IN PROGRESS – Dipping Toes Into Design: Fitness App Case Study

This is an ongoing project, so more will be added here soon.

If you’d like to know when the project is complete, drop me a message on the contact page of my site 🙂

Skills used here:

  • UX Design
  • Mobile app design
  • Prototyping
  • User research – discovery probes, user interviews
  • Empathy – journey mapping, persona development


This is something slightly different for me. I’ve not had much chance to actually try out UX design in my current role (as it is largely research based), but through a course from the Interaction Design Foundation (Design Thinking: A Beginner’s Guide), I’m following their prompts to try my hand at designing a fitness app.

As such, the steps documented in this portfolio post are probably going to be set out a little different to my other posts, as I intend to follow the project with each online lesson focus. As always, let me know what you think in feedback or comments!

Step 1. Empathise

I was really excited to start this step after learning more about empathising with users in the online course. I’ve never conducted ‘discovery’ research before in my role, so after learning about probe kits and how to best tailor these to a project, I was keen to get started.


The course said that in discovery, we should aim to find out:

  • Why people want to exercise
  • What happens when people exercise
  • What happens when something prevents people from exercising

Based on these requirements, I designed a probe kit and an interview script that would help to answer these questions (and gain additional insights that would prove useful in the future design).

Probe Kit

I wanted to include activities that would help to answer the questions above, and start generating ideas about the problems people who want to exercise might be facing. I created the following activities:

  • Daily routine: this would contextualise how exercise fits into their day
  • Exercise schedule over the course of a week: to identify the type of exercise people were doing, how long people exercised for, the frequency of exercise and if there was a consistency in the time of day people exercised
  • Drawing an ideal exercise environment: this helps to provide an insight around what matters most to people e.g. if they picked gym over home, maybe they placed a higher value on the gym? If the space itself was nicely decorated, maybe that could be a key motivator for people. This would allow me to ask questions about this in the interview to probe further
  • ‘If I said let’s go to a gym class tonight, what would you be…saying/thinking/expecting/hoping for?’ Thought Map: this was something I created myself to get an idea into the thoughts and emotions that people might associate with performing exercise. This would identify various aspects of people’s relationship to exercise – are they reluctant to attend? Are they keen? What are the expectations of fitness classes and how do the hopes of people differ from what they usually expect? I was really pleased that I included this activity, as it proved one of the most useful for me when the responses started to come back

Anyway, why don’t you see for yourself? Click the button below to download a pdf.file of these activities 🙂

Interview Script

I split the questions in my interview script into 4 parts:

  • Part 1: Your experience of exercise
  • Part 2: Managing exercise
  • Part 3: What does exercise mean to you?
  • Part 4: Associations and expectations of exercise

This aimed to start getting participants comfortable talking about concrete things like what exercise they do and how this fits into a routine, to then move onto more abstract questions to probe deeper into the emotional aspects people associate with exercise. I thought this was really important to capture the idea of empathy in this activity – joining the concrete evidence of what people do and when they do it with the questions of why they do it, and what matters to them most.


The IDF encouraged us to use family members and friends just to get used to the idea of conducting user interviews. For time and ease, I contacted colleagues, friends and family who were at various fitness levels/interests. They still all had a common interest in fitness, and that they would use a fitness app if it appealed to them (so it’s my job to find out what that is!).

I’m using 6 people for this project – 3 male and 3 female; ages ranging from 13-54; one with a long-term disability.


These are currently coming in (yay!), so when I’ve received them all, I’ll post some insights here.

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