Timer Research & Its Role in the Pro 2 Controller Design

It’s been an exciting few months for us at Chronotrack + Athlinks as we’ve increased our momentum for the design and development for the much-awaited Pro 2 Controller. It’s exciting to be at the stage we are at and we’d like to share an update with you.

As we all know, Timing is a competitive industry. It’s an exciting, demanding and often stressful job. One would be hard-pressed to find a job that is at once so challenging and yet so fulfilling. In the midst of the excitement of the job, many tasks for a Timer are repetitive and become second nature. But, if the repetitive tasks aren’t easy to do, then it’s easy to get frustrated. In an attempt to understand Timer’s frustrations better, our User Experience team has set out to learn all we can from the people we are designing for, so that we ultimately deliver a controller that reflects how Timers work and think.

Just as there are a lot of inputs into timing and scoring a race, there are a lot of inputs and priorities when developing a new product. Similar to having clean, organized athlete reg data in order to ensure a properly scored event, building a controller that will meet the needs and expectations of our Timers requires solid input from our Timers themselves. We’ve facilitated three rounds of consecutive Timer research around workflow, controller menu structure and controller interaction. We’ve had the fortune of getting 70 points of Timer feedback across these three rounds of research. The design for the Pro 2 Controller has benefited greatly from the integration of this feedback into its design and development.

Let’s take a look at what research we’ve done so far.


First up was a deep dive into understanding how Timers think about the functions on the controller and their race day workflow. We did what we call a Card Sort exercise with 8 Timers. We asked Timers to group a list of functions into what was most logical for them, and to stack rank them in terms of priority and importance to their job. Timers were then asked to name these groups. We looked at the themes of the card groups, their priorities, and found some consistent trends across all of the Timers’ exercises.

Timer Research & It's Role in the Pro 2 Controller Design
An example of card groupings from the Card Sort exercise.


Once we had identified the patterns in thoughts and priorities, we leveraged this information into a new design for the menu structure for the controller. In order to validate our theory that this would be a more efficient menu, we decided to test this new menu structure against the BoxScore menu structure, the one that has been in place for the past few years. We posted the two menus to our Timer Facebook page and asked people to complete the same 10 tasks on each menu. Over 60 tests were completed by Timers. The results were very exciting.

Below you see the click behavior for the original menu on the top, and the new menu below.

The task was to Set the Point Name.

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Original menu structure, currently on the controllers

New menu structure based on Timer research

As you can see from the images, the current menu structure (the image on the left) causes confusion, and a lot of extra clicks to find what is needed. The new menu on the right, based directly on Timer research, shows a structure that aligns with how Timers think through the steps to set the point name. Overall, the new menu structure outperformed the original menu structure by 40%: it averaged 5 clicks less to complete a task and it was 2 minutes faster to complete the entire exercise. We were thrilled at this improvement! This was an exciting result and led us into the third stage of research with enthusiasm.


Once we had confirmation that we were gaining understanding of the Timer thought process, we were on to the third round of research: usability testing. Based on the feedback from the Card Sorts and the Menu Test, we developed a landing screen in the user interface that includes options for Dashboard, Race Day Ops, and Settings.

  • Dashboard: a screen that displays all of the needed statuses and tag reads needed at a glance
  • Race Day Ops: houses all of the functions needed to set up the controller for race day
  • Settings: houses functions around maintenance, connections and versions
Timer Research & It's Role in the Pro 2 Controller Design4

Landing page for the user interface

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Dashboard view

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Race Day Ops functions

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Settings functions

We did some usability testing of the design and layout with a handful of Timers. Initially, we asked about first impressions of the designs, and then had the Timers complete 7 tasks to see how they navigated through the designs. The feedback across the board was positive and enthusiastic about the new layout. Timers liked the organizational structure of the information and the flow it created for the tasks needed.


We’re in the final stages of wrapping up our design process with our engineers on the Pro 2 Controllers. One last area of research we’re focusing on is the tactile keypad, similar to the mini controllers, which will be included on the Pro 2 Controller. We’re running a few different tests with a combination of functional shortcuts and alpha-numeric keyboards, to assess which design proves to be most intuitive and useful for Timers. We’re curious to see what ultimately suits Timers best.

We are looking forward to the upcoming Regional Timer Summit this summer. The team is enthusiastic about the development and innovation that is going into the new controllers. The improvements would not have been possible without the time given to us by the Timers who have generously contributed their feedback.

We are always looking to incorporate additional Timers into our research and testing. If you haven’t signed up yet, but want to, please reach out to our Researcher, Alison Lawrence: alawrence@lifetimefitness.com

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About the Author, Alison Lawrence
Alison Lawrence ChronoTrack Employee

As an extrovert who is intrinsically curious in learning about others, Alison's career path naturally unfolded into UX research and design. (Why * How) + Delight = UX research and design at its finest. As a user researcher, she loves being a part of the equation that helps to inform the inputs of the ‘why’ in the product development process. Getting to work with a talented team to define the ‘how’ and the ‘delight’ has added up to a very fulfilling professional track.