Fit For Bucks

Fit For Bucks keeps users motivated to exercise by rewarding their effort with rewards provided by a local community of merchants - restaurants, beauty salons, spas, gyms and more.

Hide Design Process
View Design Process
Hide Design Process

Walking: a simple, but effective exercise

Obesity in the United States is a major health issue, resulting in numerous diseases, specifically increased risk of certain types of cancer, coronary artery disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, as well as significant increases in early mortality and economic costs. According to the American Heart Association, an adult should walk around 10 thousand steps a day - but the average in the United States is 4.8 thousand instead - and fewer than 50% of Americans meet the minimum guidelines for moderate physical activity. Walking is the easiest and most affordable way to correct this problem, and it's accessible to everyone, independent of gender and age.

Enter Fit For Bucks: the pilot

Fit For Bucks started as a fitness program study, done by the company founder, using the tools he had at his disposal: Excel sheets and physical Amazon gift cards. His goal was to see if people would feel more motivated to exercise if they worked towards a reward for their effort - even if the reward was small.

He started the program with about 10 participants: all new first-time moms that wanted to get back to their fitness level before delivering their babies. He gave each of them a FitBit band, and checked their progress weekly to see how each participant was doing - then sharing the stats back and awarding them gift cards if they reached a weekly threshold / goal.

The results were clear: all of the participants were more active with a reward in sight, and the gift cards were a huge motivator to keep them going.

The goal: scale the program

I was brought to the team with the mission to now transform this small niche program into something that could be expanded and replicated to everyone, across the Country and possibly beyond. It was already established that the company couldn't afford to give the future thousands of participants gift cards for their effort - at least not directly.

The way found to still give people rewards was to partner with local shops: participants get “gift cards” in the form of samples, discounts and promotions, and the merchants offering them get the program participants to come visit their shop - experiencing their products, environment, and potentially spending more and coming back.

Fit For Bucks User Flow

Steps: The app currency

In the pilot, participants would automatically receive a gift card if they reached a weekly goal. In the new program, participants would now be able to choose the type of reward they want - each of them having a different monetary value.

Each reward would, then, be worth a certain amount of effort - and, continuing with the pilot model, the currency set for the whole system remained the amount of steps walked.

The reward card exploration

One element of the app that took some exploration was the reward card: coming from the initial pilot of the program, some of the team members thought the platform should display digital representations of physical gift cards: horizontal shape, logo on front, and details on the back. It was also believed that the merchants participating in the program would love to see their logo featured prominently. This format would also allow for more cards to be displayed at once in the screen.

Another part of the team believed that users would prefer to be able to know quickly what the gift card was offering: instead of clicking the card to enter it's page and then discover what the card holds, they'd instead rather just scan through the offers quickly on the same view, to find what interests them and is worth spending their effort - especially assuming that they would have dozens of options to sort through.

Reward card browsing exploration

Gift card format

Reward card, with details

Gift card with details in list format

The UX Research

To settle the argument, we decided to run an A/B test with 5 participants, in a qualitative interview. Users were presented with two different prototypes: one that showed horizontal cards, with just logos, and one that showed a new format, showing smaller logos but also the reward item itself.

All users agreed: the option that they liked the most was the one they could see the reward right away, giving them the ability to sort though quickly. They also weren't bothered by the extra scrolling they'd have to do: as one user pointed out, scrolling takes minimal effort compared to having to enter and exit each of the cards to discover what they hold.

With that, the format of the reward card was settled.

A/B Testing options

Option A
Users thought this option was quicker to browse and find rewards they were interested on

Option B
Users thought it took too long to discover what the reward card holds, having to touch to see details and then touch again to flip the card and see the content.

Apple Health Integration

Next in the decision making was the platform the new app would be coded on. Following the model of the pilot, the app was initially designed to be on browsers as a Web App - but, that came at a price: requiring users to acquire a fitness tracker.

After some consideration and partnerships exploration, the venue chosen was to bring the app to iPhones, where users would only need to user their phones to track their steps, via Apple Health. Fitness trackers were still supported, but not required. Making this decision opened up the program to a much bigger audience.

Desktop App
Before becoming an iOS app, we explored having the app be on desktops, but that would require a fitness tracker.

iOS App
Bringing the app to iPhones allowed us to take advantage of Apple Health, and not require fitness trackers.

Keeping users hooked: The expiration systems

We wanted to create a balanced and fair environment at Fit For Bucks, where users would feel rewarded, but merchants would feel that the program was helping them. Two concerns were brought up: Users could hoard steps, never spending them, or they could get a reward card, but never use it. They could also stop exercising if they saw they had a big, unspent balance of steps in their account.

During the beta phase of the app, we interviewed a few users to understand their behavior, and one of our assumptions materialized: Some users were not spending their steps, waiting instead for newer, bigger rewards to come: they were afraid of spending their effort on smaller rewards, and then not have enough balance to acquire a bigger reward that might pop up anytime.

To encourage users to spend their balance, an expiration system was put in place: every step walked within a month stays available until the end of the next month. The app alerts users and send reminders telling them that their steps are about to expire, what creates the need to find rewards and redeem them.

Using the rewards

Now, we had to deal with the second issue: users could just hold reward cards forever, making merchants disappointed that they didn't get to receive visits for their offers and impacting the report metrics.

The same solution applied here: rewards now had an expiration date of 30 days - becoming invalid after that time. The app send users reminders to use their rewards before they expire, which increased the number of rewards redeemed at the store, balancing the two sides of the equation: users had more rules and restrictions, but that created a fair system for merchants.

Fit For Bucks at the App Store

The result: the worst kept secret

Fit For Bucks aimed to make a localized small launch in Los Angeles, since all merchants participating in the app were in that region. The result was that, even without any advertising, the app got discovered and downloaded all over the country, with new users excited and asking for rewards.

On the merchant side, they are also getting exciting results. One of the participating brands decided to add all their locations into the app and canceled their other digital advertising efforts, since they got awesome results with the partnership.

What's next

The app is now gearing up to set new partnerships with bigger brands, while growing the reward effort across the country and preparing marketing campaigns for a bigger user acquisition, besides improving and preparing new features.


  • UX Design
  • Visual Design
  • Information Architecture


  • Private

Next Project