Mobile app for ultramarathon runners

An ultramarathon, also called ultra-distance, is any footrace longer than the traditional marathon length of 42.195 kilometers (26.219 mi). The distance requires that runners not only ingest water, but also calories, during the race. It can be difficult keeping track of one’s digestion, energy and water needs during the race. This especially because eating while working out can feel strange at first, and the body’s signals are not always indicating one’s actual need - you can for example feel nauseous but still need to eat.

This project was done as part of a course in prototyping, together with two other interaction design students. The project did not aim to create a final, high-fidelity designed product, but rather explore prototyping and user testing.

Process

Research

The first step in the process was getting to know more about the context and the users. To achieve this we studied articles, blogs and forums about ultramarathon and interviewed ultramarathon runners.

Brainstorming - role and context

Using the brainstorming method, we came up with ideas about what kind of solution there could be to the problem, and how and when it could be applied. The main idea was to give ultramarathon runners something that helped them keep track of their water and calorie need and intake, so that they could focus on running.

Prototyping - role and context

To ensure that we understood the users and their context correctly with our product idea, we developed a role prototype in the form of a storyboard. This prototype was sent out to ultramarathon runners for validation and feedback.

Storyboard

Idea generation - functionality

Using the input from previous phases, we started discussing and sketching on more detailed functionality. We did this using the 6-3-5 method to be able to generate a lot of ideas.

Sketches

Testing - paper prototypes

Simple paper protoypes were tested using “quick and dirty” hallway testing, and then iterated on before doing a first digital, interactive prototype.

Testing - digital prototype

In-depth user tests of the interactive digital prototype were done with ultramarathon runners. The tests showed particularly that for the interface to be able to be used smoothly while running we had to scale down on functionality.

Digital prototype

Refinement and further testing

The prototype was iterated on further to incorporate the results from the previous user tests, and made more high-fidelity to enable us to test not only functionality and usability, but also look more into look and feel. More user tests were then conducted, that showed a big improvement on ease of use from previous tests.

Digital prototype