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One You Couch to 5k

Getting the country fitter and healthier, one step at a time

Originally developed by Public Health England (PHE) in association with the BBC, the One You Couch to 5K (C25K) app was created to support and encourage people looking to make positive changes to their health and wellbeing. Targeted at people of all ages and backgrounds from across the country, but especially those that were new to running or less inclined to taking part in regular physical activity. Part of the wider One You program, C25K has by far been the most successful app with users. Designed to turn anyone into a runner in just 9 weeks, the app provides a narrated training programme to build up confidence and ability.

Our in-depth knowledge and expertise in building web and mobile apps that drive positive habit behaviours with the end-user, really came to the fore in this project. Working collaboratively with the PHE team, we were able to add value to ensure the app was developed to specifically drive positive habit formation in a way that’s engaging for the end user with a simple and attractive interface. Since the initial re-development, we’ve continued to provide further enhancements and improvements to keep up with the needs and expectations of both PHE and app users.

The challenge

One of PHE’s goals is for people across the nation to live as well as possible, for as long as possible. By utilising digital and mobile technology they are able to reach the wider public with people they have not been able to reach previously.

In 2017 the C25K podcast was re-launched as a mobile app, following on from this PHE were looking to improve the user experience as well as introduce new key features. As Vidatec was already working on a suite of mobile apps for PHE, the team was asked to help improve and enhance the app.

Older man running using headphones

Our approach

Our team absolutely loved tackling this challenge and helping to improve the inspiring health and fitness mobile app. Vidatec worked as an extension of the PHE team, collaborating closely with third parties for user testing, providing user feedback for the team to validate and to help drive user experience enhancements.

Using our expertise in mobile development for positive behaviour change to entice and nudge users, we re-developed the interface to simplify the user experience, provided by PHE, to improve;

  • Simple navigation
  • Visual display
  • Interaction when using the app
  • Interaction when not using the app

Key to the user experience was ensuring the user has the ability to listen to their music in the background whilst following the program, in addition to the app’s own audio and how that works alongside one another. For the developers, this meant they had to ensure high quality audio consistently across all mobile platforms. This involved feature pairing which ensures the user experience is consistent across all mobile platforms, as the app is both Native iOS and Android. This also includes QA and testing the consistent experience across platforms.

Vidatec also designed and developed the content management system (CMS) which has been essential for PHE to deliver up to date content and promote partner events/campaigns instantly throughout the year.

The results

The new version of C25k was launched in February 2018 and saw dramatic results almost immediately, with the app shooting straight to number one in the Health & Fitness category on Apple’s App Store and 20th overall. Its widespread uptake and popularity has made Couch to 5K a byword for app-based exercise challenges. Most significantly, the app has encouraged meaningful lifestyle changes to improve the health and wellbeing of over millions of people that have taken part.

To date, as at September 2020, the app has an Apple App Store rating of 4.8 and Google Play Store 4.6 rating. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown more than 858,000 people downloaded the app. This is a 92% increase from the same period in 2019, March and the end of June.

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