Let the cat out of the bag. I feel an aversion toward daily exercise. By writing this, I make myself admit this publicly. Surrounded by high achievers who still find time to run or go to the gym to stay in shape, I feel so bad about my overall body image. My subconscious response of people going to the gym before or after work: yeah, I can never do it. I have a lot of excuses, from rain to tiredness. My go-to excuse to myself is I don’t want to arrive late at night or have to wake up super early just to give me space for gym time. I don’t like sweating, either. My wine red hair (at least that’s what the hair dye package says about the pigment) is long. Getting sweaty after work makes me wash my hair so as not to get them damp and smelly. But you know the pain of having to dry long hair to look presentable at work or not to hit the hay with wet hair.
See? There is nothing that can make me practice.
Enter Yoga Challenge app.
- I stumbled upon my Pinterest feed of some easy yoga poses, maybe this is fate.
- I thought yoga would not make me sweaty, plus I can exercise from the comfort of my home, so no need to go home late or wake up extra early.
- I googled easy yoga app.
- Wasn’t really sold.
- Searched in Playstore for yoga apps. What a white rabbit trail to follow.
- Found this yellow icon of an app, said ‘Challenge’. My competitive subconscious personality got triggered.
- Downloaded it, no expectation at first.
As another piece of background information, some time ago, I installed a habit tracker app to track some routine, including running every weekend. The app is smart and it rewards you for streaks. Turned out I don’t like running, so I ditched the habit quite fast. Followed quickly by me uninstalling the habit tracker app. From a product management view, I know it’s not fair to remove result of some people’s hard work just because I am lazy. Why don’t you stick for easier habits, I might ask my user, and keep up with the app. It’s unreasonable to “punish” the brands for something they can’t control. But, hey, UX is about dealing with people making decisions, right? And researches say emotions are part of virtually any decision-making process (Pfister & Bohm, 2008). So, there you have it, you deal with emotions that cannot always be explained easily.
So, maybe our app design is super pretty and the UX is smooth, but a human being will still uninstall it because of other unrelated reasons.
This is the topic that I want to discuss in this article. Delightful UX analysis using Kano model.
Delightful UX is defined as any positive emotional effect that a user may have when interacting with a device or interface. User delight may not always be expressed outwardly, but can influence the behaviours and opinions formulated while using a website or application. – NNGroup
And this is Kano model, courtesy of Daniel Zacarias
So let’s analyse why Yoga Challenge is delightful for me.
The lower curve is about the must-have features. Those features are the basic functionality that if are missing, the users will be unhappy. The product will be just bad or useless.
Yoga Challenge app fulfils my basic expectation of the basics.
- Its name is challenge, so the home screen provides access to selections of challenge we want to pursue.
- Each challenge has information about what it is about.
If we start any challenge, the information is plain and clear about how many days to engage, calories to burn, what sequence of poses (inside each day). It also provides yoga pose photos because laypeople users might not memorize basic poses.
All basics are set. Happy. Let’s move to the y=x curve.
The Performance curve represents the investment we make will proportionally contribute to user’s satisfaction. So, for example, make the app faster or design clearer.
The app features that I think fall into this line are:
- The countdown design. This is subjective, but I like the countdown of 3, 2, 1, GO! plus the voice over to start each pose. I feel competitive. I feel someone scolds me if I’m just cruising.
- The whistle sound effect. After each pose, there is this high-pitched whistle to end the pose. This whistle uses the audio skeuomorphism: in sports world, the coach marks the end of a period using whistle. This evokes emotion as an association of you running in trash bag getting scolded by your coach because you run slowly. Since this is about challenge, the app employs the same effect of “coach + scolding” to make you focus.
Both features are not mandatory to make the challenge work. The app can just put Start button and starts right away and ends just that and I will still understand the flow. By and large, there are tons of static or video Pinterest pins about yoga challenge infographic created by different authors. But this app team put more effort and more features that complement my journey doing the challenge. I feel that the additional animation and sound effect are good additions.
So what’s the delightful about this?
There’s a reason why the upper curve is called Attractive, or the “Excitement Generator” . It generates such level of excitement when the user is already satisfied. It is the result. I am on a streak now. Compared to the initial laziness state that I explain at the beginning of this article, now I eagerly want to reach my finish line of the challenge. The app transforms me for the better.
I know it’s part of the user engagement using gamification method. But what’s not to love when the app solves the pain point of the general users: to make them willing to exercise regularly? It’s the problem that they want to solve by creating such challenge. The designers know that some people can only be motivated by sports challenge. The app design and the execution is good so that the whole point of habit creating is successful. At least I have several more challenges to do, enough to keep this habit on for the next few months.
Yoga challenges can be found on Youtube, Instagram, Pinterest, or other channels. But developing an app to cater that challenge experience to users is something else. I feel helped by the app, because it gives sense of me moving on a progress, not just randomly following Youtube tutorials.
Compared to the initial laziness state that I explain at the beginning of this article, now I eagerly want to reach my finish line of the challenge. The app transforms me.
Bonus Point: Serendipity Jolts the Excitement
This is the part that is not related to the UI/UX per se, but this is sometimes the key to sticking to some habits.
Serendipity is defined as the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way. Google Translate.
Background information: I have minor lower back pain (LBP) since 2013/2014. Since it doesn’t hinder me from completing daily job, I brush it off (please, don’t do this). I just keep being careful and proper when lifting heavy objects, so I rely on my thigh muscle to not make my LBP worse. The only time I feel the pang of LBP is when I exercise that involves back muscle work, for example doing back-ups, lifting my legs half, planking, or back bridge exercises. So I haven’t done any back exercise ever since.
On the first few days of the challenge, I felt the sharp pain on my lower back during some poses. But I kept doing the challenge. Now, you know where I’m going with this. The serendipity part is my minor LBP was healed, despite it’s not the reason I want to participate on the Yoga Challenge. I didn’t even remember I’ve got LBP until I practiced for some days.
Now, almost at the end of the challenge, I don’t feel any pain on my lower back any more.
This serendipity is of course never found on the app design documentation or talked about during war-room meeting. But I cannot emphasize this enough: we take into account our emotions during decision-making process. We associate experiences with emotions and feelings.
Serendipity evokes nice, warm, and comforting emotions. I associate the app with the serendipity (because that’s when I find this unexpected turn of events) and in turn, I associate the app with the good emotions. And as a result, I associate the app with the happy feeling itself.
I know it doesn’t have to be this app. It could be another app that offers the back exercise session. It’s yoga anyway, the poses are ubiquitous and each app can have their own sequences. But, it’s called UX for a reason, because it is my experience as a user using this Yoga Challenge app. If some other apps come and I find good results as well, that will be adding new pleasant experiences in my catalogue, too.
This serendipity is the complete opposite of the case me removing habit tracker app mentioned above. Just because I don’t like running and I stop running after a few weekends, my subconscious associate the habit tracker app with failure emotions that led to me render the app useless.
- Delightful is subjective. Again, we are dealing with human beings. Emotions give nuance to every decision. I write this article solely based on my personal experiences of the apps. So what is delightful for me does not always mean the same to you. This is why we do user research to gather data points from multiple users, not only one subjective point that can lead to bias.
- The competitive one-upness can set the bar higher. The delightful can become the performance and the performance can become must-haves. This is called “the natural decay of delight”, coined by Zacarias in this article.
Example is this. Until my 3rd or 4th day, I thought static yoga pose photo in Yoga Challenge is acceptable. The photo is clear so I can follow the instruction clearly. Then, I installed Yoga Workout later to give an alternative to my workout series. Yoga Workout has animation to describe the pose. I felt that static yoga pose photo is no longer enough.
The natural decay of delight is the effect of ever-evolving technology. Hence, progressive leaders think to disrupt the status quo, because the status quo delight will eventually decay.
- Serendipity is rare and unpredictable. We don’t design 100 chances of serendipity in our meeting room.
- But we can think about some elements as leverage to user’s satisfaction.
- Observe competitors standards, keep an eye on the natural decay of delight.
- Last but not least, have time to exercise. Find something that you like.
Read other articles about product management, writing, and reflection on my blog here tulisansekarlangit.com.
Fessenden, T. (2017). A Theory of User Delight: Why Usability Is the Foundation for Delightful Experiences. Retrieved from
Pfister, H., Bohm, G., (2008), The multiplicity of emotions: A framework of emotional functions in decision making, Judgment and Decision Making, 3 (1), 5-17.
Spool, J.M. (2018). Understanding the Kano Model – A Tool for Sophisticated Designers. Retrieved from https://articles.uie.com/kano_model/
Zacarias, D. (n.d). The Complete Guide to the Kano Model Prioritizing Customer Satisfaction and Delight. Retrieved from https://foldingburritos.com/kano-model/