Forum Redesign


This is a three week school project. We have 4 designers in one group. We all have experienced problems in following up the threads in forums, and we want to improve this expeirence. Different forums have different functions and the user goal may varies a lot. We want to focus our attention on redesigning fitness forums.


Different forums have different functions and user goals may varies a lot. As the limited project time span, we want to start from the fitness forums and hopefully, we could find something in common for all forums.

The reason why we choose fitness forum is that fitness industry is rapidly expanding, and this promising industry is relating itself more and more to information technologies. However, at the same time, we all agree that most fitness forums appear outdated and we believe there are a lot of redesigns could be applied on those forums.

Considering the opportunity in fitness forums, we want to focus our attention on it.


We view the soul of forum as a virtual community, then we transform their format and extend their content with the pivot remains the same.

The soul of forums is virtual community

Design Proposal

We researched current fitness forums, and found they were mostly in the form of “instruction from web manager + ordinary forum”. The instruction part is usually put on the most conspicuous position such as homepage. They are intended to provide instructions to users and motivate users. However, plain words and pictures could not fully fullfill its purposes. The second problem we found is, in most cases, that the dialogues under one post are not of one single thread but multiple, but fitness forum’s plain linear text-based visual design failed to match this.

To search solution for the first issue, we examined how current health and fitness clubs works. We conducted interviewed people about why they kept going to the gym. We got two insights as I1 & I2 from the interviews. To solve the second problem, we examined data visualization methods by went to d3.js website.


The first thing we were trying to solve was its linear text-based design (pain point 2). We brainstormed on the whiteboard and started sketching. We found in the process of solving pain point 2, we started thinking about the user goal, and then, we related pain point 1 with pain point 2.

Design Proposal
Codesign Results
Codesign Results


Change from purely chronically sorted linear text-based dialogues into multithreading, keyword management, user rating system.


Change instruction part into a hybrid combining system suggested goal and user communication panel.


Inspirated by the gym mode, we decided to change the forum from pure virtual community to “virtual + real community” for better motivation.


During the first round iteration, we designed the task flows of the App, and made a paper prototype for user tests.

sketch of ideas


We conducted two user testing using the interactive prototype installed on our phone, and identified four problems. Here is the changes:

  • Changed the circles and connections between them to a design with tags in a tag cloud. Default screen shows the trending topics and the tag cloud changes according to the search string
  • Changed the layout of the top bar to reduce the confusion of the plus icon.
  • Changed running icon against each person in the team on the team page to just a circle with different states depending on who is online and offline.
  • We improvised to search to give suggestions with the keywords in the search string.


Later, we presented our design in front of around 50 peer design students. We got several critics on the way we present the topics may cause the problem that "richers get richer" due to the mapping between size and topic frequency. Another problem is that there might be too many words in one page, and it is even harder to touch with one finger unless you can zoom in.

To figure out these two problems, we did 12 versions of iteration on the way topics are presented and did a voting in our studio.

Analysing all the feedbacks we got, we decided to adopt simpler design element and add filter to it so that users could choose sorting according to different dimensions.

We decided to adopt simpler design element and add filter.


Based on the result of third round iteration, we made our wireframe separately. I choose green as my main color tone as green represents harmony, balance and a healthy lifestyle, which I think is exactly something being pursued by fitness enthusiasts.


Choosing the topic:

Firstly, we decided to focus on a specific type of forum to see what we should do. We did several researches on different types of forums, their features and their layout, things like that. It took us nearly half a week to agree on the forum we should work on.

About the Pitfall:

As my last reflection has mentioned, our team struggled to agree on our target group. Later, we tried hard to find a solution to our project. Then, suddenly, change happened. Chyle was changed to another group. Before, she is our sketcher, has done a lot of research on design things, and actually started sketching. Our work was divided, and everyone has committed to his own work. But now, we need to make change of the workload.

Our new member brought new ideas, we invest a lot of time discussing it, feeling skeptical on our focus again. For the sake of limited time, we decided to focus on our original focus, which is “motivation of the fitness forum user”. But in our discussion, we keep focusing on the new topic Brant brought. It’s exiting, but we still hesitate to switch our focus.

The thing I really learnt is that when each team member have different ideas, one really need to voice it in time. Else, the direction of the project will go into the direction more and more far away from one’s mind. To save both parts time, different ideas really need to be voiced and fully discussed rather than make “compromise”.

Time Management:

I tried to manage my time this week. I tried to finish a task as soon as it is assigned, but still, I find it hard to do all the things. As problems could not be solved by increasing efficiency, maybe I need to decrease the number of things I want to do, and make some adjustment to my life habit.