Most designers strive for a common goal: to establish a lasting relationship between brand and user. The only way to achieve this is to make each and every interaction relevant and meaningful.
In these days of smartphone-induced information overload amongst a great range of other connected devices, designers are growing more aware of the fact that all these digital means are starting to have a major impact on the lives of users. Overall, this influence is far from positive; especially once we realise that on average, we gaze at our smartphones some 85 times a day. We waste busloads of precious time navigating intrusive pop-ups and pings.
As the internet has reached legal drinking age, it is also old enough to be held accountable for its actions, which raises the question of what exactly constitutes a successful online experience. Is a design that generates the most clicks always the main objective? Or could a design that encourages users to slow down and take a breather now and then be more successful in terms of fostering that lasting relationship? These social issues are raised by Time Well Spent, an initiative by Tristan Harris, a designer eager to bring contemporary technology in tune with human nature.
Slow UX In The Fast Lane
The principle of Slow UX encourages designers of digital products to consciously reflect on ‘what is good for business’ (more short-term oriented in terms of time on site, page views, direct conversion, etc.) as opposed to ‘what is good for users’ (greater ease of mind, less constant distraction, etc.).
There’s an application called Duolingo, designed to help you learn a second language, which provides a fine example of Slow UX. Whenever you happen to stop using the app for a while, you will receive a number of notifications intended to tempt you into getting back on track learning that language. However, once you’ve consistently ignored half a dozen of these nudges, Duolingo sends you a final notification: “These reminders don’t seem to be working. We’ll stop sending them for now.”
Conversion Or Time Well Spent?
Of course, the question remains as to whether this app’s sense of modesty just comes down to a missed conversion opportunity, or rather to a sincere expression of confidence in users’ ability to make sure their time is well spent.
In any event, the concept of Slow UX appears deserving of our attention as digital design is slowly coming of age.