Chase Elliott Clark

Introducing a new way to use Calm: Journeys

An ambitious project setting out to solve the three largest problems for the Calm app.

🤔 Problem

Calm users face three main problems: not knowing what to do in the app, much of the content is too difficult for them (audio meditation), and based on those problems many users do not make progress and therefore do not return to the app.

🎯 Mission

Create a new engagement paradigm in Calm for new and existing users, making it easier and more obvious how to make personal progress with Calm.

🧛🏻‍♂️ Persona

Any and all existing and potential Calm customers

🥳 Success

Increased conversion and user engagement

🧢 My role

Lead researcher

The Problems

Calm’s main DTC goal was to increase user engagement in app which would also naturally increase new user conversation and retention. We knew from prior research what was blocking users from starting free trials (Calm feels expensive because people don’t know how it will help them and they don’t know what’s in the app when asked to subscribe) but once someone subscribed what stopped them from engaging with the app more often? We set off to answer that question and found three main user problems:

(1) People don’t know what to do to make progress with their mental wellness goals:

(2) Many things in Calm are too difficult for them to do:

(3) If people don’t make progress toward their goal they don’t come back to the app:

The Concept of Journeys

Based on these insights I collaborated with product and design to develop a new concept that we called Journeys—a new and significant change to how our users would engage with the app.



We knew that all users came to Calm with specific goals in mind and based on that we crafted five initial journey topics based on size of customer problem:



For many people taking 10 minutes out of your busy day to sit put in headphones and meditate was simply unrealistic for several reasons outlined above. We had previously introduced a new non-audio content type called Taptivities and based on the success we saw there we continued to invest in visual mindfulness activities. In the initial Journey test we developed six new quick activities for users to complete:



The last of the three main problems to solve was the feeling of progress. Power users of Calm had long streaks they were proud of, but streaks are easy to break, and the majority of users do not maintain an ongoing daily streak (myself included!). To help with this we added a concept of levels to journeys, clearly showing the progress you’re making by completing recommended content and activities.

With this new concept we headed into testing to find out if users understood it, and if they found it valuable.

User Research

To further enhance Journeys and re-risk them for launch we conducted remote unmoderated user research, established a beta testing community, and also ran moderated user interviews.

Usability testing

For our first round of Journeys research we tested a Figma prototype on aiming to answer several research questions around onboarding into journeys, picking what to do once you were in a journey, comprehension of new activity types, being able to switch journeys, making progress in a journey, and completing a journey.

Our key takeaways from this round of research were:

Beta Community

beta testing community

Internally we already had high confidence in this solution since it was based on three clear and major user problems. After usability testing we knew that we had some design changes to make, but that we were still heading in a great direction with this feature. And sure, people seemed to understand the feature and were interested in it, but they hadn’t had a chance to truly experience a Calm Journey over time—how could we know if Journeys led people to experience real life progress over time? To answer this question we designed and created our first Calm Beta Testing Community.

We created a Discord server and invited people to participate in ongoing beta testing via iOS TestFlight builds. We had roughly 300 people join the community, comprising Calm users but also a cross-functional blend of Calm employees.

User interviews

Once the community was established and users had been able to experience Journeys over time we conducted four rounds of user interviews focusing on the following topics:

The Result

The insights we gathered in these rapid rounds of Discord conversations and Zoom interviews helped us continue to iterate on and refine the concept of Journeys. We were able to clarify confusion points in the user experience and overhaul the progression/leveling experience (this was the loudest user pain point) before launching a 20% user A/B test.

All in all, what we saw in the Journeys user research was that people loved the new feature, and were finding new ways to use Calm that they hadn’t been able to do before. Being able to identify necessary design changes before a public launch was a game changer for this revolutionary new way to use Calm.