "easy wins"
2. Maintaining prioritization of key product flows while guiding feature development toward the behavioral segment MOST likely to adopt the product
Targeted personas anchor our designs and provide a design path forward.
Based on the qualitative interview findings, I developed 3 user personas beyond the one currently in use with the client. These additional personas represented the three major mental models unearthed by our research and served as landmarks to remind us why we were designing, for whom, and in what context.
Each of these personas had specific needs and behavioral preferences that were vastly different from the other and informed by individual fitness history, economic standing and societal standing. .
However, despite these differences, each audience segment discovered wanted a sense of deep personalization. They wanted their relationship with DRIVE to deepen over time as it collected more information about their particular fitness habits and other user information.
Architecting the Foundation
Once we had a clear understanding of the customer mental models, we were able use what we knew of their needs and motivations to guide the creation of user stories, task flows, and conceptual models. This foundational work was essential in staking out each portion of the user experience and given the complicated relationship many consumers have with fitness, it was essential that we consider each stage of the onboarding and use with each persona in mind.
Creative velocity from the partnership of visual and interaction design.
I had the total pleasure of working with talented visual designer Andrea Mendez who was armed with a wide range of UX skills in addition to her background in visual arts.
After I created and tested the medium-fidelity wireframes, Andrea applied her visual design magic to transform them into the hi-fidelity screens that were handed off (literally across a desk) to development to code. We tested the hardware connections by rigging up a touchscreen tv screen similar in size to the kind being prototyped and connected to the original DRIVE prototype we had living in the YETI garage. This allowed development to experiment with the hardware while Andrea and I could see how our designs looked on the large touchscreen and how each interaction felt physically.
Results and Reflections
A strong foundation built with room to grow.
This was an extremely ambitious undertaking in the amount of time we had. The sheer complexity of the feature sets combined with designing for an oversized touchscreen attached to a major piece of hardware made this an unusual project from both a design and development perspective.
As the solo UX designer, I was fascinated by the wide range of relationships my interviewees had with their fitness life. This project required me to deeply understand the mental models of our target users, and keep these in mind through each stage of the design process. As my first major project for Yeti, DRIVE taught me the significance of consistent communication to the internal production team and well as the importance of design's role as advocate and cheerleader for the user and their needs.
I'm incredibly proud of the work my team accomplished during those long days and nights and I'm excited to see DRIVE in the world's living rooms.