Everyday Headspace and Questions to Ask

*** Update: I’ve posted some revised thoughts on this feature (and my jealousy) here. ***

I’ve gone from 4-5 chronic, debilitating headaches every week to just 1-2 over the past few months, and I attribute that success to Headspace and meditation. I use the app every day now, and it has truly transformed my life.

There’s so much about the app and its design that I love. For example, it never asks you to tweet or share an image. Coming from the games world, this strikes me as a very intentional and inspiring choice.

Headspace is an incredibly personal app. I use it to meditate by myself, alone with my thoughts and breath. Asking me to leave that bubble of introspective awareness and go on social media would be very jarring. But at the same time, it could be helpful for their business for me to tweet the insightful quote at the end of each meditation. It’s so tweetable!

But they’ve made the choice that the social media gains are not worth the risk to my experience, and this choice is just one example of the ongoing balance the company needs to find between attracting new customers and keeping customers engaged vs creating a healthy meditative space.

What I love about this choice is that it feels like it’s serving me as the customer. They’re saying my inner peace is more important than their social media chatter.

A new feature in the latest update got me thinking about this balance again. With “Everyday Headspace,” the app is now delivering a new three minute meditation to your homescreen every day. It’s not too big of a deal, but it’s still significant. To me, it feels intrusive.

screenshot of the Headspace homescreen
Want to see today’s new meditation?

On the one hand, sure, it’s another meditation, and meditations are good. On the other hand, it feels like a deliberate pull to get me to open the app if I haven’t on a given day. It feels like another item on my digital to-do list.

Maybe this will benefit me, but it will definitely benefit Headspace. Because of their subscription-based business model, they need me to check the app consistently. If I don’t, I won’t renew my subscription at the end of the year (or the year after that). Everyday Headspace feels like a distraction from my focus on my current pack (Pain Management in the picture) and a move away from the “there when you need it” minis or singles.

Do customers who’ve bought Lifetime Access to Headspace get shown Everyday Headspace?

Maybe that’s a good metric to ask for a feature. If there’s truly no chance to sell anything else to the customer, would you still build this feature? Is it adding to their experience, or is it serving more to drive engagement, keep the customer in the loop, and add to their digital compulsion? In fact, let’s build a little list of questions to ask ourselves as designers when building a feature:

  • Would I add this feature even if the customer had already purchased lifetime access?
  • Does this feature help the customer achieve their goals? (requires knowing those goals)
  • Is this helping my business, or is it helping the customer?
  • What are some side effects of this feature that may distract or detract from the customer’s goals?

There are at least four people on twitter who love the update, and I’m sure it’s not a decision Headspace made lightly. Balancing business and mindfulness is a thin line to walk. I’m not sure what the answer is for “Everyday Headspace”, but it’s a question as designers and customers we should all be asking ourselves every day.

further watching: Empowering Design by Joe Edelman