Methods of how athletes communicate with their coach
TrainingPeaks is the world-leading coaching platform for endurance athletes and coaches to communicate and collaborate together. Coaches can write, plan, and analyze training plans for so they can reach their training and racing goals. Coaches and athletes can access the platform through desktop, tablet, and mobile.
My case study is about creating a way for coaches and athletes to communicate more effectively by adding a messaging feature to the TrainingPeaks platform, focusing primarily on the app-based platform first.
Research and Design Goals:
Design goal 1: understand users (both athletes and coaches) and how they currently communicate with athletes; Objective: create a research-backed task flow that benefits both user types.
Design goal 2: define problem; Objective: define parameters for adding the messaging feature to the existing TrainingPeaks app platform that works both in desktop and mobile.
Design goal 3: Prototype Testing; Objective: Design and test a prototype on users to identify issues and test easy of use
Design goal 4: deliver high-fidelity mockups to developers; Objective: have a product that is well defined and tested for developers to implement onto the TrainingPeaks platform
Secondary research, a competitive analysis, and user types
This was conducted early in the research phase in order to to understand the coaching platform market, analyze our competitors, and identify key users for these types of platforms.
A survey was conducted to get a basic understanding of what platforms people are using for coaching and how they communicate with coaches, athletes, and teams.
Participants (Age 18-60)
Coaches who use TrainingPeaks
Athletes who use TrainingPeaks
Coaches who use a competing platform
Athletes who use a competing platform
Athlete Primary Findings
Total Participants: 16
10 on TrainingPeaks
6 on Final Surge
Digital platforms were the leading method of communication. Texting was unanimously used followed closely by communication through comments in the app.
Coach Primary Findings
Total Participants: 7
Platform: 100% of survey takers are on TrainingPeaks
Like the athletes surveyed, digital platforms were the leading method of communication. Texting was unanimously used followed closely by communication through comments in the app and email.
From the survey, I selected four coaches, two of which also coach a group of athletes, to gain a better understanding of their specific needs and frustrations. I was able to identify several key features that would need be included in the messaging feature in order for coaches to adopt it.
The most notable frustration was wanting the ability to star or tag specific parts of a conversation within a message thread. This could prevent information getting lost in a messaging thread.
Most saw the advantage of the office hours aspect. Coaches with other jobs outside of coaching didn’t think they would use it because their schedules fluctuate so much. But the career coach could see it helping help balance personal and professional life.
Most would like the ability to share a workout within a conversation.
One wanted the ability to share photos.
All saw the benefit of centralizing communications with their athletes if they coached over 30-50+ athletes. Only one interview participant has this many athletes.
For this feature, I focused on the career coach with 30+ athletes.
A centralized way to coach and communicate with her athletes to help her stay more organized.
A platform to communicate with her athletes that is easy to use for both her and her athletes.
A way highlight and save important pieces of information in her conversations with her athletes.
Places open communication with her athletes as a top priority.
She has allowed for too many ways that her athletes can communicate with her and she struggles to organize her thoughts and separate her personal life from her professional life.
Main Task Flow
This task flow focuses on the primary task of sending a message to a user or users. This task flow also includes the action of saving a message to a conversation thread.
Messaging Feature Sitemap
This sitemap helped guide me in creating the wireframes and prototype for the messaging feature. By creating this, it narrowed down the required pages and paths that users would take to complete the most important tasks.
Using the current TrainingPeaks UI, I developed wireframes for the messaging feature within the TrainingPeaks App.
"Peaks" was replaced with the Messaging button in the bottom navigator. Messages also has a notification indicator in the top navigator bar.
Messages feature models many popular messaging and texting platforms in order to create an intuitive experience for all users.
Screens created to focus on specific task:
New Home Screen
Messaging Main Screen
Search for users to add to conversation
Add user(s) to the conversation
Add text to a message
Add a photo to a message
Prototype tests were conducted on target users to assess the ease of use and of the TrainingPeaks Messaging Feature in order to complete the most used task flows.
Test the usability of the new TrainingPeaks messaging feature
Make sure the flow is easy to navigate
Ensure the messaging feature is intuitive
Ensure the tutorial explains how to use messaging feature and save a message
4 Participants were recruited through my coaching and social network. All tests are conducted over Google Hangouts, sharing their screen as they walk me through their designated tasks.
Tasks for Users:
Task 1: Go through the tutorial
Task 2: From messaging main screen, explore profile and more
Task 3: From messaging main screen, create a new message with Edith Harrison and Mary Miller. Type and send message. Add a picture of Central Park to the message thread. Back out to main message screen.
Task 4: From messaging main screen, view conversation with Sam Jones. Save the message at the top of the page. Go into Saved messages with the conversation with Sam and delete the message from Aug 10. Back out to main messaging screen.
Task 5: From messaging main screen, delete the conversation with Daniel Stevens.
4/4 users found sending messages easy and intuitive
4/4 users weren’t able to fully complete the final task because there was an error in the flow for the 5th task
3/4 users tried to click on the name of a user when adding them to a message thread rather than the plus button. They eventually hit the plus but intuitively it wasn’t their first click
3/4 users tried to click buttons in the bottom navigator that did not work (message, specifically)
2/4 users tied to click the arrow on the top backwards navigator which was not clickable rather than the text
1/4 users was confused by the steps to save a messages
Solutions moving forward after initial usability testing:
Make the message bottom navigator buttons clickable and capable of navigating to the main messaging page on all pages
Added confirmation page to saved message feature
Fixed the delete message thread flow error
Made the name of adding a user clickable in addition to the plus sign
Tutorial was updated to explain the minor update to the saved messages flow
Summary and Lessons Learned
The research process taught me to analyze and understand how athletes and coaches communicate currently and helped me identify key features, such as saved messages and the ability to add images to a message thread.
Through constructing the sitemap for the messaging feature and mapping out the user flow, I was able to identify the most important pages needed to start message threads, start group messages, and save messages to a conversation thread.
Wireframes laid the base for developing my prototype and helped me identify what pages were most important and how I wanted them to look.
Through my prototype testing, I was able to identify crucial flow patterns that I had not initially mapped and include them so using the app is intuitive, easy to navigate, and a pleasure to use.