Designing a Faith Based Audio Meditation App
Brand Identity, App Design
Arise is an app founded by Ex-Google employees in 2020. They realized that there were unmet needs in the faith based community. Many were making due with generalized social media and content platforms. In their user research, they realized that people wanted a dedicated space to go to for their faith content.
So the founders created Arise to connect people to on demand guided prayer and meditations content. Arise provides a dedicated space for mediation, prayer, and casual listening.
They launched with an MVP and were able to build up a loyal community of supporters. People loved the app and they were coming back to re engage with the same content.
Given their initial traction, the founders reached out to us to redesign the brand and app. The goal was to help them improve the experience for current users and create a design system that could grow with them.
Our first step was to design the logo and app icon. We held a design workshop to understand the identity and vision for the brand to gather inspiration.
Our goal was to create a logo that would easily communicate what the app was and also symbolized the vision and value of the app. To communicate this, we explored several different themes, including:
- Christianity/Cross based logos
- Logos that symbolized the concept of a Christian audio app
- A Lettermark logo
- Symbols from nature
We ultimately leaned into the nature symbol and the moon specifically. Stakeholders felt it was most aesthetically pleasing and it subtly tied back to key Biblical imagery. We wanted to lean into something less literal in efforts to be unique. In our market audits we saw all competitors were embracing the literal brand direction. So this created an opportunity for differentiation.
One of our insights was that the sleep tracks on the app were the most popular. People often came to the app early in the morning or right before bed. The founders wanted the app to feel subtle and calming.
So in our design explorations we veered away from colors that were too bright or jarring. We wanted to use colors that tied back to Christian tradition and were calming. This is how we settled on Emerald green for abundance, royal purple for regality, midnight blue for meditation, and dark mode for focus.
We chose midnight blue as the default color since it matched the branding well, performed well, and best delivered on the goal of subtlety and calmness.
The user experience of this app was built around discovering and engaging with the audio content. So we split our focus into the home feed experience, category landing pages, browsing experience, profile, playback, sharing, and monetization.
The home feed is their introduction to the experience, so we focused on creating a synthesized bird’s eye view of their content. We start with a personal greeting at the top to add a hint of personalization. This is followed by a featured header module that will serve as prime real estate for spotlighted content. This module draws focus and creates ease of access.
For the remaining content we created a horizontal scroll layout that mirrored what users would expect from an audio app like Spotify or Apple music. The mental models are the same, the app has playlists, albums, and tracks, so we simplified.
The home screen will display a personalized feed of content curated to the user based on their listening activity.
Content is organized into sections, playlists, and albums. The main categories are mediation, sleep, and scripture. Each of which carries an assortment of themed meditations and prayers users can listen to and follow along.
We used the bottom nav to provide quick access to the most prominent content categories. We also made it easy to scroll through, and select the track that matches your mood by providing further breakdowns within each tab.
This profile section was highly functional. We didn’t need to do much. In fact, it was more of an Account Settings page. We made it easy for people to access their playlists and listening history, and if they wanted to participate in a Daily Challenge, they could track their progress. This MVP profile was a key point in driving engagement so that users don’t have to be taking unnecessarily repetitive actions.
The playback experience is simple and straightforward. Just like you’d expect you have the track cover and info, the progress bar, and audio controls. This lets you know what you’re listening to and engage how they choose. The things that make this flow special are:
- Choose background music: This gives people ultimate control over their meditative experience by allowing them to select if they want music and what type.
- Quote interactions: Now when users tap the quote icon, they’ll see quote excerpts from the track displayed as a cover overlay.
- Add to playlist: This may come as a surprise but the team was so early in their development they didn’t have a playlist feature. Naturally this is tablestakes for an audio app. So introduced the feature to help people save and organize their favorite content.
Social sharing is a way of telling the world who you are, what you care about, and what you find interesting. Your faith identity is a critical part of who you are. And we saw a lot of existing sharing activity happening from our initial users. So created a templated share flow design with 2 variants. It leverages the primary color of the track cover or the image itself to create a template for social media. This makes it easier to share and incentivizes people to do so.
Monetization was an interesting sprint. Most content apps in this space were monetizing through a freemium model, gated content, or memberships. But this app was designed as a community service, so they didn’t want to restrict user’s access to content. Their monetization is more of a donation. Users voluntarily opt in to a monthly or yearly subscription for access to new content, a newsletter, and donations made on their behalf to St. Jude’s.
Previously they only had one entry point to capture new subscribers. So we redesigned that module and created a series of new modules that could be used for growth throughout the app. This included creating adding a banner on category pages and on playback screens. Once clicked, a bottom sheet pops up, explaining benefits and allowing them to checkout via Apple Pay.
We were originally evaluating which of these colors to select, but in user feedback we identified an opportunity to make the app more personal and engaging by introducing customization.
Prayer and mediation is highly personal, the team saw success allowing people to customize their meditation music, and customization was a popular competitor feature.
So we introduced themes into the app to allow people to choose their app color, background music, and background image theme to really make the app feel like their own.
For the marketing assets, they were designed around the concept of meditation inspired imagery. We discovered that one of the most delightful and comforting parts of competitor apps was their use of nature inspired backgrounds. This was an emotional design angle to allude to the feeling of meditating in nature.
We leverage this by creating our own set of backgrounds, including layouts that display: ocean water, starry nights, light flares, and gradients to speak to the sonic waves and auditory experience.
It was fun working with a former Google team and understanding their approach to product and startups. Arise was the first app of it’s kind that we designed — a faith inspired version of Calm, Headspace, and Spotify.
We’re glad we were able to work with them on the rebrand and look forward to seeing the continued success of Arise and the rest of the App Drop team.
If you’d like to learn more about Arise or discuss potential projects, feel free to shoot me a ping.
Till next time — own your power, give back, and leave no stone unturned.
Black Lotus Out.