Cisco estimates there will be 11.6 billion mobile-connected devices by 2020 — a number that exceeds the world’s projected population. The mobile Internet of Things (IoT) is spreading consumer attention thin, making it more difficult than ever to break through the noise and reach target audiences. With this many connected devices on the horizon, content marketers must find a way to use mobile to their advantage. There’s an emerging concept within IoT that may hold the answer to regaining some consumers’ attention: calm design technology.
What Is Calm Design Technology?
Calm design technology is a new idea that strives to blend technology seamlessly with everyday life. While modern smartphones, smartwatches, tablets, and connected devices aim to respond to users’ needs, calm design takes responsive design a step further. Calm design is the next generation of connected devices. Its purpose is to connect consumers with their devices and others in a way that lets them live their lives freely — without interruptions, pop-ups, or “smart” technology that makes life more difficult.
The example Amber Case used at InBound 2015 when speaking about calm technology is electricity. Electricity is invisible, working on its own without interrupting our daily lives. We only notice electricity when it stops working. Calm design aims to reach this level of invisibility — not literally, but figuratively. Instead of your Apple TV turning on and asking if you want to download an update, it should simply play movies.
Principles of Calm Design IoT
Technology shouldn’t take up most of our time and attention. It should only require some attention when absolutely necessary. Here are a few principles of calm technology from Calmtech.com:
- Technology should require the smallest amount of attention possible. It should communicate without having to “speak,” creating awareness using different senses to keep consumers in their current environment or task without interrupting.
- Technology should amplify the best of humanity and machines. Tech design should be for humans first. Machines shouldn’t act like humans or vice versa — good design should amplify the best parts of both.
- Technology should solve a problem, and that’s it. The minimum amount of technology possible to resolve an issue should be the only tech we see. Calm tech is slimmer, doing what it needs to do and nothing more.
Calm tech design doesn’t require focused attention to use. It lets users multitask and do other things while the tech quietly does its job. It utilizes the periphery.
Calm Design and Marketing
When virtually everything in a consumer’s life is connected, distracting notifications and daily interruptions escalate out of control. Customers are nearing a breaking point with marketers, blocking advertisements and leaving websites that have pop-up ads. Instead of contributing to the noise, marketers need to find a way to advertise their brands without interrupting the consumer’s day. Calm design is the answer.
Trying to grab attention with irrelevant ads will only push consumers away and eventually make your brand extinct. Calm design is a new platform — one that enables interaction with customers without interrupting their days. Marketers can join the trend toward calm by understanding how to transform advertisements into meaningful conversations with consumers, adding something of value without taking them away from their current tasks.
How Can Marketers Use Calm Technology Design?
Combining content with calm design is going to lead the movement. Marketers need to change how they communicate with consumers to optimize outreach in the modern world. Instead of relying on the interrupting nature of advertising, content marketers should evolve into what Haydn Sweterlitsch, chief creative officer at HackerAgency, calls the Atmospheric Approach. The Atmospheric Approach doesn’t create content that adds to the noise. Rather, it enables marketers to quietly integrate ads into a customer’s peripheral awareness.
Marketing should theoretically “disappear” while engaging customers, getting a message across without interfering. Real life examples of this are the Roomba, a stoplight, a light-up occupied sign on a bathroom door, and captics technologies. Captics use the sense of touch to communicate, vibrating when users are slouching and telling them to sit up straight without making a sound. Content marketers must gear their efforts toward the same concept.
As IoT, robotics, smart homes, artificial intelligence and mobile devices create a hyper-connected world, consumer attention will become more and more scarce. Marketers need to find creative ways to attract consumer attention without distracting them. Paying strict attention to consumer demands will be more important than ever, so think about what consumers may be doing while viewing your content.
Creating compelling, simple and useful brand messages is the wave of the future. It’s possible to attract attention without interfering through engagement and empowerment. Utilize other senses, not just sound. Integrate touch and sight. Instead of spending money on pop-up advertisements, spread your message quietly. Blatant appeals are a thing of the past, and marketers who cling to them will become extinct. Take control of your future and join the trend toward calm design technology.
Smart Tech Photo via Shutterstock
What an interesting read Amie, thank you. Being a director of a small business I am always eager to learn about innovative marketing techniques. We sell display stands so tend to work more on a face to face basis at exhibitions. We already implement your idea of creating calm designs that enables interaction with customers without interrupting their days. This is absolutely spot-on. Exhibitions can be extremely hectic so having a tranquil stand space for potential clients to enjoy is paramount. You make another good point about Utilizing other senses, not just sound. Integrate touch and sight. This is also something we wholeheartedly agree with and have incorporated TV screens and iPads holders within many of our stands. After reading your blog I will certainly be looking at ways to create this calming and serene environment for our website user too. I do not think as a company we have focused enough on making the browsing experience a more pleasurable one.
Katie Price – Sales Director
Yess! I am a big fan of minimalist web design where less is more, so the concept of calm marketing really speaks to me. I understand the value in chatbots and pop-ups and whatnot but I’m the type of user who will exit a site immediately if there’s too much stimuli. Don’t even get me started on pages that autoplay videos or music – ugh! I guess since traditional “interruptive” marketing is dying out, “calm marketing” is the natural progression.
Spot on! I am a huge fan of clean web design. The internet is so noisy and cluttered with crap. Make it pleasing to the eye and easy for the mind and fingers! I don’t need pop-ups, flashing bold content or tons of things to interact with. I am an empowered buyer. Give me what I want on a clean platform and I’m happy!