Creating a new digital hub for UFC GYM was a unique and multi-tiered challenge, as it needed to serve existing gym members, prospective members, local franchise owners, and potential franchisees. Each group featured its own set of objectives and challenges, and the site itself required built-in scalability, able to support an aggressive domestic and global franchisee expansion plan.
From a consumer standpoint, the umbrella UFC brand had been somewhat of a double-edged sword for UFC GYM: associating with the world’s most insanely fit athletes is a massive asset, but leveraged incorrectly, the fighting aspect could turn away a significant portion of the customer base. Through research, we identified which elements of the UFC brand were salient to the full customer base, and which were affecting consumer perceptions for the worse.
Based on our insights and UFC GYM’s desire to appeal to a wider audience, we adopted “you belong here” as a creative platform for messaging and visual assets. To better reflect this new positioning, we shifted focus away from fight training and moved towards an all-ages portrayal of the things universally appealing about UFC athletes: intensity, dedication, and passion. Building on the intensely-varied training of the mixed martial artist, we focused on the variety of classes offered at UFC GYM (including many for women, children, and families), and the immense calorie burn offered.
Accommodating multiple user segments, each with their own objectives and KPIs, was this project’s greatest challenge. How do we put the user first, when not every user has the same requirements? The issue was further complicated by the presence of hundreds of local franchise sites operating autonomously, outside of the corporate UFC GYM site.
For this project we gathered data through stakeholder workshops, interviews with UFC customers, and key members of staff. This allowed us to establish and test several key user flows that were essential to getting the right users into the right place once they reached the corporate site.
Our design process kept UFC GYM’s business objectives front-and-center: portraying UFC GYM as more accessible and diverse without obscuring the key user paths that would drive KPIs. UX research led us towards a completely responsive experience with a flexible modular design that functioned the same across all screens—simultaneously serving on-the-go gym members as well as franchise owners.
Our solution revolved around a three-tiered navigation system: a global location bar that displays your local gym for quick access; a global “corporate” navigation bar containing the primary content that’s shared across the UFC GYM ecosystem, such as programs & classes offerings; and a franchise-level secondary nav that contains gym-specific info, such as class schedules and instructors. The page layout was intentionally modular to allow flexibility and scalability, while prioritizing a fluid aesthetic over a more rigid one.
02. Design & Layout
With an immensely tight deadline, we opted to build the backend with Ruby on Rails, as it is well-suited to rapid development, and our staff possessed the expertise required to build with Rails quickly. The required dynamic frontend features (e.g. location search map, multi-level navigation bar) were coded from scratch, and all development was handled in-house by HYFN staff. The most unique element is the location search map. It allows for dynamic updating of current gym and search results, creating and a one-stop shop for a potential client searching for a gym to join.
“HYFN has been nothing short of amazing. You delivered a phenomenal product. I think today will be one of those moments we look back on in five years as a key success catalyst for UFC GYM.”
Amplification and Results
Once the new site was live, we aimed not only to spread awareness amongst potential members, but to also reintroduce UFC GYM to those who might have left it in the past. Targeting was extremely precise, utilizing customer databases, differentiating between two different “classes” of gym, and targeting key groups within a five-mile radius of the nearest location. Using this strategy, we were able to drive thousands of qualified leads at a cost per acquisition that was 30% below our benchmark. We also developed the creative assets that ran in placements across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
All-in-all, we were able to solve the immediate design and branding challenges, position UFC GYM for success with near and long-term business objectives, and generate large-scale awareness for the brand and its new web property.
Smart thinking, compelling design, and a process that flourishes with your contributions.