Mario Van der Meulen

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If you are a UX professional, odds are you probably use the words ‘complex’ and ‘complicated’ interchangeably. I certainly did, thinking of one as a synonym for the other. Using complex to define complicated, and vice versa. The problem is when we address a complex problem as a complicated one, we are setting up ourselves and our projects for failure.

Understanding when issues are complicated or complex is an imperative for UX designers. Complicated issues differ from complex ones. Not seeing the distinction, we will use the wrong tools and wrong thinking. For hammers, everything is a nail, remember?


A year ago, and after a half-decade hiatus, I started running again. The lockdown and gym closures had a hand in it, and just being outside was the break I needed in a WFH reality. The muscle memory kicked in, and 2020 had me run two marathons and my first ultra. During the preparations for these, a strange thing happened. I gradually and then suddenly found that running teaches me the most about human centred design and solving problems for others. Applying myself to long distance running training and understanding the nuances of the sport and my physical and mental…

Bandwagon alert! Here are my three key mobile trends I would advise to keep in mind as we head into 2021. From an accelerated shift to a mobile-first lifestyle, to calls for more data transparency, this is an attempt to anticipate what to expect from mobile app users in the next year.

Let me be the first to disclaim that trying to predict what a new year will bring is always a challenge. Rewind to this time last year, when we all had a very different anticipation for 2020 (am I right?). Which makes it reasonable to state that 2021 will hold even more uncertainty than usual.

The past dumpster-fire of a year saw both expected change and unexpected trends emerge. We’ve seen companies adapt to, and adopt, the “new normal”. Consumers defied previous norms, expectations and behaviors. …

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Colours. We all have our favourite one. In orchestrating experiences and communications, colour plays a role in delivering information, creating lasting identity, suggesting imagery and imparting symbolic value.

The semiotics of colour is about the meaning we convey through colour as a sign. Semiotics establishes the meaning of a symbolic, iconic and indexical sign. Colour semiotics determines the meaning imparted by the sensation that an observer experiences when they look at the colour of such signs.

The semiotics of colour in context

To use the semiotics of colour to our benefit we need to take into account emotional, socio-economic and cultural variables.


Observing colours will always…

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Pause and look around you. The reality you experience now has been made. The creation of things, spaces, services and interactions; these are all acts of design that aim to establish or convey a certain meaning to a certain action or communication. That meaning, in the best of circumstance, is there by design. There is a whole scientific theory on how this works; Semiotics. It has a substantial role in understanding anything designed — which is pretty much everything apart from that which nature has grown.

By definition, semiotics is the study of signs. I’m aware this is not surprising…

Reflections on my twitter activity

What’s all this then?

Every now and then, I look at tweets from my account that — according to Twitter stats — received the most engagement. Then supplement the character limit, while getting extra milage out of the hashtags. It’s both reflective and nostalgic. Time well spent, I say.

Technology. What’s A got to do with it?

I used to rant that AI needed more I and a lot less A; algorithms that are more intelligent and a lot less artificial. I also argued that AR doesn’t do much to enhance our perceived realities.

Both technologies can still be fooled in ways that humans wouldn’t be. Neither feels intuitive, natural, let alone…

Speaking and spending time at the UXPA 2018 conference was an inspiring and energetic experience. I wanted to share what I found meaningful and insightful with the experience design community. These are compilations of several talks, that spanned topics of practice excellence, to ubiquitous computing, digital lifestyles and the impact of bias in our processes and designed outputs. It takes to heart the advice shared by Carol Smith: “If we don’t ask the tough questions, who will?”

A conference with a view — hello Atlantic


Consider that Artificial Intelligence is designed by a group of specialised people. How is their world view shaping the AI of our…

Mario Van der Meulen

Experience Design and Strategy Specialist. Author. Speaker. Runner. Graphicdesignosarus. Skilled Daydreamer. Incurable Nighthinker.

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