Ben Bakelaar

Highland Park, NJ

Category: Design

Human-centered experiences

Design is something humans do naturally. We are creators, therefore we are all create-ive. Design is the process of creation. In our technology-driven world, the process of creation shifted away from being informed directly by human experience and towards a more abstract technologically driven experience, until recently…

“Despite … early examples of human-centric products, design has historically been an afterthought in the business world, applied only to touch up a product’s aesthetics. This topical design application has resulted in corporations creating solutions which fail to meet their customers’ real needs. Consequently, some of these companies moved their designers from the end of the product-development process, where their contribution is limited, to the beginning. Their human-centric design approach proved to be a differentiator: those companies that used it have reaped the financial benefits of creating products shaped by human needs.”

Design Thinking 101, a post on the Nielsen Norman Group website


Project management with LiquidPlanner and kanban board

I don’t know about you, but project management systems don’t seem to do a very good job of giving you the “big picture” view! This is the primary “Projects” view in LiquidPlanner with 29 active projects. Taking some cues from kanban boards for software development cycles, which my colleague introduced me to here at my new job, I designed a visual “overview” system to surface, at the highest level, which projects were active and which were “marked active” but not actually active in a given timeframe (i.e. week).

Screen Shot 2016-03-29 at 2.57.23 PM
Converting to post-it notes with an initial hierarchy

Testing out assigning projects to the categories

Moved to a more central wall, with blue tape for boundaries
Final iteration with critical/needs attention (!), in motion/active (|>), on hold (| |), and done ([ ])kanban-liquid-planner-project-management

User experience (UX) courses, programs, and conferences

Online, free, self-directed courses


Human Computer Interaction: User Experience and User Interface Design
from the Georgia Institute of Technology
Certificate possible


Introduction to User Interface Design (Part 1)
from the Georgia Institute of Technology
Says it will start being offered in October 2015


Online, paid, self-directed courses


How to Become a User Experience Designer
Next cohort starting Monday, September 14


In-person, paid courses

General Assembly

User Experience Design
Many sections available in Fall 2015


Rutgers programs

Rutgers University, Master of Business and Science

User Experience Design concentration

Rutgers Center for Innovation Education

User Experience Design Mini-Masters


Conferences local to NJ

ContentCamp + PodCamp Philly, $10, Saturday September 19
Asbury Agile, $99, Friday October 2
Nielsen Norman Group Usability Week NYC, $831-$4938, 5 days starting Saturday September 26
WebVisions NYC, Spring 2016

Send me more resources and I’ll post them!

Videos for my web design class

Looking for professionals who would be able to record a ~5 minute video podcast or narrated screencast (w/slides or visuals) about any aspect of web design for my undergraduate summer course. As this is an intro class, topics to discuss might include:

  • Who I am / what I do / where I work / what my title is (as a web professional)
  • What is web design? (defined by you, the professional)
  • What is user experience / usability?
  • What is the web design process you use?
  • What does it mean to design?

It can be very informal! It can be “first take”. It doesn’t have to be super polished. Imagine someone walked up to you at a conference and you spoke to them for ~5 minutes.

So far I have one video from Tobias Komiscke, Senior Director of Design at Infragistics with an introduction to “what is user experience”.

All these videos would be open source, CC, etc. – not restricted in any way by being incorporated into my course.

Thank you all!

Wood texture backgrounds

In designing a new website for a local restaurant, I reviewed a bunch of other restaurant sites. I came to the idea of including a wood grain background to add some depth and visual interest to the site. This Google Image search netted me an instant set of favorites!

Google image search: wood floor web background

Particularly on this page on, there is a great selection. Google Image Search presents the options in a much more appealing layout.

Screen Shot 2014-11-08 at 5.30.33 PM

Screen Shot 2014-11-08 at 5.30.51 PM


© 2018 Ben Bakelaar

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑