Fitocracy

My partner and I have decided that this is the year that we get fit. Naturally, being people of our age and disposition towards connected interactions, we have turned to the web for help. So I brushed the dust off my Fitocracy profile, and started logging my activities, earning those sweet points that Fitocracy believes will keep people motivated. Gammification is a major trend in serious business, and it makes sense for them to employ it. Gamification, and Incentive -centered design are however not the subject of this blog post, but rather one for a later date.

Fitocracy is one of the biggest of the fitness sites, helping countless users to achieve their goals (whatever they deem them to be) but this is despite some rather serious flaws in the design, rather than by virtue of the good design. The good idea has carried it thus far, but if they want to see faster growth and increased revenue, they need to focus on the most important part of their platform; the user.

Currently, they send mixed messages about the interface functionality such as using the name “Feed” for two different functions: Both options can be navigated to from the same page creating confusion in the user’s mind the first time that they click on “feed” and it takes them to a different place to the one they were expecting. From there on in, there will be a slight doubt in the mind of the user when they see the two options, and want to click on one or the other. This can be over momentarily, perhaps even without surfacing consciously, but it has a process cost for the user.

Then there is the semi-comprehensive exercise database. There is no function to add exercises that Fitocracy do not already list. True, there is the option to send them an email requesting additions, but the user needs to search around for that information. Ideally, the option to request it should be right there on the screen.

Actually; the truly ideal solution is to allow users to add their own exercises, and to leverage the human-computing potential of their rabid user-base to group, categorise, and assign a point value to that exercise. Make it a truly social feature that combines social networking and distributed computing concepts. They could take advantage of crowdsourcing, which is ideally suited to the ever expanding task of listing exercises, their variants, and the different names by which they are known.

This year, the site sees its second birthday. Hopefully it will see its third year in with an improvement to its UI, its workload distribution, and to its social functionality: the social functionality remains the genius of the site, and the feature which makes it as successful as it has been. Leveraging social gaming has brought it this far. It needs to do more to go further.

3 thoughts on “Fitocracy”

  1. This is an excellent description of precisely the reason I left Fitocracy after a few attempts at using it – there was nothing intuitive or helpful about it, and being forced by circumstance to carry out exercises not listed on the site left me floundering in an attempt to find a “near-match” exercise that could count. Clearly, I got that very wrong, as my points suddenly spiralled up, massively beyond any reasonable expectation.

    I was also left cold by the attempt to engage me with a wider community – whilst I realise that Fitocracy is intended to be a social platform, I’m a shy exerciser who would much rather link only to a few friends (who I can trust to not laugh at me). It took me a while to find the opt-out buttons for email updates, and then each time I logged on to the site I was being pointed at other people (strangers!) that I have no wish to interact with. This is a common curse among social websites, but in an area where I feel particularly vulnerable (anything to do with body image leaves me a curled-up ball of self-doubt and fear) it was even more off-putting.

  2. Thanks for the fantastic analysis! For what it’s worth, our current efforts are very much focused on improving the long-standing issues with exercise search/discovery, rationalizing the exercise database, providing a community-powered way of adding new exercises, etc.

    Bea,

    I’m sorry to hear that you weren’t able to receive the benefit of the Fitocracy community so many others have. One of the unique things about the Fitocracy community is how incredibly friendly, accepting, and empathetic it is. People tell us every day how supportive they find other Fitocrats to be, even if they start off as strangers that might live hundreds or even thousands of miles away. I encourage you to check out some of the groups on Fitocracy focused around specific interests and goals. I think you’ll find that if you start lightly interacting with others in those groups, you’ll see a difference 🙂

    -Brian (cofounder/CEO at Fitocracy)

    1. Glad to hear that you’re heading in the right direction Brian. The site has great potential to be so much more than it already is, and I look forward to seeing it grow!

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