A fitness brand targeting a Gen Z and Millennial demographic while standing out from the crowd.
Fundamentally, this project was an exercise in creating the brand and its visual style for a fitness app aimed at Gen Z and Millennials to encourage accountability, provide flexible workouts for a range of health & physical conditions, and fit into a busy schedule. But even with the focus on branding and visualization, I couldn't help spending a lot of time researching and strategizing about a fitness app that would meet a real need.
I performed a competitive analysis, exploratory research, ideated and designed a name, logo, and brand purpose, analyzed existing wireframes, created user flow diagrams, and three rounds of design iteration including high-fidelity designs and prototypes, microinteractions, a marketing site and a brand guidelines.
Mobile – iPhone X
The best part of each project is the opportunity to learn something new. I love the exploratory research phase and the user testing sessions of the design process because they’re an opportunity to learn something new. Don’t get me wrong, the actual designing part is still where I get my kicks, but it’s just so satisfying to go into a project with some real knowledge.
Plus every insight gained adds another layer of empathy and understanding to my knowledge base as a designer. How good is it that we won’t ever reach the point where there’s nothing left to learn? *nerd celebrate* I digress. User testing revealed a lot of insights that could be carried forward into future projects.
1. Every design decision needs to be rooted in reason.
This is Design Theory 101, but it makes it onto my list of Lessons Learned because for every design theory learned, there is a lightbulb moment where it goes from abstract philosophy to concrete understanding. It was as I was working on this project that I felt it really click and saw how much research-backed reason strengthened and enriched my designs.
2. Simplicity can increase impact.
A constant challenge during the design process is learning how to scaling ideas and designs and consolidate communication to be more succinct and focused. With each project there are lots of pieces competing for attention, and figuring out which elements should take precedence and then providing the right counterbalances takes time and practice.
The goal was to develop a brand and its visual style from the ground up for a fitness app aimed at Gen Z and millennials to encourage accountability, provide flexible workouts for a range of health & physical conditions, and fit into a busy schedule.
For this particular project, the focus was on learning how to strategize a brand concept and then pull it through the visual identity, so the app design itself played a secondary role and was not tested with users until the end of the project. While within the context of the learning objectives, this made sense, I think it's important to note that skipping that part of the process means that my designs can't be considered verified and my solution not yet validated.
Revisiting the general layout and feel of the interface to identify opportunities for restructuring content for clarity would reduce cognitive overload, and utilizing familiar design patterns would improve overall flow and navigation.
Refreshing the product interface would enhance user experience and increase perceived ease of use.
Design Systems create cohesion and familiarity by standardizing the design patterns and elements within a product. It takes the guesswork out of the process for developers and ensures all future iterations and products stick to the established.
Provide cohesive visual foundation across their current digital platforms and products so Contract Cloud is able to be consistent and iterate with intent as they grow and expand their product offerings.
Our culture is obsessed with fitness - one of the most common New Year’s Resolutions is a fitness-related goal and it’s difficult to go on Instagram without tripping over an aspiring fitness influencer (fitfluencer) so it’s no surprise that there are already over 250,000 health and fitness-related apps in existence. With so much competition, my approach was to identify an angle or focus that either doesn’t exist or hasn’t been effectively solved so that my product could differentiate itself from those multitudes of existing apps. In other words, I needed a hook that would attract and benefit users and thereby create an (ideally) successful product.
The accountability frustration expressed by the personas captured my focus because it feels so universal. Accountability and motivation came up time and time again in my research. The question I kept asking myself was:
We make fitness goals all the time - but how can we keep them?
I looked at fitness apps across a few categories that covered the needs of the users, and provided a good sense of the existing marketplace features. Sworkit, 8fit and Fitbod provide more traditional workouts that can be broken down into specific moves for user customized flows, Headspace focuses on meditation, and Strava tracks activity-based fitness and has a strong community component.
Design principles are the guidelines, rules or laws that establish alignment across design decisions by holding teams accountable to a specific set of standards and values. The guiding design principles listed below are based on specific insights gained from the user testing and competitive/market research. They were used by the team to guide decision-making in the design process and ensure strategic alignment.
Creating systems increases accountability by incorporating workouts into users’ daily routines. It allows them to build on existing habits rather than starting anew.
Mental health and physical health are intertwined already. Ignoring one weakens the other.
A sustainably healthy lifestyle is a journey - incorporating sustainable healthy practices into your life takes a long time. We care more about the long game than short-term gains.
During my research I read about the concept of Self-Awareness, and found that research supports the theory that a strong sense of self can tie directly into greater and longer-term motivation because intrinsic motivation tends to be more sustainable than extrinsic motivation.
Most importantly, focusing on building strong, positive self-awareness increases the likelihood that users will successfully implement incremental behavior changes in their lives.
Even as I explored divergent design directions, my goals for each remained the same. I had a list of brand characteristics that informed each design:
Within the context of this project, the decision to move forward with a design was informed largely by my desire to stretch myself creatively. I had a clear vision for Style A, but Style B felt more initially ambiguous to me which is why I chose it. I was excited by the challenge to explore a design aesthetic that would tie in strongly with my research.
With so much emphasis on mindfulness, it was important to carry that focus through the name and logo. SENTIO is Latin for think, feel, perceive, experience - a direct tie to that goal of increasing self-awareness in users. An ATELIER is an artist/artisan’s workshop - where small, careful choices made over time create works of beauty. A metaphor for the small steps needed for a long journey.
The red line motif symbolizes the user journey towards a healthier lifestyle. All journeys are long and winding, imperfect, often uncertain, but they always continue forward. The serif headers create an editorial feel which underscores the mindful focus of Sentio Atelier and evokes the research-backed solutions.The sans serif copy reflects the brand’s ethos of inclusivity and makes the content feel approachable to users of all levels and abilities.
Despite having my design principles, my mission and my focus for the project, I was struggling to distill all of those broad, often disparate and aspirational concepts into a word or short phrase that encapsulated the essence of the brand - the brand ethos. I knew I wanted it to be in direct contrast to the prevailing societal message of working out to lose weight. And then one day I was listening to comedian Nicole Byer’s podcast, “Why Won’t You Date Me?” She was talking about her own health and fitness journey and she said, “When I was growing up, I wish that someone had said, ‘you should exercise so you good.’ As opposed to, ‘You should exercise because you’re getting fatter.’” And that sentiment perfectly encapsulated the ethos. Sentio Atelier doesn’t care what your body looks like, we care how you
As a wordmark, the logo keeps that connection to feeling front and center, and the use of the serif type evokes the academia and research behind the product. Again, with so many fitness products already on the market, it’s vital that users know that Sentio Atelier isn’t the next flashy fitness trend guaranteeing quick results, but one that’s focused on meeting users where they’re at, and using research-based methods to support change and growth for healthier lifestyles.
Throughout my designs, I kept the design principles of systems, mindfulness and the journey in mind. I achieved this through the following considerations.
I relied on heavy whitespace to keep the content front and center, and reduce visual clutter in the product. I wanted users to experience some of the focus and clarity that comes with practiced meditation as soon as they opened the app.
Placing the current user statistics in task-like format at the top of the homescreen can create a gamified effect which some research suggests can increase engagement with physical activity and literally calling the page showing user progress over time “Journey” I intended to clearly communicate the focus on achieving a long term goal.
I created a card that would contain either motivational tips/encouragement/motivation. This content would go beyond superficial encouragement and provide research-backed information for users to stay inspired and more effectively carry out their goals.
Based on my design goal of Mindfulness, I made a conscious choice to give exercise and meditation equal weight in the platform - something I did not see in any of my competitive research and placed both activities under the neutral section title, “Sessions.”
Mindfulness and meditation can be difficult concepts to articulate or describe, so I relied on absurdist illustrations to help direct visualization without prescribing a single image. How one person might imagine a topic might not match the way another person imagines that topic, and keeping visuals abstract allows for greater diversity in thought and imagination.
Having a strong sense of community can also increase physical activity through encouragement and accountability so it was important to create a Community section in the product. In shaping that space, I thought a lot about how best to connect users in a positive way. Social media platforms can so easily deteriorate into negative spaces without a lot of moderating which would require more brand resources, so I knew that I didn’t want it to resemble a social media platform too closely. I also knew that I wanted users to be able to connect over shared interests or goals, so I decided to create a community space where users could create or find groups for those specific interests/goals.
Within the groups, users would be able to communicate in a simple platform. They could share tips, talk through individual frustrations, encourage each other, ask for advice, or even make plans for group activities or accountability.
Again, as this was primarily a branding exercise, testing did not play a big role in this project. However, it still provided the following confirmations and opportunities:
During my research phase, I was interested in including a sleep analysis feature because of its incredible impact on both physical and mental health. However, due to the timeframe, I had to table that feature for the first design round, so that would be a primary objective in the next design round.I also have an interest in creating customized icons for the product that feel closer in style to the absurdist illustrations used. In celebrating the individuality of the users, it feels appropriate to mirror that uniqueness in the visual design as well.All in all, the user testing confirmed that my designs are certainly on the right track, but that additional refinement and testing are needed to finish fleshing out the product, including but not limited to: