Best Practices

Motivation for Quality: Keep Your Fitness App Quality in Tip-Top Shape

With exercise and diet becoming such an important part of our lives, 2021 is poised to be an explosive year for health, fitness, and wellness apps. Fitness and wellness apps have become mainstream, and they are not just limited to exercise and tracking steps; this broad category includes apps that help with meditation and sleep to those tracking sitting time, eating habits, self care, medication, focus, and much more. In fact, Prevention’s top 20 best health apps list includes apps for mindfulness, vitamin D exposure, fasting, self improvement, hydration, relaxation, skincare, yoga, and swimming. With the help of these fitness and wellness apps, we are truly in the age of the quantified self.

The proliferation of health, fitness, and wellness apps is creating a business boom, too. One popular meditation, stress reduction, and sleep app, Calm, hit $150 million in revenue way back in 2019. As the pandemic closed gyms and increased stress and anxiety, and news cycles amplified ongoing anxiety, it fueled a surge in demand for relaxation, fitness, and wellness apps. Today, 80% of smartphone users have at least one such app. It’s no wonder the global health, fitness, meditation, sleep, and wellness app market is expected to reach nearly $300 billion annually by 2026 and VCs invested $7.3 billion into fitness apps and wellness platforms over the past 5 years.

Quality is Critical to App Success

Quality matters more than ever, especially in mobile apps, and definitely for health, wellness, and fitness apps. User expectations continue to skyrocket, and even Apple and Google stress to app developers the importance of product quality. That is because the developers of the most popular apps we use every day—TikTok, WhatsApp, Facebook, and Instagram—spend tens of millions of dollars setting the product quality bar extremely high. Users know quality, so they benchmark every other app experience, including those for health, fitness, and wellness apps, against the best in the business. Plus, if you’re not the leaderboard in the fitness and wellness app category, users have tons of other options to consider.

But quality is hard to measure. Sure, there are star ratings in the App Store and Google Play Store, but what about social media comments, deciphering sentiment, and feedback that’s in multiple languages? And, even if that data is available, how do you drill down to the OS, region, product version, and other attributes required to really understand and prioritize those product quality issues?

We’ve developed our proprietary unitQ Score and unitQ scorecards to solve these problems for app product, development, and quality teams. Our scorecards are updated monthly to inform your efforts as you improve app product quality. The scorecards let you benchmark your app quality against the highest quality apps in several categories, including fitness and wellness.

In a Booming Market, Quality Matters More

But, just because users had an insatiable hunger for fitness and wellness apps, developers can’t lower the bar on app product quality. In reality, users continue to spend more time using apps for nearly everything, so they expect a higher quality experience. Reports from the first half of 2020 showed that app downloads were up 10% year over year, and time spent on smartphones was up 20%. That increase in usage is also driving an increase in user feedback, which can easily overwhelm product and quality teams with too much noise across too much data.

For users of meditation, bicycling, relaxation, running, fitness, self-discipline, and other types of health and wellness apps, poor product quality can make or break your entire business. Users want to be motivated and see results in an intuitive, easy to use manner. Confusing data dashboards, clunky guides, inaccurate data and advice, poorly integrated images and videos, app crashes, login issues, and payment and account troubles are just a few of the quality issues that can turn users away. And, since we’re in the middle of a market boom, there are plenty of competing health, fitness, and wellness apps ready to benefit from your app’s poor quality.

What Fitness and Wellness Users Care About in App Quality

Users looking for fitness and wellness apps want to accomplish their goals without adding frustration and wasted time to their lives. Simply finding the motivation to embark on a fitness regime is hard enough for most people, so creating additional barriers due to poor quality is a good way to quickly lose users. This makes ease of use one of the most important aspects of product quality in this segment. But, in addition to usability and the fundamentals of security, safety, and privacy, users of fitness and wellness apps also demand:

  • Instant access to health and fitness data, programs, and content to quickly get moving when the urge strikes.
  • Fun, easy gamification, competition, challenge, community features, and goal setting to spur and increase the motivation to improve health and wellness.
  • Clear and easy to understand data, trends, and metrics to easily see progress towards fitness, meditation, focus, or other health and wellness goals.
  • Helpful, targeted, and accurate guidance and advice to help reach health and wellness goals and improve outcomes.
  • Multi-sport support and sufficient, well-rounded diversity of programs and capabilities to maintain motivation and variety as users seek everything from meditation and relaxation to cardio and outdoor programs.
  • Simple account, subscription, and payment functionality.
  • Compatibility with, and easy setup of, first- and third-party monitors, wearables, and other smart devices, such as smart watches, fitness trackers, and heart rate monitors. 
  • Seamless integration with other popular apps, such as music, maps, social media, and comprehensive health-tracking platforms (Google Fit, Apple Fitness+, Samsung Health, etc.), to share and enhance the fitness and wellness journey.
  • Reliable usage of device sensors and features, such as accelerometer, camera, GPS, and more.
  • Extra protections and easy settings for privacy and security of health and personal data.

Product Quality is Invaluable for Health, Fitness, and Wellness Apps

The user experience is imperative for fitness and wellness apps, especially as the pandemic has fueled exploding demand for apps and solutions that relieve stress, build motivation to exercise and move, and remind users to eat, sleep, and live better. But it’s not just a pandemic-related trend; the fitness app market is expected to grow by nearly 30% in the next 5 years. That’s going to bring more users of varying technical skills onto your products. Couple this with the wide variety of smartphones, operating systems and versions, languages, devices and firmware versions, third-party services, and more, and product quality becomes a daunting challenge for developers but a glaring and frustrating deal-breaker for users.

As a former fitness and wellness app founder said, “Fitness apps are hard.” That’s because you’re attempting to get users to repeatedly make healthy, mood- and behavior-altering decisions, which we all know isn’t easy. Since your fitness and wellness app is already trying to crack this difficult challenge, the last thing it needs is product quality issues blocking the way.

The best way to improve quality is with a dedicated quality effort and focused quality data. But that’s difficult to do when user feedback, sentiment, and related app and device metadata is spread across app store reviews, social media posts, support tickets, and issue tracking tools. Your internal quality, support, product, product ops, and engineering teams are then left manually sifting through limited sets of data to guess at which quality issues are most important, how they’re impacting which users, and what you can do to fix them.

See Your unitQ Score

The unitQ scorecard for fitness and wellness provides a monthly look at this sector’s top 15 apps as measured on product quality using the unitQ Score. If you’re a unitQ customer, you can instantly compare your unitQ Score against these competitors to see how well your product quality efforts are paying off. And, since the scorecards are updated monthly, it shows which brands continue to invest in product quality.

If you’re not yet a unitQ customer, it’s easy to check your unitQ Score. We’ll track your App Store and Google Play Store feedback and reviews, and send you a weekly assessment of your product quality. You can compare it to the monthly scorecards to see how you stack up against the competition.

You can also unlock the full power of unitQ to get product quality insights from the App Store, Google Play Store, Zendesk, Salesforce Service Cloud, Twitter, Reddit, and other feedback channels and translated from more than 100 languages. It’s also easy to integrate that data with Slack, PagerDuty, Jira, and other internal tools already used by your product, quality, support, and engineering teams.