Design Challenge: Digital Watch Faces

This Creative Mornings Field Trip was held at ustwo’s new office in FiDi. Really their office is a whole floor of a federalist building that must have been a bank.

Wearables are quickly becoming a part of our everyday lives with the advent of Android Wear and Apple Watches. Designing for such tiny devices has become a coveted design skill. How do we decide which information we show? How do we stay digitally authentic? How do we make something look good enough to wear? These were some of the questions the ustwo team tackled whilst designing the collection of Android Wear watch faces you can see today. Join us in our studio for an exclusive in-depth look at how this project came to be, the unique challenges we faced, and how we overcame them.

Then, imparted with our team’s design principles, take the challenge yourself by sketching your very own digital watch face. We’ll choose our favorite of the bunch and mock it up!

Here’s what your morning will look like:

• 8:30 - 9:00 AM - Studio tour of ustwo New York

• 9:00 - 10:00 AM - Digital watch faces presentation & workshop

ustwo New York Studio Tour

Origin and Work

The two founders of ustwo created a firm and started by designing icons for Sony feature phones 10 years ago and now has four offices including their New York location.


Team Structure

30% UX
30% UI
30% DEV


70% client work
20% games
10% joint ventures 

Encouraging UI / UX to be product focused.
[probably 10% of the headcount is for strategy and other]

Clients: Google, Sony, Nook etc.

ustwo may be most well known for their mobile game Monument Valley.  

Screenshot 2015-05-08 13.29.06.png

They even have business inquiries through their games' popularity as industry members appreciate the quality of design and execution.


They have a Gender Equality Task Force as they note women are underrepresented in technology.


"A big culture of feedback.

A place where you can sit down for honest and constructive feedback. And feedback is a gift. You give it because you want to improve.” - Carl

Every Thursday they have new speakers come in like Hyper Island

Every Thursday they have new speakers come in like Hyper Island

Double - to allow remote visits and a co-ambiguous presence from other offices

Double - to allow remote visits and a co-ambiguous presence from other offices

Global leadership accountability

Hearing what’s up from the bottom up

Hearing what’s up from the bottom up

They really use their wall space. Not just for illustrations, but a structured use of blue tape and sticky notes.

Shaun Tollerton presented the previous an overview of the market of android watch interfaces as well as the 20 faces that ustwo designed. He spoke to the rationale behind the designs.

Digital Watch Faces

From data interpreted watch faces to the human element, noting "People love to customize their watches. That's something we've learned." "People wear a watch face so it has to look good. It's not just an app." - Shaun Tollerton

Principles for Designing Digital Watch Faces

1. Be Zen

2. Be Glanceable

3. Make it Work

4. Show a Single Expression.


The challenge was to design a digital watch interface featuring the weather by using the design principles ustwo just taught us .

What we came up with:

Love Forecast

Created by a front end developer with a keen visual eye named Cameron and yours truly.

Branded through collaboration with the creator of the watch face that ustwo will visually take to the next level. Excited to see how Tolly of ustwo takes it to the next level.

Thanks to:

Casey Hopkins @CaseyHopkins
Shaun Tollerton @Tollerton
Carl Martin @CarlMartin

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Notes taken on a mobile device. Pardon any auto-corrections or incorrection.