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A while ago I wrote an app for myself that automatically checks if I've been near my gym every day. If I miss a day, I get a mean message the next day like "Missed the gym yesterday, you fat fuck". I'm thinking about publishing this app to the public as "Abusive Gym Reminder".

Right now I'm not sure what time of day to send the message notification. For myself, I just set it for 4:00PM, but for a wider audience I would like to time the deliveries so they are relevant but pleasantly spontaneous.

Are there best practices for timing the delivery of daily messages? I have apps (like Google, Dominos) that send me pseudo-regular notifications but I'm not sure how they figure out when. Like, if I made it always around noon +/- some noise, would that be acceptable?

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    Based on that message and the name of the app, how about 3:00 am, and not allowing users to turn off notifications? :) – Jojodmo Apr 22 '16 at 6:13
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I suppose there are 2 routes to approach this:

  1. Generic Approach - Work out the most common times people go Gym and use that
  2. Custom Approach - Ask or work out the users PERSONAL routine

Generic Approach -

This is the simplest approach, but will be tough to define as it would need to be a one size fits all.

For example, I have the new version of CityMapper which decides that my commute is Mon - Friday 8am and 5pm, knows where I work and offers commuter route information based on that. This is the most common times and that is why they deliver the notification then. But with the fact that your example is based on Gym times, they are much more random than commuting times.


Custom Approach -

Via User Defining Routine - Ask for the user to define their routine within the settings section of your app. I had a think about this and thought about the following options being useful...

  • Strict Routine, specific days, times.
  • Relaxed Routine, e.g. 3 times a week, lunch or evening on specific days

Technical Approach -

This could be done through location services, ask the user where their gym is located and mark each time they make a visit. This would help you being able to decide when to notify the user by building up a picture of their trends, possibly by asking how often they want to have gone in a week.

But the other thing might be to hook in to the users calendar. Google recently launched a feature on their calendar app which allows you to put a task in, such as "Run" which then adds it in X amount a week and asks you to mark it off, so that could be another route worth experimenting with?

  • That's a good take; I already know when the user goes to the gym so I can crunch those into trends. – Eric S. Apr 21 '16 at 19:39
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If it was me, I would just have it as an option in the settings. The user can choose the time of day they'd like to be reminded, or whether they want it to be random between some set hours.

After all, the user already knows that the Abusive Gym Reminder app is, well, going to annoy them with reminders, so why not empower them to choose when?

This would surely have to offer the best user experience.

EDIT

Thinking on this further, if the message is being triggered by the fact someone missed the gym yesterday, then does it really matter what time today it appears?

I assume it'd only matter if someone misses the gym yesterday but then goes to the gym today prior to your notification, because then you may want your app to recognise they've since gone to the gym and therefore it shouldn't send a notification.

Another approach would be to have the user enter the opening and closing time of their gym (assuming it's not accessible 24/7) and then have the app trigger the notification accordingly so that it doesn't necessarily wait until the day after. That is, if the gym closes at 8pm and the user hasn't gone today, why necessarily wait until tomorrow to send the notification? It could be sent anytime between today's closing time and anytime tomorrow so long as they haven't since gone to the gym.

All things considered it's probably more important to have a user setting for when they don't want the notification.

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    not sure that's the right approach, the whole point of this is it needs to be random - otherwise the user knows when to expect the reminder and will just ignore it. otherwise they could just set a calendar event daily to remind them to go to the gym... – Midas Apr 22 '16 at 10:32
  • Yeah, I know, which is why I mentioned the user could opt to select that it be random between some set hours. The whole point of the question was a tad unclear to me because if the message is saying something like "Missed the gym yesterday, you fat fuck", then why does it matter what time it appears if it's referring to yesterday? Maybe I'll edit my answer to mention that. – Monomeeth Apr 22 '16 at 10:45
  • You're right - the time isn't critical to the functionality of the app, but I figure some times are more tasteful than others. I think you both raise fine points. I think I will find trends in gym habits, and add some noise based on that so the notification appears a few hours before their normal time. – Eric S. Apr 22 '16 at 15:17
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I would say late afternoon 5 or 6pm. This is the pattern I've seen in other apps. This will give the user the ability/chance to get to the gym after work or before bedtime.

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I think the answer would depend largely on the type of app and the primary user groups. There have certainly been some research and data for specific social media sites (e.g. facebook and twitter) when you should post to get the most amount of engagement from the users. However, you also have to take into consideration whether you have a global audience or if you are tailoring to a specific geographical location.

In your case the best solution might be to provide some options around the frequency and timing of the notifications that they receive, so that they can customize it to what they think works for them. Of course, you can easily provide some default options based on some assumptions you make about the users, but ultimately it is easier to put these types of decisions in the hands of the users.

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Is “missed the gym yesterday you fat fuck” a good UX experience?

When the device has this kind of attitude towards the user I would make sure to put in the terms of service that you are not liable for any mobile devices getting broken :)

Isn’t your claim similar to the text found on cigarettes, like “smoking kills”? We have yet to see any desired effects from this expirement.

I mean before rushing into creating UI for a feature it would be important to have done the needfinding phase of the UX process. More for needfinding on this link: http://www.slideshare.net/RizwanJavaid/needfinding-36845052

For example from what I hear from friends who happen to be psychologists in profession is that in general men could self-punish themselves if they missed the gym. The women would not.

So what really motivates the people who run to the gym? From simple observation one thing is low self-esteem, and you hit the gym to feel better about yourself. This could be only one thing from a long list.

One motivation tool you could use is the comparison with others. Gather data for your user, compare these data to the data of other users and give a list of choices to your user. Use both the good and the bad choices and explain what probably happens next. The user must choose an action. Do it all over the next day.

Now if you really insist on finding the perfect time for your notification the job is not easy. You would need to get a moment in the day where the user is lazy and is ready to hear and process that information. Commuting, scrolling facebook or watching tv for example indicates laziness. If your user is on a hurry and has other plans would annoying him be a good move?

  • It sounds like he knows what he wants the app to do already. Obviously the app with a message like that and a title that declares it to be "abusive" would not be appreciated by all, but I don't think he's trying to appeal to all audiences. His question was instead regarding the timing for the alerts. – maxathousand May 23 '16 at 21:39
  • you are not wrong I am just wondering what this audience looks like because being cursed might be funny or even convincing for some people/personalities I have in mind. But in the long term?... – Georgios Pligoropoulos May 23 '16 at 21:41
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Just looping around to answer this question. Instead of hard coding a time, I eventually decided to show a notification N times after the user wakes up.

I set the day switch to 4 AM, and after the user has waked up five times I show the notification.

This seems to work better than a hardcoded time.

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