See you tomorrow!

UXcampAMS17 is less than 24 hours away! We're all excited to see what you guys are gonna share with the community and are looking forward to seeing friendly faces old and new. Here's a few last-minute essentials that you may want to know.

Location Location Location

As a reminder, the venue address is as follows:

Congrescentrum Amsterdam (5th Floor) Weesperstraat 113
1018 VN Amsterdam

Check it out on Google Maps.

Registration starts at 09:00 and the Welcome & Madness Session will begin at 09:30. Please have your Eventbrite tickets in hand to speed up registration.

Lunch

Lunch will be provided at around 13:00 and there will be snacks and fruit throughout the day. 

A note for those Pitching

Today is your final opportunity to stand in front of the mirror and practice your pitch! Make it short, snappy and interesting to get those votes!

If you plan on presenting slides, please note that the venue is still using VGA connections for their projectors. Therefore, if you want to present from your own laptop, please try and bring the required adapters. As a backup, we recommend that you have your presentation on a USB stick and in PowerPoint format (the venue can provide Windows Laptops with PowerPoint installed as a backup).  

Closing Keynote

We're delighted to announce that we will close the day with a keynote talk from Barbara Koop, Head of User Experience at one of the most-visited sites of the Netherlands: housing site Funda. Barbara’s talk is called “How to make UX count (and become a superhero)” and will be about measuring and predicting ‘soft’ outcomes like loyalty, allowing you to prove the impact of UX achievements, and to be able to move your company's goals from revenue to relationships, in a measurable way. Don't miss it!

After-party

Come and join us for some liquid refreshment at the UXcampAMS17 After party. Straight after the event, we'll be heading to the CREA Café (a 5-minute walk from the Congres Centrum). The UXcampAMS team will most likely be the first ones at the bar so follow us down and we'll make sure the party and good vibes continue. Where the night takes us from there is anyone’s guess!

UXcampAMS Team know how to P A R T Y

UXcampAMS Team know how to P A R T Y

Sponsor Spotlight - Marktplaats

In this fourth edition of Sponsor Spotlight we're focusing on Marktplaats. Founded in 1999, the giants of classified advertising are one of the most visited websites in the Netherlands. Marktplaats is a Dutch institution akin to appeltaart and stroopwafels and we're delighted to have them back sponsoring us for a second year in a row.

 
 

We met up with UX Lead, Jeroen Mulder to discuss Marktplaats ongoing transformation, challenges and get his thoughts on the state of UX in 2017. We also talked about Cricket (but for some reason, that part of the conversation didn't make the edit!)

Jeroen Mulder.jpg

Jeroen, thanks for your time. Tell our readers a little about yourself?

I've been interested or involved in design from an early age, launching my own small businesses as a teenager and then moving on to study Communication and Multimedia Design at de Haagse Hoogschool. After I graduated I started working for Funda. I was there for 9 years and saw a lot of growth and focus on UX. When I started, there were 1.5 UX'ers, but when I left that had increased to 8. Funda was founded in 2000 and already had "User Experience Design" as a role and focus within the company at that time, so design was part of its DNA. I learnt a lot there. Just over a year ago I started looking for a new challenge and now I am working at Marktplaats as UX Lead.

Tell us more about Marktplaats and it's focus on UX?

Marktplaats has been around for a long time and has really made an impact on the Netherlands, but at the same time, it's an 18-year-old company: we all know that you have to continue to re-invent yourself. Right now, Marktplaats is in a period of change, we have been through a big re-organisation focusing on the way we work, moving from business lines and silos to cross-functional teams while, at the same time, building a UX team that adds value at a strategic level, which is my job. It's a big challenge for a company like Marktplaats. We have around 150 employees and the classified advertising space hasn't really changed a lot. But if you look at what we are trying to do, which is to help people find the best deal, then there is still a lot of room for improvement and that is why I joined the company. I truly believe that we can play a much bigger role in the Netherlands than maybe we have done in the past. Also, the world has changed, people are expecting more and more from market leading companies. Our challenges are to ensure that we meet and preferably exceed the expectations of our users. It all starts with having the right culture and organisation and if you've got this right, hopefully you can create great products and services.

How do you address some of the challenges that designing for a demographic as wide as Marktplaats?

We have to accept that we are designing for "everyone", which makes it difficult. We all know the saying that "If you try to please everyone, you end up pleasing nobody!". Every time you approach a product it's really important to get a laser focus on who is the customer and what is this customer actually trying to accomplish. Personally, I'm a huge fan of the "Jobs to be done" framework, which is less focused on the demographic and more on what a user is looking to achieve. The demographic is so wide that you can't just pick one, so you need to find a common-ground. This is typically what the user is trying to do and the context they are trying to do it in. This is what we attempt to design for.

Do you take a different approach to how you design for sellers and how you design for prospective buyers?

Our cross-functional teams are organised on one part of the customer journey and part of that is focused on people looking to buy and part of it is focused on people looking to sell. But at a certain point in the journey, there will be a moment when the two start to interact with each other. Instead of having a team focus on either one of the two, we have a "Trading" team, focused on facilitating the communications between buyers and sellers, so that's one way we try to bring them together. They are both attempting to accomplish the same thing, but from a different point of view. They're trying to get a good deal. It's all about setting and meeting expectations from both sides. We're a market place and we're all about connecting people, so it's important that everything we do takes both sides into account.

Where do you see that the User Experience of Marktplaats "ends"?

There is a difference between what we've done and what we are looking to do. Markplaats has traditionally been a platform to either list your goods or look for items to buy. As soon as people start interacting with each other then we leave it up to them. If you look at the entire customer journey, then it ends somewhere after the transaction is complete or goods have been exchanged. One of the things that we use a lot internally is the Peak End Theory from Daniel Kahneman (Psychologist and Author of "Thinking Fast and Slow"). This focuses on the idea that an experience is defined by the emotional peak and the emotional end. So if you apply that to the Customer Journey at Marktplaats, a lot of the Customer Experience is defined by the end of the experience, so the interaction between the buyer and the seller, the negotiation, meeting up at a stranger’s house or trusting each other that if you transfer the money, the goods will be shipped to you. That's an incredibly important part of the journey where we haven't played a role historically, but it's where I see we can make a difference. We're still a facilitator, but we want to give users tools to establish trust and minimise frustration. If a transaction is unsuccessful or someone has a bad experience, it may have an impact on whether that user considers using Marktplaats in the future.. 

With a user base as large as that of Marktplaats, User Research must play a large part in what you do. Can you tell us a bit more about your research methods?

We do a lot of different things. We have a toolbox of qualitative and quantitative research and the method we select will depend on the question we have and the potential time and cost to perform the research. We talk to users and invite them to our office, but preferably, we'd like to visit them in their homes. We also visited an Afvalpunt (a waste disposal point / recycling facility) where we asked people who turned up with their cars, "Why are you throwing this away?" The conversation is not, initially, about Marktplaats. Going back to the “Jobs to be Done” framework, we're trying to find out the reasons as to why people are disposing of these items. There are several possible reasons; maybe it's just in the way at home or there is no resale value or they just don’t know any better. So a lot of our work is about finding those edges of the customer journey and understanding why people use Marktplaats in the first place, ensuring that we understand this and then work on meeting their expectations. When I ask people to name our competitors, they name the obvious candidates, other platforms or free ads or whatever, but from a customer point of view, we are also competing with the garbage man, the neighbour, the nephew or just simply leaving the item in the house and doing nothing with it. The motivation for using Marktplaats is not always the money that you can make on listing items you no longer use. Some people just want to free up space in their house or they want to make someone else happy.

Do you see yourselves competing with platforms like Free Community Facebook groups where users give away their goods for free or are these "free" trades of less interest to you?

We're all about connecting people so that they can exchange goods. Typically, most of our users are listing items for sale, but not everyone is motivated by money and we don't always offer those with other motivations the tools that they need. We have started to change our thinking and taken an "Outside In" approach. The world has changed in 18 years. People have changed, technology has changed. If we only look "Inside Out", we may miss the obvious and what is happening out there. It's the same with the sharing economy or the circular economy; we need to constantly talk to the users, not about our company, but about them and their lives to understand if we're still relevant and whether our role is the same as we envisaged it to be. Talking to users should be like oxygen for a company. It's highly qualitative and that's fine. It helps us find out, as Donald Rumsfeld calls it, the "Unknown Unknowns". That's where the disruption can happen. So if we want to stay a market leader, then we have to be constantly critical of ourselves and keep challenging ourselves.

How big is the UX team at Marktplaats?

We currently have 5 designers. They do quite a lot of research with Product Managers. We also have a shared resource of people who perform dedicated user research. But currently, these researchers have to serve the entire company, so they can often be busy with other tasks, therefore we try to hire designers who are capable of asking the right research questions. 

It sounds like you joined Marktplaats at an interesting time, can you tell us a bit more about the changes that the company is going through and the challenges that these bring?

The company knew it needed to change when I joined. We're an established company and that comes with its challenges, but we're building a User Experience Design team. We've also re-organised to focus on self-organised, cross-functional teams and we're managing on outcome and not output, so we have a lot of initiatives and structure in place to make sure that we can move quickly and try to do the right things for our users.

One of our main challenges now is the fact that each cross-functional team is delivering on three platforms, web, iOS and Android. We use dual track agile. All of our initiatives are labelled as either Discovery work or Delivery work. The single goal of Discovery work is learning: getting through the "Build, Measure, Learn" cycle as quickly as possible to determine that we're building the correct thing or indeed that there is a problem in the first place that we need to build for. I expect designers to spend about 50% of the time in the Discovery track, preferably a bit more, than the rest of the time in delivery, working with developers to build for iOS, Android and Web. But if you have to deliver on three platforms, that's a lot of work and we're not currently in the position where we have a well-established style guide or component library to really move quickly and deliver easily and swiftly across all platforms. Designers are still spending a lot of time in the Delivery track. We're investing in style guides and component libraries to hopefully reduce the time required in Delivery and free designers up to do more Discovery.

What are some of the pitfalls that you see in the UX world?

As designers, we tend to show screens to people very quickly. While screens are often what we deliver, I'd argue that most of our work has nothing to do with screens. It has to do with understanding the problem, what needs to be accomplished, understanding users, understanding our vision, strategy and Information Architecture. These elements have nothing to do with screens. But designers can be guilty of showing screens and showing options. We should postpone showing screens for as long as possible and talk about goals, principles and visions. If you are all aligned on that, then a screen becomes an obvious piece of output. Also, if you've done the groundwork correctly, there shouldn't be many options to present, your background work should eliminate the possibility that you are presenting options to people who are not experts and who have not performed or been involved with the research. I think we are selling ourselves short in this area. We are experts.

You were at UXcampAMS16 last year. Any highlights or talks that you found interesting?

There was a great presentation from Adyen on Point of Sale UX. It was really interesting, as it's so different to what I do on a day-to-day basis. It's important to step outside of what you know and explore different areas to really understand how they work, learn from them and gain confidence that the design skills we have can be applied to pretty much any area.

Will you pitch a talk this year?

We plan to pitch one or two talks, we're still working on it. We have an interesting story about how we approach design and the changes that the company is going through. There will be three designers present from Marktplaats and we look forward to having some interesting conversations throughout the day.

Is there a topic or area of discussion that you'd like to see addressed at UXcampAMS17?

I think, when we talk about corporate design and design strategy, design is the easy part. Really changing the company and the experience of the company requires designers to go beyond their "design part" and delve into business, marketing and technology and really understand the problems in these areas. I'm a huge fan of Design Sprints as they can help to align people on the same principles and goals and ensure that you can build products that are good for the user AND good for the business as the same time. This leads to a sustainable product. I'd be keen to hear and contribute more on a discussion in this area.


Thanks to Jeroen for his time. It was great to hear what’s happening at Marktplaats as well as gain further insight into how Jeroen approached UX. I’d encourage you to vote for one of Marktplaats’ pitches during the Madness Session and find out more.

Sponsor Spotlight - PwC

PwC employs over 220,000 people in 157 countries and are best known for their tax, accountancy and professional services. UX might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of PwC, so we met up with Jessie Hsu, Karan Shah and Joris van Gelder from the PwC Experience Center in Amsterdam to find out more.

 
 

Thanks for your time today, can you give our readers a short biography of yourselves?

Joris van Gelder (JvG) – I studied Industrial Design at TU Eindhoven, covering a lot of different aspects of the design process. For instance, they’d just give us a problem like “the trains are too crowded, go fix it”. We would then have figure out the best way to convince the right people at TU/e to help you on your project. It really helped me find out how I want to create and how I want to use design in the world.

After my studies, I founded and ran “Ministerie van Nieuwe Dingen” for about 7 years, where I created both physical and digital artefacts that have an impact. I built products, got investors and sourced a supply chain, so I began to understand the intricacies of bringing an idea from concept to realization.

5.png

Karan Shah (KS) – I studied Visual Design 10 years back with a special focus on designing spaces that communicate. For 3 years after my Bachelor’s, I worked in a design consultancy in India, slowly moving from being the “Wild Creative” to managing Wild Creatives.

I wanted a Masters that makes my design perspective more grounded and holistic, so I studied Strategic Design at TU Delft. Soon after graduating, I was hired as a Digital Strategy consultant here at PwC.

Jessie Hsu (JS) – I have a pretty complex background. Ten years ago I was studying Japanese and Russian culture, so I was doing a lot of cross-cultural and sociological studies, focusing on communication patterns between people. Later on, I worked in the IT Industry as a project manager for 3 years.

But I’m also interested in the Interactive stuff and I love art. So I really had to think about how to combine my interests and my work. I chose to pursue Design in Sweden and over the past few years, I gained valuable experience studying and working in various countries in Europe.

Karan, you were the first designer hired by PwC. How did you end up working at PwC and what attracted you?

KS – When I joined in April 2015, I was the ‘clown’ who never wore a suite. Hiring me was a seemingly incomprehensible risk taken by the person who at the time was responsible for establishing the Digital and Customer Strategy at PwC. We were like a start-up within PwC and we still kind of are, we’re still finding ourselves. Now we are called the “Experience Center” within the firm, which is a global proposition.

How many people do you have working within the Experience Center?

KS - The PwC Experience Center in Europe now stands at around 30-40 people across Frankfurt, Vienna, Brussels and Amsterdam, with plans to double in the next 2 years. Currently, we have 7 people based out of Amsterdam.

PwC are sponsoring UXcampAMS for the first time this year, tell me a bit about your reasons for sponsoring?

KS – I’ve been attending AmsterdamUX meetups for a while. And every time, I’m confronted with the question, why does a company like PwC need UX’ers like you? A lot of acquaintances at those meetups are all UX’ers working at companies that you would associate with UX or design in some way. So when I first had conversations with Tatiana (UXcampAMS Sponsor Contact), it was with the intention of raising the profile of PwC from a design/UX perspective, because the consulting and design world can together address many interesting challenges.

JvG – Getting our name out there is key for us, but we are also keen to get in touch with the larger UX community. This is a well-timed progression for us because we’ve been building the team and working on interesting projects and now have some experiences to share.

Can you tell us about some of the projects that you are currently busy with?

JvG – I’ve been working a lot in healthcare. Nurses for example, spend up to 30% of their time booking hours and doing paperwork. So we prototyped a mobile solution that led to some good discussions. We quickly realised that we can’t solve all challenges from inside our offices, so we needed to get out there. This is when the broad PwC network really helped. We managed to pitch to 20 healthcare organisations within a short period of time. What really helps us is the image of PwC. Customers trust PwC, therefore, they are more likely to trust you quicker when you have a crazy idea. I didn’t expect that, but it made my life a lot easier.

KS – The variety of projects for me is what I love most about my job. There is always an element of user-centricity that ties them together. For example, I worked on a Digital Transformation project for a chemicals manufacturer using rapid prototyping to innovate

I’m currently working on a Corporate Responsibility project for a Dutch start-up, that is trying to bring women in Rwanda out of poverty by means of an innovative micro-financing platform. They find philanthropists to fund those women. The challenge is how to design the service in such a way that it incentivizes more and more Dutch people to donate to these women.

Another new project that I am working on is for the Government, specifically DigiID. 65% of Dutch people are still not using DigiID. At first glance, there seems no significant UX or CX dimension, but there definitely is. The project is about communicating the level of reliability to those who are less technologically savvy.

Customer Centricity, User Centricity, Qualitative Research…it’s all about empathy. It involves a lot of evangelising and getting people in the mind-set to be able to do that.

JH – I work on a lot of projects with data, one of them is a government project involving Refugees. It involves helping the Dutch government gather basic information from refugees. For example, a refugee might register in Amsterdam but may be accommodated at a later stage in a different city, so all municipalities need access to the data. We created a concept for a platform in the form of an app, where users - refugees in this case - can upload their data and register themselves. It was interesting as it also touched on cyber-security and IoT. It’s always interesting to work on a project in a very different domain.

I’m very interested in Data-Driven Design. Most people know it and may have a simplistic view like “okay, we know how many people are visiting your site and who they are”. But to take this information and transform it into an effective experience, that’s a very interesting challenge. So I’m doing a lot of experiments in this area at the moment.

So, you’re a relatively young team within PwC NL, do you expect to see a lot of growth in 2017?

KS - Yes! There is a lot of work coming in and we need more people. Good designers don’t naturally think of PwC. So I think UXcampAMS will be good for us to work on that perception.

JH – We work as a pan-European team, so growth is required across the region. It’s not just about how we grow here in Amsterdam, it’s more about how the discipline grows throughout PwC Europe.

Do all of your projects flow in from the accountancy side?

JvG – Not all, but surprisingly many. I have been surprised about how nice it is to work with accountants. The most important thing they do for us as a team here is build and maintain relationships and trust. So they often hear and get insight into problems and opportunities which they bring to us.

So they know where to find you and where you are?

KS – More and more. But two years ago, this was not the case. That is one of the reasons why it has taken us a while to reach out to AmsterdamUX and UXcampAMS. We first had to make ourselves visible within the company. Now that we have that visibility, it’s time to step out.

Will you be contributing with any Presentations or Workshops? 

KS – We plan to pitch one or two presentations and we are keen to see if people vote for them! We are still working out themes for the presentations internally with our network in Netherlands and Germany.

Finally, if there was one topic or theme that you’d love to see addressed at UXcampAMS, what would it be?

JvG – My work here is focused on using design to validate Business Propositions, so I’d be really interested in insight and stories on getting from MVP to something that is fit for growth.

I’d also like to hear from Makers. A lot of people that graduate from, for example, TU/e and TU Delft tend to have ambitions to create a physical digital product – interaction beyond the screen. Beyond TomTom and Philips, realisation of such assignments don’t happen a lot in the Netherlands. I’d be keen to hear if anyone has any experience on this and how they overcame challenges along the way.

JH – For me, I’d be interested to see and hear how UX teamwork works in different contexts, environments and organisations.

KS – User Centricity is maturing as a field. I feel that now is a good time to move beyond that and shift focus from (just) being User Centric and User Driven, to creating things that exceed user expectations. This is something that Verganti in Design Driven Innovation tries to expand on. Until now, it’s not been easy to put this into a framework. If anyone has ideas on this, I’d be keen to hear them.


Thanks to Jessie, Joris and Karan for their time. It was very interesting to hear their experiences, challenges and opportunities working in UX within a company as large as PwC. Stop and say “Hi” and have a chat to learn more and be sure to vote and attend one of their sessions on the day to gain further insight.

Sponsor Spotlight - Exact

For this, our second Sponsor Spotlight post, we ventured over to Exact’s headquarters in Delft

Founded in 1984, Exact have a long history in creating Business software. They’ve seen their industry change significantly in the preceding 30+ years and are firmly focused on empowering SME’s by providing them with the technology and services they need to grow beyond their limits.

We spoke with Carina Palumbo over a coffee to find out more about the history of UX at Exact, the future and Exact’s plans for UXcampAMS17.

 
 

Thanks for inviting me over to your offices. Tell me a little bit about your background and how you came to be a UX’er?

I studied Visual Communication Design and started working as a Visual Designer. I was working in the design of solutions to reduce the vulnerability of my city to floods, in Argentina, where I am from. We were working with the municipality and University; therefore there were politicians, teachers and numerous other stakeholders involved. At that point I noticed that I was no longer solely a Visual Designer, but I didn’t have a name for what I was doing (a mix of qualitative user research and design). After this, I enrolled in a Masters in Information Studies at UvA (Universiteit van Amsterdam). I wanted to learn about the best methods and tools in the process of creating an experience. At the time I figured that studying human centred multi-media would help me get a bit further away from only visuals. After that I was introduced to the post-master in User-System Interaction (USI) programme which was a great experience to start with my first “official” assignments as a UX’er. These years were crucial to develop my research and design expertise further, giving a new meaning to my visual skills, and my role in projects. I was happy that it was now very clear to everyone what I could do.

How long have you been here at Exact?

I’ve been here just over 2 years and it’s been great to see how we are growing as a team and improving the way we create our customers and users experience.

I got the impression from your presentation last year that UX has come into sharper focus in the past few years at Exact. Can you give us some background as to how this increased focus came about?

Our CEO started an initiative to transform Exact into an Exponential Organisation (ExO), we have had a lot of exposure and trainings on this with the aim of spreading the ExO mind-set within the company. We had an external company come in and perform assessments and one of their conclusions was that we could improve in the areas of experimentation and autonomy, so that became a focus and goal of our internal programme. On the back of this initiative, tools like Lean Startup really started to spread around the company. We figured that this was also a great moment for us to bring Design Thinking as a further focus area for Exact. That’s what we are doing now, trying really hard with all UX’ers to make this a bigger change and move design towards a more strategic role in the organization. We’ve started experimenting more, using Lean Startup and also designing strategically with multiple stakeholders instead of building only.

The reason for this transformation is the evolution in the business software and technology industry; a few years ago, customers would for example accept that they needed training and that software was difficult to use, but now this is not the case anymore. They simply won’t buy your service or product if their experience with it is not positive. The standards have been raised all around, so it’s more important than ever to empathize with customers, discover their needs, experiment, build, measure and learn. This is the key to innovation and successful experiences.

 
Carina (left) and Anette (right) presenting at UXcampAMS16

Carina (left) and Anette (right) presenting at UXcampAMS16

 

What is your role within Exact?

I am the lead of a new team, the UX Boost team. The team aims at empowering UX Designers to become ambassadors, making everyone in their team a Design Thinker. I am working together with our Solution UX’ers on taking the quality of our design processes to the next level.

We help our Cloud Solution teams select a topic and provide support for them to try out Design Thinking on a key project. We assist with design-critiques and knowledge sharing sessions and give them access to Design Thinking tools. Additionally, we partner with teams working on strategic projects to extend their user research, data analysis and ideation capabilities.

 
UX designers and customer success specialists from Exact applying Design-Thinking to different services.

UX designers and customer success specialists from Exact applying Design-Thinking to different services.

 

What are your goals for sponsoring UXcampAMS17?

We are looking to share knowledge, inspire and be inspired. There will be quite a large contingent from Exact and we hope to get new energy, ideas and inspiration. We like the casual environment where you can talk to a lot of friendly people about many different aspects of UX.

Do you have any plans to pitch presentations at this year’s event?

Yes – we are working on a few ideas, such as the history of what is happening here and how we are rolling out Design Thinking. We are also thinking of putting something together on our experiences with envisioning a Design System and creating data-driven personas.

Do you have any tips for anybody planning to present this year?

The main thing is to have a clear story. It doesn’t necessarily have to be about something completely disruptive. Even if you think that you may not have something new to share, it will always be interesting for some of the UXers attending the event, as there are a lot of people doing completely different things, working in different types of organizations, dealing with diverse challenges. So it’s always nice to learn from what other people are doing.

What hot topics would you love to see addressed at UXcampAMS17?

One of the topics that I get a lot of questions about is the combination of Agile and Scrum with Design Thinking and how to deal with it. We have experience in this, but it would be good to hear from others.

Also, as we are focused on enterprise UX, we encounter technical challenges that we are solving, but in the meantime, we have to take the legacy into consideration. So it would be nice to hear from anyone with experience of the sorts of challenges that you may face in this area. How do you, as a UX’er, give maximum value in such environments?

I am also really interested in how to use data in the design process. We have a new “Customer Intelligence” team here who focus on working with data and we are starting to get more access to this information. We already do some data analysis, but I’d be really interested to hear the experience of other UX’ers who use data to drive their design process.

Finally, I’m keen to know what the future is for UX and UX’ers, so maybe to get insight from those who have been in the profession for a number of years have some thoughts and ideas on both career progression within UX and what they believe the “New” UX will be. 


Thanks to Carina and Exact for spending some time with us ahead of UXcampAMS17. They are busy brainstorming their activities for this year’s event and we’re impressed with their dedication to help make this year’s event a great success. Stop by and say hello to the Exact crew and be sure to vote and attend one of Exact’s sessions.

Look forward to seeing you on April 22nd!

 
The Exact team making great plans for UXcampAMS17! #dedication

The Exact team making great plans for UXcampAMS17! #dedication

 

Sponsor Spotlight - Mirabeau

In this, our first edition of Sponsor Spotlight, we sit down with returning sponsor Mirabeau. To many of you, Mirabeau will be a familiar name. Not only did they sponsor us last year, but they are big supporters of UX community events in the Netherlands, such as UXcampNL 2016 , AmsterdamUX and UX Cocktail Hours.

 
 

We caught up with Paul Versteeg from Mirabeau to talk about what is currently keeping him busy, plans for 2017 and his thoughts on UXcampAMS17.

Paul, good to get some time with you ahead of UXcampAMS17. Can you give our readers a short introduction of yourself?

I’m Principal Interaction Designer at Mirabeau, which means I’m partly a designer, working for clients such as FrieslandCampina, China Southern Airlines and Hogeschool Rotterdam. A very diverse set of clients. And the other part of my role is the Principal role, so I organise Meetups and I’m the head of the Interaction Design department. I’m stating what Mirabeau’s take on Interaction Design is and I’m coaching all of the Interaction designers to go in that same direction. Also, I sometimes write blogs and give external presentations.

 
Paul Versteeg speaking at Dutch Design Week 2016

Paul Versteeg speaking at Dutch Design Week 2016

 

How long have you been with Mirabeau?

Roughly 5 years or so. Before this I worked with a couple of smaller companies and I noticed that, as the UX’er, when you are in a small company, you have a lot of responsibilities and can do everything a little bit. When you join bigger companies, the level is increased. You deal with experts. The focus is all about how it works, why things work the way they do, for who you are specifically designing and why and how you should test. These are all the main topics within Mirabeau that fall under my responsibility.

Can you give more insight into the role of an Interaction Designer at Mirabeau?

2 years ago, we stepped away a bit from doing the visual part as well. We do have a responsibility in the micro-interaction part, more on how the interface feels, but our main responsibility is how the interface works. That part is so big and becoming bigger with things like AI, Dynamic Design or Contextual Design. There are so many more variables that you can include in your design. You need experts in the team that truly understand these variables. I think that an Interaction Designer should be THE person to explain to visual designers, developers, stakeholders and clients, how this actually works. As we become bigger, and since we recently became a Cognizant Digital Business, this is important to always keep in mind.

Can you give some examples of the projects that you’ve been involved with?

What I find interesting about Mirabeau is that we are problem solvers. We really focus on a specific process that is now maybe analogue, or can be digital, but is not truly optimized or maybe isn’t using the right channels. It’s fun to work with these kinds of challenges.

I’m working on an assignment for farmers to enable them to see the quality of the milk that they deliver to FrieslandCampina, so this involves all kinds of lab data. Every three days they get an update on the lactose and fat percentages, which gives FrieslandCampina an overview of the quality. It also enables them to communicate this with the farmers and educate them to help maintain quality levels. It’s a really interesting assignment with many different aspects. We have been visiting lots of farms to see how they work and to really get insight into the industry.

We’ve also done a lot of work with KLM where we are not just working on the booking engine, but also working with the cabin crew, providing them with a tool to get to know the passengers and allowing them to service them better. We’re also working with the maintenance crews to assist them with processes and activities that are typically very analogue. We really have to dive into the problem and find out what the mechanics are up to day to day.

As you mentioned, Mirabeau has recently become part of Cognizant (November 2016). What kind of impact is this having?

By joining forces we are better positioned to help our clients succeed in this fast-changing, highly competitive marketplace. As a Cognizant Digital Business we can offer an even better and broader service. I think we are a really good match; Cognizant’s knowledge on IT and technology and our expertise on digital and User Experience.

At the same time we increase our impact in the international field. It’s really exciting that new international opportunities are coming our way!

 
Mirabeau's Amsterdam Office

Mirabeau's Amsterdam Office

 

How many people do you have working in the Interaction Design department?

The Interaction Design crew is growing very rapidly. The Concept & Design team is a very valuable asset within the Cognizant organisation, so we are focusing on growth within that team. In my team, I currently work with 22 Interaction Designers and we’re still looking for some new fresh talent, so it’s pretty big.

In total, we have around 270 people working for Mirabeau with a growing Interaction Design department.

Were you at UXcampAMS last year?

No, unfortunately not, but I heard great stories about it and we have some employees that joined Mirabeau after making initial contact at the event last year. The tickets are in demand here at Mirabeau so we’ll be bringing a number of colleagues!

These kinds of events really help to move the profession of UX forward, giving more in depth knowledge on it. The community is growing and growing and often, the attendees of these events are not just Interaction Designers, Service Designers or UX Designers. They are also Visual Designers or Front-End Developers, because they have interest in this area and it’s very valuable for them to learn more about the process and get a feel for co-operation within a multi-discipline team.

Do you plan on pitching any talks at this year’s event?

Yes, we are planning on pitching at least two talks. Still work in progress. We’ll see how it goes. I like the concept of pitching your idea and seeing what happens, it’s very democratic. I like that.

Last year Nick (van der Linde) told us a little bit about Mirabeau Labs during his presentation where he was talking about experiments with conversational UI, like Alexa or Chat bots. How is that initiative going and do you have any further use cases that have come out of your Labs?

The good thing about our Labs initiative is that we not only get to try things out and learn a lot, but we can turn them into something real. Now we’ve just launched the Transavia chatbot this month. The idea behind this was supported by our Labs initiative, so it’s very beneficial to keep pushing on the labs projects and research, as this will give us so much more knowledge and opens new opportunities for clients.

What are the key UX topics and themes on your mind for 2017?

One of my colleagues was at Interaction 17 and he gave us a roundup of some of the key topics. One of the key ones for this year is the responsibility that we as designers must take with all these new types of technology. AI looks promising and so does VR and AR. We’re at the experimentation phase, trying things out, but at the same time we should realise that it’s up to the designers to make ethical decisions on “Is this something I should work on?” – We need to keep the balance between what helps our clients and what helps or hinders the end user or customer in mind.

I truly feel that this is something that we as designers should put on the agenda, not to slow it down, but to keep it in mind. If any of your attendees have any insight or thoughts on this, I’d be very keen to hear them.


We’re grateful to Paul and to Mirabeau for giving up time to spend with us ahead of the event. It’s always great to get these candid insights into a company and hear the thoughts, plans and opinions of leaders in the UX field. We’re sure that Mirabeau will be pitching some inspiring talks and we can’t wait to hear more of their insight on April 22nd. Be sure to drop by and say hello to the people from Mirabeau on the day.

Sponsor # 5!

From Aquariums to Audi's or Ukulele's to UXcamp Sponsorship, there's only one logical destination....You guessed it. Marktplaats are our 5th sponsor!

 
 

Yes - the Netherlands favourite online marketplace will be sponsoring UXcampAMS17. Like all of our sponsors, Marktplaats have been big supporters of the UX community in the Netherlands and this will be the second year in a row that they return to sponsor UXcampAMS. 

We're very pleased to have them on-board again this year, and hope to hear some interesting insights and plans for the future.

 
Gareth's request to purchase a Car for "UXcampAMS logistics" was rejected by the team....

Gareth's request to purchase a Car for "UXcampAMS logistics" was rejected by the team....

 

Sponsor # 4 = Exact

What do UXcampAMS17 and Dutch F1 Racing star, Max Verstappen have in common? Give up? We're both sponsored by the amazing folks at...

 
See what I did with the title of this blog post?? ;-)

See what I did with the title of this blog post?? ;-)

 

We're thrilled to have Exact join us for our third edition of UXcampAMS. While this will be their first year sponsoring us, Exact are no strangers to us. They were in attendance at last year's UXcampAMS with Anette Hiltunen and Carina Palumbo and giving an excellent talk entitled "Designing Emotional Experiences in a B2B Product". We're excited to hear more from them at this year's event and will be heading over to Exact's HQ in Delft next week to get a behind the scenes look at what they are currently up to and chat about their plans for this year's event.

 
Carina Palumbo presenting at UXcampAMS16

Carina Palumbo presenting at UXcampAMS16

 

We can't promise that Exact will be able to bring Max Verstappen's incredible tea making gadget (see below), but we're certain that they'll bring enthusiasm, passion and great UX insight.

 
 

Old Friends Join the Party. Sponsor #3 Announced

UXcampAMS are pleased to announce our third sponsor for this years event. Please give it up for..

 
 
 
 

As many of you know, Mirabeau also sponsored UXcampAMS16. In addition, they've also hosted AmsterdamUX and Amsterdam UX Cocktail Hours Meetups and sponsored UXcampNL, all within the last 12 months. It's fair to say that Mirabeau are very supportive of the UX community in the Netherlands. You guys rock.

Last year, not only did Mirabeau sponsor the event, but they also contributed to the programme with an excellent presentation on AI & UX. We're hoping that they have some more great content for us all again this year.

We'll be hooking up with the Mirabeau guys in the coming weeks to give you insight into what Mirabeau are currently working on and what they have planned for UXcampAMS17.

Stay tuned!

 
Mirabeau at UXcampAMS16

Mirabeau at UXcampAMS16