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User friendliness, new features highlight Nike+ site redesign

Sang Tang

Since its introduction in May 2006, the look, feel and features of the Nike+ website have undergone relatively minor changes. Which makes the redesign (still in beta) of the site all the more noteworthy. By putting familiar faces in different places, as well as adding some new faces, Nike has added some polish on an already great and revolutionary fitness motivational tool.

Let's start with the familiar faces. The first thing I noticed about the new site was the larger size icons. Coupled with a more progressive disclosure feel -- which has greatly reduced screen clutter -- the Nike+ site's navigability has been greatly improved.

The best example of this is the new "Goals" section of the site. Prior to the redesign, this section was embedded within the "My Runs" section. In the redesign, "Goals" gains increased prominence, and is featured alongside Runs, Challenges, and Coach as the site's main points of navigation.

Compared to the old site, the Goals section of the redesign brings with it elegant icons that provide better context for users to better easily find and, hopefully, accomplish their desired goals. And this design language resonates throughout the site redesign.

Besides cosmetic changes, Nike has added some new features. One of them is "Levels," which is pretty much the equivalent of one's belt level in martial arts. The more miles you rack up, the higher your level. For example, I've logged in 1,768 miles, which puts me at the purple level. I need 1,338 to attain Black level status (no sweat, right?).

There's also the ability to rate individual runs. This is accomplished via the "How was your run?" feature alongside each run. There, you can rate your run based on its terrain, how you felt, and the weather.

The site now also better facilitates social networking from both within the Nike+ community as well as with Twitter and Facebook. Your Nike activity can now be directly fed to both sites.

And lastly, iPhone/iPod Touch users rejoice. You can now access the Nike+ site via both devices. The site's flash underpinnings have previously prevented accessibility on both the iPhone and iPod Touch. And while the site redesign is still firmly rooted in flash, a non-flash version is now presented to those who visit the site on the two devices. However, functionality is limited to viewing only your recent runs.

These are just some of the highlights of the site's overhaul, from which a myriad of refinements and subtle touches will be apparent to the end user. For example, the site is now themed with a purple-blue and white accent, compared to the orange-centric look of its predecessor - which in my opinion is a bit easier on the eyes. While still in beta mode, its improvements better translate and facilitate the interactions between runner and road. Now, all that's left to do is run.

Alright, guys. I need to run.

(Update: Apparently, the color scheme is based on the runner's color level. Thanks to reader "Slack" for the head's up.)

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