UX Design
Business Model Validation
My role
Working with this small team of three, I played a central role in decisions regarding the start-up’s direction. I owned the research process, branding & UX.
Collin Stewart
Jason Logsdon
Jerry Situ
Project Details
Athlon is a passion project that began at my previous workplace. Predictable Revenue’s CEO, Collin, used to run company-wide fitness competitions as a way of promoting balance & healthy lifestyles. But the competition format didn’t appeal to everyone, so we wondered if we could design better games to get different kinds of people moving.
Some people have no problem maintaining fitness habits; they’re internally driven, meaning they enjoy the activity, or the health benefits are motivation enough to get them moving. But not everyone is like this; many of us rely on external motivation to get us out the door, and it can come in many forms, including social pressure, community, or gamification.
There are times when external motivators change due to life circumstances, like moving away and losing your gym buddy or getting too busy to attend your usual group workouts. How can we make exercise a fun and sustainable habit, even during moments when external motivators fail?
When I joined Predictable Revenue, the CEO, Collin had been running company-wide internal fitness competitions. They used low-fidelity spreadsheets that pulled data from everyone’s Strava and assigned points. They were engaging for some people but not for others, and their high intensity meant that they were the kind of competition to run once every quarter but not more regularly. Although they only lasted two weeks, many participants noted that participating helped them kick-start some habits that they managed to maintain for a few weeks longer.
This sparked our curiosity and got us thinking about designing games to encourage and maintain fitness habits. But before doing this, we needed to understand the different relationships people have with fitness.
Day In the Life Interviews

We began our research by talking to people with varied activity levels, from athletes to couch potatoes. We asked them to tell us about their physical activities and go into the when, how, & why. We also talked about their goals, what helped habits stick and what challenges they were facing.

Typically, as activity levels increase there are fewer people in each category.

“If I had to put a number to it I would say 20-30% of people will do something they don’t enjoy on their own.” - Gina, Athlete & Trainer
“The only reason I got a Peloton was to compete against my buddy.” - Ethan, Casual Competitive
“I don’t always want to workout, but I’m always happy I did.” - Rob, Casual Participant
“You can’t compete every day. It's mostly the community and collaboration that gets me out there.” - Juliet, Athlete
“I’m looking for guidance, not competition.” - Alex, Amateur Athlete
“When I cycle or run with my friend, I can go very far and not get bored.” - David, Occasional Participant
Having spoken to all these people, we decided to narrow our focus to the lower purple half of the pyramid (Casual Competitive, Casual Participants, and Occasional Participants). While the upper half, Amateaur Athletes and Athletes also note the social aspects are essential, sport is a larger part of their lives, so they have established communities that serve this purpose.
Most importantly, people in this group had motivation and consistency problems that athletes had already resolved.
found motivation or maintaining consistency to be their weakness
mentioned community / social aspect was effective motivation
were consistently involved in a sport / community
Based on 50+ interviews with target group.
Motivation and maintaining consistency were the most common issues among the group, and the majority didn’t have a long-term solution. There are tons of tools out there that can address these issues, including Apple Rings, Nike Training Club, Strava, etc.. Still, they are all usually siloed into specific activities, technology, or geared towards higher levels of intensity.
There was an opportunity to create community & fun around any activity, thereby solving the motivation and consistency problem for people who need a different external motivator.
Having spoken to many in this large group, we created personas that summarized key motivations, frustrations, and goals.
We hypothesized that Amir types, whose social lives are strongly tied to sports, would be an early adopter crowd. Even though they are generally satisfied with how active they are, they get the most value out of feeling connected to their friends. They would likely invite old friends (like Robert) to play. Robert types aren't satisfied with their activity level but aren't doing much to change it. Thinking of working out feels like a stressful chore; therefore, receiving an invitation to a game where you've got to earn your moves by being active helps them reframe exercise as a fun & rewarding activity.
With that in mind, we asked ourselves:
How might we help reframe, encourage and maintain exercise habits for those struggling with motivation?
How might we build on social aspects that make exercising more engaging to provide accountability?


Most people do some exercise because they know it’s good for them but few possess the willpower to be consistent without external stimuli.

Job To Be Done

Build a tool that helps people exercise more by solving the following:
Help me build healthy exercise habits
Help me maintain healthy exercise habits

Coherent Actions

Test out adding gamification, social and competitive layers to people’s exercise data as motivators to get people to do more.
First Iterations
We created a low-fidelity, social and competitive game that would allow us to test how users would behave while playing it. It was our first time making a game, so we conducted several rounds of experiments and tests with real users to nail down the dynamics and scoring system.
Game mechanics

All exercise is tracked through Strava or Fitbit and automatically syncs to Athlon. The game is a two-week competition. At the end of every day, the team with the most minutes in each category earns points and moves up the standings.

The game dynamics and scoring weren't perfect, but we were more interested in testing whether it impacted people's habits. Was this a sound way to solve our main Job to be Done?
After ironing out the kinks, we got very positive feedback from our users.
“By the end of this competition I’ll be in better shape than I have in years” - Dan J
“For the first time in 15 years, my wife said, ‘Let’s go for a run’.” - Jason L
“I hadn’t gone on a swim in years, but I went twice this week.” - Karl H
The game was effective. We observed that users who participated remained more active for about 2-3 weeks after the competition was over. Then only about half maintained the same level of activity.
But our game was highly competitive and demanding; after running several games back to back, our users weren't as engaged. This made us begin to think of Athlon as a platform with a variety of games of different intensities and pace, rather than one core competition.
Visual Identity
The first steps in developing the visual identity involved several workshops with the team, during which I used exercises like the visual compass below to inform the visual direction.
B&W Iterations

I began the branding process by creating a logo. Having done the branding matrix, it was clear that the logo should indicate activity & movement while also feeling approachable and fun. It was more about community than it was about performance.

I tried out typefaces with a balance of sharp and rounded geometry, and paired them with several forms that hinted at dynamic movement and community.

After consulting with the team and testing several concepts, we agreed on a direction. The final form hints at the community aspect using the circular shape. The two sharp lines suggest competition, as if they are racing each other to form a discreet outline of a capital letter A.

Having a simple and clean form for the logo meant that other graphic elements could be more expressive. After all, our games are silly in nature and we wanted the platform to feel just as fun and low stakes. Our platform would have many opportunities for users to interact with a virtual competitor or coach, so I created Ace, our mascot, to fill this role.

Current Product
As we ran more tests with users, our product offering evolved into a platform with various games and social features. Having different kinds of games on the platform allows users to discover new game modes and maintain a higher level of novelty and engagement.
Multiplayer games like “Last Supper” are perfect for people like Amir to invite their friends on to the platform. Solo games are designed to keep users active in between social games.
Multiplayer games like “Last Supper” are perfect for people like Amir to invite their friends on to the platform. Solo games are designed to keep users active in between social games.
Games suitable for all

We created several different games that encourage different intensities of activity. Some games are solo challenges intended to keep habits up in between social games. Others involve larger teams or just one friend you have an ongoing feud with.

Most importantly, any exercise counts, and most games have low time commitments to begin with, lowering entry barriers for users that are establishing habits.

Game launchers display player's status
Feed highlights friend's wins or losses
Users are prompted to try new games that may suit their style of activity.
A fitness community based on fun, not performance

Many of our users don't think of themselves as "athletes". But they still show up and put in the work. Most fitness apps are about performance, so they don't feel like welcoming communities to our users. By creating more casual exercise experiences, we're able to help establish habits that feel fun instead of intimidating.

Our dashboard reflects more of the silliness & fun by focusing our social feed on game outcomes rather than the exercise behind them. The games section is where users launch games and get a snapshot of how they're performing.

User has earned 10 shorts by logging their exercise.
Sinking a piece of equipment
Sharing to smack talk their opponent ;)
Silly game experiences, sassy smack talk

A great example of how whimsical Athlon games are is Battleshorts, an exercise-themed remake of the game Battleship. To cover your opponent in dirty laundry, you've got to exercise. You'll earn shorts based on how long you exercise.

This game format is short and sweet, usually resulting in a winner after two or three long workouts. Its competitive nature and built-in triggers make it hard to put down, encouraging re-match after re-match.

Possible Monetization Strategies
As we built the platform, two things became clear:
1. We're able to rapidly create and test games.
2. Users find the games fun and engaging.
But while we have many game ideas, we're still determining how to launch, scale, and monetize this product. A few potential strategies are outlined below.

B2C Premium Subscriptions

Individual Athlon power users
Upgrade your Athlon experience. More games, better games, bigger groups, etc
Price point
$5-15 / month
*Even if this isn’t the business model that we initially focus on, it's likely we’ll grow this offering alongside.

B2B HR Employee Events

Companies with over X employees
Every inactive employee costs your company $1313 in health care expenditures. You can lower insurance premiums if you provide a certain amount of health benefits.
  1. Custom monthlong Athlon event. May be a single game or multiple games that all your employees can participate in with leaderboards and community baked in.
  2. Recurring annual games. Rotating league that all your employees can participate.
Price point
$5-15 / month per user

B2B Business Support for Gyms, Trainers...

Gyms, trainers, clubs, influencers - anyone selling coaching, training or classes
You need to stand out from the other services with a unique offering and to show your value. People look to you to stay fit but exercising can suck and clients don't do it unless you are there with them. By providing Athlon with your service clients will train their motivation, move more and find more value in your services.
Customizable and brand-able Athlon games that you can create and run on your own with as large of a group as you need. Stats and game modes are focused around your actual offering and designed to meet the needs of your customers. Access to data of your customers about how they have been moving.
Price point
$100 / year to $10,000 a year depending on size of business
Athlon Today
Athlon is an ongoing side project. We continue to test & refine game modes with users. In the meantime, we're working on testing the market and finding the right customer for this product. To do this, we're speaking to people in each potential customer group, gauging interest, and offering trials. Once we're confident we've found the right customer for the concept, we'll consider committing more resources to the project.
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UX Design