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“Discovering solutions always is a team activity”

Rotterdam, August 9th, 2018

Strakzat is a digital design agency shaping ideas into meaningful digital products and engaging experiences. Based in The Netherlands, the agency provides for both the needs of users and the wants of startups, established companies and other agencies.

The agency’s team is formed by a small team of interactive designers, all with a healthy mix of creativity and passion. Jasper den Ouden is not only a UX designer at Strakzat but also one of its Founders. In an interview with TIA, he gives us details on the agency’s daily work and its discovery process.

Can you describe your agency in a few words?

Strakzat is a digital design agency, focusing on creating meaningful digital products and experiences to help both users and businesses to reach their goals.

How did you get started in the industry?

When we graduated from our Communication & Multimedia Design Bachelor, Bart and I felt like we wanted to make our own choices and to be independent designers. Shortly after that, we decided to just go for it and founded our agency. We weren’t running many risks at that time, so the timing was perfect.

Why is discovery important for a designer?

Design is problem solving. Without a good understanding of the problem itself and the context around it, it’s quite hard to find good solutions. Therefore, discovering insights about the users, the business and its industry is an essential part of the job.

What role does the discovery process plays on your daily work?

I think our discovery process is twofold. On the one hand we conduct research to gather new insights or validate hypotheses. On the other hand, a big part of our discovery process exists of concepting and sketching solutions. In your head a solution might be a good fit, but sometimes when you put it on paper or screen it just doesn’t work. That’s part of the process; you discover new ideas and end up with the right alternative eventually.

How is that process carried out at the agency? What are the steps you take?

It differs from project to project actually. One project we might organize workshops or even run a design sprint with our clients to gain valuable insights. For another, we conduct a lot of desk research and dig through analytics. We also like to get in touch with users by doing interviews or testing (prototypes of) our designs.

Which team members participate in the process? Why specifically them?

The user research is mainly my cup of tea. Of course, the team helps by giving feedback on research methods, providing creative input in workshops or conducting an interview or two. Discovering solutions always is a team activity. We sketch together to inspire each other and shape a (combined) optimal design idea. Sometimes we drag clients into that process as well.

What outcomes can be obtained thanks to the process?

We know how to deliver a proper design if we only have hypotheses to work with and without doing a lot of research. We just built an MVP then and got it out there to test with real users to get that validation quickly.

However, if we take some time to understand the problem and discover multiple solutions beforehand, the outlines of the product we’re building are much clearer at the start. After a good discovery phase, you’ll be able to live in the skin of your target audience. On top of that, the client’s goals are in the back of your head when you go to sleep at night. It just makes it easier handling design decisions without having to guess on the outcome.

What do you like doing in your free time?

I’m a board and video game fanatic, try to keep up with my series and movies watchlist, play some squash now and then and spend time with friends and family.

What piece of advice would you give a recent grad looking to work in digital?

Product design experience is an important factor for us to hire new talent. We like it when grads didn’t only do their school projects but also experimented with some redesigns or side projects that are focused on UX and UI.

Thanks Jasper!

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