Talking to Karina Ibarra

Karina Ibarra (@karinai) has a long career in User eXperience and Information Architecture. After more than 10 years of being a consultant, she founded her own studio Arquinauta Consulting in 2004. She is also founder and creator of ABCKit, a collection apps for kids for learning through play. She is currently working on the upcoming educational project - myABCKit, directed to schools

She feels that working on a project that is about teaching kids is related to working for a better world and happiness. One person, one design, does not change the world, but it's with every grain of sand that we contribute to a better world. She says her project offers a new, disruptive way of learning: it helps kids to learn how to think, and kids need to be in a happy flow to be ready for that.


Selected ideas and quotes

Nowadays, as I'm only working on the kids educational project, happiness is always present. I want to contribute by doing my best. I want to contribute to helping kids to learn in a better way.
For me, the learning process is very related to happiness to the happiness the kids, and how they want to learn. Initially they feel a bit frustrated, because they don't know what this is about. Then after finishing their first challenge, they feel happy. That is what happens in every learning process. Even though at the beginning there is some anguish because you face something new, you are happy at the end. 
Before starting ABCKit, I participated in projects for big companies and public organisations, and usually, they were not looking for happiness. The purpose was to fix a painful process, or to create online processes from the original offline processes. So it was not about enriching people emotionally or by generating experiences or stages of personal improvement.


Projects as pain killers or vitamin boosters

Depending on what the project is about, it's not possible to add emotion. When you are designing a payment process, you can't add entertainment or happiness. The experience ends when you accomplish the goal. Let's take the process to pay your taxes, it's a painful process. It would never bring you happiness. So in a project like that, the designed solution works as a medicine or a pain killer, not as a vitamin booster. So depending on the processes/project the solutions could be a pain killer or a vitamin booster.
The majority of the processes/projects that I've worked on in the past were pain killers. We worked on the medicine that was stopping the pain. 

Could a tax process be designed as vitamin booster by adding information on how well the taxes are spent?

It depends on the user expectations. I always expect people to be honest, and I believe that we should design that way. When I'm paying my taxes, I expect the people managing the money to spend it in a responsible way. So I don't expect them to justify how they spend the money during the payment process. But this my personal point of view.
I had the opportunity to work for the online transaction office of a council. This kind of transaction is something that you need to do - there's no escape. We defined two premises: we have to make it as painless as possible and as fast as possible. Since we can't prevent the user pain caused by the payment, let's at least make the process painless and fast. At least we don't steal users' time, plus we avoid some frustration.


About the startup team

For me it's important that the team 'feels for the same colours', and that they are passionate about what they do. Our users are very special. They don't have the patience or the knowledge that we have as adults. My project requires professionals that understand that. I look for people who connect with that and who can get as excited as I do.  I'm very lucky because I've found them!  :D 
Whatever the skills, for me it's important that the person has passion for what he/she is doing. And it's important that they share the passion about the project too. Because if not, in hard times, you lose them.
A shared vision is connected to happiness. If you don't feel passion and you don't feel happy about what you are doing, it's impossible to transmit that to the project you are working for. When you have it, it generates a positive spiral of shared happiness. 


Happiness and passion

Happiness is connected to passion. If you are passionate about what you believe in, you are happy.
Lately the word happiness has been prostituted. Even though you are in a happy stage, that does not mean that you are happy all the time. When you are passionate about a project, you also have a lot of frustrating periods and moments. At the beginning of a startup project, the CEO experiences many ups and downs. So for me, as a CEO/Product owner of the project, happiness comes from the passion for what I'm doing.

Conversation facilitated by Silvia and Nicole on 04 FEB 2015.