The Stride Story
Walker Tracker is rolling out a reinvented version of it’s industry-acclaimed wellness software. After 15+ years of development, we’ve learned a lot and built a lot. We’ve applied these years of development into an experience that we call “Stride.” Here, we’ll share the story and what it means to you.
Ben Parzybok, Walker Tracker’s founder and brains behind the industry-leading activity challenge software, is a programming tinkerer and lifelong learner.
“Since Walker Tracker, I’ve made a number of small, free apps, most of them because I’m curious about a technology or function, so I build something to learn it.”
This ever-growing and evolving nature drives Walker Tracker to this massive development project – called Stride – to accelerate performance and new feature releases.
When asked to encapsulate the Stride product, Ben said, “We totally redesigned and re-thought our iOS and Android apps, and we’ve also re-envisioned our product from the ground up. I can’t wait to show off what we’ve been working on.”
Creating Walker Tracker
Before the age of wireless, connected wearable technology, Ben Parzybok’s family received pedometers for the holidays. Ben, a computer programmer, created a site for friends and family to track their steps as a fun hobby.
Soon, people were finding the platform and registering from all over the world by the thousands.
Just months after launch, Walker Tracker had an international user base with wellness metrics being accessed in dozens of languages. People made friends, tracked their progress, and found themselves far more active than they had been.
The original app allowed users to log steps, compare via a chart-style leaderboard, and form teams in fun challenges. The vision was for individuals to upgrade to premium features (our PRO tier on the Community Site). Many of these original registrants are still logging steps daily!
Six months after PRO subscriptions launched, a major health insurance provider used Walker Tracker to inspire healthy behavior among members. When Ben sealed this agreement from his car on the way home from his corporate job, Walker Tracker found a fit working with organizations, employers, and healthcare providers.
From humble beginnings, Walker Tracker now services millions of users from multinational organizations to local groups.
Notable Feature Introductions
Inclusivity and Growth are Walker Tracker’s core values, and we walk the talk, here. Every addition we’ve made to the platform over the years is aimed at making programs more inclusive or helping organizations and individuals grow.
While Walker Tracker began as a simple way to compare activity among individuals and teams on a simple scoreboard, we’ve evolved to service multinational organizations with tiered administrative levels, map-based leaderboards, social features, device syncing, real-person end-user support, wellness features, activity conversion, mobile apps, and more.
Along the way, Ben and the team made key updates that brought us to today’s application, including the activity converter, wellness upgrade, custom maps, and Turnkey admin dashboard.
Activity Converter (2010)
Within the first year of serving health plans and increasing numbers of users, Walker Tracker implemented a key feature for inclusivity: the activity converter. Evolving from step challenges to activity challenges, Walker Tracker employed a conversion study from a major university to add activity conversion into the app.
With the activity converter, Walker Tracker includes wheelchair activity, low-impact activities like swimming, non-step exercise like biking and climbing, and common exercises like gardening, housework, and yoga.
This also means that people can be rewarded for tracking their favorite non-step activity so that runners aren’t disproportionately favored over kayakers.
From a perspective of inclusivity, this means that Walker Tracker could now include people with mobility restrictions or physical disabilities.
The Activity Converter covers gardening to wheelchair mobility and is crucial to inclusion.
Custom Maps (2015)
Years later, Walker Tracker was evolving as more than just a way to encourage healthy activity. People were using it for team building exercises, charitable fundraisers, digital water coolers, and more. Storytelling had become an increasingly important reason why people were using step challenges in the office.
To accommodate this, we took our virtual maps that we had become famous for and built a separate module to accommodate people that wanted to have their steps tracked over a geography that was specific to their organization.
Whether racing between your organizations’ locations, tracing the evolution of your organization across its offices, tying milestones to sponsors, or taking members through relevant landmarks, Walker Tracker’s custom maps are a welcome addition to personalize your challenge.
A metaphorical representation of distance is intriguing, and we always liked the idea of embedding custom content into a challenge. So the maps were an obvious fit. The challenge came in trying to fit a map to a custom time frame – You can’t really walk across N. America in 6 weeks – so we built our own module that adjusts distances based on the step goal of your challenge. – Ben Parzybok
Custom maps bring your program to life by connecting real world locations to your digital activity challenge.
Wellness Upgrade (2017)
Building on the trend of programs expanding beyond activity-based health incentives, Walker Tracker built one of the more intuitive and expansive additions in 2017 by adding wellness metrics into the platform. This means that members can track more than steps – diet, sleep, mindfulness minutes, heart rate, and more had now come to the platform.
Today, hundreds of thousands of people have used Walker Tracker to build and maintain healthy habits. Our wellness metrics aren’t about competing over these metrics, but rather they reward members for simply tracking them. Progress is marked by entries, not contents of the entry, and all submissions are totally private to the user and cannot be viewed by anyone else in the challenge or even the challenge administrators.
Wellness features and Turnkey we built around the same time, the idea being to more fully engage with wellness at work and to take in a larger spectrum. Inherent in this is our other platform strengths: engagement, team-building, team-cross pollinating, etc.
Each day, members can add wellness activities in addition to the automatically-added daily step counts.
Turnkey Admin Dashboard (2018)
To build on this spirit of inclusivity, Walker Tracker wanted to branch out to organizations that weren’t big enough to be working through a wellness broker or health insurance provider. By this point, Walker Tracker had features to accommodate special maps, wellness features, custom communications, multi-tiered organizations, incentive programs, device ordering, and more. This is a wellness coordinators dream, but what about small HR teams or organizations looking for something simpler?
The original platform was full featured and built for dedicated wellness admins at large healthcare organizations.
Turnkey was the precursor to the full implementation of Stride. Turnkey was built for organizations in different circumstances, with a simpler interface and lower cost. Today, less than 3 years after its introduction, Turnkey is so simple to onboard and use that it accounts for 2/3 of all Walker Tracker programs.
The Team Behind Stride
Evolving features require a team of developers that can come in, read Ben’s original code, and then build great new features on top of it. Walker Tracker has a tight-knit team of product managers, developers, and specialists that build and maintain the apps and features that you know and love.
This also means that, as our product has added features and adapted to new trends in wearable tech and mobile wellness, these software craftspersons have had to built onto Walker Tracker’s core offering and plug new features into a foundation that was optimized for other features.
Here’s what our team has to say about their experiences so far and about Stride:
The Walker Tracker product has come a long way since Ben started building it 15 years ago. Not only is Stride a huge improvement to our platform, but the code updates we have made will allow us to build new, exciting features more quickly.
15 years’ work went into building Walker Tracker. With our vast feature set, this means 15 years’ complexity. There has been a lot of care put into our new systems to keep what’s made Walker Tracker the wellness solution for everyone, while making it fast, reliable, and upgradeable for our software team.
I’m fortunate to start with Stride underway and simply help convert the original vision into the new processes that power Stride, making it the best step tracking software available.
Walker Tracker’s step challenge tools are built on 15 years of iterating based on listening to customers, adding key features at key moments, and upgrading functionality as wearable device capabilities improved.
This year, we’re making the bold step of building an app free of any hindrances or legacy code quirks that’s equipped to take advantage of the full suite of features and wearables enabled by today’s mobile technology. To celebrate this advancement (and stick with a walking pun), the project’s internal code name is “Stride.”
Our CEO, Taylor Welsh, said this when asked about her motivation in authorizing our team to build out this vision of the platform: “Our goal with Stride is to make participants feel inspired in their wellness journey, included in their organization, and connected to their peers. Stride is our commitment to a seamless, motivating and effective experience for both participants and organizations.”
Stride is built on customer feedback, data from millions of walkers, and lessons learned over 15 years – not market speculation, investor demands, or profit motives. It’s built from the ground up to deliver a simple and satisfying experience to the admins and members that we serve. Here are some of the new things that can be done with Stride:
Beautiful new interface
All of your favorite Walker Tracker features are now easier to access in a visually refreshed format that will delight you and your members on both web and mobile apps.
simply social features
It’s all about engagement, and Walker Tracker delivers the perfect combination of friendly competition and supportive camaraderie. Stride makes it easier than ever to collaborate, communicate, and connect!
Fast, reliable admin tools
It’s never been easier to invite your members, manage your program, add / remove users, create challenges, export data reports, and more. Stride makes your programs more powerful for admins.
What do these new features mean?
The main thing you’ll notice is a smoother, faster, more streamlined experience. Joining, syncing devices, creating challenges, assembling teams, communicating with members, and engaging throughout the challenge has never been easier! Whether you’re on mobile or web, you’ll immediately notice the simple, fun interface.
Stride makes it easier to administer a step challenge and will encourage people to run ongoing wellness initiatives and monitor progress over time.
World-class activity challenges used to be cost-prohibitive for small groups. Now, even the smallest of groups can access features that used to be reserved for multinational companies.
I love how quick and easy it is for a group to adopt Stride. I’m talking minutes, not days or weeks. Admins leave behind the days of manual reporting on spreadsheets and lean into our curated fun challenge themes to boost participation. – Blanca Garcia-Rinder on the new Stride interface
Admins used to have to pick between a single challenge or annual program. Month-to-month billing (with available annual discounts) lets you pick the best duration for your specific challenge.
Estimating the number of users is difficult when budgeting for wellness software. The new pricing system adjusts monthly, and admins are in control of user counts.
Walker Tracker’s longest serving employee, Blanca Garcia-Rinder, has this to say about Stride: “I love how quick and easy it is for a group to adopt Stride. I’m talking minutes, not days or weeks. Admins leave behind the days of manual reporting on spreadsheets and lean into our curated fun challenge themes to boost participation. Members have mobile and web interface options to log activity, participate in challenges, regroup with colleagues, and keep personal wellness journals. We’re on a roll here, all together now!”
Stride has been years in the making and has involved every single person and department at Walker Tracker, so we hope you’ll give it a try.
Groups of under 150 can enjoy a free trial at the link below. For groups of over 150, please enter your information at the link below and we’ll contact you when your tier is ready!
Groups of under 150, please.
Be contacted as soon as your tier is available.