Design research develops knowledge to respond to real-world challenges and solve authentic problems. In this paper, we adopt a pragmatic and semantic design approach to combine the best of two separate design discourses: the discourse about developing science-based design rules and the discourse on user-centered, participative, and experience-based design. We develop a methodology that combines both discourses and perspectives. Subsequently, this methodology is illustrated by means of a case study of designing and developing a portal for mapping competencies in the multi-stakeholder environment of an IT cluster. This case study suggests design research can become more effective if it adopts a deliberate focus on articulating design rules as well as engaging users in trying out prototypes, to create artifacts that support and drive the dialogue between user-practitioners and design-oriented researchers.