September 7, 2023

Whee.li, creating an app that supercharges your personal growth journey

We helped entrepreneur Matt Stein transform his vision into a powerful tool that integrates the latest behavioural science breakthroughs.

Clarisa Guerra

Clarisa Guerra

Lead Marketing at Z1

Whee.li, creating an app that supercharges your personal growth journey
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Learn how we crafted Whee.li, an app inspired by the wheel of life concept that combines the latest behavioral science breakthroughs into a flexible, integrated framework.

The starting point 

Life is like a wheel spinning around moments. Some are significant; others are completely irrelevant; some will remain in our minds forever, and others we'll forget immediately. But one thing is for sure: keeping track of those memories that make us fulfilled helps us build the best version of ourselves.

Whee.li is a digital product that lends you a hand with your personal growth, and the search for balance across all the dimensions of your life. It’s entrepreneur and data specialist Matt Stein's response to the personal sacrifices he made years ago in service of his career.

Keeping track of those memories that make us fulfilled helps us build the best version of ourselves.

He realized he needed to equilibrate and grow specific areas of his life - family, health, finances - that he neglected. He immersed himself in podcasts about growth and personal improvement, hired a dedicated coach, and devoured the work of behavioral scientists like Carol Dweck, Angela Duckworth, and Katy Milkman. 

Three views of the Whee.li UI designed by Z1 Digital Studio.

Matt, who has broad experience working with data, realized he needed to create a tool to measure his progress toward a more balanced existence, so he embarked on a nights-and-weekends passion project. "The theory behind this project is the wheel of life concept: each category influences the others, so it's important to create balance," he explains. He started to reflect, track and score moments of his life by creating a system of spreadsheets until his system evolved into an app he hacked together using AppSheet. Over time, he began seeing amazing results.

The challenge

"In almost every aspect of life, good clean data is vital for success. Good data, however, requires the right tool to capture information quickly and to control it to use it for your benefit". Matt's statements built the foundation for Whee.li. As an entrepreneur, he also wondered, “Can I turn this DIY app into something with broader appeal and impact? And, how can I implement my vision of a dynamic wheel to measure progress?”

To solve these issues, Matt considered patching together various consultants via Upwork, but he finally got in touch with us. He knew our team of digital experts is focused on bringing projects from zero to one, so Z1 looked like the perfect fit. 

"If you haven't gone down the path of creating a mobile app before, it can be hard to know where to start. I was excited to partner with Z1 because they had all the right skills in a single organization - designers, product managers, engineers, testers - and the know-how to help get Whee.li to market." The more he got to know Z1, the clearer it became how much time and effort he would save by working with a single organization.

The process

From our early conversations, we viewed Whee.li's success as our own. “Our alignment gave me confidence," Matt affirms, "Z1 understood the essence of Whee.li right away, and that was a positive sign”.

Since Matt has a very demanding full-time startup role, he only had 15 minutes or so to focus on Whee. li during many weeks. Our flexibility and patience were vital for the founder, who saw Whee.li as an important, yet nights-and-weekends passion side project. 

 Wheeli's marketing website

The path towards Whee.li’s creation was long. It took more than two years to get it deployed to the AppStore, but we had fun along the way: we communicated according to his availability, mocking up Matt's ideas as soon as he found time to provide feedback. As we iterated, Whee.li started coming to life. "The Z1 team is truly patient, flexible, and friendly. This was my first mobile app, and Z1 always took the time to explain the basics to me and put the steps in context".

The main feature

The idea of visualizing data showing progress with a dynamic wheel was in Matt's vision since the project's beginning, becoming the app's main feature and its soul. 

"When building the wheel, we realized it was a hard task. It needed to show two parameters interactively and simultaneously: color and volume. It took time to nail it because it had loads of logic behind it", explains Juan Pablo González, Z1's lead mobile developer.

Thanks to Whee.li's wheel, you can quickly check your balance, measure your fulfillment and effort weekly and observe and manage trends over time at a glance.

Despite the difficulties, we got an outstanding result that smoothly combines design and development. Thanks to Whee.li's wheel, you can quickly check your balance, measure your fulfillment and effort weekly and observe and manage trends over time at a glance. "What surprised me was how much attention the Z1 team gave to product interactions," explains Matt, "and as a result, how joyful that made the overall user experience."

Matt describes himself as "somewhat of a perfectionist," so it was important that the product and website were not only functional but also visually appealing - colors, interactions, and language should flow harmonically. Our product designer Javi Pereira took care of every detail, crafting a UI following the logo that Matt had already designed for the product. 

"We carefully chose the color palette in a range that matched not only the branding of the app but also that would represent the mood of the users," expresses Javi. "I put a lot of effort into designing a clear, straightforward, personal interface. For instance, the icons the app uses were manually drawn and not picked up from any library."

The result

Matt was genuinely concerned about Whee.li's users' privacy, so we got to build a compelling yet very light app using Swift. It doesn't have a backend; it's an "offline" app, which means it doesn't store data on the cloud or any server, only in its users' phones while using only a few bytes of memory. Using Whee.li, your privacy and information is safe. If you ever need to restore the app or change devices, you can always get your info back thanks to a .zip file the app generates. 

Three mobile screens showing the Whee.li app UI creating a moment designed by Z1.

With Whee.li, you have access to a mighty tool to focus on the areas of your life you want to improve. Whee.li's framework lets you:

  • set your life categories
  • manage and track your goals
  • capture and reflect on moments
  • create positive feedback loops and check your balance
  • measure your fulfillment and effort every week
  • experiment with recommended approaches from research and the Whee.li community.

More than 100 users have tested the app already in the private beta. Their feedback taught Matt and us a lot; for example, some features the founder liked needed to be more intuitive to new subscribers and should be reworked, or how the tone of voice is crucial during onboarding to walk new subscribers through the app.

The future

Whee.li has turned out as an elegant way to expand the possibilities of the paper journal, with all the extra features that technology and design make possible. Matt, driven by the human impact of Whee.li, has a clear goal: "within a year of signing up, I hope subscribers accomplish things they never dreamed possible. If that happens, I will be ecstatic, especially if they provide ideas to make Whee.li even more useful for themselves and others". In fact, Whee.li aims to create a community of growth-minded people helping each other become better - in a highly curated way.

Regarding including new features, he admits the wheel has much potential beyond just life categories. He keeps an eye on the latest behavioral science findings, which will support keeping Whee.li’s framework up to date with the latest science-based trends. 

And what if the app skyrockets and revenue exceeds the budget for building new features? "Then I'll channel a significant portion of it to causes I care about, like climate," which will make him and us truly fulfilled.

Get Whee.li on the AppStore!