There is this weird thing with design. Design is a professional service that is performed by highly trained, skilled and experienced professionals. Design is a service that offers clear business value. But for some strange reason, some clients don’t want to pay for the work of designers. Not all clients fortunately but there is a substantial group of people who refuse to pay for the work that is done. They either demand free pitches, refuse to pay for additional work or complain extensively about the bills. From time to time I find myself in projects with management consultants and IT…

Last week, I was invited to participate as a field expert to be interviewed by students for the course with the name Cutting Edge Design, Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the faculty of Industrial Design at the Technical University of Delft. In my work, I focus on design and innovation. The idea behind the course was that students are introduced to cutting edge theoretical concepts about organizations, mainly focussing on behavioral dynamics. Then they apply them to the reality of innovation projects. The idea is that the success of design in innovation largely depends on organizational change. That the success of…

What UI designers can learn from chatbots and video games

The other day, I was attending an online clinic on conversational design. In the announcement it said that conversational design is about getting the right information at the right time to the user. That, to me, is the goal of any interface. You can’t get more fundamental than that.

People have tasks, jobs to be done, and for that they need the right information at the right time. And the opportunity to take action based on that information. If I deconstruct any interface, there is information and action. We usually have different mental models in our heads when we think…

I love a good polarizing article on design just as much as any design blogger :) Yesterday, I came across this nice read by Jeff Davidson on how Design Sprints are absurd. It’s a great article and it points to a number of valid problems that the Design Sprint as a method has. Biggest point in case is that it’s mainly innovation theatre. I agree. The same goes for design thinking in general under which I put Design Sprints. Both are bandwagon hype terms. They both overpromise. They both create an image that design is easy and anyone can do it. They both try to make innovation look like a simple five step process.

The message that everyone can design is insulting to designers who have spent their lives honing their design skills. The speed of Design Sprints is insulting to design researchers who see their work reduced to half assed quick and dirty guesswork.

But the Design Sprint not about design as a craft. Design Sprints are about something else. Design sprints bring two wonderful things to the world.

  1. They enable design to step easier into a more strategic role.
  2. And they help revolutionize the way people work.

Both are landslide achievements.

Design becomes more strategic

Design sprints are populated by managers, decision makers, key stakeholders. Or…

I have a love-hate relationship with the UX of social media. I love how you can connect to people from all over the world, find like-minded people and have an extra channel to communicate with friends, family and other people you know. I can also discover interesting content that people I don’t know post. But the dark side of the UX of social media drives me away from time to time. There are many dark sides, but this time it’s the algorithms that turn me off.

As UX designers, we are constantly pushed to find ways to enhance engagement. The UX designers at Facebook, Twitter, Google are masters at their craft. They design their apps in such a way that people keep on spending more and more time in them. We all know of the biases and dark UX patterns that keep people glued to these apps. We also know that social media companies are taking steps towards well-being by recognizing the negative impact of too much time on social media. We also know that the distance these media create between people make people be more…

If you do a Google search on “UX pyramid”, you get lots and lots of UX pyramids. If you take a closer look, you’ll see that most people agree about the bottom of the pyramid. Applications should be functional, usable, reliable. No arguments here. If things don’t work, the UX will suck. If we move up to the mid-section of those pyramids, we see that there is also a consensus about the niceness of the experience. Experiences should be desirable, esthetically pleasing, pleasurable, enjoyable, delightful. There are more different terms that we find here but the gist is the same…

In my previous essay, I started thinking about a more holistic view on design. I thought about how design is not just beauty, not just problem solving, but also problem finding, questioning. How design is all of that. The head, the heart and the hands. Today, I wanted to take this train of thought one step further. Today, I wanted to think about how to connect these three functions of design and how design can help bridge the gaps between strategy and operations in most organizations. …

Under the banner of the term design thinking, design has been going through a transformation this past decade. More and more people are discovering the power of design to solve problems. The way that designers think, turns out to be a good addition to the traditional thinking in businesses when it comes to solving (business) problems. Especially when it comes to problems that require navigating uncertainty in complex situations.

UX design has the potential to change people’s lives. It can change the way we behave, think, see, collaborate, organize ourselves, what we value, our motivation. Each application we use has a bias, a workflow, a mental model of the world, a vision of how we should to things, an opinion about what is important, an effect on our inner psychology. Whether you see it or not, it’s there. Applications might seem innocent, but they impact our inner world more than we think. We shape our tools and then our tools shape us. UX design can have a profound impact on our lives and with that the bottom line of organizations. But getting to that level of impact is more difficult than you might think. Getting there is not about crafting cool solutions but about uncovering the right problem to solve.

The UX pyramid

When we think about the levels of impact and meaning UX design can have, the UX pyramid is a useful mental model. It shows us that applications can not only be useful, but also convenient, pleasurable and meaningful. The base line is about reliability, functionality and usability.

What is your superpower? I dunno. We all know this type of workshop ice breakers. What am I good at? What do I love? What does the world need? What can I get paid for? If you combine all these questions, you will find the reason you exist, your Ikigai.

Dennis Hambeukers

Strategic UX Design Consultant @ Zuiderlicht / Design Leadership Forum Member @InVision / Design Thinker / State Secretary of Integration @ Ministry of Design

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