SoulCycle is one of the most popular boutique fitness studios in metropolitan areas like New York City, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C. Their signature class is a 45-minute indoor cycling session led by charismatic instructors and powered by high-energy playlists. Riders are encouraged to pedal to the beat of the music, and inspirational mantras keep the momentum going.

The draw of SoulCycle is so powerful that riders anxiously prepare for Monday at noon, when class signups open for the following week. Popular classes can fill up in less than a minute. When every second counts, there’s little room for error.

SoulCycle wanted to improve the class reservation process without taking away from the personal relationship that many customers have with the brand. To accomplish this, SoulCycle partnered with Prolific Interactive to build their first ever iOS app to revolutionize the booking experience for riders on the go.

We knew we had to build an app that would be beautiful, easy-to-use, and forward-thinking; but above all, it had to work. SoulCycle riders needed an experience they could rely on — not only on Mondays, but on a consistent basis — and we set out to deliver just that.

An Immersive Approach

Finding Our Soul

We kicked off the project with a 2-week discovery phase to fully understand and immerse ourselves in the SoulCycle brand. We knew that the best product would come from a close partnership with SoulCycle and a deep understanding of their culture. We took SoulCycle classes every week, experiencing firsthand what people love about it.

We took SoulCycle classes as a company every week, experiencing firsthand what people love about the ride.

We worked out of the SoulCycle office twice a week, encouraging constant communication and immediate feedback. We manned the front desk at SoulCycle studios and interviewed the founders, staff, and frequent riders to understand the inner workings of the company. Each day, we engaged in constant communication with the team at the SoulCycle offices. In just a few weeks, we had a strong grasp on what SoulCycle was all about, and we aligned ourselves with the riders who would one day use the app.

Building Process

The Breakdown

Development

One of our greatest challenges during the process was tackling the real-time technology of the booking system. We knew it had to work perfectly every time, or we would risk losing the trust of the user. Our goal was to make it completely bug-free and give users a consistently reliable experience. The app’s real-time booking system allows SoulCycle riders to reserve classes more quickly than before and instantaneously updates to let them know when a bike has been taken or when a class is full.

We knew it had to work perfectly every time, or we would risk losing the trust of the user.

Building the Bookmarks feature was also a novel challenge for us, since we were adding new functionality that did not exist on the website. The Bookmarks feature lets users save classes they’re thinking of taking before booking opens for the week, gives them the option to prioritize those bookmarks in an order that maximizes speed, and allows users to page through those bookmarked classes in a matter of seconds.

Design

We started talking to potential users from day one, before we had even designed a single screen, and we kept that conversation going consistently throughout the project. Conducting user interviews with riders before and after class was instrumental in testing and validating our ideas. We quickly understood their expectations, frustrations, and desires when it came to SoulCycle’s first foray into mobile, and we continuously iterated on the design to address their needs. Using prototypes and lo-fi wireframes to gain regular feedback helped us make changes quickly without taking on too much risk, and also allowed SoulCycle riders to shape the experience for themselves.

Conducting user interviews with riders before and after class was instrumental in testing and validating our ideas.

We had to make sure we streamlined the experience for different kinds of riders, from regulars who had specific booking rituals to newcomers who were just learning about SoulCycle. We landed on a design that revolves around a home base: somewhere for riders to quickly get all of the information they need, but also navigate to other areas of the app easily. It’s personal to each rider and offers them everything they need in one place, featuring a front-and-center reminder of when their next class will be and how many classes they have booked for the week. They can also quickly buy classes, check out the class schedule, and browse different instructors.

We had to make sure we streamlined the experience for every kind of rider.

The potential users of the app were at the forefront of every design decision throughout the process. Together we built an app that allows riders to do what they want most: get off the phone and onto a bike.

Check out the SoulCycle app here.