Fitness trackers rely heavily on conveying information through either a mobile app or dashboard; it is a major part of the wristband's experience. With this project, I set out to identify pain points within the onboarding experiences of three different fitness trackers (Atlas, Fitbit and Garmin) and ideate potential solutions.
Fitness trackers are becoming more and more ubiquitous—a report by NPD found that 1-in-10 U.S. adults own a fitness tracker (2015), and about half of the fitness-conscious people I surveyed have owned a fitness tracker. About 89% of those people consider the corresponding mobile app important and most of the users who rated the app a 4 or 5 (out of 5) also continued to use the wristband. The users who stopped using a wristband rated the corresponding app about a 3.5 on average.
This data suggests a relationship between the quality of the app and user retention rate for the corresponding fitness wristband. I specifically chose to focus on the app's user onboarding because it is pivotal to retaining customers and it boosts the probability that users will come back again. First impressions matter, whether it be with people, or with products.
What: the ATLAS, Fitbit & Garmin mobile app user onboarding process
Who: individuals interested in health and fitness
How: combination of user interview & usability study
Five volunteers were given the following scenario:
“You are looking for a smart fitness wristband and are evaluating 3 different options. You download the corresponding apps (ATLAS, Fitbit and Garmin) for each wristband and want to check them out to help make a decision.”
I had the apps pre-downloaded on my phone and had all the users go through the onboarding process for each app. They were asked to think out loud and comment on what they were doing. The onboarding process here was dictated by the user--whenever they felt like they had explored the app enough, they stopped. Afterward, I asked them a series of questions, summarized below.
The prototypes of the Atlas, Fitbit and Garmin apps below are not exact replicas. I created them by taking screenshots of the actual app screens and stitching them together using Adobe Experience Design. They are for informational purposes only--to show an overview of how the apps looked at the time the study was conducted. Some of the features/screens were not documented. Emphasis was put on documenting the key onboarding screens of each of the apps.
As I observed users walking through the onboarding experiences for each of the apps, I wrote down significant thoughts they had about the process, as well as any issues they encountered. To better understand the raw data I grouped user thoughts and observations into "positive impressions", "negative impressions", as well as "issues" for each of the apps.
The Fitbit app, by far, elicited the most positive comments, and users encountered the least issues. The Altas and Garmin app presented the most issues for users.
The overall impression of the Atlas app was that it is for people who are serious about their workout. Most users liked the features of the app--especially the “plan workouts” section where users could create their own workout plan. One user flat-out did not like the app because they felt it was hard to use.
As I observed users walking through the app, I noticed 4 main issues that users kept running into.
Pain Point #1: Users were apprehensive when asked for permissions upon opening the app
Right when the app is opened, before signing up or signing in, users were asked to turn bluetooth on. Most of the users I boserved became noticeably agitated with the notification.
Pain Point #2: Users had trouble retyping their password
Some users struggled with the re-typing of their password. Navigating between the small input fields did not help.
“Why do they need all this information about me?"
“Why did I leave the app?”
Users liked the bright colors and simple design of the Fitbit app. Everyone really enjoyed the sign up process, which took a novel approach by splitting each input field into a different screen and making it more interactive. Some users really liked having a place to track everything--exercise, food intake, water consumption, etc., but some felt it was too much.
Pain Point #1: Users did not want to sign up just to explore the app, but they didn't have a choice
Users either had the option to "Join Fitbit" or "Log In" on the welcome screen. There was no option to explore the app without joining or signing in. Although this issue came up with the other apps as well, I chose to highlight this issue here since the other aspects of the Fitbit onboarding experience were so seamless.
Pain Point #2: Users who did not have a wristband yet did not see the bottom option of “No Fitbit Yet?” and start setting up a wristband on accident
When signing up for the app, even though there was an option at the bottom “No Fitbit Yet,” several users accidentally started setting up the top wristband (at the time, the Surge). The users would go through, enter all their information, and then the app would continuously try to “sync” the wristband, which wasn't there. Users were then forced to return back to the setup screen, thus restarting the sign-up process.
Users felt the Garmin app to be the most confusing of the three. However, there was one user who mentioned they actually liked how the app was setup. This user, as well as another, liked the fact that the app hinted that the wristband could be used to track their Golf game.
Pain Point #2: Users had issues accessing the small input fields on sign up
There were several inputs required to complete on the sign up screen. The small input fields, and space between input fields made it hard for users to fill out the information.
“Do I really need a display name?"Pain Point #3: Users didn't understand why they had to pick a Display Name, and what it would be used for
"What happens when I choose what I will use this app for?"Pain Point #4: Users did not know what choosing “Fitness, Health or Golf” would do
"I can't find what I'm looking for"Pain Point #6: Users did not know where to start on the home screen or where to look for certain functionalities
After users were done signing up and walking through all 3 apps, I asked them a series of questions about how they felt about the apps. This type of data is not the most reliabe, as humans are not the best at self-reporting, however, it is interesting to compare users' perceptions between apps.
Users self-reported that the sign-up process was considered pretty easy across the board. I was actually surprised with the general response to this question, because user comments led me to believe otherwise. Most users really enjoyed signing up for the Fitbit app, while slightly struggling with the Atlas and Garmin apps.
The Fitbit app was found to be the most pleasing overall, ATLAS was second, and Garmin was last. It gets tricky when you try to understand what makes an app “pleasing,” however, user comments helped shine some light on the results.
Based on what they saw with the apps, users rated that they would most likely buy the Fitbit wristband, then the ATLAS wristband, and then the Garmin wristband.
As detailed in the above section, there were 4 main pain points users had with the Atlas app onboarding experience. They are listed below along with possible solutions.Pain Point: Users were apprehensive when asked for permissions upon opening the app
The Fitbit app was the most liked app with the least pain points, that I discerned, out of the three. However, there are two things that could be improved.Pain Point: Users did not want to sign up just to explore the app, but they didn't have a choice
The Fitbit’s onboarding was perceived to be the easiest and the most “fun.” The Garmin app had several issues and was perceived as "confusing" by users. Through the usability tests, I noticed people had the most issues with the Garmin app, then the Atlas, and lastly the Fitbit app.
I gave possible solutions (in the IDEATE section) to the usability issues I found with each app. The next steps would be to prototype the solutions and test them with real users to see if my proposed solutions test better than the current design.
A question I had in the back of my mind during this study was: does the overall onboarding experience of the app make users more likely to want to buy the corresponding wristband? Although it may be a bit of a stretch to say a definite yes, the results of this case study were interesting.
The Fitbit rated highest on ease of sign up, overall delightfulness as well as users' motivation to buy the wristband. The Atlas app was rated second-highest on all accounts. There seems to be a correlation with how easy and pleasant users found the app onboarding to be, and how much users were interested in buying the actual wristband. Although there is a correlation, it does not imply causation. A robust study on this subject would be interesting.