Two things are important: Intention and attention.
It’s not uncommon for me to open the fridge and ask myself, “what exactly was I getting in here again?”
When I have a clear intention, it’s easy to pay attention. Without it, I’m just wandering around, opening cabinets, leaving my sunglasses somewhere, forgetting the orange I was eating in the hall closet.
So it is with apps.
If your app has something worth paying attention to, it’s helpful to remind people of their intention for being there. They downloaded it for a reason. Now it’s day 6, and maybe they’ve used it a few more times. Maybe they like it, but maybe they’re asking, “what am I doing here, again?”
It’s easy to resort to cheap tricks to “hack” peoples’ attention with notifications, dopamine hits, endless scrolling, etc. etc. And yeah, that’ll keep people coming back - but at what cost? And why?
Don’t you ever ask yourself after scrolling through Instagram, “What the FUCK am I doing here?” I do! I have no intention around it - just attention. It’s such an awful, empty feeling.
So here’s my question: if you’re making an app “for good,” do you know what your users’ intentions are? Do you know what they’re trying to achieve with their taps and clicks?
Can you strengthen their connection to it? Are you honoring it?
The next time you’re making a design decision, just check in with it. Run an experiment.
Pay attention :-)