Clutter to Clarity
a Still Me case story  
chapter 1
Dear meditation apps,
it’s not me, it's you.
Once upon a time, a group of founders, designers, and developers — spanning the likes of Google to Spotify — came to a collective realization:
Most meditation apps are kinda stinky.
“Calm doesn't make me feel calm”
“Headspace doesn't give space to my head"
But what was the source of this foul smell?

We embarked on a comparative analysis, reached out to former users, and examined their reviews.

Here were our top insights —
Too many choices
When people are anxious, they don't want to think.
Too commercialized
Paywalls, dollar signs, celebrities everywhere.
Too much visual noise
Awfully stimulating for something that's supposed to calm you.
And so, we got to work.
chapter 2
Build fast, learn fast.
It might not agree with conventional wisdom, but I sometimes like to jump straight into prototyping.

Having a real artifact for users to get their hands on can be a profoundly rich tool for discovery, so long as you're willing to scrap everything you've made.

So yeah, that's what I did. A simple prototype, housing only a prompt and an input field, with the question:

“What’s alive for you?”
The core idea was to collect the user's response, and use AI + text-to-speech to generate a personalized guided meditation based on their feelings.

I passed along my design documentation and user flows to our Dev team and ...

Boom! Deployed.
Engineers are likely to be magical machine elves.
chapter 3
Data, our good friend
The launch was exciting — thousands of users
Buuuut ...

Every consecutive week, the number of returning users steadily declined, leaving a 30 day average retention rate of 10%.

Not great ...
but expected!
We were eager for things to fail.
We were eager to learn.
chapter 4
Testing, testing, testing
A product in the hands of users meant a soil ripe for learning. So what was it? Why the low retention rate?

To get that juicy knowledge, we decided to do a two-part research project.

First, a Diary Study to track how the app fits (or doesn't fit) into daily routines. And then, some User Interviews.

Meet some of the humans among our group —
Kara, a graduate student currently dealing with the stress of exams.
Mike, a busy father of two (adorable) babies.
and Cal, who's main challenge has been centered around their chronic ailment.
chapter 5
Sweet sweet synthesis
Working alongside our dedicated User Researcher, we synthesized all our learnings.

Three major pain points stood tall.
— Mike, on not having enough time
— Kara, on the lack of upfront guidance
— Cal, on the elusive nature of meditation
These were the combined insights from several bits of qualitative findings.

Many people simply struggle to find the time.

Others don't even know what they're feeling, so it can be a bit intimidating to see that empty input field

And others have defeatist associations with the very idea of "Meditation," despite it spanning hundreds of techniques.
Cool. Now for the fun part.
chapter 6
Crazy ideation
After really familiarizing ourselves with the challenges at hand, it was time to start solutioning.

I facilitated an ideation workshop to help us tap into our collective creativity.

Lots of ideas eventually found their way out.
Like, what if the app ... was a game? And you tilt the phone to collect your feelings?
Or what if it was voice controlled and exclusively for smartwatches, so it could be available anytime and anywhere?
What if instead of the loaded term "meditation," we called it a "stilly"? .
And so the ideas continued on and on.

A "eureka" moment can really come from anywhere.
No idea is too radical when brainstorming.
chapter 7
Hi-fi supercool design time
At the end, I took our best ideas and gauged responses from users and stakeholders.

Usiing Protopie and Figma (as well as a bit of Photoshop and After Effects), I designed a high-fidelity, fully interactive prototype.

Here's what we landed on —
Tinder, but for your feelings. Instead of open-ended prompts, you just swipe to express and explore your feelings.
Mini-tations: 30-second experiences that minimize commitment, but still allow you to go deeper if you keep listening.
Ditched the word "meditation." Now, we talk about feelings—a concept everyone can get behind.
chapter 8
And here we are
We rolled out a limited update to 300 users, and have been eyeing the 30 day average retention rate.

10% to 17%.

A good indication, but of course, in the world of product development, there's always more to be done.
I could go on, but let's cap it here.
cause life's a constant iteration.