TrainingPeaks is an online coaching application. A coach creates a training plan for an athlete who completes the workouts in the plan and reports results back.
The purpose of this case study is to assess the current state of the mobile app and suggest areas of improvement. All current designs and trademark metrics, including Training Stress Score (TSS) and Intensity Factor (IF) are property of TrainingPeaks.
Login data identified athletes as the primary users of the mobile app. The ratio of desktop to mobile logins for athletes indicates that mobile is the primary way these users interact with the TrainingPeaks application.
Based on these data, the focus of this case study is the athletes. A separate case study should be undertaken to address the specific and differing needs of coaches.
Users' Primary Tasks
User interviews identified the following as the the most frequently completed tasks in the app, in order of importance.
– Get details for today’s workout
– Review a recent workout
– Preview future workouts for scheduling purposes
– Assess progress toward weekly goals
The calendar in the current app takes up half the screen but is not used in completing any of the primary tasks. The colored dots require memorization to know what sport they correspond to and give no indication of how long a workout may take.
Individual workouts include a visualization of planned intervals but without any kind of time or distance scale it’s impossible to glean any useful information from the visual.
The charts tab replaces the calendar with data visualizations for duration, distance, etc. Many of these charts are problematic. Distance, for example, is not useful when comparing swimming where the average workout might be around 2 miles, and biking where the shortest workout might be 20. These charts also attempt to show the difference between planned and actual metrics but the data visualization used is non-standard and difficult to read. A simple paired bar chart works much better in this situation.
The icons currently used represent objects associated with each sport. In some cases, this leads to ambiguity since these same objects are used in multiple sports. For example, road biking is represented by the link in a chain, but that object is also present in mountain biking. Shoes are used in both walking and running workouts.
The new app scrolls to today’s workout within the current week which facilitates the first of the primary tasks, getting details for today’s workout. Recently completed workouts are hinted above the current workout to allow quick review of recent workouts. Future workouts are shown to assist in scheduling and users can see weekly progress tracked. This allows all four of the primary tasks to be completed from the initial screen.
The “Month” view gives users an alternative to the current calendar view. The type and the approximate duration of each workout is shown. Breakthrough workouts (BT) which are key are also shown in both views. This allows a user to better plan “real life” around the planned workouts.
The new icons used for each sport are inspired by the pictograms used in every olympics since 1964. Each of these symbols not only provides an unambiguous marker for each sport, but also symbolically refocuses the app on the athlete instead of the equipment.
Selecting a workout displays the details for the workout. The bar chart showing a visualization of the intervals would be difficult to use even with a scale. Athletes can click on this graphic to get the details which is an unnecessary step.
The athlete’s name and picture appear at the top of the page. While this information might be useful for a coach, it does not add anything to the athlete’s experience and should be replaced with something of value.
The majority of athletes use a dedicated workout watch which tracks a plethora of workout data and is uploaded automatically to the TrainingPeaks app. The two large buttons here are useful only for a small minority of athletes and should not receive such prominence. Other controls for the workout appear at the top of the page. All controls should be consolidated and appear at the bottom of the page in a toolbar.
Until a workout is completed, half of the data table is empty which is a terrible waste of space. Even under the planned column, showing an empty field is useless. Many of these fields are not commonly used in planning, e.g. elevation gain, and should be hidden unless needed.
The Zones tab at the top of the page is not specific to the workout, but to the athlete. Workouts already include zone information specific to the intervals.
Primary workout completion data is shown at the top of the page. Secondary information is shown below that, and blank data is not shown. In cases where a lot of secondary data is provided, there is room for an additional field on this screen, and on the rare occasions that there is even more data, those fields can be pushed off onto a details screen.
The intervals for the workout are presented clearly, and in a way that athletes are accustomed to talking about them. “Two times through 2mi at 7min pace and 1mi at 8:45.” The highlighted row indicates a high intensity interval which helps athletes key in on the important parts of the workout.
Key workout details are often included in the description by the coach, so these comments appear below the intervals.
Finally, actions for the workout have been consolidated in the toolbar at the bottom of the page which is more in keeping with the Apple Human Interface Guidelines. Users can also navigate to the next or previous workout using the arrows at the top of the page. This is not only useful for reviewing and previewing workouts, but also matches the existing paradigm for moving through a group of items as set by Apple.
Even after workout completion, many of the table rows will be blank. Blank rows should be hidden. Unless data is always present for both planned and completed, it should not be displayed side-by-side. When both planned and completed are present, the difference between the values is the most significant piece of information and users should not be forced to do the comparison themselves.
Because this workout was not uploaded for this screenshot, some of the tabs of information are missing. The other screens in the carousel show these tabs.
The complete absence of lap data is a major concern. Nearly every watch on the market records lap information, and athletes use this data to assess the success of the workout. Not only does the current app bombard you with prompts to “Upgrade Now” but the tab titled “Laps” does not even contain the lap information.
Lap data can be found under Map/Graph -> Entire Workout, but does not include any summary information recorded by the watch. This is a disservice to athletes as they “own” this data – it is not computed by TrainingPeaks – and they may feel quite frustrated to not be able to access it.
When a workout is complete, users often want to review the data immediately. First, they want to see if they completed the total time and distance for the workout. Showing the difference between planned and actual values helps users to know where they exceeded expectations and where they fell short.
Workouts uploaded from sports watches often contain a great deal of data. Beyond time and distance, the three most important datapoints for the sport are displayed in the secondary characteristics line. The remaining characteristics are shown in a separate screen.
The most important data for each lap is displayed on the main screen. This allows users to evaluate whether or not the workout went as planned. Unfortunately, since there is no guarantee that the workout laps will line up with the planned laps, the two cannot be directly compared. Users can easily review the workout plan to get a rough comparison.
Most sports watches also record a great deal of data about each lap. This data is placed on a details screen where the user can review the data and also step through each of the laps without having to come back through the main screen.
Workouts are automatically flagged if the completed duration or distance is less than 80% of the planned workout. This is useful, but could be improved by showing how much of the workout was missed.
Missed workouts are also flagged, but instead of showing the details for the planned workout, blanks are shown instead. Showing the planned workout duration and distance would be much more helpful since there is a big difference between missing an easy 3 mile run, and missing a critical 13 mile race rehearsal.
Many coaches report how difficult it is to get athletes to leave comments about a workout. The first question in the prototype above allows athletes to report if they were not able to hit all the intervals instead of forcing the coach to check each one against the original plan. The second question assesses the subjective aspect of the workout and allows an athlete to flag a workout that felt much harder than it should have.
By asking these two simple questions, coaches get exceptionally valuable information about each workout while keeping the burden on the athlete very low. Athletes are prompted to answer the questions after marking workouts as complete, or on login when workouts have been uploaded in the background.
Workouts are flagged differently in the week and month views depending on whether duration/distance does not match plan, or the athlete reported a problem, or the workout was missed altogether.
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