Why you should think of a passive UX for your next app

and why more apps need to be designed like this


When I got the idea for Luper, I wanted to build something very simple that does one thing very well: reminds me to stay in touch with people.

That’s it.

There are many CRMs, task managers, to-do list apps, and note taking apps out there and they all work well and could help me achieve that goal. But for my needs, and for what I wanted Luper to become, they were all too much.

With an infinite number of apps, and a finite amount of time, UX designers and app developers need to start thinking about building apps with a passive UX not an active UX.

A passive UX is a user experience where the app requires minimal input from the user for it to be functional, as opposed to an active UX where the app requires a lot of user input for the app to function to it’s potential.

It’s essentially a function of time vs utility. For most apps, there is a positive correlation with the time I spend in the app and the utility I get from it. Facebook is an example of an active UX. I need to post, comment, like, send friend requests, and monitor my newsfeed for me to get the utility of keeping in touch with people and knowing what’s going on in their lives. Twitter and Instagram are more examples of an active UX.

Evernote is a great productivity app that’s also an active UX. I can create notes, organize into notebooks, add tags, input media and Evernote becomes a repository for all my notes.

Dropbox is what I think of as a passive UX. I add a file I want stored and then I only access it again when the need arises.

CRM applications are built with an active UX. Salesforce is the cream of the crop when it comes to CRM. The platform is the best at managing the entire sales process. It requires the user to input and upload information from multiple sources for the user to be able to scratch the surface of what Salesforce is built for and what it can do.

One of the best mobile CRMs I’ve seen is Refresh another active UX. It’s a beautifully designed app with access to all the information about your contacts, meetings, and follow-ups right there at your finger tips. I sign up, link my accounts, and constantly go back to the app when I want information about a contact before a meeting I have scheduled.

That’s great for people that need that kind of information at a moments notice.

I don’t.

I built Luper as a passive UX. I wanted to get the maximum potential of the app with the minimum amount of input. Again, I wanted Luper to do one thing and one thing only, to remind me to keep in touch with people.

Luper was built with a “set it and forget it” approach. The user creates a lup, sets it and forgets it. The app does all the work. It automatically reminds the user in recurring time intervals to reach out and it pre-populates the contact information based on the chosen contact method. If a user chooses to add notes, they can but that doesn’t add or takeaway from the function of the app.

Luper doesn’t have the bells and whistles of other productivity apps but Luper doesn’t need it. Luper isn’t a CRM. Luper is a personal relationship manager that helps me remember to keep in touch with personal relationships, or business relationships that have become personal relationships.

According to this study, the average user spend close to three hours on their phones on social media, texting, games, applications, etc. Productivity and utilities is only 12% of that usage. As an app creator, I understand these habits and decided to take a different approach. I can’t compete with robust CRMs and productivity apps, and surely can’t compete with social media and games. I also don’t want to take a bigger slice of the usage pie. Instead of having the user spend a lot of time in my app, I want them to get the maximum functionality while spending a minimum amount of time in the app.

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