Posts Tagged ‘context’

And after a few weeks of not quite knowing, it all fell into place a couple of weeks ago: I knew what I was going to do.

Up until then, there was a vague idea, and a vague explanation. Now, it’s all so crystal clear. And that feels good!

This is what it is. I used the WHY, HOW, WHAT principle as was explained by Simon Sinek at a TedTalk. Watch it, it is pretty inspiring!


CONGRUENCY: I believe in the feeling that things fall into place. They feel right. They are supposed to be like this. Whether it’s quitting your job to start up your own company, finding a solution to a design problem or using a product for a specific purpose. All that should be congruent with everything else that is part of reality at that moment.
VALUE: I believe that everything I do should have value. I try to only do things that I think are valuable to me, the world and other people in the world.


NATURAL: I do this by turning things into something natural. Use of a product should be intuitive, easy, unobtrusive, effortless and supportive of the goals.
STORIES: I do this by listening to stories of real people. Every story is worth listening to, and is of value because you can learn from it. Feeling connected to others adds value to the process.
CREATIVE:I do this by being creative, by looking beyond the problem at hand and finding the solution beyond the ones that already exist.
SMALL: I do this by starting small and then spreading. I believe in an agile, flexible process that fits with what is really needed at that point in time. Doing lots of little things at a time and adjusting them has more value than doing one bulk of work with the possibility of getting it wrong. Without losing the overview of what is really important.


USERS: I look at users
SITUATION: I look at the situation the user is in
NEEDS: I look at user’s needs, even the ones they don’t know they have
PROBLEMS: And then I solve problems to make things easier.
SPECIFIC: I do this for specific situations and target groups.

(I can hear you all ask: of WHAT exactly? I’m working on getting that clear right now)

I call myself the user’s advocate.

Pleased to meet you.

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I went to the Waarmaakdag the other day. Which roughly translates to ‘Making things happen day’. It was fabulous! It reminded me of how much I want to do this whole setting-up-your-own-business thing and of all the people in that world that I want to learn from and be part of.

There were experts on all kinds of different fields. A guy I already knew gave me a kick in the butt to go record my very own elevator pitch, so here it is! (in Dutch)

Elevator pitch of my very own company which does not have a name yet

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I love people’s stories. I think every person has an interesting story that is worth hearing and telling. Maybe this is the reason why I like using storyboarding in my work.

Storyboarding is a technique that originated in the film industry, but more and more product developers are using it in their design processes. It puts the use of a product in its context and focuses on the user and his interaction with the product.

A storyboard is a couple of images that together form a story around the use of a product. For examples, simply google on storyboard and look at the images available.


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Other people may think usability is about the buttons. But really, it’s about looking beyond the buttons.

Usability is about making things easier to use for people. Whenever I tell someone I’m a usability expert, they say: “Oh, I need you! It’s all far too complicated!” If a user feels like that, us usability experts get to do something about it. This in itself is not very complicated. It’s just using your common sense. But before using your common sense, you need to have the ability to observe the world surrounding you.

I sometimes feel like I’m preaching. What I learned about usability and doing research is sometimes hard to explain. People are used to listening to what a customer wants and then building it. They’re not very used (yet!) to thinking about what the user wants. And sometimes, the customer and the user are not the same person. If they do want to know what the user wants, they’re only willing to think about it, instead of putting some time (doesn’t have to be much) and effort (again, not much) in actually seeing what goes wrong, so you have a solid base for the decisions you have to make when designing the product. This solid base is very much needed if you want to end up with a good and easy to use product.

Usability is about solving problems for users. But before you can do that, you have to understand which problem they’re having. Most of the time, you think you should solve one problem, but if you really think about it, there an underlying problem that, if solved, magically makes everything better. And don’t be surprised if, beyond that problem, there’s yet another one.

In short, usability is about looking beyond the problem, by scrutinizing use in its context. It might just turn out that you don’t need those buttons at all!

The following article grasps most of the notions I always try to get across. It’s an interesting article (thank you, boagworld!).

Usability for handheld devices versus computers

My own summary:

– Look at REAL users of the product
– Look at real use of the product
– Be in the context of the use (of the real users)
– Don’t only ask questions. Observing is more insightful.

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