Building a mindfulness + astrology app
As an influencer who had amassed a following online and who already sold workshops to customers on astrology topics, Chani had an existing subscriber base we knew would download the app immediately. We studied our existing customers through quantitative and qualitative research to get to know their habits and needs, and created user personas that mapped to these areas. We knew we would mostly be serving millennial astrology enthusiasts who followed Chani on Instagram. We also wanted to meet the needs of longtime astrology buffs -- older folks who were less adept with tech -- and begin to nurture a new audience, namely gen z.
Since this was a 0 to 1 product -- a totally new app -- we went through a long design phase before moving into production. We spent time figuring out the look and feel of the brand before outlining the features and designing the interface of the app. Of course, we iterated and improved the UX and UI of the app throughout the design phase and into testing before launching it.
To align with the founder’s creative direction, illustrations throughout the app leveraged colors and imagery that aligned with the traditional animals, plants, metals, herbs and colors associated with the wisdom tradition. Leveraging typefaces, colors, and illustration style that the founders already put in use, I created a style guide that felt unique to the founder’s identity and was wildly different from the competition.
I kept the design clean and minimal, with the goal of making it easy for users to read large amounts of text and begin to understand the various astrological concepts behind each feature.
To achieve a visually unique look-and-feel that was still readable, we went with a bold decorative typeface for H1/H2 and the sans serif body text we used in a print book.
To visually break up long scrolls of reading and separate concepts for learning purposes, we leveraged content cards with a drop shadow.
To not overwhelm the user’s eye with our use of bold illustrations, lighter pastel colors and neutrals were used for background and content cards, and brighter colors were reserved for directional icons and key action buttons.
5 Main Features of the App
Based off of our user personas and competitive research, we decided upon a few key features for the MVP.
To maintain consistency for the thousands of users who read her horoscopes every week on her blog, we anchored the homepage with a weekly horoscope and additional content centered around the week ahead astrology. This feature is free for all users - it offers a substantial freemium resource for users to engage with the app on a daily basis, and drip them towards conversion. The art and copy on the homepage is also a popular share on social media, with people commonly screenshotting their horoscope and sharing to their Story.
Birth Chart Reading
To both meet and exceed industry standards for what an astrology app offers, we built a birth chart reading that intentionally displayed a traditional astrology chart, followed by a list of the user’s placements that doubles as buttons to tap through to each placement’s unique reading. The birth chart and list of placements is visible to all users, but the full reading of each placement is paywalled. The chart has motion interactions: tap on a planet’s icon and its aspects will appear. The colors of the lines for each aspect are associated with the traditional specifications of the wisdom tradition. This is an easter egg for advanced users who understand this theory and would geek out over this design. This feature has the most time-on-page of feature any in the app - the avg time on page here is around 20-30 minutes.
To maintain consistency for the core set of customers we needed to stay engaged with the brand, we built a workshop feature that offers a weekly reading for your sign as well as additional content to work with.A new workshop every Sunday provides novel, premium content to justify a subscription to the app. The price point of the subscription ($11.99/month) is much more accessible than the previous workshop price point ($27/month) – this pricing strategy was a big bet that came to fruition. Engagement with the journal is also a signal of retention - if the user spent time on the journal, they were in a cohort that had 80% subscription retention.
To provide additional utility for premium subscribers, we also included transits. This feature provides real-time, unique mini-horoscopes for that compares the user’s birth chart to the astrology of the current moment, updated when they refresh the screen. This feature is also for premium users, and is a concept that advanced users understand and appreciate. It’s also a common share on social media, because the dates and insights are so precise that users feel they are unique to them.
To build upon the workshop offering and have a feature that positioned us also in the mindfulness space, we included a dedicated feature for audio meditations. The initial screen is visible to all users, and then upon tap-through to the audio player for each guided meditation is when a paywall happens. The meditations are beloved – Bowen Yang said in a NYT interview that he listens to them regularly as part of his love for & usage of the app.
Quantitative: Achieved MAU and financial goals goals upon launch! 5x increase in MRR. 60-70% subscription retention of our launch cohort in Dec-July 2021.
Brand: The launch was amazing - Lizzo shared the app to her Story and tons of people were screenshotting their horoscopes and sharing on social. Top 10 on Apple Free Apps list upon launch. App of the Day, twice. Covered in Vanity Fair, New York Times, and many more.
Users: 10k+ positive reviews of the app, 4.9 star rating in the App Store, people feeling very seen and held by it.