Stories have the power to engage, differentiate from competition and rally people behind a vision.
I've spent the past 16+ years using narratives to ask the questions that help make choices build better products. Currently Principal Product Designer at Red Badger and Lead Design Educator at General Assembly ✌️
I work as Principal Product Designer at a digital consultancy called Red Badger - which is a notoriously difficult task in itself, because it’s made up of a bunch of smart people who are all at the top of their game. And I get to work along side them.
I get to see the inside of interesting (I mean really interesting) companies like the Financial Times, ASOS, disruptor tech companies like Tandem, family favourites like Nando's; and delve my sticky little mitts into the heart of their newest, brightest, bleeding-edge projects.
I get to spend each day working with designers like Rob Brathwaite and Kim Habib, developers like Viktor Charypar and Jon Yardley, and talented project managers and product owners to fix problems and build products that people want to use.
I get to learn from the people around me, and collect skills that allow me to build myself websites like this (and this one actually), and draw, build and experiment with things like this (it should be motion 📱, touch 👆 and mouse 🐭 reactive)!
But wait. No. You're right.
There is no portfolio here.
I could show you a picture of this card component, or that navigation system, this live news feed - but without the conversation of why it was built this way, or how it was designed with React in mind, or how we managed this edge-case - well, it’s all rather clean and shiny.
And I want you to see the dirt under those manicured nails.
I've just pulled out a few of the most interesting projects I've worked on in the past seven years - using a PAR (Problem, Action, Result) framework for speed and clarity. If you would like to know more about anything you see on this site, please do drop me a line at email@example.com
THE FINANCIAL TIMES
Over 18 months spanning 2015-16, I got to work on one of the most interesting projects of my career.
Red Badger were engaged by the Financial Times to help with the redesign of the website - the project was called Next FT and they were bringing the site from a static 970px fixed width framework (complete with separate web app) to a fully responsive experience. But, that wasn't the problem we were there to solve.
I open source - images made with the humaaans library by Pablo Stanley
The current programme was running a form of Dev Anarchy (if you're not familiar you can check out this YouTube video) and it wasn't working out well for anybody. Specifically the UXD team were feeling the burn of a way of working that left design as an after thought - and the business knew it.
The initial phase was a two month period to prove out our way of working. In seven weeks we designed and deployed an entirely new homepage. This speed of delivery led to our engagement lasting for 18 months, so that we could empower designers to have a strategic voice. Working with one team at a time and approaching the solution though osmosis, we were able to demonstrate the value of embedded UXD in product teams.
By working closely with the FT senior management we were able to ensure that the cultural shift in working practices lived on. Our persistent demonstration of integrated UXD and iterative change formed a culture of lean, user-centred design, that has now filtered through to other areas of product delivery across the organisation.
This project was on the inside of one of the most love-filled companies in the UK (fun fact: 😯 Nando's is also the biggest importer of Halloumi in the UK)
Red Badger were working in-house with Nando's to design a menu and customer ordering journey, and integrate it into their current app.
Nando's were supporting multiple platforms for engagement with their customers: the Brand website, the Takeaway and Delivery website, and the native app. If a customer wished to place an order and began the journey inside the app, they were redirected to the responsive web ordering journey.
We championed agile principles to deliver value into the hands of customers early and focusing on an MDP - the thinnest slice of releasable functionality to learn/validate the approach as quickly as possible. The teams prioritised the menu first, with the Takeaway and Delivery journeys being fast followers. We began by blanding four cross-functional teams to work side by side on parallel scope - I was in the role of Interim Head of Design for the programme while helping Nando's recruit for the internal position.
Co-locating a multi-disciplinary team allowed us to provide technical and strategic consulting services, and to recommend the best strategic approach to adding a takeaway and delivery journey to the current app. We partnered with Deliveroo for fulfilment which gave us the opportunity for a branded web journey, which is still in place while the programme of work is ongoing.
Since summer 2016, I have been leading workshops and courses at General Assembly.
Teaching, as well as being inspiring, has given many things back to me: I am a more accomplished speaker and presenter; I have learned to explain anything in an infinite number of ways; I have a deeper understanding of the needs of the stakeholders I find myself working with; and I constantly get to reaffirm my for what I do.
Over the past few years a lot of people, from a wide range of backgrounds, have been recognising the importance of design in their industries: the creative process in which we use our intuition and analytical ability to understand the opportunities and constraints, business goals, competitive markets, customer needs and technologies present; and then envision, communicate, and realise practical solutions that meet customer needs and create business value.
Through creating an iterative learning experience, I lead students through multiple cycles of the lean UX process, building on concepts and expanding contextual knowledge of their applications. This allows them to experience that optimal solutions require an effective design process that provides a framework within which designers can consistently validate - ideate - repeat.
By enabling students to ideate solutions in a user-centered way, they graduate with the knowledge that design is full of processes, not rigid methodologies, and is, by nature, an iterative process: so what we discover through empathy, research, validation and usability testing often dictates the solution. They also produce a individual project who's outcomes make me consistently proud.
My other baby
A graduation 🎓, a career change 🖍, a global pandemic 🦠 - many things can necessitate a job search. I hear many of my past students struggling to find advice about portfolios, interviews, which type of designer they want to be etc - so I and my talented friend, co-designer and General Assembly colleague Sinem Erdemli set up Cactus Handshake to offer this type of support at accessible rates.
There are a lot of questions when it comes to portfolios, so we offer an in-person review where you can ask your own questions and we can give truly personal advice.
Selling yourself is something very few people are comfortable with - so sprucing up your interview techniques is an investment worth making.
We know that this kind of support may be out of reach for some but believe it shouldn't be, so we offer reduced price Office Hours once a month.
When I began teaching I learned that telling a story was the best way to help someone understand a framework, a methodology, an example, an application. Speaking is a privilege, and I find immense joy in it.
My energy for learning is boundless, and I have an insatiable drive to explore new disciplines and cross boundaries. I believe that the more I’m aware of, the more references I have to draw on - so the more I find myself able to see unlikely associations and connect my digital day with my analogue night.
Having become obsessed with the drawing app Procreate, I have been learning how to structure and code parallax illustrations like this jellyfish. Why jellyfish? I took my parents on a trip to Monterey bay earlier this year, and have been fascinated by them ever since 🐙
Terrazzo is a recent find - I actually stumbled across it as I was looking for a way to display the accessories I was making. I'm a big fan of supporting makers and craftspeople (my dad is a wonderful wood carver) so I took a workshop run by a surface designer - and I'm hooked 🎨