ChessUp is the first project of Bryght Labs - a connected gaming startup funded by an experienced team of investors and product developers. Bryght Labs’ mission is to make STEM-focused games more approachable. ChessUp mobile app is a companion for an incredible, connected chessboard with a built-in chess instructor.
Frictionless first-time user experience.
All the games in one place.
Simple interface with progressively powerful controls.
Playing a Game
Beautiful chess experience that doesn't get in the way.
Connecting to Chessboard
Quick and easy way to get connected and see the board status carried out through the entire app.
Learning chess has never been so much fun!
Daily challenges for any skill level.
Notifications, requests, and updates. All in one place.
Who said settings should be boring?
I've designed a first-class Android app too!
Senior Product Designer
Designed and prototyped a companion mobile app for the the #1 most funded chess product of all time. As a freelance senior product designer, I was responsible for the end-to-end mobile app design process – from working with the co-founders on understanding the problems we wanted to solve to defining and desgining the solutions.
End-to-End Product Design, UI Design, Interaction Design, Prototyping, Figma
iOS, Android, BLE
Games, B2C, Hardware
ChessUp hardware was designed with everyone in mind. It doesn’t matter if you are new to chess or a master, young or old – the product was designed for anyone to pick up, play, and learn. The same audience would use the app which would enable them to elevate the experience with their hardware by enabling additional capabilities.
Creating a companion app for a physical product with specific requirements and constraints which needed to seamlessly integrate and elevate the physical product but not get in the way; but also work on its own and provide engaging learning and gameplay experience if the user didn’t have the physical hardware yet.
As a freelance senior product designer, I was responsible for the end-to-end mobile app design process – from working with the co-founders on understanding the problems we wanted to solve to defining and desgining the solutions.
We started with a kickoff call to understand the ChessUp physical product and how it worked. The BryghtLabs team has already conducted many interviews with their customers to gather feedback and feature requests which were prioritized. There were clear business goals, constraints, established roadmap and defined user stories.
I would then begin mapping flows and creating task lists of what users would need to do during each part of the flow. This would be followed with design - working first with rough UI, creating prototypes, gathering feedback from the stakeholders and developers, and then further refining and polishing the designs.
Once every UI state and interaction has been thought through and defined, I would then further discuss designs with the app developer and hand over design guides.
Great first impression. When players open the app for the first time, they are greeted by clear value proposition and an easy way to sign up.
No socials? No problem. Creating an account with an email address is simple and straightforward.
Natural conversation instead of filling out a form. Players are asked only the most essential questions that we truly need to make the experience as frictionless as possible. We're making it simple to share their details with us and guiding them along the way.
Getting started. Right after signing up, we have a clear answer to “What does the app do?” The app structure and navigation tells the player what the app does. To get the best experience as a part of the first session, players are encouraged to play a game and explore the app to see what can they do. All of the past and ongoing and future games are here too!
Starting a game is simple but powerful. With simple interface and smart defaults that progressively disclose options based on player selection.
Help is here! When adjusting assistance level, players can see which colors on the physical chessboard are used for move analysis based on their choosen level of assistance.
Choosing the right opponent made easy. When choosing an opponent, players can pick an AI with appropriate difficulty and assistance, play OTB (Over the Board) with another player in real life and select who it is to share the game, or play online against a friend or someone random.
Want to play fast? Choose time format. Players can choose from one of the presets or specify their own.
Disconnected? Keep on playing. When the board is not connected, players don't need to fret - they can have a great in-app chess experience!
Playing a Game
Beautiful chess experience. The app doesn't get in the way. It builds on top of the physical board experience and elevates it with more features. Players can see details about the game, last moves, AI level, assist, resign, or even accept a draft or open a beatuiful full-screen timer.
Making the connection between board and app. The chess board lights translate directly in the app.
What are those colors? Players can tap the questionmark button at any time to see what each color on the board means.
Started in the app and want to transfer to the “real thing”? Transferring a game is easy - just tap the button and set up the pieces. Or not - and let your family members play with the board and you just play on your phone.
From software to hardware. Loading an ongoing game, starting a learning challenge, or revisiting a past game is super easy. The app guides the player on how to set up the physical chessboard.
I just need a timer. No problem! Players can use the app as a timer for the physical board. Put your phone on the side and the app just melts away for maximum immersion with the physical board. Oh and it supports a landscape mode too.
Bluetooth pairing can be seamless. The board connects automatically. And if it doesn't or if it's disconnected intentionally, it can be easily connected.
I just want to play on my phone. That's ok too. Players can explicitly disconnect the chessboard and let someone else in the household use it while they play on their phone.
New to chess and keen to learn or are you a master wanting to practice their moves? The learn experience caters for everyone. It provides guided lesson and practices that are just pure fun!
Learning made fun. With interactive lessons and challenges, people are encouraged to complete each lesson and get rewarded along the way.
Lesson on the phone or with the board. Each lesson provides voiceover and guided prompts to help people learn. Need to revisit a move? No problem! No audio? Just mute it. Need a hint? There it is.
Many challenges and puzzles. Players can take on standard puzzles with clear feedback and a way to step through the challenges.
Light the square. Learn the moves with instant feedback.
The good old questionnaire. Multiple choice questions that make people think and learn.
Super piece. A superb way to have fun and learn.
Add a piece. This is a thinker. I didn't get it right on the first try.
More daily challenges. There's always more to learn and have fun along the way!
The most fun and challenging puzzles. Revisit the classics or learn something new.
All of the activity in one place. Friend requests, game invites, notifications and events.
Who said settings should be boring? The app comes with smart defaults and the players share their info during onboarding, or can change things up later.
Find and invite friends. Right on this screen.
Control the notifications. Too many events? Not anymore.
Android folks can have fun too! With an app designed with Material Design 3 in mind.
“Phil blew us away with his skill, professionalism, and his ability to make sense of our complex app requirements. His work has helped our developers work more efficiently, and we’re fortunate to have found such great talent for our project. Truly world class!”
Co-founder & Chief Design Officer at Bryght Labs