Tough Mudder has helped thousands tackle their fears and muddy obstacle courses for years. However, competition has grown and we see that Tough Mudder needs to improve runner experience and loyalty to remain successful. My team created a mid-fideltiy iOS app prototype to address these issues.
Challenge: Create a value-added iOS app to increase Tough Mudder repeat participation.
Methods and Tools
Participatory Content Mapping
Two- week student project
The Tough Mudder app was pulled from the Apple store, so we built our best approximation of what it might look like before adding our team-building feature.
Tough Mudder Conceptual iOS App
Usability Testing & Feedback
Usability Testing (3)
Our team wanted to learn from people who:
have participated in Tough Mudder or a similar muddy obstacle course race;
have run at least once and would do so again;
or, have run at least once and do not want to run again;
were willing to discuss their experiences with us.
Our seven screened runners shared their likes, dislikes, and experiences leading up to obstacle races, and we identified common traits in an Miro affinity map, including:
Finding or joining a team is difficult on the Tough Mudder site;
Teamwork and fun are more important than competition;
Most would run again with right support and motivation;
Communication on teams and with organizers is hard.
Once we settled on a team selection and invitation feature, we looked for references. Since our client application was unavailable, we hoped to learn from competitor apps like Spartan Race and Warrior Dash.
Unfortunately, those were either unavailable or not focused on team-building and runner loyalty.
I suggested that we look outside our peer companies for inspiration, especially for apps that facilitate teams and communication. We consulted Meetup and Heja.
Business and Mudder Overlap: Teams
Nearly all of our users spoke to the importance of their teams. Also, they talked about how it's nearly impossible to join teams or invite new runners to your own on the current Tough Mudder website. Increasing team experiences will also benefit Tough Mudder as a whole since runners will encourage each other to return each year and become loyal to the brand. We developed our problem statement and hypothesis to meet both business and user needs:
Tough Mudders need an easier way to join teams before races to increase excitement and preparedness.
We believe that by creating a Tough Mudder iOS app for runners with a team matchmaker, we will increase repeat registration while building a stronger experience for runners. We will measure success by how many people use the app to join and expand teams and the increase in repeat runners.
Design and Testing
Prototype Version 1
Since the app we were supposed to improve had been deleted, my team created a rough framework to augment. We referenced the current Tough Mudder website for color, design, and imagery inspiration, but collaborated on the screens for our team matchmaker feature.
An early design studio exercise helped us explore team homepage ideas and align our goals. The page helped us prioritize features such as images, names, location, skills, and processes.
We also conducted participatory design in a content mapping exercise with two repeat obstacle course runners to learn more about what they valued about the experience: teamwork, fun, and achievement.
The users expressed frustration about registration processes, communication with organizers, and difficulty finding or building teams. We also discussed what the users valued in teammates, which helped us determine ways to filter and select teams. These attributes shaped both the personal and team profiles.
We developed a user journey to clarify our findings and guide our navigation design process.
I created wireframes in Sketch inspired by our research and used Meetup for layout reference.
One of our biggest challenges was creating the navigation system for an incomplete app. We informally tested several styles on users with different colors and icons. We also tried a nontraditional floating menu seen below, but users did not find it intuitive.
Testing and Iteration
We asked three users to test our initial design for our tasks:
Find a team
Request to join
Accept alternative team invitation
While users had some questions about how they could learn more about potential teams, they all completed the tasks without much frustration. They reported an average ease of use score of four out of five.
We did want to improve the team page layout and address questions about runners' profiles, which we addressed in our final iteration.