From the autumn of 2018, I took on a lead design role with a small startup making an app in the area of self improvement and soft skill progression.

Over a period of 5 months, we essentially worked from a blank slate — scoping out and researching exactly what the product should offer, designing and testing the core flows and features, and then quickly designing UI for the first public version of the app.

What came before

A previous version of the app had existed, but only as part of a private beta. This was largely a reflection of the founder’s original vision, but with little consideration of how that translated to a mobile app, and with no research or testing process. It was a useful exploration nonetheless, providing the team with various lessons learnt, and a little insight into what could work, and what didn’t.

Early stages

We knew we wanted to help a fairly substantial audience (students through to older professionals), empowering them to work on their soft skills (specific abilities) and qualities (broader, trait based abilities). This would largely be achieved through an intelligent feed of educational content (articles, exercises, and video) from various mentors around the world. They would also be able to customise their prioritises, focusing their learning on themselves, their work, their relationships, or their lifestyle.

We tested early feature ideas, and design flows through low fidelity prototypes and user interviews. Key musings were how to onboard people into building their profile and learning goals, if users understood the concept of “Qualities”, and how to deliver learning material and content.

One of our UX testing sessions

Early wireframes

Early wireframes


Predictably, simplified concepts worked best. We removed unnecessary areas of onboarding, removed manual selection of Qualities (instead embracing them as complimentary learning options later in the app flow).

Early exploration

A fast paced brand evolution

The startup’s existing branding had never really been fully considered as part of a UI’s design system, or for the eventual target market. Over a few weeks I led a project to fully revamp the brand and app colour palette, improve typography, test app icon ideas, and assess general brand guidelines.

Pulling together the V1

With various rounds of UX and brand testing wrapped up, we could eventually feed this into production ready app design.

Key onboarding screens

Fantastic illustration work by Vic Bell.

Hub, Profile and Learning Material