Forest's Gamified Focus

June 27, 2018
Mobile app

The average smartphone user checks their phone 28 times per day. That's at least once per hour. Or 10,000 times in a year. We cannot help but glance at our phone because we're after that next reward. A text from a friend, an Instagram like or a gif of a cat playing the piano. It is variable, just like gambling, and that's what makes it addictive. 

To get clean, you need to be in control. You need to form new habits, and this is what Forest is designed to do. Forest uses gamification to improve user engagement and productivity. The end goal is to help the user focus and be present.

Why this is really good UX:

  • The theme of Forest is purposely associated with nature to connote that the app is organic, healthy, and natural. This primes the user's mind to do something good for themselves, and that is to focus and be present with the help of the app.
  • The game is simple, yet highly engaging. Every 25 minutes away from your smartphone grows you a new tree. To turn a single tree into forest times time, effort and commitment. And this is what makes the app so engaging. Known as the IKEA Effect, we have a cognitive bias in which we place a higher value on things we create ourselves. Labor can lead to love.
  • The onboarding flow is fast and straightforward. As per the Isolation Effect, a spotlight is used to differentiate the UI towards the two essential functions—the timer and species selector— to ensure the user remembers the most important parts of the flow.
  • The multiplayer option is a powerful vehicle to take motivation to the next level. This version of the game requires a group of users to all abstain from using a smartphone to build a forest together. They succeed and fail as a team. And this is powerful. With responsibility and camaraderie comes a great deal of motivation.

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