Talking to Peter Bogaards and Xander Roozen

In our first conversation about #Happiness we had the opportunity to talk to Peter J. Bogaards (@BogieZero)  and Xander Roozen (@Shuggie) from Informaat. They are also getting ready for WIAD ENSCHEDE where Xander will be one of the Speakers.

We animatedly started  to talk about what you have to do as a designer to influence happiness. Designers have traditionally focused in making things easy to use. But can we -designers- manufacture someones' life, make somone's life better? It's a bigger and more complex than usual interaction that between human and an mobile app, or human and a product. 

Selected quotes

We are now trying to discover what it means to influence people's emotions and feelings. We have found that it's something that we can influence. We can shape 40% of the feeling and the emotion. (1)  @BogieZero
To design for happiness is much more complex than to design for usability. @BogieZero


Does business ask to design for or to affect happiness?

Business is not explicitly asking for that. But they want happy customers, loyal customers, loyal employees... They don't use that vocabulary, but implicitly they do ask for that. @BogieZero
What they ask for are good products, engaging experiences. It's how business frames the objective. @BogieZero
The problem with happiness is that it's a subjective value up to certain level. You have to frame it in a certain way to be able to mesure it, to see if it's making a difference or not. @Shuggie


Can we measure if we make an impact on happiness?

It is always a challenge to make something subjective tangible. @BogieZero
We haven't gone far on measuring happiness on the individual level but we have seen documentation about happiness in the population (2).@BogieZero
If a company or startup has a certain promise, something abstract, what I think is important is how they deliver on that promise, and also how it relates to other things. Promises are not isolated things anymore. Especially nowadays when everything is connected to devices that we are using all the time. It's not isolated either, in it's relation to other things. Whether it is related to happiness or not; and also how it's behaving in relation to other things. This complexity makes it hard to measure the impact on happiness. @Shuggie
Whatever the promise is, it creates some kind of flow, it's contributing to a positive experience. The problem is how to measure that you are contributing for a bigger difference. @Shuggie


Invisible design

Everything is connected. We need an holistic look: tangible, intangible, heart, mind and knowledge; and all is influenced by connectivity. We can start to talk about capabilities, feelings and emotions that you can influence through design. Are we designing a product or the conditions where people can act and behave? How do we influence conditions? In the end, what the design community tries to do is to make the world a better place. Maybe this sounds stupid, but it is true: we are designing to make things better, to make things faster, and to make sure that things add value and meaning to people's lives. @BogieZero
Invisible design triggers a metaphor: oxygen. You live, you breathe, there is always oxygen. But the moment oxygen it's gone, you can't breathe any more. Oxygen is only noticeable when it's absent. And maybe for products with meaning that is the same. It's hard to make visible design for happiness. But what happens when you design products without consideration for happiness? @BogieZero


Qualitative in the business arena 

Our design challenges are getting much bigger and more complicated. We need to work to achieve business profit goals and -slowly- qualitative goals too. Many businesses start to focus on more qualitative objectives. If businesses are able to develop a vocabulary regarding design and their qualitative challenges and objectives, then experience design can contribute to the conversation. @BogieZero


Embedding happiness/well-being/meaningfulness in what we do

With abstract concepts, there is the possible danger of inflation of the term; people claiming the term. I don't think you can claim the term. @Shuggie
What would be interesting is to find fields or disciplines where they don't talk about happiness but they deal with it all the time, i.e. hospitalities. How are they doing it? How do they measure? Maybe we could learn as designers and we can add it to our vocabulary (because for us it is a new territory, but not for them).  @BogieZero
When we start the project, we ask 2 questions: The 'why' (3) of the company. And second, what they will achieve for the customer/users with this project. We are not talking explicitly about happiness, because it's still a 'terra incognita' for us. But as designers, to add value, we need to start thinking about today's topics in these conversations. @BogieZero.

References and resources commented and shared:

  • 1.  According to Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky, a Positive Psychology researcher at University of California Riverside, individuals' overall happiness depends 50% on genetic set point, 40% on intentional activities (fully under one's control) and 10% on external circumstances (out of our power).
    > Lyubomirsky, S. (2008). The how of happiness: A scientific approach to getting the life you want. New York: Penguin Press.
    > Video: "The Science of Happiness" 
  • 2. The Happy Planet Index measures what matters: the extent to which countries deliver long, happy, sustainable lives for the people that live in them. The Index uses global data on life expectancy, experienced well-being and Ecological Footprint to calculate this.
  • 3. 'Why' from Start with Why by 
    > Senek, S. (2009). Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action. New York: Portfolio.
    > Site:
  • The Reebok campaign (Feb. 2015): Humanize

Conversation facilitated by Nicole & Silvia. (30-JAN-15)