Designing for Digital Wellbeing
As technology becomes more and more integrated into our daily lives, it's important to consider the impact it has on our wellbeing. While technology has brought remarkable benefits and conveniences, it can also be overwhelming.
Digital wellbeing refers to the health and balance of our mental, emotional, and physical well-being when using technology. In this blog post, we will explore the concept of digital wellbeing and discuss how designers can create technology and digital experiences that promote users' health and wellbeing.
Bzzz bzzz – Do you belong to the large number of people who feel their phone vibrating although it is not? Well, even if you do not suffer from the so-called phantom vibration syndrome let's take a moment to reflect on our relationship with technology. For us, as a design studio, this is the first step in our UX process: questioning the norm to create satisfying products.
First and foremost, we need to consider the user experience. Technology should be intuitive and easy to use, without excessive notifications or distractions. This requires us to design interfaces that are clear and concise, with minimal clutter and unnecessary features. It also means providing users with the tools they need to manage their own digital lives, such as settings that allow them to customize their notification preferences or block certain apps or websites.
Another, even more important aspect of designing for digital wellbeing is creating technology that promotes healthy habits. For example, we can design apps that track users' screen time and encourage them to take regular breaks, or that provide reminders to exercise or get outside. We should also design technology that helps people connect with others to facilitate meaningful interactions or communication tools that promote empathy and understanding.
In addition, we need to consider the long-term effects of technology on our health and wellbeing. For us this includes designing technology that doesn't cause excessive strain on our eyes, wrists, or other body parts and doesn't promote sedentary behavior. Considering long-term impacts also pushes us to develop designing technology that doesn't contribute to the spread of misinformation, and that doesn't enable harmful or abusive behavior.
As designers, we bear the responsibility to shape the way people interact with technology. By promoting healthy habits, and addressing the long-term effects of technology, we can create designs that enhance, rather than hinder, our health and happiness.
But designing for digital wellbeing isn't just about creating technology that's beneficial for users. It's also about creating technology that's beneficial for the world. We aim for designing technology that's sustainable, environmentally friendly, and socially responsible. It means considering the ethical implications of our designs and ensuring that they don't exploit or harm users or the planet.
We should also design technology that promotes inclusivity and diversity, such as by providing options for users with different abilities and by considering the needs of underrepresented communities.
When designing for digital wellbeing, we strive to support people’s intentions by applying these 4 principles
Source: Google Digital Wellbeing
Start with defaults that support healthy tech use. Research suggests that default settings can encourage people to use technology in balanced, intentional ways. This is why it is important to begin with defaults that support healthy tech habits. We’re pursuing a smarter design of notifications and interruptions to reduce stress, and help to unplug more often.
Help people notice their behaviors and set goals. When people are aware of their daily habits, they are more likely to make positive changes. This is why product teams focus on illuminating behaviors and helping people set goals for their tech use.
Provide transparent settings for users. Studies show that most people who take control of their tech use find the changes beneficial. This means that product teams should focus on providing transparent settings that allow users to customize their tech use to their needs.
Create context-aware experiences that adapt to people's needs. When technology supports people's goals, they tend to feel happy, proud, calm, and excited. It is therefore important to offer users a flexible space for experiences that takes their context into account and can adapt to their needs.
This is the challenge that drives us at Studio Lenzing: How can we create relevant products that match people’s needs, and make users feel satisfied and supported in their daily routines? We have to understand the relationship with technology and decide what's beneficial. Since machines can potentially do everything. We are here to give meaning and purpose to technology. So what has digitalization done for us so far and what could it still do for us?
When something is useful, it's quiet. Usually, it's an unobtrusive matter – a concept we also know from ambient computing. Ambient computing refers to technologies that allow people to use a computer without directly interacting with the device. And thereby aim at eliminating friction between the user and the computer. Think of technologies like motion tracking as well as speech or gesture recognition. As designers, researchers and strategists, our motivation is to contribute to a new perception of digital use. We believe great technology should improve our lives, not distract from them. We rather feel responsible to ensure our products support your so-called digital wellbeing.
Since at Studio Lenzing we care about people – not only our coworkers, but also our clients, and ultimately, most importantly, the users who should enjoy the products we create – we keep raising the question: How do you feel about this?
Designing for digital wellbeing is a complex and multifaceted challenge, but it's one that we as designers are uniquely equipped to tackle.