act'ble is creating new pointe shoes for the world of ballet using new materials and reducing the health burden. Dancing in act'pointes is very different, due to the materials used and advanced ergonomics. Basically, we are creating a new different pointe experience. In this context, the user engagement is crucial and act'ble team is paying great attention to it. Today we spoke with our colleague Leon Schmidbauer, a UX design intern at act’ble.
Can you tell us a bit about your experience and background?
Leon: I come from a small town in Bavaria and was always interested in creative activities like painting, drawing, photography, and graphic design. When deciding on what I wanted to study, I chose User Experience Design at the Technische Hochschule Ingolstadt because of the variety of topics discussed during the three and a half years of studying. It laid the groundwork for many of my artistic aspirations which I could build upon in a potential Master’s degree.
However, during my time in Ingolstadt I found the user-centered design to be a very interesting focus, especially because to me this was very new.
What specifically do you find interesting in user-centric design and do you use the user-centric approach in act’ble?
Leon: Well, it just seems so logical at first glance, to have the user of your product as the focal point. I mean what else would you base your product on? The user is who buys (into) it. But what I learned is that for many companies that aren’t the focus at all. They care mostly about their vision, which isn’t bad in itself, I just feel like they don’t use anything else.
Definitely. My entire concept is based on the user being the center of our attention. Looking at the special needs of the user and combining them with our metrics to grant the user a highly unique experience.
How did you start with act’ble and what is your mission here?
Leon: I started working for act’ble for my Bachelor's Thesis. My professor directed me to the company because when partaking in my Professor’s course in the summer of 2021, I designed and 3D-modeled a shoe which then could be manipulated using a small interface, to fit everybody's foot measurements. This concept of individualization of a shoe according to a person’s specific measurements, would be highly applicable for act’ble because at that time act’ble was looking forward to going in this direction and as a result, I became a part of the act’ble team. So my mission is the individualization process of the act’pointes and the experience connected to this very procedure.
How would you describe the act’ble user experience the brand is aiming to have?
Leon: The UX of act’ble is all about precision and optimization. To the act’team, feedback from the users is of the utmost importance. Precision in terms of wanting to deliver high-quality designs & products that are fine-tuned to deliver the best possible experience with no compromises taken. Optimization is also a keyword because user feedback is a resource used diligently by the team. We are always trying to push the products further and further. This becomes very apparent considering the big beta phase is coming up, where the entire point is to get feedback from professional dancers.
What are some of the biggest challenges you are facing as a UX designer in such an industry as ballet?
Leon: To be entirely honest, the biggest challenge is the fact that the industry, for the most part, isn’t very open to change/innovation especially when it comes to the pointe shoes. From my experience, innovation is something that is generally desired in any industry. Ballet however is a different story - it has such a long history and is very traditional and even somewhat conservative in some aspects. This is especially concerning in the face of the injuries professional dancers have to deal with over their career resulting from the traditional pointe shoe.
As a UX Designer, this point of view is new to me because over the last couple of years of studying, new ideas and innovation have become a given to me. So this new perspective is equally fascinating and challenging.
What do you get from this experience in act’ble?
Leon: I do really enjoy it. It’s just amazing working with a team of talented people who are not satisfied with the status quo and who want to make a difference in the dance world without stopping at the first sign of resistance. Confidently moving forward with urgency and a nice portion of trust, hope, and insistence.
So it gives me quite a bit of hope and inspiration. As a matter of fact I learn something new almost every day because everybody is somewhat involved in any niche.
How do you see act’ble in 10 years?
Leon: Personally, I think in ten years Act’ble will have had an amazingly positive impact in the world of dance on an international level. Launching a variety of products with ever-changing designs which fit nicely into the narrative that is being told ever since the company was founded.
What is your professional dream?
Leon: Well first of all I think I want to stay in the creative space, designing. To be more concrete, my professional dream is to make a positive impact. Having something to call my own. Working on projects in a field that interests me with a lot of talented people which I can learn a lot from. Very similar to what I am doing right now (laughing).
We are a new innovative company creating the future of dance and movement. Together with design, research, and high-level athletes, we have reinvented the centuries-old pointe shoe for dancers into the act’pointe. A sustainable, functional, and fully customizable pointe shoe that molds to the dancer’s feet to enhance performance. Our mission is to enable dancers to make a difference, elevating their performance, life, and world.