Measurement Settings Screen Teardown

Where we get surprisingly deep on what Kapowski is about

a geek trapped in a cool guy's body presents an article by Jason Kemp 2016-08-21

The Measurements settings screen contains the fundamental settings for the app. After weigh-in day, discussed last time in the settings screen, which is when you’re going to measure yourself, we have the measurement settings, the what you’re going to measure.

Kapowski Measurement Settings Screen

The premise of Kapowski is that if you form a habit of measuring yourself, other habits will follow: exercising, eating right, resting, etc. The whole point of the weigh-in is to measure something.

Let’s say you’ve struggled with your weight/appearance and are just getting started doing something about it. Scale weight is an okay measurement, but over time you’ll find that putting your self worth into this arbitrary number is a recipe for disaster. You do worse and worse things to yourself to make that number ever lower. The strategy of exercise more and eat less (than your body needs) destroys your body long term and you end up worse than when you started.

I know this because I’ve done the above; more than once.

There is a fine line between using the measurements to check progress and feel good; and obsessing over the numbers. Obsessing over your scale weight is self-defeating. This is why I emphasize the photo as the measure to really care about in Kapowski. “Front is mandatory,” the footer text says. That’s the only mandatory measurement.

Ideally, I’d make you take a photo from the front, back and left. The point is to measure something though. The smallest number of measurements is one, hence front photo only. Kapowski users can then make the choice later on, once they’re familiar with the process, to take more photos from different perspectives later on. I will perhaps pick front, back and left in the onboarding, but no one yet knows what that will look like.

Now, here’s the rub: should photos be the only measurement? What if that was the whole app, just record photos? It would be vastly simpler to code. But is there enough there there? Would people who don’t know any better not use the app because Kapowski fails in a feature comparison? Should I care about those people?

What if Kapowski can also cater to more specific audiences? Let’s say I want to also maybe help fitness competitors or fitness models compare their progress. In their case, obsession is a job requirement. They’d want to know the tape measurements for both sides of the body as well. Well, that’s right out for version 1.0, but do I want to maybe enable that possibility further down the road? Should I establish a beach head by just measuring one side of the body for now?

The experienced app developer/product manager in me is screaming at me that I’m going beyond the M in MVP (Minimum Viable Product). Since I must just keep moving I’m going with my gut and including scale weight and tape measurements for those that want to obsess.

Wow, all that from a row of button toggles.

Let’s get tactical, shall we?

You can see two ways on screen to turn something on or off, in measurement sites and in photo perspectives. Why are they different?

I could have had photo perspectives just be toggles, but then a user has to do some mental gymnastics to translate the abstract Front (on/off) to “that’s a photo of my front.” It seems trivial and most people will make that translation in less than a second, especially for you reading this since I just brought it up. However, if the button is a picture of person with a front perspective and it’s on, there are less mental gymnastics. Thus, it’s easier to grasp.

Remember the point of a settings screen: be dead easy to understand at a glance. The goal is for the user to spend the least amount of time possible in the settings section of your app.

Since a front photo is always on, that adds as a visual example of the on state, which should hopefully make it obvious what to do for the other three toggles.

By the way, if you identify male, those glyphs for front, back, etc. will be male. Haven’t quite figured out how to ask that, will probably need a setting.

Measurement sites, on the other hand, would not benefit from this treatment as much, so the effort isn’t worth it. As I said above, the measurement sites are an advanced feature requiring advanced users. They may not necessarily be advanced mobile app users, but they’re more willing to endure some cognitive load if it helps them become more advanced at, um, looking good naked?

Another usability problem occurred to me as I was writing this post: I have weight as a measurement site. This is an implementation detail of the app that’s leaked into the UI. Should I separate weight out into its own section?

Now that I type this out, I think yes I should. Normals don’t care about my elegant code design that treats all measurements the same. If they wanted to measure body weight, they wouldn’t look in measurement sites, would they?

Alright, great teamwork, gang! I’ll make that change.

Finally, we have units. This is something our Kapowski user should never have to worry about. Luckily, in iOS 10, Apple introduced a great little framework for dealing with units and dimensions, displaying them and converting among them. For the curious developer, I’ll store the values in MKS units (because science uses them!), convert back to the user’s chosen units for display. Using the new iOS 10 classes makes this very easy to do.

Now, let’s get back to the user not caring at all about this and not having to make the choice. Kapowski just uses what Apple has stored for each locale. Americans are thoroughly pounds and inches; the rest of the world, save a few countries, is metric. Australians use kilos and centimeters; so does most of Europe. Canada is officially metric, but most of us still can’t think in kilos and centimeters. Should I special case Canadians?

This reminds me of something I wrote over 10 years ago, reproduced and updated here:

Canada is officially metric. We went metric in 1970. I came in 1978. I’m a Sagittarius.
How I think about weights and measures is completely screwy. Observe:
I measure my body weight in pounds. I measure the steak I eat in grams.
I know my height in feet and inches and I know my ceilings are 8 ft high. I know my work is about 2 kilometers away from my house.
I can gauge something 10 feet high and 100 meters away; but not the other way around.
All fluids are measured in liters. Ounces confound me.
How much rice do I make for our dinner? 1 cup (in 2 cups of water).
85ºF? Fuck. Right. Off