17. July 2020Comments are off for this post.

The Honest Story Behind UI MATERIAL – From Idea to Launch in 90 days

An inclusive tool that helps makers and indie developers to improve user experience with effortless integration of UI avatars. That is the UI MATERIAL now, although it haven't seemed so from the start.

3 Months Ago...

I joined the #36daysoftype challenge. Letter by letter, I kept flirting with an idea of taking the output and turning it into something useful. Letter initials as avatars for UI was the idea worth exploring. Anyone else who might be interested?

Market validation

One google search and boom! Service for generating UI avatars from initials with +28,140,000 daily requests. Good enough.

Art Direction was clear - light shapes, colorful background. The creative process is systematic but often unpredictable. Sometimes you are inspired by the material, sometimes the material is inspired by the vision. I wanted to make sure the style would be differentiable on smaller screens so I created multiple styles to test it out.

Picking a right style.


UI Avatars were designed as 3D objects in Cinema4d and rendered on transparent background. That allowed me to bring high-fidelity depth, scale, lighting, and shadows. It took some time to get the proportions right.

UI avatar symbols

UI avatar symbols

Ready to publish!

At least this is what I have though. 

When I gathered feedback from fellow designers, I quickly realized such expressive assets is not the right fit for their designs. That made me focus on a different market and nudge the avatars to another audience. I took a step back and embraced my vision of making art accessible for everybody, focused on makers tinkering their own products.

After a consideration with web developer, we found out what is crucial.

  • easy-to-use customizable options
  • effortless implementation

It took a few iterations and creative solutions on the back-end. We ended up generating preview at Google Cloud functions and taking headless screenshots of maker's avatar design. We also used Cloud-flare which saves traffic and therefore bandwidth costs.

No-Coded landing page

A friend of mine recommended using Webflow. Perfect moment to give it a tryout! Thanks to high-quality instructional videos I "no-coded" a website from design in 5 days.     Let me say it again. Five. Days. That tool is amazing.

Going live

Special thanks goes to Samo for development. Now you can visit a website at UI MATERIAL.

I would be happy to see your creations!

7. November 2018Comments are off for this post.

How to discover machine learning opportunities in your product

Artificial intelligence (AI) brings the new wave of automation. It changes every business as electricity did a few years ago. Things become smarter and every business is looking for ways to put machine learning into production to bring value to customers. Everyone wants to incorporate that intelligence into their product. But, where to start?

People hiring products

Let's take a step back and think about basic human-tool interaction. We use products to enhance our own capabilities, become more effective, nicer, and better people. We are hiring products to do our tasks. Remember the last time you were at a party, and wanted to go home? That need was the same for the people living 100 years ago. The difference is that now you have more options to do that. Technology is working for us, and we are good at hiring it.

Products are constantly changing, human needs remain the same.

Capture the needs with a job stories

Intercom previously introduced a framework called Job Stories. It's a creative framework to help frame and capture human needs so that you can work with it later in the development process. It has its own pros and cons yet, I find it the most effective way to think about AI automation. While its focusing on targeting human needs, it opens the space for possible technological solutions. And this is exactly the space of AI disruption.

This is the formula for the job story

When (situation)
I want (motivation),
so that (expected outcome).

Try to write down the job story of your product. What job does your product help people to accomplish?

When ___
I want ___,
so that ___.

One product could cover multiple job stories. Somebody gets a car to save commute time, so they can spend more time with their families while others enjoy racing through the country during the weekends. People are going to use your product it to fulfil their needs. Talk to the people and understand for what jobs are they using your product, before designing solutions.

Computer competence growing with Machine Learning

Ok, now it's the exciting part, where Machine Learning comes into play. The ability of machines to learn independently increases its competence. AI can now accomplish tasks that humans can do in 1 second (this is not true, but it helps to imagine the impact it has)

What Machine Learning Can Do

What Artificial Intelligence Can and Can’t Do Right Now https://hbr.org/2016/11/what-artificial-intelligence-can-and-cant-do-right-now


Computers can now understand audio, can see and tell what's in the pictures which allows it to do more complex jobs previously only exclusive to humans. In other words, computers can do more complex and harder jobs.

Read A few tips on where to put the AI into your product

Discover opportunities for your product

Knowing what jobs that your customers hiring for, you can start a discussion about possible solutions the ML can bring to the table. Draw 2 axis. The impact it have on the User Impact, and Machine Learning (ML) dependency.

Let's take a look at solutions we did for the educational application. Our goal was to find core functionality for the product using ML to deliver core value of the app. Since the product has not history we formed hypothetical job stories. Using hypothetical scenarios you can start working right now and look for the validation on the way. If you are willing to get it right, use some of the research techniques to validate your job stories before doing so.

Put the job story you want to focus into centre and write down all ideas on possible solutions. Now go through all possible solutions targeting this job, discuss it and place it on the matrix. After few repetitions you can get something like this.

While doing so we found 2 surprising things. The solution we wanted to build fell into fourth quadrant. That area of low user impact and low ML dependency is a no-go as the core feature of your app. Also, we discovered a new solution in the second quadrant, which we hadn't thought of before. When looking to use ML as your core product functionality, that's your spot. Repeat with more solutions and job stories, until you have found the right solution you want to build.

Using this method you can help frame an early discussion with ML engineers and narrow down value discovery discussion. It is also helpful to declutter discussion about cost heavy machine learning solutions, and discovering easy-to-implement alternatives. Share your thoughts in the comments.

Watch the talk on Designing AI Products at UX Monday (in Slovak)

20. August 2018Comments are off for this post.

We need to start talking about digital identities

China is using AI to calculate citizen a social credit score. Its quite easy to tell china has taken the Sesame score straight from the Black Mirror series. The biggest perk of technology sounds horrifying and exciting at the same time. The rest of the world is observing this giant social experiment.

Black Mirror social score (s03e01) vs Sesame credit score


As a citizen of China, you log in the most popular messaging WeChat with your ID. Are you chatting with an old friend who has a low score? If so, yours will goes down as well. Having a low score may cause you are unable to buy a first class ticket, and a high score means you can skip the security line at the airport or rent a car without deposit. Sesame score is calculated based on your chat, payments, search and other online activities. Private companies and government process huge amounts of data to calculate your three-digit social status.

Government adapts AI

More than 20 countries are now adopting national AI strategic plan. They understand and wants to adopt the possibilities of the latest technology. The unwillingness of IT companies work with government slows everything down. Will the rest of the world also follow Chinese Alibaba to the Sesame? It is very likely in terms of adaption of technologies, but the scoring system may look different.

Values like personal privacy and human connection can be built and enhanced by the system.

The government should take an active part in providing the platform and infrastructure reflecting these values for the fast-growing consumer sector. Values like personal privacy and human connection can be designed into the system. How would your personal privacy would look like then?

Keys to the private data in the hands of individuals

You have a control over your data. Your browsing history, your online activity is anonymous by default, unless you grant access to the service. And you are manage its access only for specific data.

The decision what your data you provide to others will be in your hands same like the keys of your house. Applying to the visa? Provide website access to your ID, where the secured API provides only necessary data. Buying from an e-shop? Allow access just to your address, nothing more.

All your private and public data in the single digital identity, nobody can access without a permission.

I have spent last months building AI product in Fintech, where the biggest issue is the trust and the risk of the individual. Government is facing the same problems. Social media account, browsing history, and cookies - the bits are already out there and easily assigned to you as a person. The million dollar question is how to put all these bits together. China seems to have the answer for that.

There is no doubt the AI will affect our lives, the question is how. Will it promote human connection or separation? Personal privacy or system watching every your step? As you could see there are multiple ways of achieving the same goal. Hopefully, we will build a world where we also want to wake up tomorrow.

14. June 2017Comments are off for this post.

Show me your apps and I’ll tell you who you are

In 2011 University study suggested people check their phones 30-40 times per day. The experiment showed my average daily pickups 29, spent time 2 hours and 8 minutes. However, the recent study says US customers are using smartphone 5 hours per day. Spending one-third of the wake-up time interacting with technology is astonishing. Pulling out the device and looking for engaging information is a big part of our lives. People working on the digital products holds power similar to atomic energy - it can be used for destroying or powering cities. 

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19. April 2017Comments are off for this post.

How to design useful products

Three years ago I was starting e-shop selling teas. I saw an opportunity to promote its boost effect and sell it to the various workplaces. We have spent half a year building product, developing e-shop and branding. After a launch, we have sent four bags of tea. It was devastating. What did we wrong? Was that positioning of a product, or product itself? Besides looking for ways to improve, we decided to focus on other activities and quit.

Every business owner knows, doing things people need is the only way to success. But how to make sure people won't reject your idea? Is there any way to design a product for success? Human Centered Design looks like a promising answer.

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