...is always a bit awkward. Hence, I will (try to…) keep it short.
The short version is: I'm an Amsterdam-based UX designer & researcher with a focus on website- and app-optimization, working for IKEA Digital. This is me :-)
(All credits for the photo go to my cousin, photographer, cameraman and steadicam operator: Erwan van Buuren.)
My goal is to make useful, usable digital products, that look good. In that order :-)
Preferably, I do that by iterating over UX research and UX design; quickly learning about the new concept or design/ prototype.
But how did I get to be that?
I 'fell in love with the internet’ in 1999, when discovering a HTML-how-to, in the last chapter of a syllabus, in my first year of mass communication studies at the University of Amsterdam.
Typing up stuff, that created something on your screen, was simply magical :-)
Then I discovered De Digitale Stad (DDS) and I had reached the point of no return.
During my studies I started working as a Blackboard-supporter for students and teachers at the university (electronic learning environments were pretty new back then, I can tell you: support was needed :-)
Next to that I learned more about HTML and CSS, discovered PHP (and a little ColdFusion), MySQL and started building a CMS that I used for small projects.
To finish my Masters in mass communication, I wrote a thesis on internet, music and copyright in 2006: 'Is this copy right?' (PDF, in Dutch), combining the two things I like a lot: internet and music (I play the violin).
Meanwhile I had shifted from Blackboard-supporter to something we would nowadays probably call 'product owner of the CMS used within the University of Amsterdam' (back then it was called 'functioneel beheerder' in Dutch; I have no clue how that would translate to English :-)
Looking back, I now realize that was the first time I actually worked with a ‘wireframe’. When explaining the possibilities of our CMS-skin to (internal) clients, me and my colleague noticed we would always end up talking about the colors, images and fonts of some example-skin we showed.
To take those elements out of the equation, we came up with an ‘empty skin’. It only had lines, outlining the different content- and navigation-components of the templates. A wireframe before I knew it existed :-)
After a break in 2009, allowing for a world trip, I continued in a new area in 2010: consulting, interaction designing and user research at the internet consultancy firm Jungle Minds.
That's where I really got to learn about usability testing, interaction design and prototyping. A whole new workfield opened up and I quickly got submerged in interviewing users of our clients and communicating my findings and solutions in Axure-built wireframes.
This was also the moment I realised that my childhood wish of becoming an architect and working as a UX designer were closely related. I knew chances were big I was on the right path :-)
In that same period, I got hooked on mobile and started learning about responsive design, native apps, mobile website, webapps, etc. I also wrote about it: Mobile marketing: app of mobiele website? (Dutch-alert).
And then in 2012 came the opportunity to completely focus on e-commerce at debijenkorf.nl, combining UX design with AB-testing. Apart from being a new challenge, it was also a kind of 'back to where I came from': building AB-tests meant coding again! And now with a new framework at the time (for me at least): jQuery. In the end, I've spent 7 years at de Bijenkorf, moving from UX- & Conversionspecialist to UX designer & researcher and finally Sr. UX designer & researcher; combining UX design & research at deBijenkorf.nl in an iterative, agile process. I saw it as my challenge to discover our guests' wishes, needs and expectations and to design the digital experience accordingly.
In june 2019 came an opportunity for a new challenge, following my manager Wouter Brackel, as a Sr. UX designer & researcher at Accell Group (the largest bike manufacturer in Europe). Later I moved into the role of User Experience Lead. These roles were part of the department Accell Digital, which supports all Accell Group companies with their digital activities. My main focus was leading the UX activities in developing a scalable, headless, e-commerce platform - rooted in Object-Oriented User Experience (OOUX) - ready to be used by the Accell bike brands.
Come February 2022 and I had the chance to join IKEA Digital. To accelerate the ongoing digital transformation, a 'group digital' was set up, and I joined the experience design team that is focussing on the co-worker (or employee) experience. I find this particularly interesting, since I have learned during my career how much the employee experience can be a bottle neck (or enabler for that matter) for the customer experience. So I'm very happy I've found an organisation that has a dedicated team for this user group.
My first role was Sr. Product UX Designer and later (from November 2022) I started as an Experience Design Team Leader. That means I have 4 direct reports, who I guide and assist in working human (employee) centric and in their professional development. At the same time I also do 'the work' myself in product teams.
A few years ago, I read this sentence:
no one cares about your website but you
And I always try to keep that in mind. Sadly, I don't remember where I read that sentence (I wasn't using Evernote yet, back then ;-), but not long ago I stumbled upon this one: Nobody Wants To Use Your Product, which tells about the same story. For me, this is a constant reminder of the question: 'Is this thing I'm designing relevant to the person who's going to use this thing I'm designing?'
A book, or framework, that will always be in the back of my head is: Elements of User Experience. That may be one of the best books on the subject, linking strategy and visual design in a very comprehensible manner.
I read about OOUX for the first time somewhere in 2015 in an article on A List Apart and I immediately fell in love with this way of thinking. It was as if the author Sophia V. Prater had put into words how I was thinking about design and had given it a name. I've been following the development of OOUX ever since and applying it wherever I can in my UX work. I gathered a small collection of resources on OOUX on are.na.
As I mentioned before: music is a large part of my life. I play the violin and even started a conservatory-adventure, but also decided to end that after a year. The violin is still there though, and I regularly play in orchestras, even on the streets in summer :-)
I've been very lucky to have had 'the gift' of two additional languages: French (with a real 'Française' as a mother) and English (bilingual education in high school). So I get around very well in those three: Dutch, English and French.
...with reaching the bottom! I'm glad you kept on reading or scrolling :-) Maybe you are interested in reading my blog post on what UX is...?
Or have a look at this: