Me and work
You’ll find my CV here but I also wanted to add a bit of background information to cover my history and what makes me tick.
I started my career as an electronics engineer designing test equipment for the petro-chem industry in the 80s. This was hardcore technical stuff writing pure machine code that was embedded into oil pipeline monitoring equipment. Anything to do with technology and electronics is still an interest of mine to this day.
I got into the internet back in around 1996 with Compuserve. I built my first website using vi on a Sun SPARCstation. This was an intranet housing a database of cable diagrams for engineers and a virtual in/out board written as an ActiveX component so that anyone in the office could login and see who was in or out. This got me hooked and I went on to work for a couple of web design agencies in London before starting my own small agency on the South coast.
UX came later, probably in the early 2000s when I started looking at conversion rate optimisation for various clients and this evolved into focusing on users. A stint of traveling back and forth to Dubai (fun but disruptive), followed by 2 years in the B2B world with Ogilvy, a year with Ogilvy Healthworld and then the National Trust brings us right up to date.
Now, it’s fair to say that UX is a passion. I have some very strong beliefs in terms of best practice and wholly subscribe to the NNg philosophy. I don’t like confrontation but I’m not afraid to have an uncomfortable conversation if it’s needed. I like the fact that my goal is to not have an opinion. My job is to gather evidence and present it back with recommendations. I’ve had plenty of times when I’ve had an opinion that has been proved wrong by users. That’s fine by me.
I believe in involving users and internal stakeholders early on. You can’t beat the energy of a workshop to get insight. I run them as often as I can. It’s always a challenge to get people engaged but that’s part of the fun. Lots of Post-its, sharpies, whiteboard markers and asking the right questions turns a bunch of scared looking people into the best collaborative force you’ll find.
I’ve run face to face lab testing in Berlin, done card sorts in Madrid, run workshops for users and been out guerrilla testing out on the streets in Dubai. My experience shows that the more often you speak to your users, the higher quality product you’ll get.
Me and not work
I spend my time tinkering with all sorts of technology. Home Automation is a big interest. I think just about every bulb in every light in the house is automated with various sensors monitoring lux, motion, temperature and humidity. Lights go on at 10% when the light level drops and only increase in brightness if there’s motion. Power consumption is monitored on smart outlets. It can all be controlled by voice but it’s much smarter when it all just happens as you move around the house.
The rest of the time, I’m trying to make nice noises on a selection of stringed instruments with varying amounts of success having vowed and declared that I’d learn guitar at the start of lockdown and then actually starting in mid 2021. I now have several guitars including a Fender Stratocaster that I 3D printed and built from scrap parts, couple of ukes, a banjo and a Seagull Merlin.
3D printing is another semi obsession. I bought one which sat there while I scratched my head trying to decide what I’d do with it until Covid hit and I found myself printing PPE bits and bobs 24/7 for a few months for a cooperative. A few hundred face shield holders later and the demand waned so now I busy myself either printing stuff that I’ve either downloaded or designed and modelled myself to solve problems at home. I think it’s fair to say that my other half cringes a little bit when she hears the words “I’m sure I could print something for that”.