As a designer you have a social responsibility which you should always keep in mind. For me this means that I should take a critical look on society and its needs. What are the big problems we are facing? And would it be possible to design solutions for this? It is okay to design for creating a successful product, but I feel like this success should come from how it successfully tackles a problem and brings society further. This should be prioritized over creating a design that would just do good on the market, but does not contribute to improvement of life. Therefore I would also aspire for a career where I can work on innovative projects that create new building blocks for future design for society.
One of society’s main challenges right now is sustainability, which is a topic that can be integrated in almost every design. I want to make society more aware of their environmental footprint and how they should change their behavior. Design is a great mean for this. There are currently great technological developments on sustainability, and I want to make it easy and not-scary for users to use these innovations through design. It should become common sense to live sustainable, and therefore I also want to naturally implement this in my designs.
As I already mentioned, a design should become a success on the market from its great contribution to a society. To reach this, it is important to consider the business aspects of a design. I value having frequent contact with your stakeholders, in order to create a product that pleases all involved parties. It is interesting to see how people from different expertise areas, such as mechanical engineers or industrial engi¬neers, look at a certain problem. Collaborating with different stakeholders can bring new insights to a concept. But it is still important to realise that as a designer you have a certain expertise on design, and should not let outside thoughts lead your project. Communication is key for a good process here. Next to this, it is important to map out the market that you are designing for and make sure that a design suits your customer. It should never be forgotten what your user needs, but also wants. Only this way you can ensure that a design would be used.
As a designer I can get very passionate about a project that has the goal of solving a large societal problem. I want get to know the target group and their pain points, to find design opportunities. Knowing who you are designing for and how they can be helped gets me motivated to work on my projects. I for instance spent 1,5 years on sustainable energy storage within student team SOLID from the passion of changing people’s perspective on sustainability, and did projects for elderly with dementia with very frequent user contact. Especially after working for a company during my internship I realized that I do not necessarily want to design for making a profit, but for the user. For me design is about improving lives and society.
Within projects people often experience me as structured, because when I start a project I want to give it my best. I have a clear end-goal, and will make sure that I don’t do any less than what I aspired to do. This requires good planning and setting deadlines. This also means I do not often get lost in details of a certain iteration, but now when to move on. Sometimes I however need to let go more, because a design process does not always have to be strictly scheduled and monitored.
What also helps me as a designer is my critical view. I often quickly realize when it is time to make decisions and move on. After brainstorming I mainly think about which ideas are realistic with the expertise and time available. This results in me reaching deadlines and having a clear structure during a design process. My criticism can sometimes shift to scepticism, which can also be a bad thing for the sake of creative and out of the box ideas. When a concept sounds too crazy I mostly think that it isn’t good to go on with it, but with some adjustments this crazy concept might become very innovative and good. The challenge for me lays in finding the right balance within creativity and critical thinking.
Especially during my first two years of Industrial Design, I was very much searching for my identity as a designer. Different electives and activities next my studies kept changing my perspective on design and where I want to be.
One constant was however that I always had a high interest into user experience and technology. I have always gotten great pleasure out of deeply involving the user into a design process to please them. I like to vary this by working on coding and electronics. Beside this being a fun activity, this expertise has really helped me over the years with realizing technical prototypes in a good and complete way.
There did occur an interesting change in interest in the area of business and entrepreneurship. In my first two years I prioritized this aspect in a design, and always had the goal of creating a product that would do very good on the market and/or within a company. In my 3rd and 4th year I stepped a bit away from this, by prioritizing user and society. I realized that I want to design for a greater good, and decided to integrate this with the business side, where society comes above making a profitable product. Business and entrepreneurship is for me now mainly about involving all stakeholders.
All portfolio items at the top of this page are clickable, to read more about my previous activities and my reflections on them.
During my FBP I found my optimal balance between design and research. I started my project with literature studies and user interviews, then focused more on design iterations and finally I performed multiple user tests do study my hypothesis. I feel like this is a good order, to be able to base your design decisions on previous findings and validate your design. A few things that I struggled with were when to assume that literature studies are correct and what to do if your user tests show differently than used theories. This is probably caused by the fact that it is very difficult to know when you’ve correctly applied a literature theory. Therefore I want to develop myself further on this deeper aspect of design research in future projects.
Unfortunately I was not able to pitch and present my project on the demoday and to Marin, which would have been a nice closure of my project. The transfer to an online environment did however bring me new skills. I made frequent use of the online workspace Mural to gather my ideas and research, and share them with the client. I also learnt how to do presentations and user tests online, which is not very different from the usual but it definitely is more challenging to get your message across.
At the very beginning of my project, I made a planning. I followed this planning closely during almost the whole project, but when it came to user testing there were some struggles. It was much more difficult to find participants than expected, which resulted in spending more time on user testing (with non-context specific users) and less time on processing the results and writing the report. Looking back, I should have found some end-users at the beginning of my process which I could perform a final user test with but also even some additional interviews in the beginning. This would have benefited my final results and conclusions.
Creativity and Aesthetics
My FBP design consisted of an interface. Because I had already worked on interface designs during my internship, I was familiar with the process and design principles. I divided the process into three stages: sketching, wireframing and final designing. Within these stages, I had multiple iterations that resulted in a concept with which I was pleased to move to the next stage.
During the final design stage, I designed the interface in Photoshop. In this stage I did an heuristic evaluation with two fellow industrial designers. This gave me valuable input on my design decisions, and inspiration for improvements. When evaluating first iterations, I mainly focused on evaluating with the end user and experts of the maritime industry, whilst these heuristic evaluations made me realize that evaluations with designers are just as (if not more) valuable. They gave me some insight on interaction design, that the users could not give me. In future work I would need to find the right balance between evaluating design decisions with experts and users.
In future projects, I would like to pay more attention to the aesthetics of my design and the interaction experience. I feel like I have the knowledge to do so for physical prototypes, but never prioritized this in a project. I find it challenging to enrich an interface experience, but am motivated to learn more about this in future projects.
Technology and Realization
I spend a large part of my time on coding the final interface. The function of an interactable map is the most important aspect of the interface, and therefore I was keen on making this work correctly. I further developed my skills in coding by writing the whole code in HTML/HTML5, and learning new functions by doing so.
In the end, the prototype had all necessary functions for testing. But ideally I would’ve implemented all functions, to be able to present the finished end-product. I’ve learned from this that even though I have not finished my final design, it is better to already start coding. It has been a very timely process, and therefore I wasn’t able to implement all functions before starting user tests.
Also, if the interface was functioning perfectly, no errors should occur during final user testing. For now this was however the case, and therefore it was important that I monitored all user tests. If this wasn’t necessary, I would have been able to test with much more participants by letting them perform the actions by themselves. This is something to consider for future studies.
For the past year, I have made major developments in my coding skills. For both my internship and final bachelor project, I have coded webpages/interfaces. In future projects, I would like to use my skills for coding electronics, by making a (partly) physical prototype with my design. I feel like this can highly enrich the experience of the interfaces I have created so far.
User and Society
Designing for and industry as large as the maritime industry, gave me the amazing opportunity for impactful design. This industry has a large impact on global emissions, whilst they are making little change. I took on the challenge of exploring if there are short-term emissions decreasing solutions for ships. This came down to enabling behavioral change, which is a reoccurring topic within my projects. I therefore could apply my basic knowledge of psychology and sociology on this challenge.
It was difficult to deeply involve the user into the process, because both me and Marin had difficulty with getting in touch with seafarers. I did however involve Marin as much as possible by evaluating my design decisions with them. I also did not only perform final user tests with the few seafarers, but also with participants that have no experience in the field. I learned how to deal with the fact that I needed to get my user profiles mainly from literature, and that I can also test aspects of a design with participants who won’t be an end user. In the end, testing with non-context specific users was valuable, because this enabled a larger dataset for validating the design overall.
Math, Data and Computing
My design was partly based on a poster that Marin created to map out seakeeping issues. This poster displayed different spider plots and wave data. I translated this data into an interactive interface, where data is only displayed when relevant. Through this I further developed my skill in translating technology and data to easier understandable information, which suits my vision on design.
Next to this, I gathered datasets from my final user tests which I translated to graphs and conclusions. Ideally, I would however retrieved a larger dataset to also apply statistics to the results. This would have enabled me to get more conclusive results.
I feel like I do have learned statistical skills throughout my studies in an elective and my research projects, but that I apply these skills too little. For future projects, I want to gather more quantitative datasets in my studies so that I can be more conclusive about my test by applying statistics.
Business and Entrepreneurship
An important requirement for my concept, was that it is easy to implement. Since there is already research going on long-term solutions for lowering emissions, I wanted to see if there is a quicker solution. I designed an interface that can be presented on an already present screen in the bridge, or an additional tablet or even the captain’s phone or laptop. This way, shipping companies can relatively easily implement this design on their routes.
I do however realize that my design is not thoroughly thought out on the business aspect. Looking back, it would have been useful to create a simple business model that displays the future clients and what they need to do before being able to use the design. Still, I did consider the ‘trend’ of sustainability, and that companies now or later are going to have to go greener. My product would be interesting for maritime companies that are looking at easy ways to get more sustainable.
This design is meant as an initial step towards sustainable sailing behavior, and this design is not ready to be directly implement. This was however a challenge to communicate to the client, who preferred to have a focus on solely an improvement of their poster design. I struggled with finding the right balance between following my own vision, and pleasing the client. I am however happy with the communication, and the fact that I did not differ from my vision on design and society.
After finishing my bachelor Industrial Design, I want to continue my path as a designer in the master Industrial Design. For a while I also considered to additionally follow the master Innovation Sciences. This because I would not only like to focus on industrial design, but also want to develop more of an expertise into design for sustainability and larger companies. For now I will take courses from this master in the free space within the Industrial Design master.
In the end I would always want to design for improving society, and therefore I would not want to work for a company that solely has the purpose to make large profits. I believe that for impactful design, you need to do thorough research before being able to come up with a good concept. Therefore I see myself working as an user experience researcher in the future, preferably at a large company such as Philips or Nuon where there is budget for user studies and product development.
I do want to keep working on the whole design process, but always with a focus on research. I want to create theory-based designs, but also validate my designs correctly through different research methods. Therefore I choose to want to follow the Constructive Design Research track.
Eindhoven, The Netherlands
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