iFit – possibly the worst web site in the world

I bought a new treadmill, as regular readers will know. I chose a model with iFit technology, because it seemed like a really nice idea to plot runs on Google maps and then let the treadmill deal with the ups and downs – more like outdoor running, but without the weather, and the mad people.

The iFit on my Proform came in the form of a wireless module; I plugged it into a USB port, told it which of the wireless routers in the house to use (why yes – we have two), created an account on iFit.com and off we went.

I do honestly think it is the worse web site implementation I have ever seen. Firstly, you cannot stay logged in. WTF? And the way they have implemented the login procedure means that you cannot save the login details, so every day, I have to type in my e-mail address and password.

Secondly, the treadmill is not uploading workouts I have done. I would search the FAQs, but they are useless. I could search what is laughingly called the “Community” section, which seems, as far as I can see, to mix up every single user’s individual workouts with support queries, complaints, etc, has no search facility, and is on one of those tedious “get to the bottom and I’ll load some more of this stuff for you” type pages. So there seems to be no easy way to find answers to any questions you might have.

It took me a while to work out how to enter a workout manually (see above – I thought it would upload it) – and when you do, the data entry form is in a popover window, which closes and throws away your content if you move away from the browser tab.

One of the things you’re supposed to be able to do is to track your progress on an iPad or laptop while you’re running a route. I have no idea how to do this – can find no way. There’s an iPhone app, which has an option to “view workout in progress”. However, I was unsurprised to find that this opens Safari, which attempts (and fails) to load a malformed URL – http://api.ifit.comundefinedliveworkout/51430c3f62ab173c0f00012e. Also, on the subject of the iPhone app, it picks up the data you have on the web site, but interestingly, the stats are all out by 24 hours; everything is shown a day earlier than it took place. Even though the History on the same app is on the right day.

Thankfully, I got a year’s subscription thrown in with the treadmill – if I’d paid for this service, I’d be even more enraged than I am now. I do web development for a living, and I have often advised clients not to put the shiny Web 2 (or 3, or whatever we’re up to) in front of the functionality of a site; iFit have a massive fail here, and it’s a real shame.

“But what about the treadmill itself”, you ask. And it’s fine, apart from two maddening things: firstly, it has a nice slowdown feature which, over five minutes, takes the incline back to 0, and the speed down to about 3km per hour. But in so doing it, it replaces the time elapsed with the countdown time, so you need to make a note of when you started (of course if the workout upload worked, this would be less of an issue). And it is all in km – except the ascent, which is in feet. So if I want to add that to the iFit site manually (yes, I know), then I have to convert it to metres, which is what they use. And in whizzing across to another browser window, I lost all my data.

I despair, really – can’t they afford a UI person?