Published on

Q&A with Marko Dugonjic

Designer and web professional from Croatia

Hi, I’m Marko Dugonjic, a father of three, husband of one; a designer, author, speaker; the founder — slash — UX Director at Creative Nights — a user experience consultancy I run with my wife in Velika Gorica, Croatia.

I design and build websites and web apps, such as Typetester, consult clients, run workshops, speak at conferences, write + edit articles, experiment with web technologies (Responsive Typography with Web RTC) and have an incurable crush on user experience, typography and web standards which I observe and discuss on Twitter as @markodugonjic.

A few months ago, I wrote a chapter on typography for the Smashing Book #4. That was super-exciting.


I’ve built the perfect desk — it’s a 2 by 1 meter, 4 cm thick birch board resting on a solid wood legs. An IKEA Lack table is used as an extension to create a standing desk, in case I want to change my position during long hours behind the computer. For sitting, I rotate a regular office chair and a Varier’s Variable™ balans® chair. For standing, I use a balance board.

In the studio, we use lots of post-its, regular and flip-chart paper, as well as crayons and markers. I carry around a hardcover spiral bound notebook and a Muji gel ink pen.

My main computer is a 2006 (!) 15" MacBook Pro with an SSD drive and loads of RAM. When I work in the office, it’s extended with a Dell U2711 monitor and a Logitech MX510 mouse. A Retina MacBook Pro has been on my radar for a few months, though.

When I want to loosen up, I connect Makey Makey and invite kids to a banana piano concert.

We are keeping our energy levels up with a JBL iPhone dock / speakers.


Snow Leopard. Don’t laugh, works like a charm!

Startup items

  • Dropbox — syncs files between computers
  • Alfred — helps you launch apps and docs without pointing and clicking
  • RescueTime — tracks time
  • FontExplorer — manages fonts and font collections
  • Default Folder X — enhances Open and Save dialogs
  • TextExpander — expands your typing shortcuts
  • Anti Social — blocks social networks and e-mail traffic
  • Caffeine — keeps your mac awake, for instance, during a presentation.
  • Color Oracle — simulates color blindness

Writing / note taking / documentation

  • iA Writer — the default note taking app
  • Writer Pro — a serious writing app
  • Dictionary — an OS X built-in app. As a non-native English speaker, I use it a lot to find a proper replacement for awkward expressions.
  • Pages — for more formal documents
  • Freedom — an internet blocking app, does miracles for getting things done.

Coding / Development / testing

  • TextMate — for anything coding
  • MAMP — a local web server
  • SquidMan — a local proxy manager
  • LiveView — lets you preview your designs on iPhones and iPads
  • Silverback — records usability testing sessions
  • Mousepose — tracks mouse clicks and keyboard strokes (usability testing)
  • Yummy FTP — FTP client
  • VMware Fusion — runs Windows with Internet Explorers.

Design / illustration / inspiraton

  • Keynote — for presentation slides, but also for quick mockups as well as more elaborate designs.
  • OmniGraffle Pro — for occasional mind mapping and wire-framing
  • Adobe Photoshop CS3 — Yes, CS3. It has everything that I need — a marquee tool, smart objects and smart filters.
  • Adobe Illustrator CS3 — for vector illustration work. Icons are mostly done in Photoshop, though.
  • Little Snapper — captures screens; reborn as Ember


  • Mail — the default OS X mailing app
  • Mailplane — for Gmail accounts
  • Skype — for international calls and meetings
  • Skitch — for quick annotations during Skype calls.

System maintenance

  • Xslimmer — removes unneeded language files and slims down application binaries.
  • GrandPerspective — a graphical representation of your hard drive
  • iDefrag — defragments hard drives
  • OnyX — cleans and optimizes the entire system

Dream setup

A north facing enormous side-to-side, top-to-bottom window for dispersed daylight throughout the day. A nice view preferable, but not mandatory. A treadmill desk and an internet connection that’s faster than light. Oh, and an R&D area where I’d build a real Iron Man exoskeleton.


Inspiration (and motivation) comes from my interests and experiences. I always try to observe the problem at hand inside the big picture and then zoom-in back to solve it. Crazy, right!?

More precisely:

  • My family — BTW kids are smarter than us, “adults”
  • Friends and colleagues who push me forward
  • People
  • Nature, wildlife, the Solar System and the Universe
  • Big cities and the countryside (travel, signage, urban vs. rural patterns)
  • Movies (from blockbusters to indies), live performances (stand-up comedy), TV shows.
  • Books and well crafted magazines (think Offscreen, 8faces or Codex)
  • Art (comics, fine arts in the broadest sense — I steal a lot from there)
  • Industrial design and architecture (my No. 2. stealing resource)
  • Music (classical, electronic, latin, taiko drums; I prefer instrumental music while working)
  • Science (biology, physics and chemistry)
  • Ancient history and distant cultures (Roman, Greek, Mayan, Indian, Chinese, Japanese)
  • Extreme sports (snowboarding, skateboarding)
  • Martial arts and eastern philosophies