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The need for an app menu

17 March 2023
Christophe Roosen is the co-founder and coach of Trenara. Runs a marathon in 2:33:34. Follow him on IG @chroosen.
New app menu

Our design as-is was radical: a dark theme (long before it was trendy) and no bottom menu. The theme stood the test of time – I’d like to think. But the lack of a bottom menu… not so.

Our current app menu, if you can call it like that, sits behind your avatar. At the time of our first design, it looked like a ballsy move. So, we went for it. In hindsight that wasn’t the right call. But at that moment we didn’t know how the app would evolve with introducing new features, let alone if it’d still exist after 4 years.

User feedback and our helpdesk experience brought to light that this ‘no menu’ strategy wasn’t the most logical choice. “If you go to the app menu, you’ll find…” – “Wait, there’s an app menu? Where?”. 

No clear navigation equals no clear structure, making it more difficult to introduce new features (where to put them?) or to make full use of the app (we’ve found that even early adopters and paying subscribers aren’t aware of all features we offer). So there really is the need for an app menu.
As discussed in my last blog, we’re structuring the app around 5 key moments in a runners’ journey. These 5 pillars helped us with defining menu-items. And just to be clear, the following isn’t set in stone as we haven’t designed the new app yet, this is the impetus.

_ Home

We of course still need a dashboard or homepage. Albeit it’s function mainly will be to link to other parts of the app, this page brings you a quick overview of your/our status.:

  • What’s the next session you’ll execute? (plus the ability to adjust your terrain settings)
  • What’s our feedback on your latest session?
  • App updates, links to relevant content
  • Are you participating in any challenges?
  • Possibly a ‘quick view’ of this weeks’ sessions

We’re removing/reshuffling some current items and adding some new ones. By far the most important for us is being able to share information with you. We have a lot of content across different channels, but there’s no option to distribute it via our own app, which sounds stupid because that’s what you all are using day in, day out.

_ 2. Calendar

This part of the app has the most recent design (redesigned in 2021): don’t expect a big change, maybe just some little, but handy, tweaks. 
For example: the use of the arrows icon isn’t making clear enough that it means you can reshuffle your training days via this button.

We’ll also introduce a new feature for our Peak Pro subscribers, namely a visual display of your training – certainly a big asset when executing structured workouts like intervals or tempo runs. 

_ 3. Coach

Let’s make this about me 😅

One of the strongholds of the app is the way we/I interact with you. Each session is described, you get feedback afterwards, you can ask me questions via the helpdesk, tell me about how you felt during a session (via RPE). 
And not to forget: the training plans are human. I’ve designed them all. It’s not AI, there’s a real human connection between you and me. That makes us a bit different from other apps out there, where you don’t know who has designed the plans for you, where you don’t get feedback on how you’re doing, …

During our interviews we noticed that our users really valuate this. For Shana (the strategic expert) it was only logical we’d emphasize (and centralized) this in the new design.

So, we’ll introduce a coach page, where I’ll tell you all about how you’re doing (with text and with charts), where you can ask me questions (FAQ’s, helpdesk chat) and where I can share content that’s relevant to you.

On a personal note: this really feels odd. I’m not the most social person out there. For the bigger part of my life I’ve lacked a lot of self-confidence. I’m still anxious about making phone calls or talking to people I don’t know. I’ve always preferred to be the quiet and observing one.
Launching the app was a struggle for me, because it meant I had to put my plans/training ideas out there with the possibility of getting overflowed by criticism. Not a big fan of caps, but I really NEVER thought that I’d be in this position, where someone thinks it’s beneficial for the app to put an emphasis on me as your coach.

_ 4. ‘Road to’

Every user has to set a goal. There’s not much to Trenara if you don’t. 

As told before, this particular journey is what frustrates you the most in the current version. This page and the coach page will be heavily intertwined.

On this ‘road to’ page you’ll get the chance to set or adjust your goal (following a new flow), track your progress towards that goal, get an overview of past goals and see our prediction.

Our web developer is also making changes to our source code, which will make it possible to define multiple A and B goals per year (Peak Pro). Let’s say you’re aiming on a 10k this Spring and a marathon this Autumn, with a 5k race leading up to your 10k and a half marathon leading up to your marathon. Well, if we get there (and we will), you can set those goals in one take!

_ Conclusion

When Shana sketched this framework, I felt the new version coming alive. Still no design, but I could vision it.

Next step: mapping the user stories for each page. Don’t know what it means? Me neither at that time.

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