How we designed an ADHD-friendly mobile app

We asked 30,000 ADHDers what they struggled with the most. The overwhelming response was housework. So, in partnership with Rox & Rich from ADHD Love, we created dubbii: a mobile app to help people tackle those horrible household tasks.

The app uses a technique called body doubling, which is when you have somebody to pair with you whilst doing difficult or mundane tasks to help anchor you to the present moment and focus on the task at hand. Rox and Rich had the idea to digitise body doubling; they would film themselves doing simple household tasks like making the bed, cleaning the kitchen and taking the bins out.

dubbii isn’t here to turn ADHDers neurotypical. Instead, it recognises the need to reduce overwhelm through an experience that helps users rather than shaming them. To achieve this, we designed the mobile app to a set of ADHD-friendly Design principles:

1. Follow the blue

To avoid feeling overwhelmed by too many options, the app needed to be incredibly stripped back and simple to use:

  • Each page has a single responsibility.
  • We guide the user’s focus through simple animation of content and subtle haptics.
  • Each call to action is clearly labelled with our signature blue gradient, which intuitively guides our users through the critical pathways of the experience; so all the user has to do is "follow the blue".

2. No errors

Normally, colour palettes have an alarmingly labelled "error-red". But not in dubbii. Sometimes errors are unavoidable, but in dubbii, we’ve designed an experience where users won’t have that jarring experience of seeing an error message pop up for something they don’t really care about and have that feeling of breaking focus.

  • We avoid errors in the first place — by disabling an action and kindly explaining why it’s not available right now (e.g. because you aren’t connected to the internet).
  • To ensure that there are no frustrating loading states and potential loading failures, all essential data for the core user journeys are already in the mobile app upon installation.
  • We designed the app so that nothing that requires a connection to our API blocks the user, so we don’t need to show them an error if it fails. That means if errors happen, they happen silently in the background.

3. Nudges, not alarms

Humans have a way of focusing on buzzing, vibrating, loud sounds and flashing colours. It goes back to our sensitivity to tune into signals of potential danger such as swarms of insects or fast predators. Nowadays a lot of apps hijack these signals in formats such as push notifications and pop-ups.

  • dubbii uses friendly, helpful nudges instead of intrusive alarms. They are always expected, as the user has total control over when they appear.
  • We prompt a few minutes ahead of time, gently guiding them to switch back to the task at hand.
  • Even the sounds are friendly: for example, instead of playing an annoying beep or loud bell when it’s time to do the dishes, we use the sound of splashing water in a washing-up bowl. Not only is this a far less alarming way to alert the user, but it’s also a nice way to refocus the user on the task at hand.

4. No streaking

We wanted dubbii to provide positive reinforcement to help users recognise their progress and accomplishments, but we didn’t want to accidentally create addictive behaviour patterns or create feelings of shame and guilt by failing to meet goals and deadlines in the app. Whilst “keeping the flame alight” might work for other apps, it only serves to exacerbate feelings of inadequacy for individuals with ADHD if they can’t quite muster the motivation to visit the app.

  • Our gamification mechanic is simple; we reward action but we never punish inaction.
  • We always validate effort, by counting up a "task total" every time the user finishes a task.
  • We celebrate milestones by giving users badges upon completion of X days of a task - but not every day, so there’s no shame in missing a few days.

5. Create a shared experience

It’s important for us to validate users' experience of ADHD through companionship and humour. Our mission is to reduce the stigma and shame associated with struggling to complete seemingly simple tasks.

So, we’re always looking for tiny ways to provide context that users are not alone in the way they’re feeling, by fostering that sense of connection to the wider community.

  • Rox & Rich provide constant reassurance in their videos, normalising neuro-divergency and treating ADHD with love and compassion.
  • We show lots of small motivational comments in the app to remind users of how well they are doing.
  • Our messaging around the mobile app in the App Store, Google Play and across social media is inclusive, friendly and relatable.
  • We share insight and context about the community, including statistics relating to the number of other users struggling with the same thing.

6. Avoid the ADHD Tax

There are hundreds of mobile apps claiming to be the best companion to living with ADHD, but the truth is that no app will be the perfect solution for everybody (including dubbii!). We’re aware that our target audience may have trouble controlling impulsivity, so we needed to convince our users to slow down, trial the mobile app and see if it works for them before setting up a subscription.

  • We offer the ability for users to try any task for free, and give the ability to swap this task whenever new content drops.
  • We send nudges to remind users to come back to dubbii if they forget to use it or make it quick and easy to cancel if they aren’t using it.
  • We send nudges before a renewal date so that they have a chance to cancel before an unexpected payment comes out.


As Bristol’s Venture Studio, we deploy our expertise, resources and infrastructure to generate and validate startup ideas, then build and launch them into the market. To learn more about partnering with Gravitywell, contact us today.

If you’re a social media influencer and would like to discuss building a tech product — such as a mobile app — for your audience, or you’d like to know more about how we collaborated with Rich & Rox, email

Written by Sam Lihou (Head of Production). Read more in Insights by Sam or check our their socials Twitter, Instagram