Ideas and Orts: Better

We began this app for iPhone as a pro bono project for a therapist who created a simple set of exercises focusing on self awareness. Unfortunately, our schedules became too overwhelmed and we had to put this one down. We'd love to have gone to market with it!

Words matter. Helping to craft experience through language.

We conducted a robust discovery exercise to establish the tone for both experience design and copy. This was codified in a creative brief that served as the guide for continuing to build out the app. The author's methodology was described in great detail in the manuscript and content outline he gave us. We helped drive this content towards a more consumer-facing voice that distilled his ideas into clear and actionable language while striving to maintain the integrity and style of his original ideas.

Interaction is a language.

One of the most interesting parts of this development process came after the creative brief was established and the client signed off on a visual direction. This app was not only seen as a tool for getting into touch with your feelings and resolving inner conflicts, but also as a way to foster a meditative habit. This habit is based on a guiding principle of attentiveness to subtle inner states. This suggested an interesting set of limitations focused around some of the app’s key features. The conceptual framework of the therapy required navigating key decisions points and spending time with various exercises with the goal of "cultivating awareness". These sorts of interactions — binary selection states and timed exercises — seemed to us to carry a sense of urgency or anxiety (perhaps in inhering in any decision) that we wanted to mitigate. We achieved this by rethinking how it feels for a user to choose as well as how the user experiences timed exercises in the app.

Softening Time

In order to help mitigate the anxiety of being timed (which we saw as inimical to the goals of the app), we started to explore ways in which we might soften the user’s experience of time. Our initial phase began with some studies, both in design and code, of timers. What sorts of suggestions of time might give the user a soft experience? We looked at many options. Our favorite were a "moon phase" timer (left) and a "slow glow" timer (right).

Timer Studies


We brought the most effective timing concepts into the designs for the Cultivating Awareness exercises.

Exercise Timers