NYC Design
Published in

NYC Design

Photo by Fabian Møller on Unsplash

Fixing the Mess Caused by Addictive Software

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

The problems associated with addictive software

We all know that technology is addictive. You wake up and check Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Email, Whatsapp and once you’re done you’d be able to circle back and find new updates.

  • You won’t recognise these celebs now!
  • 10 Pictures you wish you hadn’t seen!
  • Every day words you’ve been using incorrectly your whole life!

Checklist: Is your application addictive?

Do you have any of the following features that are either addictive or provide little value?

  • Blatantly unhelpful listicles
  • Hacks and seemingly helpful articles that are just fluff and encourage people to waste time. Who feels good about themselves after a whole day scrolling through an app?! Sooner or later that negative feeling is going to be associated with your app.
  • You send newsletters/mails to your subscribers every second day and the subject line or tone of the mail aims to hook users in or make them feel like they’re missing out on life changing information.
  • Likes, Ratings and Comments — Are Likes, Ratings and Comments major features of your apps? The easier and more commitment free these actions are, the bigger the problem. Sure, rating a hotel experience is useful. But how about Likes and Comments? Do they actually connect users in a meaningful manner? How many times do we see harsh opinions or insults shared on another user’s profile with little accountability? These quick and easy interactions, with little accountability, have changed the way we communicate in the real world — for the worse. Likes for likes are meaningless and frivolous and even if we really do Like that holiday destination image, why are we so dedicated to curating that list of things we want instead of doing it/living it?
  • Do you try to do too much by offering lots of options or alternatives? The Netflix search below is a perfect example.

Saying no to monkey mind

There are mobile and browser apps to regulate your app/internet usage.

Photo by IN BOSSMODE on Unsplash

My deliberate decision to build non-addictive software that encourages better behaviour

Last year I worked on a side project for a few months. I wanted to create a web application and it was important to me that the app did the following:

  • made employees more efficient and their job less tedious
  • saved the company money; and
  • enabled easy sharing of information that would save time for everyone.

The ethos behind anything I build

  • I have absolutely no interest in hooking people in and keep them coming back for more.
  • Anything I build should help an individual or society perform a task and then step away to spend more time in the real world.
  • It should help people make informed decisions — rather than quick and easy fixes.
  • But it should also provide quick and easy fixes for appropriate situations.
  • The solution should not be dependent on fads or trends. Keeping up with what’s popular is part of why people are constantly checking in — to see if they’re still relevant.
  • As I mentioned above, rating a service is useful and even helpful to other users. However, applications that enable and encourage users to insult others, with little accountability, is not something I want to build into my apps.
  • I probably won’t be building Likes into my apps either, as I think it’s utterly superficial and damaging to the user’s psyche. Users upload an image and then repeatedly refresh, waiting for Likes. While smarter users are able to differentiate between quality and fluff, many impressionable users determine the value of information and images by Likes — and that is scary! Online behaviour has also seeped into the real world, where validation has become a major issue. It now affects more people of all ages, and with more intensity than it did about a decade ago.
  • People need digital detoxes because they’re addicted to something unhealthy. But when software actually wants to help you, you’ll get to spend more time in the real world. A good example here is, Uber. Uber has made travel easier and more affordable and you don’t ever spend time on the app unnecessarily.



A publication for designers of New York & design lovers from all around the world. Design thinking is what makes us share with the whole world.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store