Human Phones - A mindful redesign of the smartphone experience

Hi everyone,

It appeared to me how common it is to use persuasive design patterns for smartphones. I think that designers and technologists should take responsibility and aim for change in regards to the creation of potentially addictive software.

This is why I attempted to reimagine the smartphone experience in a more mindful way.

I found that even though we’re all different human beings with different lives and different relations to technology, we generally use similar software on smartphones. iOS and Android are the industry standards and conversations with smartphone addicts taught me that these Operating Systems aren’t per se working for them.

That’s why I created Human Phones, an iteration of my initial concept that enables people to customize their own Android Launcher. The concept informs people about persuasive design patterns and establishes a routine that includes critical self-reflection and altering of the created launcher.

I believe that we can truly put people first if we enable them to control and create their digital environment.

Feedback, questions, or any other comments are very much appreciated! Thank you.

Promo video of Human Phones

This concept is based on desk research and a human-centered design approach. The main process is documented in Notion – The all-in-one workspace for your notes, tasks, wikis, and databases.

The full project documentation can be found at Notion – The all-in-one workspace for your notes, tasks, wikis, and databases.


Hi @Camielvanderbeek, this is lovely :clap:

I really like how you set up your research in Notion and how you explore improvements. What you’ve created has lasting value and can be taken further in concrete projects. You conclude that yourself in “Reality is that I’ve but scratched the surface of fixing this problem.”

One aspect to delve deeper into is the question “Why are smartphones designed to be addictive?” and you come into the extractive ad-based business models that requires us to be glued online as long as possible. Where your phone is turned into a fundamental unsafe space that extracts as much personal information from you to keep you hooked. The phone and the world it leads you to has become a threat to society, unraveling its fabric.

I’ve found places where a fresh and vibrant new approach is emerging, a ‘playground for humane technology’, and that is in the free software movement and on the Fediverse, but a “Tragedy of the Commons” is never far away as corporate players exploit the open source software that ‘has eaten the world’.

Besides the Android launcher, there’s the parallel world of alternative smartphone OS’es like and LineageOS etc. and Linux phones, Pinephone,

I hope that in your further career you’ll continue to explore in more detail this ‘bright side of tech’ as it has so much potential, and not get lured into lucrative positions that - though involving great UX work - are less contributive to humanity.

I’ve written a bit about my take on humane technology in What makes a humane technologist? (in response to Siempo founder @andrewmurraydunn, who also wrote a very intriguing story about his wild Silicon Valley ride).

And maybe you’d even like to become involved with FOSS and Fediverse (“Social networking reimagined”) where I’m most active these days. Get a feel of the unique culture here. UX expertise is in great need there. I’ve set up Fediverse Futures for people to help reimagine social: Fediverse Futures - SocialHub