After a successful launch on iOS devices earlier this year, Nutrisystem has released its NuMi weight loss app on Android devices. The app provides one-on-one support for dieters looking to both slim down or just maintain their healthy weight once they’ve reached their goal. This is accomplished via thousands of recommendations for healthy eating while at home, activity suggestions based on a user’s free time and more.
The subscription-based platform has been redesigned since its original launch, with this new version featuring a more intuitive user interface and an improved search feature, which supports food options from more restaurants and branded items.
We had a chance to chat with Aditi Gonkhale, senior vice president and general manager of Nutrisystem’s digital division, about the new Android version of NuMi, and what makes the platform worth the subscription price.
Inside Mobile Apps: What were some of the challenges in creating an app with lasting appeal, that will have to compete for device space and attention among so many other apps a user may have on his or her phone?
Aditi Gonkhale: The digital weight loss space is very hot right now – a lot of apps coming out. So one challenge was creating something that will stand out, that will do all the things users have come to expect from weight loss apps, but will also have its own unique features and functionality—its own special sauce—that makes the user say, “yes, this is exactly what I need and have been looking for.” Our app had to be simple, convenient and above all drive efficacy that many weight loss apps don’t.
IMA: There are quite a few healthy eating and/or diet apps available for free on mobile devices. What makes NuMi, which requires a paid subscription, the option dieters should ultimately choose?
AG: That’s true, but if you look closely, most of them do basically the same thing. They track your calories in and calories out. The user is giving them a lot of data, but what are they really giving you in return? Not much. It’s all the same.
We designed NuMi to be much more than a calorie tracker/counter. We take the data users give us and give something back. Instead of just saying, “here’s how many calories you should have in a day,” and have that be the end of it, we guide users, provide insights and advice and gently nudge them toward healthier eating habits and lasting changes in behavior—something researchers agree is necessary for successful weight loss.
We do this by combining personalized meal recommendations with one-on-one real time weight loss coaching.
Meal Recommendations: We break a user’s calories into three buckets—morning, afternoon and evening. When a user gets a meal recommendation from NuMi, it will match the calories they have available for that time of day—whether it’s a recipe to cook at home or something from a restaurant menu. (That’s right, we give recommendations for cooking at home and dining out!)
This helps users learn how to pace themselves throughout the day so they can start reducing their calorie intake without going hungry (eating regularly throughout the day is good for satiety). They can also rest assured that what they’re eating fits their weight loss needs.
We do this for foods users eat as well. For example, if a user logs too many calories for lunch, we’ll shave some calories off their evening to help them stay on track. On the flip side, if they don’t use all the calories they had for the afternoon, the left over calories will be added to their evening bucket.
Weight Loss Coaching: We call our coaches NuMi Squad mentors. They encourage, motivate, listen and provide whatever weight loss information users need. Each mentor goes through a rigorous NuMi training program in nutrition, behavioral psychology and technology, and they’re available by live chat 7 days a week from 7am to Midnight EST.
Q: What has the response been like from users, since NuMi’s launch on iOS?
AG: It’s been encouraging so far. People like it. Plus, we’ve gotten some helpful feedback and are optimizing on it. We’ve made some changes to the home screen to make logging food and getting meal recommendations faster and easier. We’ve also added filters so when users search for foods they can filter by Recipes & Ingredients, Restaurants & Meals, and more.
And, of course, we always have our eye on the future, things we can do to improve the product. User feedback plays a significant role in that.
IMA: What noticeable differences, if any, exist between the current iOS and Android versions of the platform?
AG: The design for meal recommendations and activity is different for Android. In iOS, we went with a vertical tile layout. In Android, we decided on a horizontal layout. There were also some differences in the platforms that required design tweaks. For example, Android doesn’t support the calendar we designed for iOS, so we had to adapt that design to work for Android.
Aside from those differences, we keep design and user experience parallel across devices.
IMA: How does NuMi help users that may have reached their ideal weight actually keep the weight off?
AG: When a user hits their goal weight, NuMi helps make the transition to maintaining that weight by automatically adjusting their calories. Because to maintain what they’ve lost, they only need to burn as many calories as they consume.
Of course, users don’t have to stop at their first weight loss goal. As long as it’s within a their healthy weight range, users can set another goal and lose more. It should be emphasized that we will never give a user a calorie goal that is below what’s healthy.
In either case, everything on their NuMi plan will remain exactly the same.