From a product perspective, killing features and entire platforms can sometimes be the hardest decision product owners can make. It’s far easier (and more exciting) to build new features and drive enhancements. But, sometimes removing parts of a platform (or entire products) is the the right decision. To this end, we have decided to focus 100% of our efforts on the wearable and mobile app swim tracking experience and retire the swim tracking features on the Swim.com website.
There are three key drivers that have led us to make this decision.
1. Over the past several years, and under past leadership, there was a mobile-first approach when it came to adding new features and improving the user experience. This meant that features like discovering and downloading workouts and global leaderboards were only implemented in the mobile apps. In addition, Swim.com underwent a rather significant redesign two years ago which, again, only affected the mobile apps. The result is that the Web experience has fallen behind over the past several years. To create parity between the Swim.com mobile and web platforms would be a significant investment in resources.
2. The vast majority of our users use Mobile only. On any given day, roughly 75% or more of our users use the swim tracking features on mobile and we expect this number to continue to grow over time.
3. Swim.com is necessarily a mobile platform. The Swim.com compatible wearables devices (WearOS, Apple Watch and Samsung) and our mobile apps are tightly coupled. Finding and discovering workouts, uploading swims – two core uses of Swim.com – require the use of a mobile phone. Note that some of our more technical users may point out that apps such as WearOS and Apple Watch apps can be designed to be operated completely independent of their companion mobile apps and, well, they’d be correct. Technically. However consider that most users who swim (a) do not connect to their pool’s WIFI (if it’s even available) and therefore need the mobile phone to complete the upload/download of Swims and Workouts and (b) most users want to see their swims immediately or shortly after swimming (not when they get home or to their workplace where WIFI is available). Unless you have a cellular enabled wearable (some do but many don’t), then the mobile app is a necessary part of the overall experience.
These major drivers are the key reasons why we are moving to a mobile-only strategy.
What Happen’s Next?
Between now and the end of March, we have some work to “move” some features from web to the mobile app. Some examples include:
- Supporting the export of swims in XML and FIT format
- Replacing swim upload confirmation emails with native notifications
- Improving the workout sharing experience
During this timeframe, you can continue to use the web tracking features with the caveat that we will only be addressing critical bugs on web. No new features or enhancements will be applied as we turn our focus to mobile.
In addition, there are several areas within the Swim.com mobile app that we feel deserve some attention to improve the usability that, otherwise, would be easier to use on web including the viewing and analysis of swims.
Will There be a Swim.com Website?
Yes. In fact, we are going to be improving our Pool and Club finder experience. Searching for clubs and pools and viewing leaderboards has a place on web and you will notice some improvements in these areas over the next several months. We will also allow users to register on web but then immediately direct them to our mobile apps.
I and the rest of the Swim.com team understand that for many of our users this is not a big pivot as they only use the mobile platform. For other users, this might be disappointing! We understand and appreciate that perspective, which is why this has been such a tough but necessary decision.
I am excited to be a part of the Swim.com community and looking forward to an even sharper focus on our wearable and mobile platforms going forward.