The Golden Rule for Product Design: Listen to Understand

Hannah Fuhrmann
Dec 11, 2019 · 4 min read

Get to know Ronald, one of our Product Designers from the Netherlands, working in our Barcelona office. Read the full interview with Ronald below.

How would you describe your role as a product designer?

Just a job is not enough for many people; my goal is to make the lives of other people more pleasant through design. As a product designer, my mission is to solve problems using digital products.

In terms of improving designs, this can be done by improving current solutions or creating new opportunities or ideas. To do so, I need to listen very carefully to what users, in this case, mostly drivers, have to say. By understanding how they experience the product, I can better adapt the design to their needs and requirements.

This means that I need to know how to ask the right questions and deliver updates that improve their experience whilst ensuring that the products still look good and are functional. This can sometimes lead to conflicting views- what the drivers would like and how the products need to work can be very different.

What role does feedback play in your daily work?

In these situations, like life in general, you just need to do the right thing, trust yourself that the work you are creating is good and that your team values your opinion. What I find helpful is making an effort to get different perspectives from different colleagues about my work. This feedback loop helps you to understand how your work could be interpreted in other ways and helps you to understand news ways of approaching a task in the future. I try to gather as much feedback as possible before making a big decision, as I feel I can take a more informed approach. In our design team, we also strive to get as many insights from our drivers (who directly use our products) so that we can test our assumptions and validate our hypotheses. But sometimes you have to take a leap as it’s simply impossible to know what the real outcome will be. It’s scary but fun at the same time.

Challenging yourself to get out of your comfort zone is healthy. My role at FREE NOW is my first working abroad and also the first company which I have worked at which is so international. With so many different nationalities working side by side, this taught me a lot about cultural differences and helped me to become a more adaptable person. Also, the fact that our offices are located in many areas is a new challenge for me. In each office, you get the same culture yet different product focuses: in Hamburg, the teams focus mainly on the passenger experience, and in Barcelona, they work on the driver’s side. The fast pace can mean that it is a challenge to keep up, but overall, I find it exciting.

What part did creativity play in your childhood?

Growing up, I suppose I was almost destined for a creative profession: My parents are both pretty creative. My mother is an artist who creates paintings and my father lets his creativity flow in the kitchen. When I was a child, I was surrounded by books about art and food, which probably inspired me to pursue a creative life as well.

What are you passionate about?

Whilst I love creative work, I am driven overall by the urge to help others and do good work for them.

To balance this, I find skateboarding, hiking, and cycling are my brilliant ways to relax and release from work. Skateboarding really stands out as a passion of mine. I consider this an art form, as it’s a form of self-expression. Similarly to creating art, you experience the same feelings of liberation and freedom when skating yet at the same time, it can be very frustrating or scary when you fall over or when a stunt goes wrong. Being creatively stimulated in your work and life is important, which is why I love living in Barcelona. I only have to walk down the street to see the works of Gaudi or Lluís Domènech I Montaner manifested in the city’s architecture. Or enjoy the beauty of Montjuic Park- I often like to go for a walk around there to clear my mind. To be surrounded by great work inspires great work.

Do you have a personal life mission or vision?

You don’t need to over-complicate it. Creativity, family and dedicating my work to improving the lives of others through design is the simple concept I committed to. Sometimes you just need to find the motivation to allow yourself to.


The latest news and stories by the FREE NOW team

Hannah Fuhrmann

Written by

Team Lead Employer Branding @ FREE NOW


The latest news and stories by the FREE NOW team

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