Looking Back on Three Years of OpenUsability with Jan Mühlig
Just following the recent World Usability Day and a few months past the third birthday of OpenUsability I took some time to talk to Jan Mühlig, one of the OpenUsability founders and to get an inside look at some of the history of the project, how it works from the inside and some of the current direction.
Hi Jan — first I'd like to get a little background — could you tell us where you're from, who you work for, where you live?
I'm Jan Mühlig. I was born 1971 in Reutlingen, in southern Germany. I studied sociologiy, ethnology and philosophy in Regensburg (Germany), Mainz (Germany), Chicago (US) and Lausanne (Switzerland). I've been living in Berlin since 2000 and am currently the CEO of the usability consulting firm relevantive, which I founded.
How did you get into usability — was that something that came while you were studying?
Not really. I did user research during my studies (media sociology), mostly dealing with TV and I did ethnology, which has a lot to do with understanding others' behavior. After my degree (MA) I started working in an advertising agency where I projected TV audiences for commercials. Then, in 1999, I took a position as a marketing manager at a big multimedia agency. The problem there was that we made a lot of interactive things, but many of them were crap because we never took the users' perspective but just assumed that we knew what was best. A year later, after I quit that position (in the summer of 2000), I decided to do exactly what was missing in my previous work.