Ask Who?

So What Is This About?

I have been going to a lot of gatherings where I meet people who have just started their new business, tell me about their great new idea, find out I do UX consulting, and say that we have to get together because they don’t even know where to begin when it comes to usability and making a good product—and then realize they are not ready to afford me yet on a formal basis. Ask The UXer is about making that getting together really simple and low threshold for all parties, so start-ups get an idea of what they need to do and who they need to talk to in the future.

This is about getting usability and user experience practices started at the moment they have the most worth and highest ROI: the beginning of a project. It’s about getting the tools and knowledge of how to make something that fits users into the hands of early stage start-ups for very cheap. It’s about me meeting up with people who have just started developing a new product or service in their own start-ups, to discuss the User Experience [UX] issues they are facing. It would be on a weekday evening after standard working hours, as I do have a day job, in a low-cost space like a coffee shop, in London UK.

Who Are You?

I am FJ van Wingerde, and I have been working on user interface problems since 1992 or so when I was studying for my degree in Computer Science at the Vrije University in Amsterdam. Because the Usability / User Interface field keeps changing, my titles keeps changing with it, so I have been a Software Engineer,  Research Software Engineer, Web Designer, Information Architect, User Interface Consultant, User Experience Consultant, Mobile Information Architect, UX Consultant, etc, etc.

I have worked and consulted on the usability and user experience for desktop applications, websites, blogs, mobile websites, mobile apps, and concepts for interactive TV services. I remember studying the usability of command line interfaces when I started all the way to recently comparing the usability of synchronisation on five major mobile phone platforms.

And I have Opinions on these matters, as everyone who has ever led a meet-up, workshop, or forum that I have attended about mobile and usability knows.

Who Is This For?

This is for small companies and start-ups that are at the beginning or mid-way to making a product, and have real questions about how to make their product fit the lives of their future customers. The early tinkerers, the two idea guys, before all the Angels and VCs, who know they need help with the User Experience of their product, but can’t afford to hire a proper person or work with an agency.

What Will You Do?

I will listen to your ideas, and look through your sketches, your prototypes, your documents with you. Depending on how far along you are, I may give you a crash course in User Centered Design (it won’t hurt, I promise) to help you make a better product, talk you through how UX tools can help with Customer Development so you can target your product better, discuss how User Experience can be melded with Agile development and Lean Startups, or just tell you your colors suck for accessibility. Basically, you get access to someone who has been doing this for a while and can give you an opinion and pointers what to look for. If I do not have pointers off the top of my head, I can look them up. If you need specialised pointers, I may know who to ask or I can ask them myself for you. And if we are all stumped, I’ll just ask my Twitter followers—there’s some good UX people there.

When Should We Do This?

These consults work the best when you have something for us to look at together: your first sketches, your first designs of boxes and arrows of how things will flow together, your first graphic assets, and before you spend time and money making it real.

Another good stage for me to take a look is when your Alpha site has gone up, you have seen your first patterns of use, and are ready to go to a Beta: let’s take a look together what the sticking points are, and go over what you can do to find out what your users really want.

How Much Will This Cost?

Nothing. Well, I may ask you to keep me in Venti Skinny Steamed Milk With Sugar-Free Vanilla Syrup Shots for the duration of the consult.

Will You Design My Website / App / Newsletter?

No. This is a high-level consult to help you on your way.

Will You Sign My NDA?

No. You’ll have to trust me.

Why Are You Doing This?

  1. My day job pays the bills, but since I almost always work for big companies, it is a little limited to what big companies do and need.
  2. I’d like to be more involved with the start-up community. I like the energy and ideas, and I want to be connected to that.
  3. I need to learn more about UX in various forms. One learns by doing, by being motivated to do further research, by helping..
  4. Maybe, just maybe, if a small company becomes big, I can be more formally involved. Who knows.

Cool! How Do I Book You?

Send a message to @AskTheUXer on Twitter, and we will take it from there.