My Role

Individual designer. I finished the whole process of research, ideation and design. It is the project of Minfang Cup Product Design Competition in SJTU and I got the second price in it.
Special Thanks: Jiaqi Yu, Fangzheng Zhu


2 Months, 1th November, 2016 - 3rd January, 2017


UX/UI Design, Experience Design, Wearable Product


I conducted the SET analysis to find essential trends in society, entertainment and technology to find the design opportunities.

Several trends arouses my interest and lead me to notice a phenonmenon. With severe working stress and limited rest time, an increasing number of people in China especially in big cities, started to be a night runner. This brings many benefit for their physical and mental health. Myself as a night-runner as well, I set the goal of this project as enhancing night-running experience for young people.

Field Study

I took a closer look the current products which aims at improve night-running experience and analyze their features and insights.
Based on these analysis, I decided to create a new night-running experience with phones and smart watches.

··· RESEARCH ···

Identify the Users

To understand night-runners, I conducted interviews as well as contextual inquiry to reveal their need and concern. Also, questionnaires and some secondary research like literature review, competitive analysis were completed to help me understand night-runners' in a boarder scope.

I conducted 10 interviews with different kinds of people who runs at night: students, white-collars, professional runners, etc. Bearing different goals and motivations, their methods to run varies so that I investigated them seperatedly and got some conclusion.

Interview Notes
I conducted interviews at my campus playground and a city park.

Contextual Inquiry:
Then I followed 4 night-runners to do his/her night-running. After they finished, I prepared some fundamental questions for them to know their thought and feeling during different stages of both pre-running and running process and their answers are interesting and insightful.

The photos that I took during my observation of their runnning process.

Finding some interesting phenomenons in researches above, I made an online questionnaire to holistically understand the target users' preferences. 76 solid samples were received and here below are the essential findings by careful data analysis.

Insights & Analysis

Utilizing data and insights above, I establish 5 dimensions to define our users and their behavior: introvert-extrovert, self-disciplined-idle, sporty-sedate, emotional-rational, lose weight-keep fit. Based on this, I visualized 2 different kinds of night runners: 'Woman white-collars' and 'Lazy students' as target users.

Experience Map:
Analyzing the users’ behavior and thoughts, I created an experience map for typical night-running processes which helps me understand how people do night-running generally. What’s more, by listing all pain points and design opportunities in every stage, I found the points that need improvement in future design.

Problem Space

Through the analyzing former research insights and pain points concluded in experience map, main problems of the target users emerges.

1. Unable to overcome laziness
The biggest barrier between night-runners and their goal——no matter losing weight or keeping fit, is the laziness of them. They often find excuses for themselves to avoid running.

2. Lack of perseverance and feeling bored while running
Having no continuous motivator while running, they sometimes could not achieve their running goal and stop on the half way.

3. Safety problems, difficult to find safe running routes
It’s a necessity to change running route sometimes to avoid danger, but it’s not easy for them to know whether a road has enough lights and pedestrians to ensure their safety.

··· IDEATION ···

Design Direction

Based on the main problems and all analysis in reseach, I concluded 3 design directions to follow when ideating.

1. The design will help the users to overcome laziness and run in a relatively delightful way , but it should not be a pure tracking tool.
2. Guidance and assistance about night-running safety will be provided before and during night-running.
3. Phones and smart watches could be used together or separately in this new night-running experience to satisfy the need of people with different devices.

User Psychology: How to make night-running more joyful?

During user research, almost every night-runner would set goals for themselves about the running miles or time. However, because of lacking in perseverance, they sometimes could not fulfill their goals. Even they finished, it could be a painful experience for them which result in a preference to give up working out by night-running.

To make such goal-achieving process more joyful, I referred to reinforcement theory in psychology.
According to it, continuous positive reinforcement is necessary in order for goals to remain effective and retain commitment:

Positive reinforcement strengthens a behavior by providing a consequence an individual finds rewarding.

——— Quote from B.F. Skinner, psychologist

Therefore, if ——
continuous praise and feedback could be added to night-running process, users could gain motivation to continue running even if their lack of perseverance drives them to give up.

How to overcome laziness and develop running habits?

Even if night-runners wouldn’t give up running on the half way any more, It’s also a tough problem to motivate lazy people to run cause night-running is not a process with instant positive feedback in body and health. Therefore, it’s highly needed to develop night-running habit for them to help them exercise their body for themselves.

A insightful post on social media from my friend Kira gave inspiration to me about how to overcome laziness and develop habits:

Kira's cat and words.

Raising a pet is a good way to help people overcome laziness!
It’s impossible to give every runner a real pet... but how about digital pets? The most suitable pet for night must be fireflies!

What if...
Runners could raise fireflies in their devices and empower them by running?

Therefore, with the guidance of design direction as well as ideation above, I complete the whole idea and finish a story board:

I invited 8 night-runners to evaluate this idea and 7 of them gave me positive feedback about this ‘firefly’ idea and thought it could work!


Key features

With ideation and problem space that I analyzed, the key features for Nitefly emerged:

Design Principles

This new night-running experience is provided by both smart watches and phones. Therefore, I carefully checked the design guidelines for apple watch one and concluded several fundamental principles based on my project features. I followed these principles when designing the interfaces and interactions for phones and smart watches.

1. Avoid complex functions on watches
With a small screen to display information, complex searching and setting are not suitable for smart watches. Therefore, the functions of safe route-finding as well as detailed running data analysis & sharing should not be added to watches.

2. Quick and simple interaction while running
Night-running is a process of ‘the flow’, which means runners are highly focused and do not want any disturbance. A quick a simple interaction is necessary to help them gain continuous motivation without too much attention on their wrists.

3. Do universal design for Nitefly APP on phones
Since night-runners are not always wear smart watches or run only at night, the phone APP should not narrowed to night-running with watches. It could also be used in other running scenarios and users could also gain motivation and running tracking from it.

Design for running expereince with smart watches

Wearing a smart watch is more convenient for night-running process, so that I utilized it as a good medium to realize 'run with fireflies’.
Therefore, I visualize the process of ‘collect fireflies’ and utilized these fireflies as a continuous motivation to run:
Users could set their 'small goals' for a long night-running process and collect a firefly every time they achieve a small goal.

The whole design is based on Apple Watch Series 3 with GPS & SIM Card. All other features could also been found in the introduction below.

Design for Nitefly APP

Nitefly APP for phones is a necessity cause it’s a good compensation for smart watches to help users to find safe routes before night-running. Also, with a larger screen and cameras, the phone could enable users have a better experience in ‘raising fireflies’. Therefore, utilizing AR technology, fireflies could fly in real world and it could encourage people to share their fireflies as well as running data to friends.
Designing comprehensively, regular functions like running tracking and data record are also added to the APP to make it more convenient for night-runners to run and exercise.


' A lot of times, people don't know what they want until you show it to them.'

It’s a famous saying from my all-time hero Steve Jobs and is also demonstrated in this project. During the research, some of my interviewees told me that they felt their current night-running experience is okay and ‘don’t want to change’. But after some investigation, I found that there’re actually a lot of pain points existing but these interviewees have got accustomed to them.
For example, my roommate during my internship in China Mobile, a 27-year-old man, thought that he don’t need any spur for exercise. However, he usually got lazy after work and actually lacked perseverance especially in doing night-running. What he got is just a delusion that he ran a lot and he used this to diminish his sense of guilt. When I finished the prototype and showed it to him, he said that he wanted to have a try.
Such a finding was quite interesting and also, it helped me to better understand what did Steve Jobs mean in that saying. He was just emphasizing on design thinking, which required designers to think beyond users’ superficial words and continuously empathize with their deeper needs by prototyping.

Create WOW moment!

I ideated a lot when exploring the best way to help people overcome laziness from night-running. Methods like the utilization of real plants, insect robots or social network were all taken into consideration. But when making the stroyboards of these ideas, I felt that I was not so satisfied with them. I didn't know why cause having analyzed them thoroughly, I regarded them as reasonable and impressive ones.
When I showed these storyboards to my friend Fangzheng Zhu, he told me that he did not see a strong ‘WOW’ point in it so that the product is not attractive enough. His words really enlightened me. I realized that other than features and appearance, such a ‘WOW’ moment is also important to users’ experience and that's I abandoned former ideas and selected fireflies finally.


Nemo the talking fish

Yizhou Liu


Data map of SJTU