Rise Sleep Science

Guiding users to that 'ah ha' moment with a full suite of services, improving first day activations and user retention.

Our Role

Ship Date

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The Rise Sleep app provides tools for users to understand their sleep, and more importantly their sleep need and how to fulfill it.

Some of the features include receiving customized routines, following a daily energy schedule based on individual circadian rhythms, and a suite of activities and notifications to develop healthy habits. Users can overcome sleep challenges like getting to bed and falling asleep, waking up during the night, and feeling groggy in the morning and even talk to 1:1 guides when needed.

The challenge in Rise's case was not the features or the utility of the app itself. Once people got in to it and played around, they loved it - becoming evangelists, sharing it with their friends, families, and colleagues - completely excited to have finally attained the sleep quality and positive energy that had been so elusive previously.

They were loving it once they understood it, the challenge was effectively guiding people to the "Ah ha" moment where everything clicked and the payoff was revealed

First, onboarding was very long, and second, the key concept "Sleep Debt" was difficult to communicate to users. Because of these issues, there was a large drop off in onboarding and another large drop from users not returning to the app after their first time using it, i.e. activations, and retention.

Rise was an example of an amazing app that just needed a few tweaks in the right places to let it shine. Luckily, the main perpetrators were pretty straight forward to fix through interaction design and UX copy if you know where to look and what to tweak. With the issues fixed, the team could focus on the fun stuff, like implementing improved features, getting deeper into the science, and providing even better tools to their users.

After just four months, we had moved the largest onboarding drop down to just 19%, and implemented several measures to improve retention.

The Solutions

We tweaked user flows and copy throughout onboarding, specifically in:

1) Onboarding Permissions flow updates - Rise needs access to motion and health data to work, a lot of users were getting lost in the original flow and just giving up.

2) An interactive tutorial, After onboarding, users were dropping into the home screen, filled with interesting but difficult to understand data visualizations. To address this we built a "first day experience" that walked the user through the key concepts and value proposition in an intuitive and easy to understand way.

3) Sales website and ads to help the B2B sales initiative, a large part of Rise's user base, we produced a sales and science website to funnel leads along with web adds, banners, facebook, and Instagram.

Design Highlights

Key updates to the permissions flow to reduce the fallout rate in onboarding
A first morning experience to provide users with a fast track to relevancy
Improving the sales funnel with a B2B sales landing page
Providing extra traction with an in depth 'behind the science' page
Weekly sleep report, guiding users back into the app with meaningful information
Custom illustrations to add personality and character


The following section takes a quick deep dive in to the thinking and strategy behind each of the solutions, issues with the original design (if applicable) and how they were addressed, along with some of the design process and iteration leading up to the final product.


Final permissions design key screens
The original permissions flow


The original permissions suffered from issues around priming, feedback, and cognitive overload leading to a large percentage of users dropping out or failing.

1) No Priming

Users are dropped straight into permissions asks without any context or lead in warming them up to the idea or why they're even being asked for permissions.

2) No Feedback Path

If a user has a question about the permissions being requested they are provided with no way to answer those questions. They have only two options, submit or exit. Ultimatums are rarely effective.

3) Cognitive Overload

The original flow places many permissions asks per screen, as many as will fit pretty much. Although it looks efficient, this unfortunately produces the opposite result. The user has too much to look at at one time and is easily frustrated, preventing them from providing any answer and abandoning or just tapping around, resulting in permissions declines which are complicated to fix.

4) Permissions Out of Context

It's generally a good idea to place permissions asks in the same sequence of interactions within which they are required. e.g. ask for notifications permissions when turning on a setting that requires notifications. This places the reward next to the ask. If that's not possible, a bit of copy to prime the user can be helpful.

The modified permissions flow


Provide feedback paths for questions that lead back to the flow, give users context - "what's in it for them" - before asking for permissions, and provide enough cognitive space to digest technical questions.

1) Primer

The user is shown a screen that provides some context around why the app needs certain permissions. In the case of Rise, motion data is necessary based on the way they ascertain sleep data, this fact was off-putting to users in the original flow because they were not shown why motion data would be needed leading to a large drop off. This drop off was especially bad because if the user declines the first time, the route to enabling the permission is very complicated, requiring the user to sift through OS level settings.

2) Feedback Path

In the event the user has questions mid-flow, they are able to have them answered without having to leave the flow. This prevented drop-outs and context interruptions, providing a path for any users with questions to keep making progress through the permissions flow.

3) Cognitive Spacing

Permissions asks were broken out in to individual sections or grouped categorically. This prevented confusion and allowed more screen real estate to explain each of the permissions in context

4) Contextual Placement

Permissions asks are grouped categorically to provide more context around them, this increased the percentage of users accepting them.

First Morning Experience

Key screens to the First Morning Experience
Early white boarding and thinking
Early explorations with ideas around improving retention by creating ritual with a daily payoff.
Creating a morning ritual, in which users learn to pay daily attention to their sleep
Within that morning ritual, an opportunity for education around the challenging concept of Sleep Debt, along with an immediate, personal, payoff regarding their night's sleep quality and a relevant contextual insight.
A Shortcut to the "ah hah", through relevancy, insight, and action. 'What's in it for me?', answering that question quickly before dropping in to the depth of the app experience. Create a ritual with a payoff.

The value proposition was not being communicated consistently to users who were being dropped straight in to the home screen of the app. The hypothesis was that this was because they did not understand key concepts like Sleep Debt,


Include the relevancy of “how it feels” (sleep quality) to the First Morning Experience

Insight and Education

Provide a contextually relevant insight to create a teachable moment around sleep, and provide education on the key concepts of the app as well as how to use a key function (checking and editing a night's sleep)


Segway from the relevancy and insight to a selection of potential actions that make sense to the user.

Education Insights + Fun Illustrations

v1 - a limited set of illustrations to go along with the education insights in the First Morning Experience, with a plan to expand
The First Morning Experience provides relevancy, but it also asks for a little work from the user. Create a reward with contextually meaningful educational insights with charming illustrations.

To help communicate the importance of paying attention to the key Rise metric, Sleep Debt, we provided contextual insights. The flow asks them how they're feeling after a nights rest, and depending on their answer coupled with their current sleep debt, they are served up with a specific tidbit.

In one example if their Sleep Debt is low, but they still don't feel great upon waking, the educational moment lets them know that this is completely normal. It's okay to feel groggy in the morning, it's known as 'sleep inertia', meaning it takes a bit to wake up and it's not something to be stressed out about, some wake fully more slowly than others, and that's normal.

gathering existing app visual design elements and inspiration
Exploring variations and playing with different metaphors
The final round of illustrations, a limited set to test the hypothesis, with a plan to expand if successful.

The inspiration for the illustrations were paper cutouts and children's books, the kind that a parent might read to their child as part of their bedtime routine. However, it was important that they didn't seem too childish or cartoony, this is a serious app based on real science that provides tangible real world results.

By all initial testing results, users were delighted with the educational insights and illustrations.

Powering up the Sales Funnel

final design of the Rise Science page, a collection of real world science and white papers lending credibility to the work
The White Paper

One of Rise's key market differentiators is that it is fully based on real science, a hundred years worth of sleep knowledge. The science page provides an easy way for users to read up on it. The hero section also uses a background illustration with the same style as the educational insights.

The Promise

The founders of Rise take this all very seriously, they have been obsessed with and studying sleep for many years, the app coming about as a point of passion for the both of them. A similar passion is a requirement for new hires to the company as well. In this section they're making a promise to the user to uphold their mission of putting their health first and foremost in everything they do.

Key Features

A toggle image image section that provides the highlights to a couple of the features within the app and the science on which they are directly based.

The Experts Involved

The road to shipping this app led the founders to research the findings of many experts, both current and historic, as well as digging deep in to research of their own.

Learning Resources

For those with an academic interest, Rise provides learning resources to dig in to the same research that lead the founders down the path of sleep health.

Highlights of the sales page, positioned for Rise's B2B customers and leads

The key function of the B2B sales page is to provide a fast path to setting up a phone call with the rise sales team, the CTA leads directly to a flow setting an appointment.

Metric Highlights

For those with more questions, the rest of the page highlights Rise's main selling points. Essentially when people sleep better they perform better. Through the lens of a sales team this means more revenue, better morale, and increased productivity.

Key Features

Similar to the Science Page, the key features of the Rise App are highlighted, customized energy schedules for each user based on their circadian rhythm, a sleep debt tracker to let a user know when they need to catch up on sleep, and a taste of one of the many positive habits, in this case what times of day to avoid caffeine and alcohol to sleep their best.

Client Testimonials

As with most sales pages, client testimonials are very important. Putting a human face to the success of an app delivers instant empathy and interest.

Weekly Status Email to Improve Retention

Peak at the exploration process, leveraging an evolution of the website and including some of the feature highlights from the app, specifically Sleep Debt progress, and the user's weekly energy schedule.
The final design of the weekly email, working through some of the details, specifically around the various possible states of the Sleep Debt progress overview.


Thank you for your interest and reading this entire case study. If you made it this far you likely have some thoughts, interesting view points, or even critique. Feel free to get in touch and chat about user experience design.

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