Freelance Project, Apple Watch, Gamification

My Role
I finished all process in this individual project.

Dec. '18 - Jan '19

Pen + Paper, Sketch, Invision, Principle

"A delightful,
safe and romantic
night-running experience."

My Challenges in This Project

It was my first time to design for hardware, so I read through the WatchOS human interface guidelines and played around with the apple watch a lot. Also, It’s not easy but super interesting to explore how to change users’ behavior by gamification and make an integrated product. Therefore I made many attempts such as applying psychological theories into design and conducting rapid iterations. Finally I learned a lot from it.


The ones with firefly marks are the main outputs of the stage.

Design Problems & Outcome

Our target users are outdoor night-runners with smart watches. The short of perseverance and laziness for running and exercising is quite common among the runners which might lead them to easily give up, also the safety problem is an important concern for outdoor night-runners.

Facing these problems, I present Nitefly, an apple watch APP that provides interesting 'firefly-raising' experience to encourage them to achieve their running goal.



Fireflies, kept in your watch.

You can see your fireflies on your watch plate. They will become dim to indicate your recent laziness in running and exercising. Also, you can set yourself a reminder to run when receiving notifications.


Information for a safe and enjoyable night-running.

Recommendation and suggestions are available for you to set challenging but attainable running goals. Tips from fireflies could also help you avoid danger and bad habits.


Ding! Achieve milestones to empower your fireflies.

You can see fireflies being empowered by your energy power while running. Several milestones will help you to achieve your running goal step by step. Every time they finished a stage, he will hear 'Ding' and feel the vibration.


Supporting phone APP: safety routes and your running management.

The supporting APP will serve as an additional tool that enables you to see safety situation nearby and collect recommended routes to run. Also, your achievements and settings are all included here.

User Research.

Myself, as a running enthusiast, determined the core challenge: to enhance the outdoor running experience with apple watch. Then starting from it, I explored the target audience and contexts.

Literature Review

I reviewed essays and reports to investigate social, economy and technology background for the ‘running’ culture and also, find existing problems/important issues for runners.


  • Busy and stressful work in the daytime and ‘city exploration’ trend has increased the number of outdoor night-runners.
  • Dangerous habits are common among night-runners such as listening to music while running, wearing dim clothes, running on the same route all the time, etc.
  • Being in ‘The flow’ (which means people are highly concentrated and ignore any distractions) is one of the ideal status for people when doing sports.


Based on what I found in lit reviews, I consolidated my project focus on outdoor night-runners. So to quickly gather qualitative and quantitative data about their general characteristics and pain points, I conducted a survey. Check out my #survey framework and #main findings from 42 responses.

Contextual Inquiry

Night-running is an experience with many trivial but important details, also memorial bias about the feelings when doing sports is quite common. So to know users’ detailed tasks, problems and motivations, I furthered my qualitative research with an observation and a contextual interview.

I followed 2 participants and observed their behaviors and asked them how/why questions about actions and feelings in the context. What's more, an abstractive level affinity map was made to summerize key insights about their characteristics, thoughts and habits.


Safety problems,
laziness and unenjoyable
running process are key pains.

I coded the responses from the survey and contextual inquiry. With these evidence, I developed personas and a user journey map. I defined my target users as two groups based on their running patterns: casual night-runners; regular night-runners. Then I seperately concluded pain points from their user journeys and emotion flows.

Meanwhile, I found that safety problems, laziness and unenjoyable running process are the main problems for a night-runner and they're discussed in design implications as well as important design principles.

Personas & User Journeys

Wrap-up: Key Takeaways

Shown below is a summary of the important insights from former research and analysis. Remaining them in my mind all the way down, I made much effort to solve the design challenges and associate my design decisions to these implications and principles.


Among all the problems faced, I found that overcoming laziness and creating a more enjoyable running process are quite challenging. Therefore, I did further research and proposed the solutions to these design challenges. For each solution, I asked target users for their feedback.


How to make night-running more enjoyable?

The flow (aka. the Zone) is a mental status that describes the feeling of fully involvement and enjoyment when they are immersed in an activity. Such status is quite common and very useful in sports such as climbing and car racing. Therefore, I applied this theory to solve the challenge. The matrix below explains it in a good way.

©️ Mihály Csíkszentmihályi


Based on users' feelings, I positioned my persona characters in the graph and it provides us a direction to solve the unenjoyable problem.


The matrix helped me to dig deeper and understand why they cannot enter into the flow and be enjoyable. I concluded two important problems and figure out the solutions.


How to overcome laziness and develop running habits?

Laziness is a common phenomenon in terms of body training. How could I help people to develop running habits? I conducted a competitive analysis to know about others' solutions and their pros/cons.

Competitive analysis

I explored the existing fitness and behavior-changing apps and clustered them in three attributes: gamification, notification and social influence. Below are the insights that I found.


Notification may provide insufficient stimulation or too much pressure for people to overcome laziness. Hence they should not be used as the primary motivator (but could be used as a compensation). Also, to help them develop a good habit, I selected the gamification mechanism that enables users to cultivate something by makeing efforts.


To avoid distracting users from the value of running for themselves, I referred to one of the interviewees' words about her experience in feeding her cat and get an excellent inspiration about the gamification mechaism for night-running:
Raising a pet is a good way to help people overcome laziness! I created the user story to facilitate the ideation.

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


How to make the night-running safer and improve their safety awareness?

In the research, we found that what users need for safety is the lumination, crime situation, road condition and afforestation on their running route. Street light and crime data are available on many city websites such as #Los Angeles.


I introduced a supporting phone APP to help people check the map about the safety situations around them. Also, safety messages are added to the phone APP.


Run with fireflies,
wearing your apple watch.

I ran a feedback session to inquire about my target users’ opinions on this concept and the general design. With these ideas, I revised my design concept.

Feedback Session

With the paper/pen drawings, I explained 5 main features to 6 different users. They think 3 of them are effective enough, but other 2 need improvement. Therefore, I revised the features based on the feedbacks.

    User flow

    Based on the feedbacks, I make some amendments and finished the user flow. The flows guided me to finish the wireframes of interfaces with multiple functions.


Wireframing & Iteration phase I

I created a wireframe with the user flow above and conducted a rapid testing session. The objective of it is to help me quickly modify the user flows and main interfaces. Based on the users' words, I made the first iteration. I listed 3 important ones below and other changes are reflected in hi-fi interfaces.

#Iteration 1: Put safety message at the most suitable place

Users think they might forget just ignore the safety message if they just open the app and not so ready to run. Therefore, I refined the user flow.

#Iteration 2: Less click to go running

Users feel that they need to click for so many times to start a simple running, therefore, I simplify the process and let users start running with a recommended goal easily.

#Iteration 3: Easier to understand and collect in the safety map.

In the feedback session, most of the users asked about the safety map, especially about the meaning of icons on the map and how to find a route. So i redesigned 2 interfaces.

Hifi Prototype

Here's the hifi prototype and whole user flow. After wireframing, I conducted another casual feedback session, testing 3 users. Then based on their feedback I made some amendments of the interfaces and change the 'goal setting' flow.
Also, I built a Invision Prototype for the evlauation phase.

Test & Iteration.

Nitefly went through usability testing and review it with design principles. The objective of it is to explore deeper through the interfaces and find usability issues so I incorporated think-aloud method and SUS questionaire. I invited 7 target users, 4 of them are irregular runner, the rest 3 are regular ones. Here’s a breif review of the process.


  • Introduce the project goal, and put users at ease.
  • Describe the scenario, set up the context, and let users use the app while thinking aloud.
  • Let them evaluate the satisfaction in different dimensions.
  • Ask follow-up questions and appreciate their participation.

Measurement and Result

Nitefly is measured in 6 dimensions based on the data collected in SUS questionnaire. With the follow-up questions and user feedbacks collected in think-aloud session, I digged deeper into how these low scores come. Three main problems are defined and the result guided my to enter into another iteration phase.

#Score Table

Phase #2

A more intuitive and understandable gamified running process.

In the test, we found that current running interfaces are a little bit confusing: the 'empowering' process should be more intuitive. When running, users won't often see the screen, but they still want to have more information besides vibration and fireflies.
Therefore, I visualized the progress to achieve the milestones. The round progress bar will keep being filled when users are running and every time it’s filled up, users will get vibration and ‘ding’ to indicate that they achieved a milestone and the fireflies will be lighted up gradually.

Phase #2

How to increase the accessibility of goal setting experience?

The round scroll bar imitates iPod Classic to help users easily see suggestions and select the goal. But the current size of it will cause fat finger issue based on users’ feedback. Therefore, by referring to watchOS human interface guidelines, I found that a different logic can better applied into this interface and also can create more space for round scroll bar.

Phase #2

How to make AI-related features more usable for users?

#How to make AI more trustworthy?

In the test, some users asked: how could I know the route it recommends is safe? This made me think of the problem that how to make AI less like a black box and more trustworthy. Therefore, I reflected and reconsidered my design decisions to make AI more transparent to users.
I used natural languages to describe the route situation and emphasize on the ‘safety’ consideration in the title. Data source is added in the safety map to let people see the data underneath.

#"Don't let me think"

For the challenges generated by the AI, users feel that they need to see all the challenges and decide which one to take and if they cannot select one to get notified, they will probably forget about it. Therefore, I added more instructions to make the technology disappear and enable users to understand the challenges.

What's Next.

Future Steps

#Incorporate with suitable social elements

In usability testing, more than one users said they expect more social elements rather than just sharing the achievements. One big challenge is how to avoid too much social pressure, but still let them engage their friends in such an interesting gamified process.

#Design for different stages in running

People have different feelings during the running process, for example they feel more relaxed and easy at beginning than after running for a while. What can be a better solution for that difference?

#Universal design

It can be foreseen that users who do not run outdoor or at night can also be motivated by the fireflies. Also, some people prefer to bring phones to run. Therefore, it would be better if the product can cover a larger user group.

#HOOK Theroy

Recently I just started to read Nir Eyal's book called Hooked. His theory of habit changing could definitely be applied to runners and also help me modify current motivation Nitefly provides.




Associate Tasking