Inheriting bad design: the new Gold’s Gym Web site

I’m a member of Gold’s Gym.  As a franchise, individual gyms need to fall in line with a bunch of larger-than-them corporate decisions, which I seems to include the website, which, unfortunately, has been recently redesigned.

The old website was not great, but I could see all of the group exercise classes for the entire week on one screen.  There was some spatial problems (monday’s 10:30 am class did not line up horizontally with tuesday’s 10:30am class), but important information class (name, time, instructor) was present with no clicking necessary.  The schedule was always wrong during holidays, but the correct information was appended to the top of the page, explaining that on this or that day all classes except these were cancelled.  A hack, but the correct data was available.

The New Web Experience

  • The calendar doesn’t launch in a state that necessarily displays today’s information.  Usually I, personally, receive a screen that gives me the schedule starting a few days back.


  • All of today’s classes are not presented in a readable manner on one screen, nevermind the full week’s.




  • There is less information than before.  Instructor information (which, anyone that has ever taken a class in anything realizes, is an extremely important piece of information) is no longer available, in any view.


  • Like before, the schedule is incorrect on holidays.  Unlike before, there is no indication that this is the case.  Two days ago, because of this I drove to the gym only to find I had missed my class because the published information was wrong.  Today, assuming the same, I called (called! on the phone!) to get the schedule, and was routed through an automatic answering system that gave me more incorrect information about hours, dumped me in a department I didn’t want to be in (personal training), and gave me no exit option back to the main switchboard number or to talk to a human being.


So what should my local gym do? What should they have done before the site even went live?  Assuming (like for many of us) they have to fall in line with branded experiences provided by someone else, what are the options for avoiding horrible user experience like this?

P.S. You can explore the gold’s gym web site’s schedule of classes for yourself here:



Smallest library ever?

Found on facebook: “Today we put up our Little Free Library! I’m excited to get our official registration to add the finishing touch but hope that all the walkers in our neighborhood will like and use it! “





Over-designed Car Parking UI

In Walla Walla, WA, drivers are not entrusted with determining how much space they need for parallel parking their cars.  The city does it for them, by marking off spaces of pre-determined length.  I’m suspicious this wastes space (as not all cars are the same size) when the spots are back-to-back – and I’m definitely sure it does when the spots have additional space left between them (see photo below).

Why you should not group unrelated things.

On a recent visit to the airplane bathroom, I was confused as to what this set of icons was meant to tell me.

I knew what each of them meant individually, but here they were grouped together, and their pairing was confusing.  The problem here, is that despite the visual suggestions that these items are related (wide border separating them from other items on the wall, shared background space) – they are not.  The yellow icons mean “get back to your seat – the fasten seatbelt sign is also turned on” and the red stuff is a call button with pictorial label – and that is all.

The yellow stuff disappears when the pilot deems it safe for you to be up and about, but you don’t know that unless you happen to be in the bathroom at some other time when it’s not displayed.

If you never see it in the off state, you may never understand what it is intended to mean.

(Note: second image was edited in Photoshop to simulate the off state.)

Ugly or Not?

A friend on Facebook, living in China, posted about how he disagreed with CNN’s assessment that the Shengyang Fangyuan building deserved being included on the top ten ugliest buildings list.  His defense was that it was a bank in the shape of a Chinese coin and therefore genius.

While a concept may have merit; that doesn’t automatically mean the execution of the idea is successful.  I go back and forth on my opinion about this particular building – I really enjoy the cleverness and wit behind the design, but visually, I do think it’s ugly.  In part, because it is is like nothing else around it, interrupting the flow and harmony of the cityscape – which I understand to be relevant criteria when evaluating architecture objectively.  Context is important. 

What do you think?