Private Lessons - A mobile shopping experience


Every year, thousands of athletes look for private, 1-on-1 lessons with trainers in the weeks leading up to their competitions. Clubs formally managed all 1-on-1 lessons either by paper, email, or handing the coach's personal cell phone number to the athlete. In 2018 we saw an opportunity to build a fully-automated mobile experience for both athletes and coaches to connect based on their availability.

What problems are we trying to solve?

1. Time. Our Org Admins spent far too much time creating, maintaining, and facilitating private lesson bookings.

2. Revenue loss. With such a cumbersome scheduling process, many Org Admins took a hands off approach, meaning they didn't take a cut of the proceeds made by the private lessons happening in their facilities.

3. Bored coaches. Typically coaches have breaks between the classes they teach, but nothing to do in that time. Filling those gaps with private lessons and generating revenue was the goal for both coaches and Org Admins


Stepping into this project we had 3 main goals:

1. Build a mobile-first experience, as 52% of our clients register on mobile devices

2. Decrease the use of “hacks” or workarounds clients had cooked up as a means of selling private lessons within Amilia.

3. Bring more private lessons online. We polled 189 clients, and found that 30% either offered private lessons through other software or online.



Prior to development, we wanted to validate that private lessons was a feature that Org Admins cared about, so we launched a smoke test to gauge interest. We successfully engaged with over 90 Org Admins, most of whom later became apart of our Pioneer Program.

I conducted phone interviews with over 30 Org Admins and coaches to better understand their current setup, scheduling problems and goals. Having understood the general sentiment for private lessons, I built user stories and user personas that were both validated and referenced to frequently during this project. We focused on 3 main personas:

1. Coaches
2. Administrators
3. Competitive Athletes



Equipped with data and excitement, I facilitated a story mapping exercise with developers to generate ideas. Nothing was “off-limits” or limited to our technical constraints. I wanted to encourage broad, creative thinking, and was pleased to have outlined the first few sprints based off of my suggested user stories.

After establishing which user story to pursue first, I began sketching. I went through many rough concepts before finding a flow I felt was right. I tested internally to identify gaps, opportunities, and areas for improvement.


Wireframes were presented during Sprint Reviews as a means to guide discussion, promote the scrum team’s vision, and align stakeholders. It was our compass while embarking on a project of this scale.


High-fidelity mocks were created for a mobile-specific view to inspire where the private lessons feature could be in the future. You can see the live desktop version in action here!


During development, Amilia’s first Pioneer Program was born! We could finally add Org Admins to the program and grant them early access to new features in exchange for informational interviews when we needed usability testing. Needless to say, I was thrilled.

We tracked all Pioneer Program tester behaviour through Kibana, who shed light onto the major successes, and the few shortcomings of our private lessons feature


Lessons learned

Throughout development the largest obstacle was breaking mental models with internal stakeholders. The concept of having a "calendar-less" booking system was new to our company and seemed to be a barrier to buy-in. Stakeholders only saw value and the "aha moment" once they were shown a complete flow.

After we arrived to a satisfactory level of "done" we moved Private Lessons to Beta and encouraged users to try it out. Only through testing did we realize we had missed a key feature for our clients. While we were aware of the feature, we underestimated it's importance, and therefore never prioritized it effectively.

What's next?

Testing, testing, testing. Only through user testing do we learn more about our users and how they interpret our software.