10+ years in UX – What I’ve learnt


January 15 2001 was that day that, as a developer, I realised that at the end of my beautifully crafted algorithms was a person trying to get something done. In my case it was when designing software to allow a call handler from LAPD to review a 911 call to find any missed details of the emergency dispatch call she had just taken.

From that moment onwards I have dedicated myself to becoming the best craftsman I can be. In the subsequent years I have moved from being a developer (by way of development team leader, solution architect, project manager) to a user experience consultant.

Over that time I applied “user experience” thinking to how to manage and improve the “health” of my development teams, project teams and then my own business.

While reflecting I considered if it was my experiences: working in a variety of different environments (agencies, in house, freelance and contracting), for designing and implementing interfaces for desktop, mobile and web platforms would afford me the right to call myself a UX Consultant. Or if it is my grasp and application of the core principles of UX through Information architecture, interaction design, usability and accessibility that counts? 

Over those years I’ve spent hours participating in and where necessary creating, as with UX Exchange and other offline groups, the opportunity to engage with, mentor and learn from others in the field: User Researchers, UX Professionals, practitioners and academics.

Throughout that time, I purposefully subjected my thinking and designs to rigorous testing, and worked hard to learn what worked and what didn’t and in which contexts. The purpose of this testing was to help me to measure how far along the journey I had travelled.

I now believe that I have the skills and experience to meet, not only, the surface level challenges of the role but also, I now realise, the experience to apply user experience thinking strategically to address wider commercial challenges as a UX Consultant.

Perhaps most importantly I believe that my passion for: learning, challenging my own thinking, challenging the orthodoxy, recognising that I don’t know everything, for being confident enough to ask for help, for being brave enough to try and fail rather then never try at all has given me the requisite personal tools to adapt to any challenges the role will present.

In the end, I work extremely hard to craft products and service that work for people; People who are just on the whole trying to get on with living.