Slow Is the New Black

I’ve been thinking a lot about the role web applications play in our lives today. For starters, think about how websites have changed. It wasn’t long ago when clients would ask us to design a “brochure” style website. These sites, true to their name, were printed collateral translated to┬áthe web. This worked until we learned more about what technology allowed us to do.

Things started to change.

Today, almost everything built on the web needs to “do something” more than persuade. Websites aren’t brochures anymore. They are web applications with goals for specific interactions with its users and/or integrations with other applications.

Many of these apps are part of the fast web, the “real-time assault on our attention” web. It’s the web that hooks us in and gives a hit of dopamine every-time we see notifications of new comments or mentions.

An interesting shift begins.

While these applications are useful, I’ve been captivated with the idea of building applications that are more deliberate. By this I mean interactions with you happen as you need them to, instead of as they happen. There’s a rhythm to information and interactions that is predictable and at a pace set by the customer. Slowing things down leads to knowledge while speediness aims to give information. This web is closer to the concept of the The Slow Web.

I’m working on two projects that follow these ideas.

One is an app that helps people organize the important things in their life. It’s a place for you to keep and share family information like wills, account details, digital assets, etc. Instead of a standard onboarding process where users are prompted to “finish” setting it up, we’re taking a more relational approach. We want users to complete setting up their profile over time while they learn its value. So instead of the friend who texts you every 5 minutes with updates, it will be the friend you meet with for coffee every few months to share life with.

The other is a website focused on educating employees within an organization. The information design set by the team we’re working with was dead on. Instead of cramming articles, how-to’s and tutorials into people’s eye sockets, they opted for giving ownership and shared responsibility to the consumers of the education. Again, the idea of knowledge instead of information.

Solving problems this way requires a shift in our thought process. We’re conditioned to build the fastest, biggest, flashiest web applications. What if instead, we focused on building the best apps for our customers?