Creating calm business strategies: Calm UX in practice

Until a few decades ago, objects in the world around us were mostly passive objects. Waiting for us to start interacting with them when we needed to. Or being ignored when we didn’t. With the rise of digital technology however, objects have become less shy. We are no longer in the lead of our interactions with them. Instead, digital objects start the conversation with us whenever they want, and obligate us to listen. But instead of running from them, we value the nice things they offer, the connectedness, the information, the entertainment. In doing so, we exchange our precious time for constant distractions and disruptions.


World of engaging technology

Companies around the world use our new digital objects to get our attention. The arrival of the smartphone has blurred the boundaries between us and companies, allowing them to shamelessly interrupt our lives at any moment. And as competition has grown, screaming louder and louder has become the norm. Getting people to engage with their products (over others) is what drives most companies profit. Engagement is key, and has become a primary business goal for most organizations. They want us to keep interacting, even if it’s not our own choice.

Old-fashioned business goals

Current business goals all evolve around this principle. Driven by engagement, companies value short term benefits like ‘time spent on page’, ‘session duration’ or ‘conversion rate’. If these numbers drop, persuasive tactics are employed to draw people back in. Not only does this lead to a bunch of dark and addictive design patterns, the metrics are also mostly meaningless in today’s connected world. When I’m on the train, I can easily start a shopping session on my phone and leave when my train has arrived, only to return later using my laptop to buy that cute dress. Is it bad that my buying process was longer or got interrupted? No, life just got in the way.

Maximizing engagement

Nevertheless, the examples of disruptive patterns trying to engage us are endless. The most stunning examples are those of companies forcing their apps down our throats. For example, when searching within the content of Pinterest’s website, I encountered a weird design principle. In order for me to effectively open a ‘pin’ — the main usage of Pinterest — I am obligated to download their app. For no other reason than being able to bombard me with irrelevant notifications to increase their daily active users. Because of a business paradigm they made up themselves, they end up with a product that is less accessible and thus less valuable to me, the user.


Pinterest screenshot
Pinterest obligates users to download their app

From engagement to calmness

We as designers should know better, shouldn’t we? So let’s stop digging our heads in the sand, and stop designing for outdated business goals. We have become experts in creating more accessible and convincing products, perfecting intuitive design patterns. Now, it’s time to design for customer well-being. Helping users take back control of their own time, and lives. We can make a change, and this is how:

1. Create a valuable experience

Next steps


You can also read this blog on Medium.