Creeping Featuritis

I’m really of two minds when it comes to adding a new feature to an application like WOD. On the one hand, lots of people request certain features, like built-in timers, so it makes the app more attractive to more people if it has what they want. But the hard part is adding these features in a way that makes sense, and doesn’t overwhelm the limited space apps on the iPhone has.

I think I’ve done it right, with the few features I’ve added to WOD in recent releases. For example:

  • Adding the ability to add new workouts and movements. This is transparent and obvious: new workouts or movements you’ve added just appear first in their respective lists. The way to add it takes up some real estate on the screen that was just empty space before I added the feature (it’s just an “add” button in the top right corner). Editing and deleting these custom entries uses existing iPhone UI operations, or just uses two new buttons that are put at the bottom of a view that is already scrollable.

  • Adding the timers introduces another table view and an entirely new, full-screen view, which I think I’ve designed pretty well. It has probably the most functionality you could cram into one screen on the iPhone and not have it be confusing and unusable (especially if you use it while working out). The way you count repetitions is, I think, pretty neat: just tap anywhere on the upper part of the view, and a rep will be counted. There is a button behind the scenes, sure, but it doesn’t have to look or act like a button: it doesn’t need to use up very limited space on the screen: it’s fine if the bulk of the screen does double-duty as the timer itself and as the big button to press to count a round.

One issue I’m running into is overloading the “more crap” screen. The “More” tab in WOD has slowly been accumulating the little extra functions, like settings, import and export, and now the timers. If the app has enough features, this corner of the app will get crowded with a bunch of stuff.

Then again, maybe that’s the goal in a tab-based application. I could imagine this as the dialog the application layout is having with the user:

  • This is the first tab. It is the most important. You always see it first.

  • This is the second tab. It is pretty important. We wanted you to know this by where we put it in the order.

  • This is the third tab. It is useful.

  • This is the fourth tab. It is useful, too.

  • This is the fifth tab. There is a lot here, but we don’t think you will use it very often, but we wanted it to be available. So, if you are looking for advanced stuff that’s kind of outside of the core functionality of the app, this is where you look. You might have to look a bit to find what you want, but we hope you understand.

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