Reflectly Product Analysis

David A. Chang
Feb 14 · 8 min read
Life, man.

Life. One of life’s most complicated subjects.

Across cultures, geographies, languages, and ages, life is constantly being evaluated and contemplated by everyone.

In my own personal search for life’s meaning, I discovered that only two things are constant — contemplating life, and technology.

Therefore, I came to the logical conclusion that there must be at least one mobile application which enables users to discover and understand more about their own lives.

I mean, come on. I can find true love on demand. Why can’t I find the meaning of life on demand?

So, after countless hours of perusing the iOS app store, I am thrilled to announce that Reflectly, one of Apple’s 2018 New Apps We Love, has failed beautifully in enabling users all over the world to do just one thing: reflect.

Deceptively friendly interface…

To be fair, Reflectly hasn’t completely failed. They have a sweet UI. Journal entries are easy, intuitive, and sort of personalized. You can even see a nice squiggly line of your “weekly average rating”.

However, as I first walked through the app myself, I noticed a few things that were a bit too squiggly.

AI is replacing annoying parents! Who will inquire about our days, now??


Before even downloading the application, I briefly scanned the Reflectly’s iOS app store download page. The intended value prop of Reflectly is clear: a personalized journaling experience.

Sounds great to me! I’m excited. Finally, a personalized journaling experience that can really help me learn more about myself.

This was all going well and fine. That is, until one game-changing moment.

I opened the app.

Today I’ll be evaluating Reflectly across three measures, as stolen from Yammer.

  1. How effective Reflectly onboards and engages users
  2. How effective Reflectly solves user problems
  3. What the underlying strategy seems to be, and what I believe it should be

Let’s jump into it!

Onboards and Engages Users

As I walked through Reflectly’s onboarding flow, I found myself thinking aloud…

What’s my name? Haha, thanks for asking, Reflectly :) Gotcha! Here it is!

Create an account? I mean, can you take me out to dinner, first? Ease me into the process a bit? Not too sure what you can do or why I need to sign up… but sure Reflectly, since you asked so nicely :)

Hey, you know what? I just wanted to take a second to say that I’m really enjoying giving you my inf —



Navigate through the weeds of forced signups and find the elusive “Later” button.

Err. Weird. Kind of seemed like you were forcing me to sign up, and purposely made the paid version impossible to navigate away from…

Eh, whatever. That must have come out wrong haha. You’re doing a great job Reflectly! Lol! How’d you know I wanted to choose my favorite color, which is blue?

Honestly… you’re so living up to my expectations. Everything is so personalized! You asked for my nickname AND my favorite color. Jeeze. It’s like I’m really talking to a frie —



Haha, that was weird. Anyway, damn Reflectly! You killed it! Great onboarding experience overall.

After completing the onboarding flow, completing a journal entry is pretty intuitive and looking at previous entries is simple and makes sense.

But that’s about it on the positives. The reflection question is typically incredibly irrelevant and takes very little thought to answer.

On top of that, the personalization is… talking to a smiling robot. I’m basically being asked how my day was by the equivalent of a blender, or my washing machine.

And that’s all it really is.

A virtual journal that looks… nice?

With a cute little question tacked onto it at the end of each journal entry.

Not how I imagined the future of personalized journaling to look like.

Solves User Problems

Does Reflectly solve the user’s problem?


If users were dying to reflect with a robot, then yes.

If users thought that reflection meant finding the answer to “If you could be any superhero for a day, who would you be?”, then yes!

If users wanted to see an incredibly arbitrary graph associating their changing mood with a number between 1–10, well shit. Reflectly is an EXPERT problem solver.

Otherwise, again, I’m not getting much value out of Reflectly besides what I could have already done myself, in my own notebook. The questions are not particularly interesting to me — but they may be more interesting to someone who… just wants to be asked random questions?

Underlying Strategy

To me, it seems like Reflectly’s underlying strategy is to trick users into thinking that by picking moods from a few emojis and responding to a few basic questions, they are reflecting much more effectively, whatever that means.

Then, they pray users will realize that unlocking all the shitty reflection questions in audio format is their final, dying wish.

Then, they hope users decide to actually pay $50 a year for the audio files.

Reflectly is not tying any emotions into their supposedly personalized reflection. They aren’t helping the user reflect about new, difficult problems. None of the product features truly help or encourage users to build the habit of journaling.

They simply have a decent interface and ask some questions.

My Underlying Strategy

I believe Reflectly’s strategy should be centered around emotional highs and lows — celebrating every success and learning opportunity someone experiences.

Highlighting, and eventually even creating, strong emotional experiences within the app should lead to an awesome user experience and an engaged user base.

I will assume users who use Reflectly are interested in personal growth, and want to be more introspective — otherwise, why reflect. Right off the bat, this creates an awesome opportunity to capture the audience. Reflectly should directly ask the question…

“Why are you on our platform? What do you want to achieve?”

Headspace is asking some reflective questions!

The popular meditation app I previously wrote about, Headspace, handles user goals and anchoring emotions incredibly well. Asking a user’s intentions not only provides you with more context on how you can supplement their experience, but it also gives them something to anchor to.

Instead of asking the incredibly ambiguous question of “How did you feel throughout the day?” You can now create a more personalized question that is anchored to their goals.

Did you progress towards a better version of yourself today?

All of a sudden, it makes sense for Reflectly to tap into the longer term needs (and longer term use!) of the app.

Find out your user’s end goals/wishes/ambitions. Ask questions that help them reflect about their progress and life. Create a best friend/father/mother figure in your user’s life that he or she never had.

Now, with journal entries and reflections that are relevant to a user’s life and goals, you have a few new avenues to encourage habitual usage.

One, see progress. Mood tracking, but forget the arbitrary smiley/unsmiley faces. Monitor my journey towards my goals.

Two, memories. Bring up my thoughts from a week, a month ago. Show me how far I’ve progressed.

Three, blatantly ask what they could have done today to make their day even better. Then, ask them to do that tomorrow. And checkin the next day and ask about their progress again. Celebrate with them when they take a step forward. Raise them up when they fail.

Please stop being a robot.

Cheerful message from Reflectly after you explicitly select “shitty day”.

Last Questions

Couple things I would love to know the answer to if I were to work on this app.

First of all — what do people want to get out of journalling, typically?

Why is personalization important? Is it important? Does Reflectly really feel personalized? What are factors that make a user feel like he or she is using a “personalized” application? How can we personalize Reflectly further?

What do people want to get out of reflecting? What kind of reflection is most rewarding? How can we most easily encourage a user to reflect?

Is there a demographic of user who responds strongly to this “personalized” reflection? Are these users different than ones who enjoy “typical” journaling? At the end of the day, if they are different, how do we market and build Reflectly for them?

That about wraps up my thoughts regarding Reflectly. I really do despise this app, and would love to hear any of your thoughts, either here or at

Thanks for reading!



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I like products and I like people. Mostly.