|(This pretty much sums up most Strava addicts I know)|
|(Strava cyclist Chris P. gets creative on his 60-miler to kick off the Giants baseball season)|
The real “hook” of Strava came once I connected with a bunch of ultrarunners from around the globe. I’m not one to post training runs to Facebook and confuse/pseudo-brag to all my non-runner friends, but here in Strava, it’s all running, all the time (and me likey!). On rest days, I was captivated by epic runs of friends, soaring through mountain ranges that brought back memories or urged me to add new locations to my bucket list. When I found myself in a new town (which happens often), runners would find me and steer me to routes I would never have found, and the kudos would pour in from people back home, giving me that comforting sense of a global community. There were no ads in the app, no coupons or level-up buy ins, and the purity of the experience helped me stick to Strava while my Fitbits, Nike Fuelbands, Jawbone UP’s, RunKeepers, and other experiments ended up back on the shelf or last page of my iPhone within 60 days.
|(Bruce Lee would have made an excellent mobile app designer)|
The new upgrade to Strava turned the corner for me by doing a lot of small things that help give the app a touch of elegance and fun. No mobile designer is ever 100% happy with a design, but like an artist who never finishes and only abandons their work at some point, I feel this version of Strava has finally met a minimum delight threshold I have been holding it to (unfairly) for months. Here are a few of the upgrades that really caught my eye:
First, there’s finally one app for both running and cycling. Check.
Upon looking at your feed of other runners now, the maps are huge, and it puts the imagery right in your face. The previous feed was a bit too clinical for me (miles, time, etc.) when the truly inspiring parts of my fellow trail runners’ exploits are the maps, the attached photos (auto-sync with Instagram), and the things that make me feel like I was there. Now you get that front and center.
It’s also easier to scroll down the feed and give lots of kudos and comments. Giving kudos, of course, is not a requirement in Strava, but I’m big on it. It reminds me of that high five/hug that you get after a great run with a friend. Speaking of friends, Strava now links together the maps when your friends run together, making me endlessly jealous of the San Francisco Running Co’s weekly Mt. Tam adventures.
Strava added some great little features for knowing where timed segments are (Premium members only, which does require a paid annual subscription of about half the cost of a race entry). You can now turn on an audio voice to tell you (1) when a segment is approaching, (2) your halfway split, and (3) your finish time. I’ve enjoyed how the French female voice (one of a dozen languages to choose from) interrupts my playlist to get me revved up to sprint, even throwing in mile markers too. I also like seeing who is else is out running at the same time – not a new feature, but a Premium feature I have come to enjoy.
I can now add run descriptions and my shoe choice for each run (among inov-8 models, natch), which previously required going online to modify after you posted a run (a serious no-no in the mobile app world). The shoe choice may sound superfluous, but I’ve found it helps me keep tabs on shoe mileage and replacement schedules slightly better than my default method – how bad they smell. ;-)
All in all, the app is quite fun to use now and flows considerably smoother. The uber-critical designer in me would love to see the new look and feel spread to the feed detail pages and emails, and I think features like “give kudos live to other runners out running at the same time, and they get an audio message” could completely redefine what is possible here and enable Strava to growth hack their way to higher percentage penetration of Premium members…see? That mobile app designer voice just won’t shut up. But that’s because there is delight to amplify, which is the designer equivalent of an eight-year-old with a big box of crayons, a table-sized blank sheet of paper, and a grand story to tell.
So maybe it’s just best for me to say thank you Strava, for staying on that relentless journey of mobile app consumer delight. This Strava user gives it two thumbs up! And to my fellow runners, if you haven’t checked out Strava yet, it’s time to do so. I hope to see you pop up on my feed!