Smart Focus - Snooze Digital Distractions

Communication-driven Product Ideation

Information can help us understand the world and reveal the hidden connections, patterns, and stories underneath. The challenge was to explore a world issue uncovered by one of the data visualizations selected from the site and design a solution based on the effective synthesis of research findings for concept development.


  • User Researcher
  • User Experience Designer
  • Content & Infomation Architect
  • User Interface Designer

Skills & Tools

  • Sketch for Visual and UI Design
  • InVision for Prototyping

Project Overview

Most tech-related companies are involved in a race to get the user's attention. The people’s willpower often loses to the that of the designers and engineers who strive to keep their users engaged with their product or services.

The data chart by author David McCandless definitely is an eyeopener to understand how much technology (designed to improve the quality of life) controls our daily routine to the extent that it has started to negatively influence our minds, emotions and behavior without our knowledge and consent.

The solution is definitely not to ignore or remove technology out of our lives !

The goal of the project thus, was not to go deep about the tech-induced disorders laid out in the data chart but to define the problem, identify its root cause & explore methods to improve how technology can serve us better and not the other way round.

The Problem . . . Existing Solutions

Are all apps worth our time?

Moment and the organization Time Well Spent are trying to bring attention to how tech companies are designing their apps to capture as much of the user’s attention as possible. User goals with using these apps are not the same as their business goals.

Addictive Patterns

Recurring Emotions and Interface patterns that keep users hooked, most of which provide less or no escape

  • Autoplay
  • Infinite Scrolling
  • Ambiguous notifications
  • Incessant refresh prompts
  • Distracting detours
  • Need for social approvals
  • Fear of missing out
  • Need for immediate reciprocation
  • Misleading timeframes for tasks
  • Curbing off-screen possibilities

Successful Alternatives

Brainstorm for Possible Solutions

Though a lot of solutions come to mind, I wanted to understand user perceptions and needs first.

User Research

In-depth Interviews

User 1

Russ, 24
lives with Roommates

“Is there a way to optimize my screen time and be able to steer way from it when necessary. Its seems so surreal to even say that!”

User 2

Megan, 29
runs a mom and pop store

““I would like technology to respect my timing and be aware of email frequency and duration of use, without feeling the need to check if something important is being missed.”

“There seems to be no direct pathway to get to the screen I want to ! Its often frustrating and gives me a headache”

User 3

Shoba, 42
Single parent
mother to a teen

“It is hard to disconnect from facebook & instagram especially when my son is itching with anxiety about the alerts, and concentrate on the task at hand.”

Interview Insights


  • Filter notifications by priority
  • ways to disconnect temporarily
  • Optimize & track screen time
  • Feel respected and in control


  • Controlled by apps
  • Regret loss of time
  • Peer pressure
  • Disturbed most of the time


  • switch off phone
  • isolate themselves
  • Impulsive to click on alerts
  • quit meditation apps too soon
  • Lack of sleep


  • Ignorant to the effects
  • Anxious for social approvals
  • Overpowered by technology
  • Fear of missing out

Concept Ideation

Isolated Features

In retrospect these successful solutions seem to be very isolated and specific to certain needs. They tend to add to the already existing app overload on the home screen

How might we design an app that will empower users to manage distractions in order to stay focused and fresh to get more done.

Features as part of a user journey

A background app that helps users be conscious of their time spent, prioritize & focus when necessary without distractions, feel confident & energetic without having to give up on their favourites apps


User can set timeframes for daily tasks to be done to complete weekly goals


The background app locks all the unnecessary apps and snoozes notifications until the task time limit is reached.


The apps gives the right emotional boosts and achievement badges to help user complete task and feel confident.


Since its a background app the phone is locked until a certain time passes by before user can unlock or extend time.

The app can allows user to take browsing breaks for up to 7 minutes in regular intervals. These breaks are an incentive that the user can receive for a job well done and this further boosts confidence while limiting screen time.

Value Propositions

  • Understand user tasks
  • Identify user pains & gains
  • Define products services
  • Propose gain-creators & pain-relievers

Persona and User Stories

Project Themes and User Goals

Based on the persona and needs, the following project themes emerged and corresponding goals were determinded


Focus on a single task


Lock up distractions


Concentrate with white noise


Relax smartly with timed breaks

Designing User Interface

Inorder to determine the content and UI of the product, I began with simple conversations the user might have with the app, if it were a person. The supporting UI was determinded based on this key interaction flow

Task Flow and Wireframes

Visual Design




Product Review

Based on preliminary user testing conducted with the interviewees

  • The app overall sticks to its theme of being minimal, mindful & forgiving.
  • The instant focus mode allows users to get into a focus session without much fuss.
  • Inefficiencies are reduced since the app remembers the user’s last saved preferences.
  • The app is mindful of the user’s time and thus makes taking breaks optional. If idle the breaks are snoozed automatically without disturbing the user.
  • The app shows daily focus sessions and breaks that help the user keep track.
  • The user is also allowed to pause a work session thus not making them lose any time.
The users are successful in scheduling a focus session.

The 5-minute breaks help Shoba's son not only concentrate on his studies but also stay connected & updated with social media
Megan is able to complete a presentation as all her breaks are snoozed

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