Typically one of the metrics or measures of success in UX design is user engagement, whereby the amount of time that a user spends in meaningful interaction with the product or service can be seen an indication for how good the execution of UX design is.

However, when you consider that we are already spending too much time in front of screens, movements such as Time Well Spent is an alternative philosophy or approach to design that can provide great user experience without allowing technology to dictate our habits and behaviour. Looking at the principles involved on the Time Well Spent website, a lot of the concepts are focused on the general and greater overall user benefits in their interpretation of a positive user experience.

I am wondering if there is a term for this philosophy or approach to design where the aim is to allow the user to accomplish their goals without seeking to engage them further then what is required.

Even considering applications such as games or entertainment app where you can design the interaction so that the users are encouraged to take breaks, or explore the real world without being tied to the interactions within the application.

2 Answers 2


What comes to my mind is the Calm Technology - https://www.calmtech.com. The basic principles of Calm Tech state that:
I. Technology should require the smallest possible amount of attention
II. Technology should inform and create calm
III. Technology should make use of the periphery
IV. Technology should amplify the best of technology and the best of humanity
V. Technology can communicate, but doesn’t need to speak
VI. Technology should work even when it fails
VII. The right amount of technology is the minimum needed to solve the problem
VIII. Technology should respect social norms

These quite well refer to what you described, especially the first points ("Give people what they need to solve their problem, and nothing more."). You can find more at the link I posted above or at Amber Case's website.

  • +1 I haven't come across their work, which just goes to show that there's always something new to learn everyday.
    – Michael Lai
    Mar 29, 2017 at 9:54

Loosely related to UX, but great philosophy is “Start with no“ by Jim Camp. It‘s actually a negotiation strategy.

The main idea is that seller / designer / etc. is equal to buyer / client / user / etc. and both have sacred right to say “no“ any time in negotiation. And both sides shouldn‘t take no personally, take offense or feel aggrieved.

Example. Basecamp users: please add feature X, we really need it. Basecamp: no. Now user can either continue to use Basecamp as is or switch to another app.

Anti-example. Customer: I want to cancel my subscription. Newspaper site: well, it‘s not that easy. Please call us at... (I don‘t remember the newspaper, but the idea) Saying no should be easy.

You shouldn't have neediness. With persuasive design & pop-ups most sites and apps are screaming their neediness: please subscribe, please use me. Camp argues you shouldn‘t show the neediness even though you have one. Product with no neediness will never use those techniques. "Dear user, we would be happy if you use our product, but if isn't what you want no problem. We'll be fine".

In the clients world. Somehow closer to UX. You should know pain points of your client and use them in your persuasion. All communication should be in the client‘s world. We want you to buy our product vs Our product will help you... basic stuff.

”No” is as good as ”yes”. You tried hard to be in client‘s world and show her pain points. Now what? Buy quick, our offer expires in 24 hours! Wrong. Please take your time to think about it. If you don‘t want it / can‘t afford — no problems. So the idea is you don't apply any pressure: you know your product will solve their problems. That way they won't regret about their purchase, because they can think about it without emotions / scarcity. But you're not in need to sell it whatsoever. There is always other client.

There are many other great principles.

Interesting point though it only works if you have great product.

  • +1 These are interesting examples from outside of UX, although I don't see this as necessarily adding to the user experience (even great products can be improved). In a sense you could argue that 'less is more', but this particular strategy isn't aimed at enhancing the user experience.
    – Michael Lai
    Mar 31, 2017 at 11:12
  • Yes, it's more general than UX, but if you have that vision you may think about your app and UX in a kinda different way
    – Runnick
    Apr 1, 2017 at 8:11

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