The team and myself were tasked with auditing an existing alpha product, improving the user experience, updating the UI, and creating a scalable design system.
The smart box is a visual reminder to put your phone away and disconnect. It has the capacity to house and charge up to 4 smartphones—both android and iOS.
The app auto-detects when a device has entered the box and automatically tracks the time you’ve spent enjoying life—free from the distraction of your phone. You’re able to set goals, document your sessions, and join sessions with friends.
It seems counterproductive but Aro isn’t against phone usage. Unlike most apps, we didn’t want people spending all their time inside the app but instead encourage people to set healthy boundaries around their screen time.
This prompted many hard conversations around user experience. We wanted the app to provide value and motivation but also take a backseat in people's lives. This meant diving into the user experience with a fine-tooth comb, anticipating potential dark UX patterns, and creating user flows that are easy to navigate.
The real reward is the time you spend outside of the app and reflecting on all the moments you spent distraction-free. We streamlined session documentation by surfacing activities that are selected most often. We also included predictive text so that adding new activities is a breeze. Sessions are also automatically tracked whether you assign it an activity or not.
Research showed that people are more likely to spend time without their phones when they are engaging with family and friends. Currently limited to households, we added a group feature to motivate people to spend time together disconnected from their phones.
We had many conversations about healthy practices for gamification and consulted a gaming expert. We include badges but don’t give them center stage. For streaks, only the current week is displayed but you can dive deeper into the data if you wish by tapping on the data visual. We were intentional about creating messaging that encouraged users instead of shaming them after breaking a streak.