Jefit Redesign

A redesign of one of the most popular weightlifting apps on both the iOS and Google app stores.

Since 2013, I’ve dabbled in dozens of fitness apps, all claiming to make their users fitter, healthier, and better-looking. Some of them, like The 7 Minute Workout and Freeletics, have taken the approach of creating a routine for users to follow religiously. Other fitness apps allow users to track their own progress, whether it be runs (MapMyRun and RunKeeper), food (Lose It, MyFitnessPal), lifts (StrongLifts 5x5 and GymBuddy) or anything in between.

Just a small sample from the multitude of fitness apps available on the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store

Just a small sample from the multitude of fitness apps available on the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store

An Analysis of the Health & Fitness Industry

The health and fitness app industry is highly fragmented in 2018. Companies are attempting to capture larger shares of the market from segments that had previously been unexplored or unprofitable. Rising trends include specialty training facilities that cater to a particular niche (spin bikes, boxing, yoga), fitness programs for older adults and the elderly, and workout apps that allow gym-goers to work out in their own homes¹.

Regardless of these new trends, Americans are still continuing to purchase traditional gym memberships. Since 2010, the total number of memberships purchased at fitness centers and health clubs in the United States has increased by 14% and is expected to grow until 2021. These gym memberships generally include facilities and services ordinarily found in typical gyms, including cardio machines, weight rooms, sports courts, personal training, and group exercise spaces. However, many newer and more upscale health clubs house amenities such as cafes, child-care services, lounges, and spas.

Total number of memberships at fitness centers and health clubs in the United States have been steadily increasing

Graph taken from Statista

Background on Jefit

Jefit is a mobile fitness application that exists for both Android and iOS devices. They also have a web app, Android Smartwatch app, and an Apple watch app, which are all ancillary to their mobile applications. The company was founded in 2010 with the goal of becoming the ultimate personal training and workout tracker for individuals looking for that extra motivation to get back into the gym and achieve their fitness goals. With over 7.3 million downloads and more than 5 million registered users to date, Jefit is one of the predominant fitness trackers in the industry. Not only has their app streamlined and facilitated how gym-goers track their lifts and progress, but their team has created a platform for users to interact with other fitness enthusiasts as well. This social aspect of their platform has allowed them to grow at a more rapid rate than similar competitors in the industry.

Jefit's variety of platforms: web, phone, smartwatch

Screenshot taken from the [Jefit homepage](https://www.jefit.com/?target=blank) displaying the variety of platforms they support.

Although Jefit allows users to track aerobic exercises such as running, biking, and cycling, the primary purpose of the platform is to allow users to log anaerobic exercises. With a database of over 1,300 different exercises along with helpful videos and descriptions for each exercise, Jefit allows users the ability to browse and add exercises to custom workouts they can create. Users also have the ability to share these pre-defined workouts with other users on the platform.

Jefit currently offers three different tiers of membership:

I’ve been using Jefit for the past year and a half, and upgraded to the Pro version a few months in using the platform. Although I don’t consider myself a “serious” lifter, I initially figured that I went to the gym often enough each week that I should track my weightlifting metrics and make an attempt to improve my level of fitness. Since I’ve started tracking on Jefit, my lifts have personally gone up significantly, and I feel stronger and more confident.

Research: Understanding & Empathizing with How Users Track Lifts and Use Jefit

When I initially came up with the idea to analyze and redesign Jefit platform, I wanted to get in touch with the Jefit team to see if I could obtain any metrics or internal analytics that would help me understand their current platform. A member of their team responded and said they would forward my request for additional data over to their executive team, but after a few weeks, I received a response stating that they currently do not have any plans to make their data public.

Therefore, I decided to conduct an analysis of their platform through four qualitative and quantitative sources — personal experiences, interviews, forums, and app reviews on the Google Play and App Stores.

Jefit's response to my inquiry for my data

The response that the Jefit team sent back to me after I requested additional information about their app

Therefore, I decided to conduct an analysis of their platform through four qualitative and quantitative sources — personal experiences, interviews, forums, and app reviews on the Google Play and App Stores.

1. Personal Experience

My personal experience of using Jefit for the past year and a half has generally been positive. Using Jefit to track my lifts has allowed me to quantify my weekly workout sessions and help me understand whether or not I have been making progress in the gym. This is particularly helpful because I create custom workout sessions that consist of a set number of exercises and target specific parts of my body. In addition, having logs helps remind me how much weight I lifted during my last session so I don’t have to constantly recall what I did the week prior.

The workout screen (left) allows a user to pick a workout day and the individual workout screen (right) shows all the corresponding exercises for that session.

The workout screen (left) allows a user to pick a workout day and the individual workout screen (right) shows all the corresponding exercises for that session.

The app promotes a social component through the integration of Facebook, a user’s contacts list, or a Jefit user’s username. However, because I don’t know many people in real life that use Jefit, I don’t use that aspect of the platform very frequently. In addition to allowing users to add and follow friends on the platform, Jefit also creates charts and reports that track a variety of metrics. These metrics include weight lifted over time, a breakdown of which body parts have been trained the most, strength & endurance assessments that compare users to other users on the platform between a specific age range. Similarly, I don’t use these charts because they are inaccurate and difficult to configure.

2. Interviews

Although I did not have access to many users that use Jefit on a regular basis, I was able to find and interview four users who use the app on a regular basis. From these four interviews, I asked a variety of qualitative and quantitative questions about their lifting experiences, exercise goals, existing routines, and their thoughts around Jefit.

8 scripted interview questions asked to four users

8 Scripted Interview Questions Asked

Although a sample set of four interviews is not enough to make any definitive conclusions, I found that these four users shared similar goals, motivations, and pain points. These are some of the conclusions that were consistently repeated throughout the four interviews I conducted.

Final affinity map with motivations, pain points, current processes, and technical challenges users faced

Final Affinity Map with Insights from Four Jefit Users

Weightlifting Forums

To understand how others use the platform, an overarching question I asked myself was: “What goals and motivations drive people to use Jefit?”. The term “weightlifter” can be very general. At one extreme, there are complete beginners that lift infrequently for the purpose of “toning” their muscles and learning the correct form for various exercises. At the other extreme, there are veterans who are serious about weightlifting; this group competes in competitions and diligently tracks their exercise regimens and body measurements. Between these two groups, how do we find a balance that allows users from both extremes to have a great experience using Jefit?

I decided to explore three primary forums where people voice their opinions about Jefit — the Jefit forums, bodybuilding.com, and reddit.com/r/fitness. Each one of these forums holds different angles, though very subtle.

Users on the Jefit forums are more knowledgeable about the application and are able to highlight pain points that users on the other two forums might overlook. Many active Jefit users turn to the forums to request additional features or bug fixes. In addition, these users have to make public accounts in order to create or respond to a post, showing how long they have been using Jefit for. Nearly all the pain points that were addressed in my user interviews were addressed in one post or another on the Jefit forums.

Conversely, those who post about Jefit on bodybuilding.com and reddit.com/r/fitness are less focused on the platform, but rather, more focused on how Jefit can help them achieve their personalized fitness goals. Both Reddit/fitness and bodybuilding.com provide a broader view of the fitness industry compared to the Jefit forums; as a result, I was only able to glean a few pain points and wants based on discussions between users on how to use the app to log their workouts.

App Store and Google Play Scraper

Using two scrapers found on Github by user Facundoolano, I was able to analyze reviews for Jefit on both the iOS App Store and the Android Google Play Store. Using these reviews, I wanted to see what type of issues people were running into and how they were using Jefit.

Two word clouds from the App Store and Google Play Store with the most common words

Two word clouds generated from reviews (ranked by most helpful) from the iOS App Store and the Google Play Store. The one on the left is for the App Store and the one on the right is for the Google Play store.

Ratings for Jefit on both app stores. iOS App Store ratings (top) and Google Play store ratings (bottom).

Ratings for Jefit on both app stores. iOS App Store ratings (top) and Google Play store ratings (bottom).

I wanted to first understand users’ overall sentiments of both apps. Two word clouds of the most recent 400 reviews from both the App Store and Google Play Store reveal an overall positive sentiment, praising Jefit for its usefulness and abundance of features. Words like “easy, great, good, and love” take center stage and the majority of users rate both apps a five out of five. This is commensurate with the ratings given to both apps, both scoring high marks on both stores.

Although users are rating the app highly, I wanted to dig deeper and understand what users’ goals were and how users used the platform. When I sorted the reviews by helpfulness, many users (even those that rated the app highly) criticize the app for not being user-friendly or intuitive to use.

Quotations taken from both app stores

Defining Conclusions from Research

After reviewing these four sources of research, I came to several main conclusions and pain points that users were running into. Based on the frequency and importance of each pain point identified, I’ve prioritized the list from most important to least important and have also displayed the source(s) of where these issues have been addressed most often.

Pain points identified by users

To help me better understand who I am designing for, I’ve crafted two different personas for what types of users would use Jefit.

Two personas created to help me understand the motivations and pain points of archetypal Jefit users.

Creating these two personas helped guide me in understanding users’ underlying motivations and which pain points were most important to them.

Understanding the Users’ Current Workflows

From the personas created and top pain points identified, it appears the steps for adding and logging an exercise are the most difficult to understand. In order to add and log an exercise, a user must first find the exercise in the system; if the exercise does not exist, they must first create the exercise before logging it.

User flow to get to log an exercise

To get to the screen to allow a user to either log or add an exercise, a user must navigate through a variety of different screens, which are all not intuitive to understand.

Design: Analyzing and Tackling the Top Two Pain Points

To understand how users use the platform, I interviewed ten total people from my local gym and observed how they performed two different tasks on the app. I divided these ten people in two separate groups of five, with the first group acting as the control group that would interact with the current platform. The second group was the experimental group I used to worked with to test an updated prototype that was created based off of observations and feedback from the first group. In order to pick as diverse a group as possible, I chose interviewees that differed in age, gender, lifting experience, and lifting intensity. These four factors were the ones I felt were the most important in helping me attract a diverse group.

Pain Point 1: Users have trouble discovering how to create custom exercises

The ability to create custom exercises is highly desired by power users. For the majority of users on Jefit, the 1300+ exercises on the platform are sufficient and make up most of the workouts that users complete on a regular basis. However, certain users occasionally want to create their own custom exercises, which might include specific exercises focused on training for a particular sport, unweighted exercises for improving flexibility and balance, or cardio activities not currently listed on the platform.

An initial analysis of the current user flow to add custom exercises reveals that users have to navigate to an individual exercise page in order to create a custom exercise.

The intended flow for adding a custom exercise involves navigating to three separate screens before reaching the “Add a New Exercise Page”

The intended flow for adding a custom exercise involves navigating to three separate screens before reaching the “Add a New Exercise Page”

Takeaways from the scripted usability tests I conducted at my local gym yielded the following results and resulted a few changes to the interface to simplify interaction for users.

Before and after views of the exercise and search screens

Before and after views of the exercise and search screens

By moving the search bar to the top of the screen, this eliminates the need for an additional click before searching. In addition, the add button in the lower right corner of the screen reduces the amount of ambiguity in how to create a custom exercise.

Pain Point 2: Searching for exercises is not intuitive and difficult to figure out.

For most users creating a new workout regimen, the ability to find and add exercises to particular workouts is a very important step. The current search functionality requires a user to sift through a large database of exercises by entering a vague search term that may or may not match the user’s search query. If the exercise that a user is looking for does not contain the search term verbatim, the user will be unable to find the exercise. In addition, users are also tasked with having to decode a set of ambiguous filters and icons.

The current intended flow for searching for exercises and applying filters to a particular search.

The current intended flow for searching for exercises and applying filters to a particular search.

A look at the complex list of icons that Jefit shows users to filter a search.

A look at the complex list of icons that Jefit shows users to filter a search.

Results from the scripted usability tests yielded the following insights and design changes:

Before and after views of the search screen and search filters

Before and after views of the search screen and search filters

During the conducted interviews, users found that there were too many filters when they tried to complete a search, resulting in information overload. In addition, the icons that are shown take time to process mentally and are not easily scannable. As a result, users have to take more time to understand what the icons mean.

By moving the filters into organized categories, with the default view collapsed, users are easily able to scan the top-level category before drilling down into specific toggles. These toggles were directly pulled from the Jefit web app. In the redesign, the interface is less condensed compared to the original version, resulting in a higher success rate for the scripted tests and a much higher level of clarity when scanning.


Here’s an overview of the results of my design changes to target both pain points.

Before and after comparison of success rates of users who used the actual app and my redesigned prototypes

Overall, the changes that were implemented helped users more accurately complete the scripted tests that were designed. In order to accurately predict how users were going to use the custom exercise and search filters in Jefit, these scripted tests were created directly from rudimentary user feedback and user research.

Final Takeaways and Thoughts

Note: I am in no way, shape or form affiliated with Jefit aside from my personal usage of the app and do not in any way profit from commissions or referrals to them.

Update: Upon finishing this article, Jefit updated their existing platform and UI to match design standards for iOS 10 and the iPhone X. A lot UI and UX improvements that I envisioned were rendered obsolete with this most recent update, which has been pleasantly surprising and a nice change from the previous iterations of the app.

In addition to updating the UI, they’ve reworked some of the UX as well, giving users a new facelift and a better experience overall. However, the primary focus of this update has been the UI instead of the UX. This is a concern voiced by some reviewers, who say that the design and development team behind Jefit updates the UI a bit too frequently, requiring users to have to relearn an entire interface with each major update.

Overall, Jefit is a great app that has a few UX flaws that present some usability issues to users. The core functionality is there, and it’s still one of the most comprehensive apps in the market that I use weekly to track my fitness progress.

I want to thank everyone I interviewed and also give credit to the creators of any of the tools or processes I used when conducting case study. Thanks to Aby Nimbalkar for creating the Sketch User Flows plugin, the Jefit team for creating a wonderful app and being candid in their communication and responses, Unsplash photographers for providing high-quality images, and Aaron Scott for any guidance and advice he provided as my UX instructor at GA.