Everyone needs to exercise and stay fit. Whether you’re an adolescent, an adult, or a senior, there are numerous well-documented benefits of staying physically active. The YMCA needs a digital platform that’s specifically geared towards helping users make use of all the resources the organization has to offer.


Product Designer
Research, Information Architecture, Interaction, Visual design & Testing

Team of 4
Duration - 5 weeks

Identifying the Problem

After conducting user and subject matter interviews, a recurring pattern of pain points started to emerge. These frustrations have a high impact on the user’s likelihood to utilize the YMCA’s offerings.

1. Users generally lack the motivation to come to the gym regularly because they don’t feel rewarded for their efforts.

2. Users only know a portion of the YMCA’s offerings because they don’t inquire about others or they can’t find the information they’re looking for without physically showing up to their local YMCA.

3. Some services the users are interested in requires additional fees.

Current State

There is a running list of activities and services that are accessible in paper form through the members’ YMCA locations. That information is difficult to find and are often unreliable on their current digital platform. Many of the programs offered are still under-utilized due to the added cost or the users don’t inquire about them.

Reward System

Creating a reward system helps incentivize and motivate the users to engage in more physical activities. The concept is to reward the users with discounts or one time free access to the under-utilized services for accomplishing their fitness goals or membership milestones. 

The main challenge of creating a reward system associated with fitness is figuring out what can be rewarded. After thorough brainstorming sessions, we created a list of rewardable activities.

1. Machine workouts
All workout machines that have a screen that shows exercise results can be rewarded.

2. Utilizing additional services
Users can and should be rewarded for utilizing everything the YMCA has to offer. These may include but not limited to: Pool access, After school programs, Senior care programs, Events, etc..

3. Paid services
In addition to the plethora of the YMCA’s program, participation in any paid services can be rewarded. These can include personal training sessions, day care programs, outdoor camps, massage therapies etc..

4. Membership milestones
Additional rewards for members who keep a frequent and consistent attendance to their local YMCA.

Fig. Wireframe concept for reward system

Building the Fitness Tracker

Building a fitness tracker that is linked to the reward system and helps the users track their fitness goals is essential to the product. It is a tool that incentivizes the users to reach their fitness goals.

To build a tracker that’s easy to understand and use, the team took a closer look at what made the competitors successful. We identified elements that were consistent across most competitors’ tracking features.

1. Customizable fitness goals
Allow freedom to customize and modify fitness goals at any time. This allows the users to tailor their fitness experience to best suit their needs.

2. Workout Capture
Using the mobile device’s camera to capture exercise machine results and quickly record a workout. This allows the users to swiftly capture their machine workouts without having to input all the numbers manually.

Fig. Wireframe concept for customizable fitness goals
Fig. Wireframe concept for workout quick capture

Make it Searchable

According to our users, the YMCA’s ever expanding variety of classes, programs, and services listed on several sheets of papers is simply inefficient. This information is not readily available and can be difficult to obtain over their current digital platform. To solve this pain point, all the services will need to be searchable and more accessible with minimal effort.

Instead of providing a full list of services that overwhelms the users, we made the information obtainable by their availability date and time. This allows the users to quickly search by name, filter by dates, locations, and categories.

Fig. Wireframe concept for activity filter feature

The New Design System

Conforming to the brand identity of YMCA, there were some restrictions when it came to creating a design system. We knew the core branding elements such as color palette would need to remain unchanged. New principles were created to aid the creation of the design system.

1. Efficient
The application should feel easy to use for the average users. It must accomplish the basic tasks as quickly as possible.

2. Transparent
Clear communication and reliable information is the top priority. The users should be able to find what they are looking for without much effort.

3. Exciting
Users should feel welcomed and excited to try new activities offered by the YMCA.

The Solution

The designed solution addresses the user’s lack of motivation, lack of information, and budget consciousness. The objective is to entice the users with a fitness tracking app that’s supported by a robust reward system and a more organized information architecture.

See the Prototype

Testing with Users

By splitting the usability test into separate tasks, we were able to monitor the user’s progression. We needed to validate
3 things through this test.

1. Ease of use

Motivation rating

Information accessibility

The results were primarily positive with few iterative opportunities.

1. Participants indicated a 80% ease of use rating

2. Around 75% of participants felt more motivated to workout

3. 85% of the participants stated that they preferred the new information structure.

Iteration Recommendations

Through all the positive feedback from the usability tests. We also identified some issues that may hinder the
users’ experience.

1. Participants had a difficult time finding redeemed rewards. There needs to be a more efficient indicator for the users.

The circle graphs felt disconnected from rewards. Reward point status should be added to give a better context.

Participants didn’t know what the “Capture” button would do. Brief description on the functionality of the button should be added.

Project Takeaways

1. Increase sample size
Having more test participants doesn’t always yield better results, but having not enough affect design decisions.

2. Give context
It’s easier to give the users or participants a scenario or context before an interview or test. This helps to yield a more conclusive result.

3. Set a benchmark
Time on task is not a good metric to measure success unless there is data that can be used as a benchmark.