I think this might be my first post on a topic that I have (some degree of) expertise in.

Not because I have worked in the fitness industry for over 20 years, not because I have owed more than one gym for 15 years+, not even because I present internationally on a bunch of fitness issues, but because I am a user of treadmills for several years.  So that makes anyone reading this who has done the same an expert too.

So here’s my advice to treadmill manufacturers, because I haven’t seen ANY of them nail it yet. Firstly, it needs to be realised that with treadmills, like so much in life, it is FAR more than just the product, and more about the experience.  So, when designing a treadmill, the user interface is central to how this experience will be viewed.

In fact so much of this post applies to so many products that we use (from a coffee machine, a cell phone, or even a shower mixer).  So when reading this, feel free to replace ‘treadmill’ with some other consumer product – most of it still applies.

In my black and white world I have one easy fix for this: Go hire a designer from apple (iPod/iPhone division would be best me thinks).  Apple GET user interfaces.  Apple GET how stuff just needs to “work”.  In my view no treadmill manufacturer has got this yet. It has to work, without the user thinking “how does it work”.

You see when I use a treadmill I want it to WORK.  I want it to work as I expect it to (no surprises, and no manual should be needed) and I want the user interface to act as it should, and be tested.  Good example: When running fast on a treadmill (say 16km/hr, or 10mph+) try using those little touch screen buttons to set a new speed – doesn’t work to well does it?  Who designed that?  Someone that doesn’t run on a treadmill me thinks.

Seams that the more functions that treadmills have, the further away from this end result they get.

I could go on here about what doesn’t work about the user interface – but it would all sound trivial.  The key here is it doesn’t really work.  Not well anyway.

So .. other than hiring an ex-apple designer – what suggestions do you have?   Or am I on my own here?

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