2021 — Ongoing

GoodGym Product Consultancy

Ongoing support to help GoodGym deepen their membership offering and improve their product, technically and in terms of user experience.

GoodGym is a network of people across the UK who get fit by doing good. They are an accessible and welcoming community that helps people get involved with volunteering in their local area. Members run, walk and cycle to help local community organisations and isolated older people by doing practical tasks for them. A network of support and care, enabled by a simple and elegant technology platform that centres the power of people to change things around them.

We began by working with them to reflect upon and deepen their membership offering. This included user research, stakeholder interviews, usability testing, experimental prototypes and strategic consultancy.

While different from our other work, we had immediate affinity in their unique combination of a new communities built around new technology, in turn controlled by the community. We were impressed by how this worked in a structure of reciprocity and mutual aid.

Over 2022 we continued to work as an embedded product team within their organisation, helping them improve the user experience and interface design of their app, providing training for their staff and advice on technical direction.

GoodGym application on the left hand side, map of GoodGym locations on the right hand side

Technically, one major change that GoodGym wanted to make was to move from a traditional Ruby on Rails based web application to a split between the front-end (still provided by Rails) and a de-coupled backend based on more contemporary web technologies, including:

  • React
  • Typescript
  • Next.js
  • GraphQL

Bringing in this new stack of technologies would enable a more responsive interface and several user experience improvements that were more tricky with standard Rails HTML templates. It would also increase their hiring pool for developers, as many now are more familar with these technologies than with Rails.

The team had worked hard to get a GraphQL API running on their backend. We helped ease the transition to using Javascript for a team more experienced with Ruby. This involved a lot of advice, one to one coaching and hands on pairing with their staff. We also helped improve their processes around QA but helping the team begin to build out automated testing.

This wasn't simply a technical ask. After the design research we'd conducted in 2021, we built out the designs for a complete facelift of the key screens of the app that were accompanied by crystal clear messaging as to what GoodGym is and does and simplified UX. We designed a fresh, mobile first look and feel and provided a style guide that would allow new pages to be created without design input in future. This was all based in theming Material UI . We helped the team bring these to life in 2022.

GoodGym is a wonderful piece of community technology, built with genuinely social good in mind. We are proud to have helped update and improve their work.