The importance of UX and UI design: meet the Ordina expert

Seeger Mattijs

Websites, apps or IT systems only do what they are supposed to do if they are relevant and put the user first. That’s why at Ordina we dissect the needs of users and observe their behaviour before we design and develop a website or app. “It saves a lot of frustration, time and money, and above all it ensures satisfied customers,” says UX/UI designer Seeger Mattijs.

 ‘Born to design a more user-friendly world’, he writes on his LinkedIn profile. Seeger created his first design in MS Paint when he was 12 years old. He didn’t have to think long about his choice of study: he successively obtained a bachelor’s degree in interactive multimedia design and a bachelor’s degree in cross-media design, which immediately made the link between his two main interests: design and technology. After his internship in the world of advertising, he stayed there for a few years.

What exactly is UX/UI design?

“The advertising world is hip and vibrant, and as a web designer and front-end developer I worked on some fantastic projects. But I wanted to apply my knowledge of user interfaces (UI) and the user experience (UX) more specifically: translating the needs of users into a user-friendly and aesthetic design. A number of acquaintances who worked at Ordina convinced Seeger to apply there. He was one of the first UX/UI designers to work for the Clockwork business unit. “It seemed like a big step: from the creative world of advertising to an IT company,” he says. “But I immediately got the chance to put my knowledge and experience to good use and close the gap between users, technology and design.”

Translating the needs of users into a user-friendly and aesthetic design: that’s the essence of my job.

Innovative e-commerce platform

What has been the most exciting project to date? Seeger doesn’t hesitate for long: “Ordina is helping to build the e-commerce site of a well-known car distributor, and that’s a first. No group offers the possibility of ordering your car, concluding a financing agreement, signing the corresponding contracts, etc., online. To make such an online shop for cars a success, the experience must be extremely intuitive and enjoyable. It’s incredibly fascinating to help realise this.”

Clockwork worked closely with the customer and potential end users to evaluate, challenge and map their needs, explains Seeger: “In a first step, my fellow researchers used interviews to investigate what consumers expect from an e-commerce site for cars. Do they want to pick up their car at their regular dealer? What delivery time does a user expect? Are they looking for a specific model? Based on these insights, I worked out a prototype of the website together with a colleague.”

Prototype for development

There was also a lot of research involved. “What steps does a visitor to such a website complete? What information does he or she expect? And what data can you put online at all? We researched all these things before we worked out the prototype,” says Seeger. “In this way, we encountered a number of practical objections. For example, our customer has incredibly long lists of options for each car, but it was not technically feasible to categorise them all. So we had to think about how we could achieve a user-friendly overview. For a number of issues, we also needed to consult with legal.”

Once Seeger had developed a prototype, it was subjected to user tests in the distributor’s contact centre: “Such a test is very simple: you give a few visitors an iPad, guide them through different scenarios, see how they react and ask what they like or dislike. This provides very interesting insights. With these results, we return to the customer and make adjustments. By testing the prototype straight away instead of working out the website in detail, we save an awful lot of frustration, time and money.”

You give would-be users an iPad, guide them through different scenarios and see how they react. This provides very interesting insights.

A new website or application: why Ordina?

Today, UX/UI design is omnipresent. What makes Ordina’s approach different? “Our research projects are quite unique. By combining them with UX/UI design, we create a truly substantiated application. It’s not an exact science, but more and more we’re also using tools to support our findings. With eye tracking software, for example, we can show our customer in black and white what users are looking at,” says Seeger. “A second advantage is that we are very close to the developers, who translate our prototype into the actual website/application. Thanks to my technical background as a front-end developer, I can think along with them very well. That’s great added value.”

Our research projects are quite unique. By combining them with UX/UI design, we create a truly substantiated application. We also work closely with the developers.

Consistent user experience

Seeger is now also UX/UI competence lead. In this role, he consolidates his knowledge and experience to support colleagues, so that Clockwork can guarantee its customers a uniform user experience. “I try to harmonise our way of working”, he explains. “The projects we work on often follow the same process. By listing each step, we take advantage of best practices and work more consistently.” For this reason, the team has also started with atomic design, a design system with reusable libraries. In combination with a version-control system, this ensures that multiple projects can be set up quickly and in a structured way for the same customer at the same time. In addition, it makes it possible to keep an eye on the digital landscape and to respond to new trends in the market. This knowledge is then shared with the entire team.

UX/UI designer at Ordina: the benefits

“The job of UX/UI designer is quite challenging: it’s not easy to translate complex functionalities or business needs into a user-friendly site or app. But I love the challenge and the variety: I always work with other customers, in different sectors. Because we have to empathise with how the users work, we really need to understand the industry. Sometimes empathising with a business goes a long way,” laughs Seeger. “For waste intermunicipal IVAGO, for example, I helped design an internal app to collect litter more efficiently. I was allowed to spend half a day on the road as a waste collector to understand how these men work.”

“Anyone who joins my team gets a varied and challenging job. And in a very cool company, too, because Ordina gives us every opportunity to learn, to evolve and to grow,” concludes Seeger.

Sometimes empathising with a business goes a long way. For example, I was allowed to spend half a day on the road as a waste collector with IVAGO to understand how these men work. That makes my job really exciting.