Craftzing people: UX & concept designer Martijn
Meet Martijn: driven to translate abstract, complex business challenges into an inspiring digital experience, finding the ultimate sweet spot between user needs and business objectives. What keeps him engaged, challenged and motivated as a UX & concept designer at Craftzing?
What impact do you want to make as a designer?
My goal is to create meaningful experiences. Or, in other words, I want my work to improve or facilitate the life of others. In order to do that, it’s important to put the user at the center of your work. What are their needs, obstacles, challenges, and so on? Instead of taking on an inside-out approach, I want to be purposeful in my work and create real value for the people I design for.
When designing digital solutions, you must align user needs with business goals, which is often a tough nut to crack. You can create products or services that users want and need, but if they are not viable for the business, they are not valuable.
What is the biggest challenge you face in designing such human-centered digital products?
A designer's greatest challenge is at the same time his greatest strength. When designing digital solutions, you must align user needs with business goals, which is often a tough nut to crack. You can create products or services that users want and need, but if they are not viable for the business, they are not valuable. Since as a designer you’re in touch with the business side as well as the user, you have the ability to align the interests of both parties.
The great strength of design, and a personal skill I gained in my earlier career as a graphic designer, is to conceptualize and visualize what the product might look like. This can be particularly helpful in discussions during team and client meetings and in determining the direction we want to go. Design can help make business decisions. This is why I am a big believer in giving design a place at the table. Fortunately, I've seen this shift in recent years.
Assuming a complex business challenge, the process toward the end goal sometimes spans several years. Projects of this size and complexity require you to work with the people who can actually induce change within an organization.
You've been working at Craftzing for about a year now. In what ways do you find Craftzing does things differently?
Certainly in the way we approach projects and our relationship with clients. At Craftzing, we look for projects and partnerships where we can make a long-term impact and drive digital transformation within an organization. This requires a very different way of working. Instead of setting the scope, outline and budget upfront, we start each project with a vision of the outcome we want to achieve. Assuming a complex business challenge, the process toward this end goal sometimes spans several years. Projects of this size and complexity require you to work with the people who can actually induce change within an organization. That’s why we work side by side toward the end goal, in constant dialogue and close collaboration, ready to adjust the process at any time.
How do you try to make a difference in the way you approach a project or in your relationship with a client?
Projects can differ greatly from one another, so my focus shifts accordingly, but there are always some common points. First, it's about identifying the client's needs. I do that by analyzing the current situation, talking to people in the organization, asking them what is going well and what is not, what their goals are, how they would define success, and who they consider their audience. Together with the client, I pour this information into a roadmap or multi-year plan. Second, because of the large scale of many projects, I try to break down the roadmap into more manageable pieces, working with the client step by step toward the end goal. Doing everything at once is a utopia. That's why a long-term partnership is so important. Third, what it always comes back to, is trying to find a synergy between the ambitions of the business and those of the user. Finally, I try to inspire both clients and teams by translating sometimes abstract strategic goals into a visually appealing, intuitive and clear design.
Can you specify which projects you’re applying these tactics to?
I am currently working for two clients. Zorg & Gezondheid, a department of the government of Flanders, and Melexis, a listed Belgian company that designs microelectronic solutions. Zorg & Gezondheid will merge with the WVG (Welzijn, Volksgezondheid en Gezin) department in the near future. This means that their entire digital landscape and digital touchpoints need to be re-evaluated and brought together.
For Melexis, on the other hand, the scope is more analytical and technical, as we are working on an internal tool for Melexis' quality controllers. Together with the product team (Piet, IT business solutions manager at Melexis and Craftzing colleagues Thomas, Timothy, Jonathan, Stijn, Kim and Milenka) I am currently mapping the engineers' needs and translating them into a concept that is both inspiring and provides a direction for the next steps we need to take.
The fast-paced digital landscape and high user expectations require organizations to be flexible and able to respond dynamically to rapid change. At Craftzing, we try to actively embed this digital mindset in the hearts of our clients so that they are better prepared for the digital future.
What do you believe companies should be mindful of in the future?
First, more and more things will become digital. I see this on a daily basis. Not only in my work, but also in my personal life with my two sons and the way they interact and connect digitally. The digital expectations and skills of children and teenagers differ greatly from those of their parents and grandparents. This gap creates quite a challenge for organizations and governments, as they need to be prepared for the next generation of digital native consumers while ensuring that their services are accessible to all generations, including those who are less digitized.
Second, the fast-paced digital landscape and high user expectations require organizations to think and act differently. Specifically, companies must be flexible and able to respond dynamically to rapid change. “To measure is to know” will be more important than ever. Therefore, how you manage data, actively tracking specific business metrics and acting on the insights you gather from those data, is vital. But also putting your customers first and genuinely listening to what motivates them intrinsically. It is a logical consequence of digitalization that will continue to influence companies in the coming years, although not everyone is ready for it yet. At Craftzing, we try to actively embed this digital mindset in the hearts of our clients so that they are better prepared for the digital future.
With so much becoming digital, what energizes you in the physical world?
I love working with my hands, especially wood. I think, for me, it always comes back to my passion for creating things. Moreover, it helps me put all things digital in perspective. It's important in our lives, but it's not what life is all about.
By Michele Stynen