I’m a UX Consultant
I’ve been working with digital media stuff for a while; over 20 years.
My first products were multimedia runtimes on single speed (150 kb/sec) CD-ROM’s. These were made on a state-of-the-art machine back in 1994, a 66MHz Apple PowerMac 7100, with a whopping 26Mb of RAM.
In 1995 I made my first websites. Again on the same computer, using nothing more sophisticated than HTML 1.0, a text editor and a copy of Photoshop 2.5. Back in those days – nobody was called a UX Designer or Front End Developer – we were just people who made digital products.
It all started off and remained such great work – and huge fun.
From Front End Designer / Coder to UX Consultant
By 2000 I had moved more towards managing projects and teams – I still needed to keep and maintain a good technical understanding but I was less of an active practitioner.
In terms of understanding how business and user needs intersected – back in the early 2000’s I did the bare basics; business analysis to inform wireframes and plans, followed by desktop-research for competitive and contextual analysis and then a review of any available server stats if we were working to revise and improve live sites. So, looking back I can see that I was able to learn a bit about ‘what’ users were doing – but not ‘why’ they were doing it.
As more-and-more projects crossed my desk by 2005 my interest began to focus more on how to ensure that these were suited to their business purpose. I wanted to know more about users beliefs, contexts and behaviours. The ‘why’ of behaviour became so much more important to me. My work evolved to include more structured and in-depth reviews and research into the needs and behaviours of users.
My work today: Research, Business Analysis, Service Design and Interaction / UI design
I’ve covered a lot of different roles in my career. My experience has allowed me to learn and develop as a User Centred Design practitioner. As well, even though digital is now at the heart of most of our ways of working and engaging with each other – my work has broadened out to consider non-digital channels that satisfy the needs of users and business.
I’m an evangelist for the User Centred Design approach; anchoring interaction and interface decisions firmly on insights gleaned from an arsenal of research techniques. Through experience, I’ve seen how much more quickly and effectively project teams can work when they’ve been given the necessary insights into both business and user needs.
You can fix it on the drafting table with an eraser – or on the construction site with a sledgehammer.
That’s my favourite Frank Lloyd Wright quote. It works just as well outside of the construction business.
Fixing a product which is ineffective or unsuitable after it’s built costs money. And damages trust with users.
I still see Agile developers building product features based only on a JIRA ticket written by business analysts or product owners. Sometimes little or no work has gone on to understand context, environment and users as people rather than an actor with a role in a system. Products built without these insights are often clunky, awkward and unaligned to the mental models and language of its users – or worse missing essential features.
I’ll always try to find a way to introduce users and their stories into the product process – showing how they feel, think and engage in and around the digital world. Whenever product teams are given the right information to build for people – a better product emerges.
I love the challenge of a big nasty problem.
It may start with a business need, or a user issue, or both. Solutions have sometimes appeared, almost by magic, after talking to only a handful of people. And at other times simplicity and clarity has been elusive and required deep-dives of one-on-one interviews and / or ethnography followed by careful analysis.
The breadth of the work, for me is very satisfying. And ideally, I like to be involved and contributing both as a consultant / manager and practitioner throughout the entire project lifecycle.