For the LibUX Goes To… series we explore the holistic user experience of a wide range of activities (not all library related). These adventures chronicle both the virtual and in-person experience related to an activity and how those two integrate for a user. Enjoy the inaugural post and feel free to share your own in the comments!
My experience began when I found a Groupon for three classes at MHRC, right near work. I have a fall marathon and it seemed like fun to give group treadmill running a try.
The Virtual Experience
For the virtual portion of the MHRC experience my task was to book a class using a Groupon as payment.
To rate the user experience I’ll be asking
- Will the user know what to do at this step?
- If the user does the right thing, will they know that they did the right thing, and are making progress towards their goal?
(UXers will recognize these questions as the “Streamlined Cognitive Walkthrough” method of user experience evaluation.)
The main navigational elements of the site include “Schedule,” “Buy,” and “Classes” each of which was a potentially logical starting point to completing my goal. I chose “Schedule” and was able to both see a list of upcoming classes, as well as hover over the classes to get descriptions.
I chose a class and was prompted to Log-in or Sign-up. Being required to sign up before you buy is standard procedure, but remains a user frustration. The Nielson Norman Group has written a good article on the very topic, entitled ” Don’t Force Users to Register Before They Can Buy,” summarizing the user experience minuses of this standard-yet still frustrating-practice.
After creating an account, I landed on a page which included “Referrals (invite a friend)” and “Cards on File”. Neither of these account details was intuitive to me. At first glance I thought “Cards” meant adding coupons as I had Groupon coupon entry on the brain. However, it was a prompt to store a credit card number.
Returning to the schedule, I selected a class (again), and was prompted to “Book My Treadmill.” Just like picking a seat on a plane only a nice interface (and less expensive) experience:
Until I found the promo code option, it was unclear if I’d actually get to apply my Groupon, or if-at the last moment-I’d be asked to follow another pathway to apply a coupon (See the “Enter promo code” field at the very bottom of the page?)
Several things about the virtual process could be improved, including the ambiguous navigational labelling, confusing payment process, and lack of transparency about the account creation.
The Physical Experience
It was easy to find the MHRC with the directions online (incidentally, the site is mobile friendly so easy to load the map). I walked in, gave my name to the friendly man at the front desk reminded me of the treadmill I’d reserved. I assumed (correctly) there would be lockers but an online FAQ indicating so would be a plus. Same with facility info like showers – I had to look at Yelp to find this info.
Speaking of showers, this is probably the biggest UX failure of the whole MHRC experience. Group classes obviously end at the same time, and up to forty sweaty people hit the small locker room and immediately lining up for a grand total of two showers is not an ideal user flow. This bottleneck doesn’t just affect those waiting to shower. Those waiting for the following class weren’t able to even access the locker room to use the lockers.
If you know how to use treadmills, the next part is pretty straightforward. If you don’t, I’m not sure how you’d actually take a class. Since I do know how to use them, I just turned it on and starting running and waited for instructions. This handy pace flyer helped give me an idea of what to expect in terms of pacing:
And the ambience in the room was pretty nice:
If you’ve been to Soul Cycle or any type of spin class, the vibe is the same. The instructor walks around, encourages you, puts on loud music, and yells out sets for you.
The workout was good and the hour went by quickly.
The physical experience could be improved by adding better signage, adding more shower stalls, and creating FAQ’s about standard things like lockers, showers, water, towels.
Now that I know the drill I think I go back…if my Groupon hadn’t already expired. And I could shower.
We’re always open to a new adventure, if you have a suggestion for a future LibUX Goes To post we’re down to try it (and report back). Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org