December 12, 2023

Crafting success: Claiming the artisanal touch in digital product design and development

Explore why craftsmanship matters in the era of AI, uncovering insights from our lead designers and developers.

Clarisa Guerra

Clarisa Guerra

Lead Marketing at Z1

Crafting success: Claiming the artisanal touch in digital product design and development
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Christmas and New Year’s Eve are unfolding.


Instead of making another list of the trends to expect in digital product creation this upcoming 2024, I thought it was more appealing to think about how and why craftsmanship is still relevant in a world flooded by AI tsunamis.

Don’t get me wrong. I do believe AI is a powerful tool that can make our lives easier, but at the same time, I refuse to affirm that it can replace what makes us humans unique. That has a lot to do with craftsmanship, also when designing an app or a website. 

Take, for instance, Lucía Guillén, one of our Lead Product Designers. For her, in love with DIY projects since she was a child, designing digital products has become her craft. “When I moved into the digital world, the possibilities of my crafts multiplied exponentially. I could do what I imagined in my head without the need for physical materials, and I could do thousands of things that would be practically impossible in non-digital, or that would require endless time. I have the expertise and know-how to consider myself an artisan in the digital products field. And that's super cool.”

Can AI eventually replace everything?

Honestly, I don’t think so. Neither does Barbara Carranco, People Operations Specialist at Z1: “The human touch when crafting things is irreplaceable; it brings intentionality and emotional intelligence to the forefront. This applies, of course, also in the digital space.” I agree with Barbara, who is also a psychologist, that as AI streamlines specific tasks nowadays, it allows us to focus on the human aspects of product creation. “Connecting with users’ desires and needs goes beyond AI's capabilities, and it is an important part of the essence of our work.” 

“The human touch when crafting things is irreplaceable; it brings intentionality and emotional intelligence to the forefront.” 
Bárbara Carranco, People Operations Specialist at Z1.

We're experts in delivering Minimum Perfect Experiences to early-stage founders here at Z1, like laser-focused MVPs or V1s that our partners are super proud to put in front of their clients and investors. In the competitive landscape of the digital era, where user experience is paramount, we claim flexibility and craftsmanship to achieve the best results. We understand the art of not just creating functional digital solutions but crafting experiences that resonate with users on a deeper level.

Why craftsmanship matters for startups

According to María Simó, one of our Lead Frontend Developers who has a background in Fine Arts, “craft” and “digital” are not concepts that contradict each other at all, despite what it may seem at first.

“There is an essay that I really like called Hackers and Painters, by Paul Graham,” she shares. “I love the idea that painters and programmers are both ‘doers’, they are artisans.” When María, who has painted for many years, started writing code, she realized that the thought process happening in her head was the same. “It’s an act of creation, of problem-solving, of thought dedicated to putting something there that was not there before and that has meaning in itself.”

Of course we use ChatGPT to answer programming questions and have Copilot integrated into the GitHub development environment for programming assistance, but as Jesús Chacón, Lead Backend Developer at Z1, points out “the experienced eye of a developer is a must.” 

What is AI not good at?

When writing code, attention to detail makes a huge difference. With María I’ve learned the concept of ‘software craftsmanship’: “It speaks of how those who code do it aspiring for excellence, with notions of care, of paying attention, of feeling proud…” 

It also has an ethical dimension. “In a world where very sophisticated things happen just pushing a button and everything moves very quickly, the idea of craftsmanship humanizes things.” María clarifies how software craftsmanship gives us, humans, back control and responsibility over what we produce in a context where technological progress seems unlimited. 

As Laura de la Calle, one of our Project Managers at Z1, points out, craftsmanship serves as a connection to the physical and a celebration of uniqueness. “Whether it is jotting down ideas on paper or creating a quick manual sketch, this tangible process brings us closer to solidifying ideas before translating them into the digital realm. It's a support system that makes the intangible more real, enriching the creative process.”

“Craftsmanship serves as a connection to the physical and a celebration of uniqueness.”
Laura de la Calle, Project Manager at Z1.

Digital crafting extends beyond basic functionality

Craftsmanship in the digital space is not just about infusing your product with a distinctive identity and personality. It's also about conversations, understanding, feedback, and iterations. It’s about comprehending your needs as a founder and your product users’ needs at the same time. At Z1, we pride ourselves on the artistry of our work, ensuring that every pixel, line of code, and interaction is thoughtfully designed and developed to create a seamless and delightful user experience.

By working side-by-side with a team of dedicated digital artisans, the odds are that your product has the power to engage users on a deeper emotional level, avoiding the risks of falling into non desired biases, dark patterns or messy code.

I loved what Jesús Chacón told me when I asked him about why craftsmanship matters in our sector. “In the end, manual things have that pure touch, that imprint, that the person who built it leaves behind by dedicating hours paying attention to the smallest detail. That is what makes each product, digital or physical, special.”

We have this motto Digital products are more than pixels and lines of code — they are experiences crafted with care and expertise that not only meet user needs but exceed expectations. This is the way we’ve assisted more than 150 startup founders in the last 8 years. If you want to reach us out, give us a shout at hola@z1.digital, we'll be delighted to help you craft the best digital experience you can imagine.

✨ Happy holidays, and may your digital endeavors be as bright as the festive lights!