Creative Careers Fellow Ryan Halperin's UX Case Study: How can Fitbod reduce user churn in a churn-heavy industry?
As I continue my search for employment as a UX designer, I have decided to take on a few UX case studies. In doing so, I have observed popular software products that I believe could be improved and set out to to do just that. First I will introduce the issues at hand and then outline the steps I took to solving these problems. Finally, I will summarize my conclusions and show my solutions for all of you TL;DR folks.

Problem Introduction
If you have ever given fitness a shot, you may have experienced many challenges that accompany the journey. A core difficulty of sticking to a fitness routine, or developing any consistent habit for that matter, is discipline. It is incredibly easy to start out strong and motivated, slowly get caught up in your day-to-day activities, and eventually wake up three weeks later to realize that you are no longer sticking to your routine as well as when you had originally envisioned. With poor discipline, it becomes incredibly difficult to see any results, causing fitness to eat your motivation up and spit it back out quicker than you can realize it's even happening. It's simply too easy to fall off track and ultimately give up.

Fitness apps like Fitbod are fantastic for gaining fundamental fitness knowledge and tracking results and improvements. However, apps like Fitbod are only getting users from second base to home plate. After interviewing many fitness enthusiasts as well as personal trainers, I have come to believe that developing self-awareness of our daily habits is a prerequisite to our ability to stick to any long-term routine. As management authority, Peter Drucker would say, "if you can't measure it, you can't improve it". Daily, weekly and monthly self-awareness is the key to creating the discipline to stick to and optimize our fitness routines. With this self-awareness, the likelihood of Fitbod's user base to stay on track and avoid giving up is much higher thus their churn-rate would be significantly lower.

The Process: Interviews & Insights
I developed two sets of interview questions, one for general gym-goers as well as one for personal trainers. I targeted gym-goers with the purpose of determining their basic 'pain-points'. The reason for interviewing personal trainers was to get professional perspectives as to what contributes to success in the gym as well as why people often quit their fitness journeys. Interviewing these two demographics allowed me to validate or invalidate my hypotheses around discipline and self-awareness as well as to gather professional opinions as to what it takes to succeed in the gym to begin with. My questions revolved around a few key topics:

General gym-goers:
  • Customer segmentation: Is this person a part of my target audience/demographic? If so, what kind of user are they? How do they currently use the product?
  • Problem Discovery: What challenges do they face?
  • Problem Validation: Do they face the challenges I think they have?
  • Product Discovery: Idea generation
  • Product Validation: Idea validation/invalidation

Personal Trainers:
  • What is the role of a personal trainer?
  • What are the core basic components required to achieve any fitness goal
  • Are there any fundamental principles that most people are unaware of with respect to achieving results?
  • What other knowledge is most important to have to accomplish your fitness goals?
  • What are the biggest challenges of people achieving their fitness goals?
  • What reasons have clients given you when quitting their fitness programs?

Insights Gathered
Gym-goers struggle with many things that Fitbod accomplishes already. However, a few pain points that the app does not serve include:

  • Finding motivation to be extremely challenging to sustain
  • Wanting to easily log gym sessions to see how often they're working out
  • Struggling with accountability. Its too easy to say "I'll go tomorrow instead". Need extra incentive to push harder.
Personal trainers also served to clarify the significance of consistency and persistence. Staying motivated to continue is difficult because you wont see results that you want quickly. People burnout when they don't see results. Because of this, trainers frequently ensure they set expectations with their clients early and educate them on what the process truly looks like and what results they can expect to see.

With this data, I believe that Fitbod users need help gaining the self-awareness necessary to develop consistent fitness habits. With this discipline, they will be better equipped to sustain their fitness routines, mitigating user churn.

Proposed Solution
Here is Fitbod's current feature set when it comes to tracking workouts. While it offers the user quite a bit of data on their recent workouts, it does not easily offer an overall view of how well we are sticking to our gym routine. Users expressed interest in seeing they they are doing in the short term as well as the long term. Results are a by-product of your process. The ability to visually view their process will allow users to see why they are or are not achieving their goals. How often have I gone this week? This month? Last month? This year? It's hard to picture this data with the only option being to scroll down day by day.


Wireframing & Prototyping
Wireframe sketch
Newly designed features for viewing past performance
Full screen view of incorporated features
So how exactly does this work? When setting up the app after downloading users are prompted to input their weekly target workout amount. When you get to the gym, you tap the "Start Workout" button in the bottom-right corner. This informs the app that you've worked out that day and checks off the progress in our yearly, monthly and weekly calendars. As time goes by, you will see all of the days that you've won and lost with a % completion showing you how close you managed to stick to your fitness routine.

Tapping the red calendar icon in the left screen opens the yearly calendar seen on the right. Users can navigate through past weeks months and years. Once a user starts to skip too many workouts, they will see the missed days adding up and will immediately understand why they are not seeing results. Notifications can also be a useful addition to warn users of their skipping habits. This will create an autonomous feedback loop which holds users accountable and re-inspires their work ethic. I believe these mechanisms will prevent users from falling off their routines and continuously re-motivate them, creating the successful habits necessary to succeed in the gym. This user success will significantly reduce the amount of churn Fitbod will see in their user base in a churn-heavy industry.

To summarize:
  • Users struggle with sustaining habitual gym attendance causing them to quit fitness and ultimately abandon Fitbod.
  • Self-awareness of past performance is critical to improving habit consistency
  • Helping users generate the discipline to stick to their fitness routines will allow them to see success in the gym, reducing churn among Fitbod's user base.

Ryan Halperin
User Experience Fellow
College of Charleston, Class of 2016
Ryan is a recent graduate of the College of Charleston where he studied Business. After graduating he pursued his own startup company and he is incredibly passionate about entrepreneurship. In his free time he enjoys playing guitar, photography, and snowboarding!
FEBRUARY, 14 / 2019