Open Mind Web App (Open source)

Enable people to end their stress and the stress of those around them.

Ryan Allen
Mar 2, 2018 · 5 min read

Sometimes the people who need help the most can’t afford to pay for it.

Ideal user:

  • The accept they have a problem with stress.
  • The speaks English.
  • The have internet access (free internet is available at most libraries as a public service).
  • The have a basic knowledge of web and mobile apps.

Competitor audit

Competition in this space is awesome, as it exists in many, many forms. Here are a few things I’ve found useful over the years:

  • Apps: Headspace (I practiced every track before and did a written inventory of a large chunk of content to get an understanding of how they layered their practices on. Andy really does have the kindest and greatest voice!), Calm, Insight timer, Meditation studio, Relax meditation
  • Other sources of guided meditations (websites, youtube, CDs, tapes, podcasts). Examples include things like hemisync,, etc.
  • In-person courses (vipassana from, compassion meditations from Emaho Foundation for Tibetan Buddhist Studies, etc)
  • Books, sutras, journal articles, social media discussions, etc.

SME interviews

I interviewed Thomas J. Carnahan, Ph.D. about stress, finding meaning in life and identifying values. Thomas is a psychologist, Chief Science Officer, and co-founder at nfoshare, where he helps companies improve their culture and their brand.

I had an interview about stress, trauma and the body with Jennica Mills, who is the founder of Neurogenic Yoga where she has integrated the tension, stress, and trauma release research from Dr. David Berselli into her inspiring practice.


Here is the raw data for 119 survey responses to the first needfinding survey I conducted on r/meditation and r/mindfulness. Feel free to go through it to see the types of questions I asked.

From even this one survey it’s obvious that there are needs that aren’t being met. All that is left is to identify them and write them down in an official spreadsheet.

Identify needs

Processing our raw data can take some time, as it needs organizing and manipulating to extract only the information that we need. Here are a few tips that have served me well:

1. Needs Statements Should be as Specific as the Raw Data to Avoid Losing Valuable Data.

Here is a need I noted during a user interview of a competitor’s product:

Original Statement“I wish I could adjust the volume better because when voice and music play at the same time the music is so loud I can’t hear the person talking.”

YES — the app plays background and voice audio at appropriate levels.

NO — the app doesn’t have loud background audio.

2. Express Needs Without Implying a Design Concept. This allows you to stay focused on the definition of the problem, rather than trying to solve it. We want to state a what, not a how in the needs statements. Again we can use the same example as above:

YES — the app plays background and voice audio at appropriate levels.

NO — the app has separate volume controls for background audio and voice.

3. Express needs as an attribute of the app to be designed. This makes it easier to interpret and edit statements later on as they will all be expressed in a similar way. It also sets users’ needs as qualities of the app that if addressed will solve a problem in the user experience.

YES — The app reminds me to use it.

NO — I am reminded to use the app.

4. Try to avoid the words must and should. It is very tempting to use words like must and should, especially if our users used these words, however we should avoid these words to keep from prematurely establishing relative importance. We will determine which needs are more important than the others in a future step.

Here is the above spreadsheet in google sheets from the previous survey. Below is each main need and how I’ve addressed it in this project.

The app is intuitive

It is simple and basic looking. There are no frills. It is pure utilitarianism.

Anecdotal evidence:

When asked “What value do you find in the app?” several users responded with:

“it simplicity, there is no superfluous UI/UX therefore nothing to distract me

“Nice app for guided meditation Some of the phrasing is lovely; the design is simple and clear; the content that I listened to seemed suitable for those familiar with the dharma and covered more than very basic mindfulness.”

“The simple, clean UI and colors help me focus. I keep it open as a tab on my desktop because my phone is distracting.”

The app is credible

The content comes from experts, and I link to sources with the content. The content is open source, you can correct it if you find errors and I’ll work to fix the audio.

The app motivates me to use it

The intro in most of the guided meditations uses growth mindset techniques, which according its author, Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D.

“Teaching a growth mindset creates motivation and productivity in the worlds of business, education, and sports. It enhances relationships. When you read Mindset, you’ll see how.”

The app is flexible

I created a content framework that allows me to create any length of meditation required. Currently I have most meditations working in 1 minute, 5 minute, 10 minute and 20 minute versions. I have a working prototype that I want to turn into an automated system, but this project has many fun things I want to try. Currently no users have asked for any other time options (though personally I want a 60 minute one that is backlogged).

The app empowers me

These principles are used as a rubric when creating and editing meditation content.

The app teaches me

We learn in different ways. My goal is to give away quality content for all types of learners. If you have something to share, let me know :)

Nerd stuff

This project is hosted on firebase.

Contribute to this open source project.

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Ryan Allen

Currently designing @godaddy

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