Best practices to visualize activity data in mobile apps
Physical activity and exercise are essential factors to live a healthy life. Fitness trackers have great potential to assist individuals in making healthy changes to their lifestyle. A variety of fitness trackers are available in the market such as fitness apps based on mobile platform, wearable sensors (e.g. smartwatch, armband, wristband), balancing boards (e.g. Wii fit) etc. In this thesis, the focus is on fitness apps based on mobile platform. These apps provide different information and features to the user such as a summary of the physical activity performed, feedback of the activity (e.g. through virtual trainer), exercise plans according to the user's workout routine, user's achievements and many more. Also, fitness apps aim to present a lot of statistical data to the users regarding their current or previous physical activity which may range from days to years. To visualize this data, visual designs such as maps, graphs, images are used. However, very little is known about such visualization schemes and design strategies for fitness data w.r.t engaging users. Furthermore, it is important to know if the provided features in the app are useful. The main objective of this study is to evaluate different visualization schemes used in visualizing fitness data and to explore usability requirements, motivating factors for using mobile fitness apps. For this purpose, a profound research is done in three phases. The first phase focuses on finding expectations of a user from fitness app through a short primary survey in University Gym, the second phase includes designing an extensive user survey and fitness app mock-ups based on the survey findings in the first phase. In the third phase, the designed mock-ups are evaluated by means of the user survey designed in second phase and the survey results are analyzed using statistical test. The study reveals that users find some visualization schemes very useful whereas they do not prefer some visualization schemes at all. Same is the case observed for motivational features e.g. ranking, rewards and other functionalities of the app e.g. workout summary, nutrition information. This thesis concludes with best practices for designing visualization schemes and analysis of user requirements for mobile fitness applications such as integrated feedback, home screen design of the app and some features like data sharing, data export etc. These findings show the way to develop highly usable fitness applications with user-centric design.
Darmstadt, TU, Master Thesis, 2017