Calm’s Carefully Curated New User Experience

August 1, 2019
Mobile app

Calm is a meditation and mindfulness mobile app for iOS and Android that recently raised a $27 million Series B extension round.

Apparently, mindfulness can take a bit of money to both create and access. Yearly subscriptions to Calm cost $69.99 per year—but users can access the service for free for 7 days while they test it out.

So how does Calm show enough value to demand it’s hefty price tag without overwhelming the very person looking to relax? 

Let's take a look:

mobile screenshot from mindfulness app Calm. this is the first screen in the new user experience that shows the words "take a deep breath" on a blue gradient background

Calm starts off by promoting users to take a big ol’ deep breath. If someone downloaded the app in a moment of mental anguish, this thing is working already. 

mobile screenshot from mindfulness app Calm. this screen shows new user onboarding personalization questions

It then prompts users to select what they are looking for—these kinds of inputs are sometimes called declared data. 

mobile screenshot from mindfulness app Calm. this screen shows new user onboarding personalization questions and declared user data

Users can choose as many items as they want. 

mobile screenshot from mindfulness app Calm. this is the signup screen—there is a CTA button to sign up with email

Now that users are relaxed from their deep breath and excited about all of the possible benefits, it’s time to create an account. 

mobile screenshot from mindfulness app Calm. this is paywall screen for the calm app 7 day free trial


Next up, a bit of necessary friction. At this point, users agree to the $69.99/year charge, but the 7 day free trial helps to limit the concern. If we were betting people, we’d wager this is the biggest point of falloff in their onboarding flow. 

mobile screenshot from mindfulness app Calm. this screen shows further personalization questions

Users have one more question before they start getting recommended content—how comfortable they are with meditation. Just a bit more declared data for personalization. 

mobile screenshot from mindfulness app Calm. this screen is an example of a personalized ux based on declared user data. it says "recommended for you based on your responses"

And then it’s time to jump in! Users get a screen of personalized content based on their previous statements. 

mobile screenshot from mindfulness app Calm. this screen is an example of a personalized ux based on declared user data
mobile screenshot from mindfulness app Calm. this full screen mobile modal is an example of a personalized ux based on declared user data
mobile screenshot from mindfulness app Calm. this full screen mobile modal is an example of a personalized ux based on declared user data
mobile screenshot from mindfulness app Calm. this is the calm app dashboard with a mobile tooltip for new user onboarding

Once users work their way through their recommended content, they land on Calm’s home screen and are greeted with a tooltip that indicates where they should begin. Since we said we were interested in meditation, we start our journey there. 

mobile screenshot from mindfulness app Calm. this is the calm app meditate dashboard with a mobile tooltip for new user onboarding

The meditation section greets us with another tooltip that highlights content we might find useful. 

mobile screenshot from mindfulness app Calm. this is the calm app dashboard with a mobile tooltip for new user onboarding

Heading back to the main screen prompts us to check out yet another feature—sleep. 

mobile screenshot from mindfulness app Calm. this is the calm app sleep stories dashboard with a mobile tooltip for new user onboarding

The sleep stories section greets us with another tooltip—but wait—is that Matthew McConaughey?

mobile screenshot from mindfulness app Calm with an audio story read by matthew mcconaughey

Yup! Wooderson himself is reading us a story that reminds us of these sage words: “Let me tell you this, the older you do get the more rules they're gonna try to get you to follow. You just gotta keep livin' man, L-I-V-I-N.”

Why this is really good UX:

  • Emotion management: Well-timed questions and mindfulness prompts in the onboarding flow sets expectations for a great—and calm—experience.
  • Personalization: Users get super-targeted, personalized content recommendations using declared data captured during the onboarding flow.
  • Clear UI patterns: Tooltips call out where to begin so the user doesn’t feel overwhelmed. Direction equals calmness. 
  • Delight: Matthew freaking McConaughey will read you a bedtime story. Worth $70 alone, to be honest.