Now, on to the content.

I’m Jan and I can help you build better services.

This is what I tell my clients, and this is how I do it by focusing on users, not clients.

I will start by asking you why you think you need to provide this service; what are you doing and why? I conduct interviews in order to define the purpose and goals of a digital service for you. Which business problems will this service solve for you?

You cannot build a useful service without challenging the way you’ve conducted business so far.

I ask a lot of questions about your business, your business model, your products and the service you provide.

I ask these questions to help you focus. It can’t all be about end users. If every website and every app all revolved around what users want, most of them would just be pushing cat videos. The problems we solve for your users needs to align with your core business.

I ask these questions to help you understand what you need to consider and allow for in every aspect of user contact; in your support hotline, in your delivery insets, in your communication and behaviour.

I ask these questions to help you identify weaknesses in your core offer, and to identify the demand to manage expectations for your users.

I ask a lot of questions, but I don’t really care about you. I care about users.  The needs of the users matter more than your needs as an organisation. Lets talk about them.

Give me your users, not your idea of your users.

Who is using this service? Which business problems will this service solve for them?

You can tell me who your users are and what you hope to do for them, but that’s about all you can do. I don’t want you to tell me what you guess about your users, and unless you’ve already done my job, you are guessing.

Ignorance is better than arrogance.

Forget what you think you know, everything needs to be validated against reality.

User research is about curiosity, scepticism, empathy and a great deal of interview technique. To ask the right questions and never ever ask what the users want. Henry Ford once said:

“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”

Spoiler: Henry Ford never said this, but it makes for a relevant quote.

Dilbert strip about bad user researchImage by Scott Adams, Dilbert.com

We can get to know our users in a number of ways:

  • Bad – Being told about users from a business owner.

    Please don’t do this. You may have done your market research but you’ve focused on what you need to do in order for you to get your users to do what you want, how to achieve your goals.

  • Still bad – Being told about users from a role that actually deals with users.

    Better, if the role talks and interacts with actual users, but still bad.

  • Better – Being told about users from a user.

    We’re talking to actual users, can’t get better than this right? Wrong. Users are not service designers and it would be bad to assume that they understand and can breakdown their own problems. We certainly can’t expect them to be able to design the best solutions to their problems.

  • Jackpot – Observing users in their natural habitat.

    Now we’re talking context. The full who, where, why, when. We can fully understand the scenarios in which the problem needs to be solved. How the information we provide will be used. Why the problem needs solving. What their conditions and possibilities are.

    There is till a bit of talking involved. We need to really get to know our users. To understand their needs, their behaviour, their capabilities, their mood, wether or not they’re grumpy because the coffee machine is broken every other week. There is also a bit of ergonomics involved. No one cares about your fancy dark-themed design if they can’t see it because they use your service outdoors in direct sunlight.

The result of this research is often a deliverable in my projects. A documentation with user scenarios and personas which needs to be approved by the client before moving on to actually solve the problems outlined.

Do less, better.

Your users will have many needs, problably too many. Let’s talk focus. The best service imaginable is the service which solves one problem, and does not create new problem.

Dilbert strip about too many featuresImage by Scott Adams, Dilbert.com

When people ask me for examples of good design my first answer is open_in_newvecka.nu. It solves exactly one problem, it tells me the current week number. It could do more, it could tell me the date or day of week, it could allow me to authenticate and show the information in my custom colors, it could provide links to other resources. This would make it worse.

It is very likely that there are users who would like that, and why wouldn’t we want to satisfy their needs? The service would still satisfy my needs and more, right?

We don’t want to satisfy everyones needs because satisfaction is not enough. We want to delight!

A service which tries to please and satisfy everyone is a mediocre service. We need to choose. We need focus. Who is our primary user? What is their primary scenario? We need to choose who we want to delight, at the expense of other users. We can probably still satisfy others but we need to understand that all users cannot be equally prioritized; in art direction, in information hierarchy, in copy tone, in interaction and information design. Some users information will be less accessible, their interactions will be designed to fit someone else better than them. This is the price of delightful design for the right user.

Nice to meet you, user. I’m the [insert project role].

This is where we start talking about solutions, the how. How can we best solve our users’ problems based on what we think we know about them? The process is iterative and a lot of roles are involved but a basic information architecture, the concept, should be settled before any graphic design or copywriting is begun.

Once the foundation is laid, the solution phase involves documentation, wireframes, prototypes, mood boards and art direction, design mockups, sample texts, sample photos and so on from all kinds of project roles. After that we’re off to implementation.

Projects are collaborative, and user experience design must be too. User research and user insight is little worth if it cannot be understood by everyone involved in a project; the graphic designer, the illustrators, animators, speakers, copywriters and project managers. What we think we know about our users should influence every design decision. Design patterns and praxis needs to be validated against our assumptions.

A Dilbert strip about designers not caring about users.Image by Scott Adams, Dilbert.com

I am not a copywriter, but I write content strategies which declares which questions the different pages, copys and strings needs to answer, and for whom. A content strategy should also outline how you should work with continuous editorial content. Why are we writing articles for? Clients tend to be too outreaching and publishing news with little or no thought on which user story the content should accommodate. If you cant figure out who should read your post or why, and how it is relevant to your business, don’t post it.

I am not a graphic designer, but I create wireframes and documentation which gives weight to different pieces of the information and interactions which a graphic designer can use in information design.

I am not a system architect, but I write briefs and attend meetings with developers to find the best solution for all possible scenarios and edge cases.

I am not an account manager, but I can help the sales force motivate project costs and plans towards the client, why the project will do better if we eliminate all risks and answer all questions before we implement, why it is crucial to do user research no regardless of their preconceived ideas about the result. I can also, and prefer to, present and defend our concept and our design decisions to the client.

I am not a project manager, but I can help define and estimate the different phases of my work and the overhead of concept maintenance. The actual project manager needs to fully understand user-centric design, or get out of the way of the design process and simply work with removing obstacles so the team can work unhindered.

I am an advocate. If your project organisation is mature towards user-centric design, getting people involved with users might be easy. If not, you need to appoint a service owner who is. I often get to defend and advocate for users through whole projects, fighting of irrelevant feature requests that add no value for the user, and assuring quality of delivery from different roles in different phases of a project, which I quite enjoy.

Test! Test! Test!

No matter what! Test everything! Test early! All the time! Test your assumptions, your copy, your interactions. Proper user testing is not unlike the user research we conducted earlier; optimally by observing users in an environment as close to the natural one as possible, asking them to think out loud, using tools to track their eyes and cursor.

Don’t lead them on and don’t help them. If your service needs introduction or education before sitting down with it, you’ve failed. Start over. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.

Dilbert strip about user testingImage by Scott Adams, Dilbert.com

If we don’t have a budget for user testing (which you would have if you would have involved me in the project budgeting and planning) we can still harass coworkers, family, friends and strangers with a bit of guerilla-testing. Any testing is better than no testing.

Assess, evolve, experiment, iterate.

Don’t settle for good enough. Even if we can accomplish your business goals, thats no reason to not be better. Develop a strategy for statistics and its use by figuring out exactly which questions we want the data to answer and employ someone who understand statistics to form the data to answer them.

Plan and budget for A/B-testing of tweaks, and for further development following the release of your service.

Software is never finished, only abandoned.

I you don’t continuously evolve, you’re likely to become extinct. I did not mean for that phrase to come out so catchy, sorry.

This concludes my rant about the process. Let’s talk about me.

These are the skills I use to do this.

Self-assessment is hard. My everyday activities in my current environment range from strategic brainstorming and user modeling to more operational tasks such as designing high-level representations of concepts, studio critique and prototyping. I have tried to map my experience in the different disciplines and soft skills involved in UX in these charts.

Self-assesment of experience in UX disciplines:

A radar chart over experience in disciplines in UX, self assessment 2017

Self-assesment of soft skills in UX disciplines:

A radar chart over soft skills in UX, self assessment 2017

This is what I have done with these skills.

When your main deliverable is documentation it’s hard to build a visual and appealing project portfolio but let’s look at some projects which I think substantiates some of the claims I’ve made so far. If you’d like I could show you some sample documentation. Just let me know.

A photo of user documentation spread on floor

Storstockholms brandförsvar

Website from scratch. Civic information to a quarter of Sweden.open_in_newssbf.brand.se
open_in_newFull case at navii.se

“We need to understand that all information of low relevance to a target group degrades the availability of information of high relevance.”

The organisational problems for this client were that of focus and relevance. Trying to do too much for a lot of users without knowing enough about them. The solution is a focused information service which delivers relevant information and clear access based on the likely scenarios identified for different users.

These scenarios also provides an opportunity to push related content, to answer questions the user did not know they had, but we wish they had.

Beyond user research and concept design I’ve also worked with quality assurance of the produced content.

Bombardier

A desktop client allowing remote control of trains in the Stockholm subway. Security-driven scenarios and urgent user storys.

“The accessibility and robustness of the interactions required by the critical scenarios can mean the difference between life and death.”

In a few years the trains in parts of the Stockholm subway system will be autonomous. I’ve have worked with designing the client which will be used by the remote operators, whenever an operator needs to intervene. Many scenarios call for lightning fast actions and the greatest challenge was communicating demands back to the actual train engineers, to communicate the necessity for the interface to shape how the communications with the trains and their functions must be designed.

In this project I worked with a dedicated ergonomist to fully understand the environment and context of the planned workforce.

MDH – Mälardalen University

University website from scratch for a pleatora of users and stakeholders, and a lot of information- and interaction design. Planned launch Q4 2018.

“Continous editorial content aside, the information architecture should be kept simple enough for one person to know every page on the site.”

The number of pages and objects in the current solution is in the tens of thousands, with no clear strategy of who should publish what, for whom, why or how the life cycle of information should look.

This XKCD comic strip is painfully accurate.

XKCD strip with a venn diagram of useful vs not useful information on a university webpage.Image by Randall Munroe, XKCD

There is also a great deal of confusion about who the intended reader is, where one page can have tonality and content aimed at wildly divergent target groups, and buried so deep the in information hierarchy it’s impossible to deduce who the information was initially intended for.

The new solution provides clear access to prioritised user grops and simplify the content to only answer questions the audience actually has, without claiming authority over information which they do not and should not maintain.
Interactions for common use cases are available alongside the information needed to make decisions about that same action.

Sporthyra.se

Website from scratch. Consumer e-commerce where returns are expected and encouraged.open_in_newsporthyra.se

“Slim interactions and elaborate microcopy is key in eliminating friction for users in complex scenarios which might otherwise be off-putting to complete online.”

Sporthyras business is the rental of sporting equipment to those who might not profit from buying said equipment. I’ve been working to move this business online with the design of a web service/shop since 2012.

It’s an interesting challenge since there are many transactions and states beyond what you would expect in a regular online store. Equipment gets lost, stolen, returned, refurbished and sold as second hand, and the system needs to account for all these states.

Shameless client namedropping

  • m4 group
  • Frank restaurant group
  • Melker Andersson
  • RISE interactive institute
  • Ciceron group
  • Arvid Svensson
  • HEA property partner
  • Stadsrum fastigheter
  • Headlight
  • Hairtalk
  • Engineering for Development
  • Västerås Stadsmission
  • Stiftelsen Våra barn
  • Västmanlands Teater
  • Mälarvillan
  • Sporthyra
  • ICANN
  • ISS – The Internet Foundation In Sweden (.SE)
  • AFNIC – The french registry (.FR)
  • Create Business Incubator
  • Västerås Science park
  • Munktell Science park
  • Mjärdevi Science park
  • Clas Ohlson
  • TB Screen

And this is how I acquired, and develop these skills.

I am a User Experience Stategist at an agency called Navii.

Since 2015 | open_in_newnavii.se

Navii is a communications agency i Västerås, with focus on marketing strategy.

I get involved whenever the end delivery is likely to be a digital solution. I act as support for the sales staff in early client discussions and take over when deals are made. I conduct user research in line with my process regardless of project scope and write the foundational documentation and brief art directors, graphic designers, copywriters and developers. I act as a product owner throughout most projects.

In my sketches and documentation i provide drafts for microcopy and labels, and often a content strategy for fixed and continuous editorial content.

I am the CTO of Sporthyra.

Since 2013 | open_in_newsporthyra.se

I been working with Sporthyra since their online debut in 2012, further developing the service and assisting in strategic planning as well as measuring conversion and tweaking the soultion.

I am a freelance consultant.

Since 2001

I’ve been working with webb design and digital media production since 1998, but not often as my main occupation and these days I am employed full time.

If the gig is interesting enough, and would not fall under the core business of my employer Navii, I can take on projects in service design and user research as a freelance consultant, although my other commitments take up most of my time.

Previous

  • Product owner at Doxwork AB
  • Service design consultant att IIS
  • Project manager at Smidja AB
  • Animator and assistant project manager at Interactive Institute
  • Studies in communication and didactics at Mälardalen university
  • Studies in media production and project management at Aventus Västerås

These are some other things I dabble with.

I write technical specifications and project documentation.

Unlike most people I actually like documentation. I like order and I like unambiguous instructions. I’ve written a fair amount of functional and non-functional specifications, with fully dressed use cases. I’ve written release notes and user dokumentation. I’ve written case studies and strategic reviews.

In most projects, documentation is still my main deliverable. I write for clients, developers, designers, copywriters, project owners and end users.

I enjoy coding.

Coding is fun but my background, working as a project manager fairly close to the technical layer, has led me to greater understanding about architecture, data models, API design, and coding patterns than programming syntax and techniques, which is really useful when discussing project conditions and presuppositions of a solution with developers.

Still, I frequently program in PHP, JavaScript and LUA (!).

I understand accessibility standards and WCAG 2.0

Government authorities and agencies in Sweden (and probably the rest of Europe) is in a bit of a panic due to the EU resolution (2016/2102) which states that all governmental web sites must achieve level AA compliance with the WCAG 2.0 accessibility standard. This directive passes to law in september 2018.

I have designed several sites for agencies affected by this law, which requires knowledge of all the criteria from the start. This isn’t something you can add as a moment in your project, it needs to permeate all phases and clear instructions needs to be given to key roles; developers, graphic designers, and copywriters as well as the editors of future content. I’ve also worked with accessibility reviews.

I made a video game.

I’ve worked with a small group of driven developers and designers on an open source game called Tunics!, a roguelike-like Zelda game for the open_in_newSolarus game engine, using art assets and game mechanics from “The legend of Zelda – A link to the past” for the SNES. The project has been mentioned in PC Gamer.

open_in_newTunics! at github

Tunics! played by the creator of the Solarus game engine, Christopho.

I’m allegedly an expert on internet infrastructure; EPP, DNS & WHOIS.

I’ve been a technical project manager and scrum master for a project aiming to build and deploy a new registrar broker for the .NU TLD registry.

I’ve been a consultant at IIS (.SE), working on behalf of ICANN in the new gTLD project, writing and performing test for EPP, DNS and WHOIS compliance.

I’ve worked with reviewing the user and system documentation of a DNS diagnostics tool, Zonemaster, on behalf of IIS (.SE) and AFNIC (.FR).

I’ve worked as a 3D animator and with media production.

I am not a graphic artist, not anymore. I have been. A lot of my business as a freelancer has been in producing media; illustrations, prints, animations, movies and such. I’ve created animations for SVT and, in its youth, DICE.

Now a days I see myself as more of industrial designer, but let’s include a 13 year old showreel for the heck of it.

It’s okay, you can tell me. That shit does not age well.

I’ve worked in sales.

I am not a salesman, but apparently I’m quite good at figuring out how to press the right buttons. I’ve worked with coaching and a bit of project management in B2C and B2B sales projects on behalf of a number of large corporations in Sweden.

I’ve held a world record in spooning.

I was part of an effort to claim the world record for longest human spoon, as in most people spooning each other in a chain. It was at the 2006 Kaktus Festival in Köping (or was it Arboga?) and we succeeded with a record of over 270 people. We have since been dethroned.

End of message. Thank you.