How Improving Feedback From the Interface Can Make the Ride More Enjoyable
With stores popping up in malls across America, and ads all over tv, it's been hard to miss Peloton's arrival. Their high tech fitness bike has a 22'' touch screen that streams live classes. During the ride, the interface provides speed and calories burned. Afterward, users discover if they've earned a badge for milestones like their 50th, 100th, 150th ride. These badges appear at the end of the ride, and they don’t provide any real sense of delight.
If the rider is reaching a milestone, they may also receive a "shout-out." A shout-out is when an instructor calls out a rider's screen name during the session. They wait to take such rides live with their favorite instructors, and whether or not they get a shout-out impacts how they feel:
My son got the BEST shoutout in this ride!! He is still grinning ear to
- J.L., Facebook Group
Didn’t get a milestone shout out and am super bummed (what has my life turned to that this upsets me).
- A.S., Facebook Group
Peloton has over 1 million active users, and as class sizes grow it’s becoming more difficult to get a shout-out. How can Peloton set riders’ expectations for their chances of getting one? If users don’t get a shout-out, how can Peloton still make them feel celebrated? That is what I set out to explore with this case study.
Note: I do not work for, nor am I affiliated with Peloton. I did this UX case study because I am a product designer who loves to solve problems, and the Peloton bike is one of my favorite products.
Many at-home riders are deeply disappointed when they don't get a shout-out during their milestone rides. This leaves them feeling let down and disconnected from the experience.
I interviewed several Peloton riders, and conducted some good old fashioned online research. I determined riders fall into three categories of people who:
Have kids, but can’t go to the gym and leave them home alone.
Have suffered an illness or injury and want a low impact workout solution.
Work out at home for the convenience (no commute, no strict schedule).
This was a passion project I created because I love finding ways to improve products that I use. I am responsible for all that follows.
The scope of this project covered two goals:
Figure out how to set riders’ expectations about getting shout-outs.
How to make their accomplishments feel celebrated if they don't get one.
To arrive at the solutions, I created the following deliverables for this project:
I followed IDEO’s Human-Centered Design process to generate the deliverables below.
The research brought how passionate people are about the shout-outs to life:
Bummed that my 100th ride this morning was with DENNIS at 6am
and he was hoarse from too much partying at the HRI so he gave no shout outs 😥.
-D.B., Facebook group
Just finished my 100th ride! No shout out yet 50 or 100 (and I even tried to strategically take it during week mid day ride in hopes less people than weekend)...but proud of myself anyway.
- B.S., Facebook group
Is it weird to take a class in the front row at the Mothership, get a shout out and then take the class on demand so that you can get the shout out again? Asking for a friend.
- A.N., Facebook group
When I originally set out to do this project, I hypothesized that people bought the bike because they:
Had a weight loss or fitness goal in mind
Loved fitness technology
Liked indoor cycling classes, but couldn't find times that worked for them
But what I discovered through the research and interviews, is that the reasons are far more nuanced:
I used to ride a road bike, but kept falling off after I developed Parkinson’s disease.
- Rhonda F.
My husband and I were both having issues with exercise wearing on
- Kim T.
Many of the people in the Facebook group posted about the bike allowing them to get fit, while keeping an eye on their kids. Everyone had a weight loss goal in mind, but they all had different, more meaningful reasons for getting the bike. Based on that information, I created 3 provisional personas:
Claire is a 37-year-old tech lover. She didn't get a shout-out for her 250th ride, and wishes the bike's interface gave more congratulatory feedback.
Olivia is a 28 year-old working mom. She never does live rides, and
appreciates the milestone badges. She’s focused on getting in shape for
her high school reunion.
Joe is a 49-year-old injured former athlete. He got a shout-out for his 150th ride, and is hoping to get one on his 200th ride next week.
Our hero, Claire Output, just finished her 349th class. The bike notifies her that her next milestone ride is coming up. It then guides her through scheduling a live ride to celebrate it.
Imagining this story helped me come up with additional scenarios. For example, some riders only take on-demand classes. They may not care about shout-outs, but they might appreciate a celebration for their milestones.
It got me thinking about what other companies like Apple and FitBit do. Apple has rings that sparkle and close when you complete a goal. FitBit’s screen displays fireworks. It’s feedback like this (also known as microinteractions) that make devices seem more fun and human to users.
After thinking through the different solutions, I created the following
When I approach a milestone, I want the interface to show my progress, so that I am motivated to continue towards it.
When I reach a milestone, I want the interface to notify me, so that I can schedule a live ride and get a shout-out from my favorite instructor.
When I reach a milestone during an on demand ride, I want the bike to give me more than just a badge, so that I still feel like I’m being celebrated.
Prototyping In Axure
I wanted the solution to fit seamlessly within the existing experience. Currently, after each ride you can review different aspects of the class with a star-based rating system. Those appear in modal windows, so I determined that this notification pop-up could appear immediately after the ratings. This would prevent users from missing them. From there, I thought through the messaging and what the scheduling screen could look like.
Testing & Validation with Usability Hub
I was concerned that non-technical testers would be confused by the wireframes. So for the validation phase, I created a high-fidelity prototype. This also made it more realistic for people already familiar with the bike. The pictures I took of the bike's interface had glare from the glass screen, so I recreated the design from scratch in Sketch. I then devised a remote test with UsabilityHub. The experiment provided many great insights, mainly around:
How soon/often riders would want reminders for upcoming milestones.
How valuable the % chance of a shout-out notification would be.
In the absence of the shout-out, they would like something else to make the occasion feel special.
Based on the findings, I then made revisions to the prototype to address two issues:
Some testers didn't understand the schedule when it was organized by the instructor, rather than by time.
Other testers were confused by the confirmation message.
To remedy the schedule, I made a filter option that turns the background of the schedule cards green, yellow, or red depending on the chance of shout-out. This made it easier for users to scan the page and quickly find their ideal class.
The feedback also made it simple to come up with a workflow. Initially, I thought that a single notification on the last ride before a milestone would be ample warning for the riders. However, on average, the testers wanted it to be on a 5, 3, and 1 ride cycle. This means that they would see the notifications and have the ability to accept or dismiss the reminders. On the last ride before the milestone, they'd be prompted to sign up for the live ride.
Birthday Message Concepts
I had a lot of fun iterating on the birthday ideas. The idea is to have each instructor create a set of custom birthday message. The user would see it automatically after their ride. If they don't get a birthday shout-out, this may turn their disappointment into delight.
Automated Message Validation
The feedback I got on this messaging makes it seem like it would be well-received. Three out of the five people tested thought it might help to cheer them up if they were disappointed for not receiving a shout-out. Even the two people that said they would still feel sad saw the message as a nice gesture. Peloton currently has no messaging or badges for birthday rides, so even this small token would be a step in the right direction.
Animations Made With Principle
It was finally time to put the finishing touches on the mock-ups, and create some sample animations. For the milestone, I added confetti and balloons. This is intended to lift peoples’ spirits in case they don’t get a shout-out, or are taking an on-demand ride.
Outcome & Lessons
Peloton has an incredibly loyal and diverse user base. It’s not easy for them to make every rider feel special with a shout-out. However, the validation research indicates that:
A custom message after a milestone would help ease their disappointment.
Microinteractions (e.g. the animated confetti) will make the interface seem more human and fun.
Adding these game-like elements to the interface would help Peloton make a great experience even better.