Chase Elliott Clark

Calm: Designing the Core Engagement Loop

Crafting an insights-driven, customer-obsessed engagement loop

πŸ€” Problem

Many people download Calm and either never use it, or stop using it, and the people who do make a successful habit are often "self-celected" users who worked through app UX friction to establish and maintain a practice. Also, business hesitation to make changes to the app home screen.

🎯 Mission

Define an actionable core loop strategy based on user insights.

πŸ§›πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ Persona

New Calm users (get them hooked), casual Calm users (get them to keep coming back), experienced Calm users (do no harm)

πŸ₯³ Success

Increased conversion and user engagement

🧒 My role

Lead researcher, design collaborator


In the realm of digital well-being, Calm stands out as a sanctuary for millions seeking solace in meditation, sleep, and relaxation. However, the challenge of transforming casual downloads into meaningful, habitual use remained a steep hill to climb. This case study explores the journey of redefining user engagement through the lens of a core experience loop, aimed at making mental wellness not just an aspiration but a daily habit for users at all stages of their mindfulness journey.

The Challenge

problem map

Calm's potential for impact was hindered by a crucial challenge: many users downloaded the app but rarely engaged deeply enough to form a lasting habit. Those who did often overcame significant user experience (UX) friction to do so. Additionally, there was a palpable business hesitation towards making substantive changes to the app's home screen, complicating efforts to improve user engagement.


habit app

The mission was clear: devise and implement a core loop strategy rooted in deep user insights. This strategy had to serve three distinct personas: new Calm users, to entice them into regular usage; casual users, to convert sporadic engagement into a steady habit; and experienced users, to enhance their journey without disruption. The ultimate measure of success? A tangible lift in both conversion rates and user engagement metrics.

Role and Approach

core loop

As the lead researcher and a collaborator in design, I embarked on a multifaceted approach to unearth the barriers and drivers behind app engagement. Through a combination of user interviews, surveys, and behavioral data analysis, I mapped out the diverse needs and expectations of Calm's user base. This comprehensive understanding allowed for the creation of a targeted engagement strategy that addressed user desires and business concerns alike.

Research Insights and Strategy Development

trigger, action, reward

Our research revealed a universal desire among users for a more tangible sense of progress and achievement. To address this, we introduced the "Calm ring," a gamified feature designed to motivate users by visualizing their journey towards mindfulness and rewarding consistent app engagement.

ring options

The segmented ring visualization emerged as a clear favorite among users, striking a balance between simplicity and motivational effectiveness. This preference guided our design decisions, ensuring that the new feature felt both intuitive and rewarding.

Implementation and Impact

ring options

The introduction of the Calm ring and its integration into the app's core experience marked a pivotal moment in Calm's user engagement strategy. By making these changes, we saw a significant uptick in user engagement metrics. Notably, there was an increase in daily app interactions and a higher rate of conversion from casual to regular users. User feedback underscored the value of the Calm ring, with many expressing that it provided a much-needed sense of progress and accomplishment in their mental wellness journey.

Reflections and Learnings


This project was a profound learning experience, challenging me to balance user needs with business objectives in a tangible, impactful manner. It reinforced the importance of empathy in design and the value of rigorous, user-centric research in uncovering insights that drive meaningful improvements.



Through a strategic blend of research and design, the Calm core loop initiative successfully transformed the way users engage with the app, fostering a more consistent and rewarding mindfulness practice. This case study not only highlights the pivotal role of actionable user insights in enhancing digital experiences but also underscores my contribution to fostering a world where mental wellness is a daily, accessible habit for all.