Self-friendly vs User-friendly

Three years ago I worked more than 90 hours per week. I was obsessed with managing time. Everything from fitness, to meeting friends was scheduled. My calendar was full of tasks, appointments, goals. I worked on an amazing project and incredibly intelligent people. Overworking became addictive. I didn’t want to miss anything, but in fact, I missed everything.

And then BOOM. I got restless. Sick. With all sorts of a blood infection. Without energy and spirit. I wasn’t looking forward to anything. Burnout.

After a while, I asked myself: How can I make user-friendly interfaces, if I am not self-friendly? How can I be self-friendly If I work more than 90 hours per week? How can I think clearly, if my inner voice is ticking all the time and telling me “You’re not fast enough!”, “Do more!”

Sadly, Slovenia spends 1,2 billion EUR per year because of the stress, which makes it 13.000 EUR on employee per year.

Let’s answer a simple question. Is Being Self-Friendly:
* working until you drop
* not sleeping enough
* waking up with coffee in your hands
* eating junk food
* not having time for yourself

Noooo! The question is, how to find balance? How do you nurture yourself? What it means for you “being self-friendly”?

Having time for yourself

The purpose of self-care is to prioritize time to nurture ourselves. Time is limited. Use it wisely. Be present and grateful.

When working:
1. Take time to think about the user’s problem.
2. Do things on time and try to finish the product development cycle as fast as possible, to get user’s feedback, find bugs, etc.
3. Take time to get to know your users.

We are losing both time and money with products that don’t provide any solutions and are hard to use.

Making good decisions

Your life is made of a million decisions. Most people are “drifting,” which means they haven’t taken command of their mind or their life. When drifting, you let external circumstances determine where you go in life. Every choice you have to make causes a little bit of pain. Eventually, you get used to escaping from decisions, but you suffer more and more.

Imagine taking decisions from this layout. You can’t let your users search for the proper button. Three nurses were using this software and missed a very critical piece of information. They were experienced but too distracted trying to figure out the software they were using. Nurses completely missed that Jenny needs three days of hydration. When the nurse came in the next day, Jenny had died of toxicity and dehydration.

To achieve the best user experience we have to anchor it in our purpose.

If we know what’s our purpose, we can connect it with Strategy, Structure and Processes, Metrics and Rewards, People, Workspace. Without a clear and sound purpose, the implementation will never succeed.

When you do things right, with the right resources, you will have less management, more flexibility, more confidence, more free time.


Your family. Your friends. Work. Hobbies. Give your full, undistracted attention to the important people in your life. You can’t achieve anything great if you don’t love what you’re doing. Because your job is then just a role, you have to play.

Making changes

Make a significant change whenever you can. Change routines. Iterate. Move. Be flexible. On the other hand, when you’re making changes to your app/website, you have to decide whether you want to gradually or radically change brand’s appearance. It’s not always smart to shock users and change position of every feature.

Nintendo Wii

Nintendo dominated the game market in the 80s. They were experiencing a downturn until they released their revolutionary Nintendo Wii. They introduced the radical idea of using game consoles as an active physical medium. It generated new meaning. People loved it. Meanwhile, Microsoft and Sony were focused on incremental improvements on their Xbox and Playstation products through better speed and graphics.


Xiaomi is currently the 5th largest smartphone maker. They allow users to give feedback on their OS and make changes weekly. Their operating system MIUI growth in five years allowed the OS came to 100 million users (30 million phones sold). On Fridays, the Xiaomi public Beta versions of their software. This OS can be downloaded and used by users during the weekend, which then can provide feedback with suggestions and improvements. Within three days – Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday – the company’s development team work to deliver what was requested by the community. On Thursday, internal tests are performed, and again Friday marks the day of the release of another update. Users feel appreciated, and become even more enthusiastic about giving feedback.

Continuously learn

For me, the way to have an inspiring life is to constantly learn. Skill comes only from practice so anyone can be good at anything. Spend time to learn a new skill that will help you in your life or work. Broaden your horizons.

Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.
— Helen Keller

In design, track imperfections, UX defects. The key in providing flexible service is developing a product that customers are willing to use. Customers have more choice, as there are a lot of competitors with almost the same products. That is why it is even more important to change processes and services faster.

If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.
– Peter Drucker

Make a hypothesis -> measure -> experiment. Research continuously. Involve those who have power in the design process.

Design Driven Development

Design Driven Development has four stages. The key in providing flexible service is developing a product that customers are willing to use. Today, customers have more choice, as there are a lot of competitors with almost the same products. In theory, everything works. It is important to change processes if needed and track imperfections, UX defects all the time. We need to try, fail, succeed. It helps if you add cross-functional teams. You can hear different perspectives, create greater openness, better feedback. UX design is not just about designing, but about coordinating, facilitating and enabling.


Whatever you choose in life, there are opportunity costs. Being obsessed with the thinking how to choose the b e s t option, the best career, boyfriend, girlfriend, … is going to drain your energy.

Perfection is like chasing the horizon.
– Neil Gaiman

We all want to focus on right things. There is always more things we want to do than a day has hours. So we have to choose our activities wisely. One method that can help you is Priority matrix. Ask yourself: “How important it this feature to the user?”

Take a look at how someone currently gets this job done. Examine the current process and then:
1. List all features.
2. Sort features by Essential, Nice to have, Not needed
3. Or by potential revenue (ROI)

User needs and Business needs have to be connected. While user needs are incredibly important, they won’t matter if they don’t drive any profit. You could have the world’s best design, but if it doesn’t solve any problem for the user, it is a waste of time.


Trust is everywhere. It’s present every moment. It starts with you. When you can’t trust yourself, you’re not going to make any real decisions. Social trust is a belief in the honesty, integrity, and reliability of others – a “faith in people.” And it’s not just about people. It starts when we wake up. We trust the water to come out of the pipe. Coffee to have good taste. Car to work. Bridge to not break, etc.

Would you take a free candy from this van? Good design instills trust and credibility. In the physical or virtual world.

Then there are dark patterns which are placed to trick the user into doing something that will not benefit them.

The most famous example of this dark pattern was used by Linkedin. The product asks for your email or social media permissions under the pretense it will be used for a desirable outcome (e.g. finding friends), but then spams all your contacts in a message that claims to be from you. They had to pay $13 million dollars fine in 2015.

Dark patterns are bad design, and bad design is bad business.

Keep in mind

Self-care looks different for everyone. You know what your BLANK WORDS are. Do what works for you, when it works for you. Be gentle with yourself and never forget about your goals and values. Don’t be defined by your history. Define your life now.

Victory Hand on Apple iOS 10.3


* Bonus* Watch the video of my talk on Webcamp Ljubljana 2017.


Leave a Comment.