Walkadoo Derbies for Android
- MeYou Health
- Consumer Wellness
Derbies are a feature of Walkadoo that allows up to seven Walkadoo participants to engage in a friendly, week-long walking contest.
Walkadoo team designed derbies for the web to further boost the amount of steps competitively minded participants walk each day. For derby racers, derbies on the web turned out to be the most social feature of the product, friendly trash talk included.
The Android app was new at the time and did not support derbies yet. It only supported core flows (getting a daily step goal and seeing the step goal history, signing in and out, viewing account settings and participant profiles). The task at hand was to bring derbies to Android. I teamed up with Sim, the sole engineer working on this feature to accomplish that.
Generally, when bringing an existing feature to a new platform, I could afford to invest more effort than usual into crafting the details of interaction and into firmly adhering to conventions of the new platform because I am not as obsessed with discovering and establishing a reasonable performance baseline for the feature. We knew the high-level user flow for derbies on the web and we had information about its adoption and engagement. We expected similar, if not better, usage patterns on Android given its unique capabilities like push notifications.
I mapped out several flows that define this feature. These are flows to:
- create a new derby
- join an existing derby via invitation
- browse public derbies and join one
- see how my derby is going and how I compare to others
- comment on, reply to, and read derby comments
- get notified of final results when my derby is finished
I decided to focus on numbers 1, 4, 5, and 6.
Starting a Derby
Interactions for commenting presented a particular challenge. Space constraints on mobile made it difficult to fit essential derby info, race track with majority of racers, the comment thread, and a keyboard all in one! The usual solution when all elements will not fit on a single screen is to introduce more screens but one of my priorities was preserving a sense of context. If I am commenting, for example on how I am on the heels of another racer, it is helpful to see the distance between us while typing a comment (whether that distance is communicated symbolically or represented literally). Static mockups were not up to the task. To show how commenting interactions would all work on one screen, I had to level up and create an interactive prototype.
One fun part of derbies is the choice of cute characters that represent racers on the track. Choosing a character seemed like a perfect opportunity to use animation and turn the chore of needing to make a choice into a moment of mini delight. Sim really enjoyed implementing these transitions.
Push notifications were a huge deal! Because a derby created this week will not start until next week, I might forget I am participating if I am not reminded. The same goes for seeing who won, the results of a finished derby being announced on a fixed interval. Knowing when conversation are taking place is inherently engaging. We knew invitations to derbies would make excellent use of push notifications. Unlimited number of invitations that a participant could send combined with a limited number of racers allowed for a possibility of derby being full if I did not respond to an invitation in a timely manner. There was a clear value in getting invitations instantly. I decided to take it a step further and notify the derby organizer back whenever one of their Walkadoo connections accepted a derby invitation. That one turned out especially gratifying in use. We were highlighting an intrinsic reward for creating derbies, having others agree to take part.
We saw the Walkadoo app become more sticky among Android users because derbies offered new and changing content in the app. Because participants received their daily step goals via push notifications or email, opening the app did not serve much purpose. Derbies provided a reason to actually use the app. Push notifications were big! They stimulated a flurry of social activity within a derby and allowed participants to respond to derby invitations instantly.