Skills and experience
I am a user experience professional with over ten years’ experience. I began my career as a generalist web designer and developer but in the last four years have concentrated on my key areas of interest: interaction design and particularly, user-centred design.
My background helps me to work well in multidisciplinary teams: I am very sensitive to the concerns of developers and work closely with them during projects; similarly I work alongside content strategists and subject specialists to ensure I understand the shape of a project’s content and data in order to present it effectively and appropriately.
I employ user-centred design methodologies on all projects I am involved with but maintain a pragmatic approach: I keep my approach flexible to best meet the needs of the project, its users and budget.
I start by talking with project stakeholders and users to find out more about what their goals are, how users work and what kind of contexts they work in. User interviews and surveys are useful for engaging directly with users. Techniques such as card-sorting may help with organising a site or product’s information architecture; where there is an existing site some consideration of analytics data will also be useful.
It’s also important to establish what the project’s constraints are going to be–whether financial, technical or time-based. It’s particularly important to keep in touch with the technical team throughout the project to ensure what’s being proposed is technically feasible.
Information gathered and analysed at the early stages of a project can be used to inform the creation of design documentation deliverables such as wireframes and storyboards–I am keen to keep things simple with sketching at the early stages, moving through to creating wireframes with tools such as Axure, Balsamiq mockups; or even interactive prototypes with web standards.
I use task-oriented usability testing to test ideas, working usually on a one-to-one basis encouraging users to “think aloud” their responses to what’s in front of them. I find software such as Silverback very useful in doing this. Of course design is an iterative process, so the results of testing are then fed back into the design, naturally for testing again!
I create the visual design look and feel for sites using tools such as Photoshop and Illustrator. You can take a look at my portfolio for some example work.
In terms of visual design, I love simple, clean and elegant designs that work around and emphasise the site’s content. I’m particularly obsessed with typography, grids and Swiss-style graphic design.
Although visual design may comes later in the process I have recently started experimenting with moodboards as a way of eliciting early feedback on look and feel.