How can a sleep tracker best support healthy sleep habits?
OUR OBJECTIVE :
Craft a sleep tracking experience that promotes healthy sleep routine: a consistent bedtime and wake time.
MY ROLE :
I worked on all aspects of the project including product spec, user testing, iterations, final visual design, and engineering handoff. I worked together with our VP of Product on user testing and worked with a contract visual designer for final designs.
WHO I WORKED WITH :
VP of Product
Contract Visual Designer
iOS Engineering Team
What I Learned
Creating Spire’s Sleep experience taught me how to use UI paradigms to enforce behavior change. Every UI affords certain behavior: progress bars tell you to fill them up, streak counters encourage consistency, and so on.
Good design is not merely usability, it’s about telling the right story and encouraging the right user behaviors.
People are particular about their health and often go against the recommendations of professionals. Encountering conflicts between user’s sleep preferences and sleep researcher recommendations taught me how to satisfy these user needs while staying true to best practices.
Background & Research
The most coveted feature by our users is the ability to track Sleep.
The addition of sleep tracking would allow us to:
- Round out a “24/7 health monitoring” user experience. We already tracked a user’s daytime health data: their activity and state of mind (calm, tense, and focused time).
- Be feature-to-feature competitive with big players in our space.
Our preliminary user research was conducted through Skype interviews and a survey. We learned about people’s sleep goals, habits, and challenges. Major findings included:
- The biggest challenge was discipline: going to bed on time and sleeping enough.
- Users fell into two camps: those with mediocre sleep, which wasn’t great, but not bad enough to take action, and those who experienced such bad sleep that it forced them to actively change their habits.
- The majority felt they were not sleeping well
Science of Sleep
We began with the research of Stanford’s Daniel Jin Blum, PhD. and a sleep researcher who joined our team for the duration of the sleep project. Dr. Blum came to the office for a Q&A and members of our team read his book, Sleep Wise.
The prevailing sleep research recommends the following:
- Stick to a consistent sleep routine. Go to bed and wake up at the same times every day, including weekends. This is the most important part.
- Be mindful of how your daytime activities affect your sleep. Specifically: be more active, manage your stress, eat well, and minimize afternoon caffeine and alcohol intake.
We began with a wide array of designs. Over several iterations of user testing, we narrowed down to a UI that favored a consistent sleep routine. We found that testers preferred a UI that rewarded them for consistent sleep patterns.
During user testing we found that users strongly preferred designs that highlighted their various sleep stages - a visual called a “hypnogram”.
Why was this a challenge?
Our sleep research indicated that these hypnograms are basically noise.
- They distract from the important facets of healthy sleep: consistent bedtime and wake time.
- The research connecting different sleep stages to different daytime actives is still being debated.
However, our user research indicated that while users weren’t able to articulate why they liked having a hypnogram or how they would use it, including a hypnogram in their sleep report gave the impression that the sleep tracker was working.
As we iterated our designs, we found ways to marry the important parts of sleep routine with hypnograms, which gave security to the user that their sleep tracker was indeed producing accurate results.