.

The fact my wife and I quit our jobs and left everything behind to start a new life in Vancouver. I recommend everyone to live somewhere else for at least one year, nothing opens your eyes more, plus it was a fantastic experience in a great country.

Please give us a brief bio of yourself.

I started out as a Flash developer but realised very soon that the interface and the user (behaviour) interested me way more than coding. I lived in Vancouver for one year where I worked for Noise Digital, a very cool Canadian agency and then moved back to Belgium where I am currently working for Boondoggle Leuven as  a ux designer. 

Please list 3 of your favourite sites.

www.feedly.com:  source of all information

www.kickstarter.com: for fresh idea's and new gadgets 

google.com

What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?

The fact my wife and I quit our jobs and left everything behind to start a new life in Vancouver. I recommend everyone to live somewhere else for at least one year, nothing opens your eyes more, plus it was a fantastic experience in a great country.

How many hours do you work each week?

Usually between 40 and 50 

How do you relax or unwind?

Playing with my daughter is probably the best way to unwind. Other then that I love playing guitar, running or reading or taking pictures. I'm not really the stressful type so usually by the time I get home (5 minute bike ride) I'm pretty relaxed already. 

If you weren't working on the internet what would you be doing?

I would love to have my own recording studio and/or guitar building workshop.

What's your favourite part of your job? What's the hardest part of your job? What do you do when you get stuck?

The favourite part of my job is getting great people together and get them all involved and cracking. That moment when somebody nails it...

The hardest part probably is having to convince clients and colleagues over and over again of the value of doing a ux-oriented approach and what that actually means. Most people think of ux as "doing wireframes before going into design". 

When I get stuck I talk to colleagues or browse websites like this one for inspiration.

What's the longest you've ever stayed up working on a project?

I think I've managed to do a couple of 20 hour working days on this one but that was mostly because of circumstances.

If there are any pivotal experiences/decisions you could point to that helped shape your career, what would they be?

The fact I quit my job here and moved to Vancouver with my wife and got a job there with Noise Digital and the opportunity to work for clients like Playstation Canada probably helped shape my career the most and I'm still very grateful for this opportunity.

What software could you not live without?

spotify (or any music streaming service) because I love and need music around me when I work. I don't rely on other software that much and if possible I prefer to not use any software at all for the ux design. If I had to name a specific tool, I would probably say keynote. There isn't much you can't do in keynote! 

In terms of software, is there anything new you have been playing with lately or that has impressed you?

I had high hopes for Macaw, but I just can't seem to get into it. Lately, I try to use markers and paper as much as possible and I'm thinking about brushing up my illustrator skills for when we really need digital deliverables. 

What effect on traffic do your new designs have?

We're having incredible average time on page numbers and incredibly low bounce rates. People are looking at these stories for over 10 minutes on average which was what we hoped for, but we never thought it would be possible with the short attention span people have these days. 

Who is your target audience?

For this project it was the casual / casual engaged. We wanted to reach the people that didn't know everything about Afghanistan yet. That was probably the hardest for the client: to make something that actually wasn't for them or their usual target audience. 

Are there any websites that have shone through as being pioneering in the last 5 years or so?

The new virigin america website is absolutely a pioneer I think. They have actually put into practice what most people in the business write or talk about. Snowfall probably was the pioneer for long reads / storytelling websites, and kind of an inspiration for us. The google chrome experiments are usually great as well.

Has winning FWA awards helped you in any way?

This is the first so I'm not sure yet, though it think it will help to prove the case for an ux-oriented approach.

Are there things you do OUTSIDE of work to ensure that you are in the right mindset to be creative and/or successful in whatever you are doing?

I think a good balance between your work life and personal life is essential and I just try to have a great time at both. There is this quote "do a job you love and you will never work a day in your life" which I think says it all. Of course there are always ups and downs, but I will always choose joy over money.

The web is getting out of the web. Do you find that thinking in digital solutions alone hinders you? Do you feel the urge to solve the problem using all mediums necessary?

It doesn't hinder me but I'm a firm believer that we need to introduce the digital world into the physical world. I think there is a lot of potential introducing digital concepts with new or existing technologies into the real world. Consumers don't want to gather stuff anymore, they want to gather memories and we can give it to them. We just need to make our playground bigger. 

Looking 10 years in to the future, how far can websites go?

I think there will always be websites. I'm not sure how fast things will evolve but I think we will mostly move in the direction of giving more personalisation and custom experiences and also more contextual information. Websites will be better in knowing you and how you feel and how to use that to enhance your experience. 

Of all the websites you/your company have produced, which one are you most proud of?

I've only been working with Boondoggle for a year now, so definitely this one, but I hope we can do a lot more and even better in the future.

What are your views on design/graphic school. Do you think someone can get into the field without educational experience in a school environment?

Yes. I think a lot of this stuff can be found in books they won't even show you in school and the rest can be learnt while doing. Of course you need talent, passion and perseverance but I think those qualities are needed for every job.

If you were a student entering this industry or an aspiring FWA award submitter, what advice would you give them?

Make sure you have colleagues who can help you to improve yourself but who will also listen to what you already know.

What would be your ultimate vehicle to travel in?

I would love an Aston Martin. Classic supercar without being obnoxious like a Ferrari or Lamborghini :)

How do you keep your finger on the pulse of the latest web trends?

I use feedly on my laptop and flipboard on my tablet which both aggregate information from 30 or more websites to keep up to date with stuff about ux, design, strategy and advertising

There must be a project that you have always dreamed of doing, what is it?

I was very lucky to already do one of these at Noise Digital, doing the launch for Uncharted 3, one of my favourite games ever. Maybe working for a band, launching their new album, website and tour etc. or a big music festival. There are so many projects I would love to do and clients I would love to work for!

What are you excited about learning next and is there a long term challenge you are considering tackling?

I would love to learn to sketch and draw better and I'm going to apply myself to this. There are also a couple of books waiting in my bookshelf and I look forward to reading those as well. 

Any parting shots or pearls of wisdom?

I once saw a presentation at a conference but sadly I can't remember who it was anymore. But he told about this small sign he had at the door of his office at which he looked before leaving and it said: "Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt" which comes from a novel by Kurt Vonnegut and I have always loved this ever since. If you can leave your office with that thought, you had a good day.

It has been a privilege, thanks very much

The privilege is all ours and we are truly very grateful and honoured with the award. It is great to get recognition from the jury and the visitors of thefwa.com so thank you very much!


Links

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Maarten Cox, UX Designer - Sander Janssen, Digital Strategic Planner, Karel-jan Van Haute - Developer
Maarten Cox, UX Designer - Sander Janssen, Digital Strategic Planner, Karel-jan Van Haute - Developer

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