Reimagine your products.
With every design choice, our products should be about what's best for people, not what's best for grabbing eyeballs.
- What if we designed devices to help us disconnect without missing something important?
- What if we designed devices to help us fall asleep on our schedule?
- What if we designed devices for quick in-and-out uses, not endless interactions?
Home Screens & Browsers
- What if we designed home screens to promote off-screen choices, not just on-screen choices?
- What if we designed social media to reduce loneliness–and made it easier to coordinate with others?
- What if we designed news feeds to reward the most in-depth reporting, not most clicks?
These are small examples of time well spent design. They do NOT address the major changes needed reverse the severe impact of the digital attention crisis.
Apps and Websites:
Let's focus on what's best for people.
Many companies are already focusing on Time Well Spent with humane design:
Are you building an app?
Run your product through this design checklist:
Most apps and websites offer screens of choices that implicitly steer the user to stay on the screen longer (like Yelp's nearby restaurants list which encourages people to pogo-stick between options on the screen). In your product, how could your design include choices that send the user off the screen, or help them remember what they really want to be doing?
It's hard to disconnect from many products without being left with lingering concerns, clouding our ability to be present in the rest of our lives. In your product, how can you design to make it easy completely disconnect and eliminate any concerns we might have? Can you help us live our lives without feeling like we need to check if we missed something?
Many products unintentionally give people choices that keep them isolated – a next video to watch by themselves, a document to work on by themselves – which leave people disempowered. In your product, how could you offer social choices that bring users together, or empower people to find warmth or social support just a click away?
Many products send emails or notifications on their schedule in order to maximize conversions or fulfill the businesses' goals. In your product, how can you respect the timing, frequency and duration of use that would most align with the user's ideal life?
Even products that help people "get things done" (GTD) can help people shovel around a set of tasks that doesn't add up to what's most "time well spent" for them. In your product, how can you help the user "get life well lived" (GLL) and focus on the most important things that matter to them, in their life?
Many products talk about how they want to help people's lives, but how can we actually measure it? In your product, can you identify the most lasting "time well spent" experiences and optimize in order to bring about those changes?
Many text communication products make it easy for people to misunderstand each other and lead to unnecessary conflicts that prolong screen time. In your product, how can you help minimize misinterpretations and emphasize clarity and mutual understanding?
Many products mix in distracting detours that take users away from their original goals. In your product, what are the most common goals people have? Do they ever get sidetracked? How could you design to give people direct pathways to get where they want to go, and be done afterwards?
More Design Resources
Watch Joe Edelman, former CTO of CouchSurfing explain what it means to empower people's choices.
Watch Tristan Harris, former design ethicist at Google explain how to design for mindful choices.