An immersive web experience created for my Experience and Interaction class final project. As an avid nature lover, I created a site that plays soothing nature videos and sounds while guiding you through meditation. Part choose-your-own-adventure game, part mindfulness break, Desktop Mindfulness is designed for students and office workers to take a quick break from their busy lives with some calming natural scenery.
I originally thought of the idea for this site in April 2019, after a long winter spent cooped up in my tiny dorm room in the city. Growing up in a small suburban town in New Jersey, I was used to having more access to nature, and I wanted to bring a little bit of that experience to my new life in the city. I was inspired by The Quiet Place Project to make Desktop Mindfulness completely immersive, with a full-screen video and audio, as well as user-driven, with controls to enable them to choose their own path through the app. When COVID-19 hit in 2020, this site felt even more relevant, as many of us were forced inside under shelter-in-place orders and unable to travel to enjoy nature. It is my hope that this site brought some joy, relief, and relaxation to its users.
CHALLENGES OF SCALING UP
In December 2020, Desktop Mindfulness was featured in several newsletters with national reach, bringing many more visitors than I had ever planned for to my site. Previously, the site were being served from a remote a storage bucket, but with the large size of the videos and increasing traffic, the costs of storage rose quickly and I had to take down the site temporarily in order to research ways to scale up the site in a sustainable way. After looking into possible solutions, I decided to rewrite the project as a single-page application in React for better code reuse and organization. Additionally, I began serving the videos using the Pexels API, rather than hosting them myself. These changes lowered the cost of hosting the site, allowing me to put it back online as a free experience for everyone to use. As of October 2021, the site has been used by 180 people in over 20 countries, and I'm excited for more people worldwide to discover this pocket of nature on the internet.