UX Case Study: Yoga at Home

Bringing the zen into your living room

As you are all aware, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted how and where we live our lives. For most people this has meant limiting ourselves to a life within our own 4 walls: from work, to school, to our hobbies and social activities. Back in March 2020, I was recruited to help a small yoga school in Cheshire harness technology and move their alumni successfully into the realm of virtual yoga.

Source: freevector

Brief

The main objective is to design a tool (mobile app) that facilitates more convenient access to digital classes, class information, booking and news updates for students. This new tool will replace a clumsy, inefficient system they have in place already, to automate and streamline class management for teachers and students alike. The app will be a key part of the digital transformation of the school, at least for the near future but also for the long term. User focus should be on existing students who are local to the area, and to be mindful of older demographic of students. However, the app must be scalable in potential, as opportunity for new, international students becomes available. The key points from the client brief are to create a centralised class management tool which is both simple and scalable.

Source: freevector

Research Methods

I took a mixed methods approach involving both quants and qual approaches. This included questionnaires and interviews with students and teachers, as well as immersive, ethnographic studies. I believed this would give me a well rounded overview of the key stakeholders in the business, but with user-centric focus.

Key Topics for Interviews

  1. Relationship with, and access to, technology
  2. Main motivations for practising yoga
  3. Evaluation of current method of accessing yoga classes (pain points, advantages…)
  4. Worries or concerns about digital classes
  5. Advantages of moving classes online

The methodology behind these interviews was to keep them unstructured and spread out over time. This allowed for a more meaningful and authentic insights, as participants felt relaxed and able to communicate freely. This approach also allowed for communication to evolve over time, as interviews were more like natural interactions that could occur spontaneously:

“The interviewer elicits information about the meaning of observed behaviours, interactions, artefacts and rituals, with questions emerging over time as the investigator learns about the setting”

Questionnaires

The questionnaire sent out provided a more formal method of quants data gathering and were a way to probe at the insights unearthed within unstructured interviews. This was a way to deliver more scale and reliability to the analysis. There were still many open ended questions which allowed for rich, qualitative data responses. As you can see, I am a social anthropologist at heart.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Ethnography

Becoming a student of Yoga Studios was a highly useful part of the research process. I gained first hand experience of user flow, from scheduling and booking to attending lessons. This aided massively the production of user flow diagrams (below). But also I gained entry to the club, I could have more meaningful conversations with students about the classes as a fellow class member, rather than an external researcher. By becoming a student, I became part of the experience, and could observe behaviour as well as contribute. I was no longer just an observer, but becoming part of the shifting shape of Yoga Studios digital transformation.

User Personas

I used empathy mapping to develop these 3 most typical and influential voices of participants. These are the main characteristics to keep in mind during the design process.

Initial Insights

After preliminary research, I formed 3 main objectives to inform the project, based on users wants and needs from yoga in general and also their expectations of technology.

  1. Technology as a Friend, not a Foe

Some students were concerned about being able to use a new application due to lack of “tech-savyness”. There was also some sense of scepticism about how much an app can help ease the current pain points which directly relate to lack of physical, in-person contact.

Teachers tended to see the move to online platform as a more efficient, helpful way to manage classes, and were comfortable with using laptops, mobiles etc.. Their concerns were around loss of connection with existing clients who were not inclined to use apps. Also there was feeling of conflict between concerns of the impact of “screen-time” on mental health vs. their desire to bring the positive impact of yoga on students well-being.

Students technology usage and dexterity:

20% of students did not own a smart phone

It was interesting to note that despite a relatively low digital adoption rate, all students did have an email address. It will be important to integrate email usage with the app, for these students who relied upon email as primary communication tool.

30% of students identified as confident and enthusiastic tech adopters

60% of students were self-proclaimed “technophobes”

90% of these “technophobes” did have support from family members to help out

This project will be challenging due to diverse levels of tech adoption and tech skills. Due to strong loyalty from current local student base, and external help available, I presume there will be a high level initial interest in the app. I need to take advantage of this opportunity to help the less tech savvy to learn how this tool can enhance their experience.

70% of students believed a centralised tool would make classes less stressful to book and easier to schedule into their lives

2. “Me time”

For students the main benefits of yoga classes were to general well being and getting precious “me-time”, personal space, and peace and quiet. Often the idea that this would be possible within their homes with noise and other distractions was seen to be a big challenge. The teachers tended to focus on wanting to deliver adequate training and safety for students, and were concerned how to maintain this through digital means.

85% of students stated at least one of these factors impacted quality of yoga classes at home: lack of space, peace and quiet, suitable equipment

Finding a way to enhance the quality of the “me-time” through addressing these factors will be a key focus of this project.

3. Community

The social and emotional connections that transpired within the classes were observed to be very important to students. Students were engaged with their yoga community outside of class, were interested in supporting each other, and supporting local businesses. Maintaining this social circle despite inability to meet in persona was important to almost all participants. And most really missed the opportunity to catch up with classmates, as it was difficult through Zoom classes.

Particularly in the wider context of the global pandemic, this idea of maintaining bonds and looking out for each other was a strong feature in peoples moral priorities and motivations for attending class.

User-flow map & pain points

Key take-aways

How might we….

  • Create a hub for smooth, simple flow from scheduling to attending classes
  • Help students to find peace at home for their important “me-time”
  • Change the negative narrative around the compatibility between technology and yoga
  • Reinforce the sense of community and social connection

Ideation

Using low-fi wires, I brainstormed ideas for solutions to some of student’s most common problems and obstructions to achieving their ideal yoga experience! Here is the shortlist below.

Problem: Inflexibility of yoga class schedule

Solution: Offline recorded classes, for when life throws you a curve ball

Problem: Hard to create space for peace and quiet

Solution 1: Tips to help students get their “me time” and links to music playlists

Solution 2: A reminder to make time for yourself, avoid last minute rush and stress

Problem: Complex booking process

Solution overview: Whole booking & payment process easily done through one device, one tool. Accessible anytime, anywhere with an internet connection.

  1. Home: Clear direction from home screen to book — either through “Plus” sign in bottom bar or View Schedule
  2. Schedule: Full weeks schedule easily displayed.
  3. Schedule: Class details shown on same screen as schedule — provides more information on time, places available, price, level, yoga type…
  4. Schedule: Ability to select more than one class to book
  5. Summary: Quick review with clear directions onto the next stage of booking, clear buttons with colour continuity
  6. Payment details: easy CC payment, ability to save details for convenience
  7. Confirmation: prominent success message, all details available in your schedule area (link in bottom bar) or option to send all details to email

Problem: Hard to get feedback and track progress

Solution 1: Alerts to motivate by demonstrating achievements

Solution 2: Personal profile with stats

Solution 3: Feature “Request Feedback” to teacher, to get personalised critique

Problem: Lack of social interaction in virtual classes

Solution 1: News feed updates with comments and reactions interaction

Solution 2: Contact us option to give feedback to teachers (link to email address)

Next steps…

The low-fi wires above are the short-list which students themselves helped me to prioritise. The next step is to evolve these drawings and ideations into the visual design and digital low-fi prototyping phase — and begin the first moderated user testing. To be continued….

I am a research & marketing professional with a passion for understanding the human story behind the data.