First Things First
Above all else, I am the father of a beautiful human being and spoiled brat, a devoted son of my people, and a committed friend to a few good folks.
I believe in work properly done and properly paid, in honesty and in openness. I believe that there is such a thing as objective truth and that it ought to be told. I believe in being my brother’s keeper, I believe that “if there is hope it lies in the proles,” and I believe that Black lives matter!
Now. Where were we? Right, about me, my favorite subject.
On the Clock
My design career grew out of my love of Photoshop, in which I started working in 1999, at version 4. Before I knew anything about spatial memory, mental models, or even basic design principles, I knew all there was to know about working in a program with only one undo step and no editable text.
In 2000, I moved to the US, and went from creating posters and ads for my friends to studying web design and eventually launching my first website at the end of that year. Another year later, I started building websites professionally, and in 2003 web design and development became my full-time occupation.
My Design Approach
Always design honestly, because the user is rarely stupid. Most of the Internet consists of layouts that betray either sloppiness, or a sincere disregard for the user’s needs on the part of the product owner. And yes, everyone notices it, to some degree or another, even if they don’t say it.
Don’t let your personal aesthetics sneak into your work. Always design for the product, and not for yourself. Take, for instance, this font that I use for headings and navs. Personally, I dislike it. Professionally, however, I know what the metrics say: if I change this font, my phone will ring less. We can also predict exactly how much less, as we have the numbers from the A/B tests. There are several other elements on this site which I don’t like personally, but which have a direct impact on conversion. The point is that personal aesthetics (mine, yours, anyone’s) are many times incompatible with professional product design.
Design the design process. The biggest cause for the wasted effort that goes into most design and development projects is lack of appropriate planning. This can happen because of many reasons, but it’s usually the result of a combination of three factors:
- Vagueness in the requirements
- Unclear project goals
- Improper problem and solution definitions
This toxic combination can, and most of the times does, end up in “edit hell,” a vicious circle of back-and-forths intended to fix things that never needed to be broken in the first place. This has the potential to cause massive amounts of wasted effort, time and money.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that all this can be avoided with appropriate planning, verifying that the project goals are viable before the design and development stages begin, and establishing product features in detail at the very beginning. You can read a detailed description of my process here.
Off the Clock
Standard stuff that keeps me happy: football, climbing hills, mark making, and lots of travel.
I support the most beautiful football club in Britain, West Ham United FC.
Here are 3000 of my friends and I, outsinging 70,000 Manchester United fans, on their own manor, for two hours straight. For some reason, this happens to me a few times a year.
West Ham away at Man U
I sometimes suspect that all my other hobbies are just excuses to be on a plane. I used to keep my passport in the glove compartment at all times, just in case the occasion to use it arose unexpectedly, which it did.
Once, a convenience store run turned into a trip to Hungary. Another time, I went to see relatives in Eastern Europe and ended up on an unplanned drive through five countries. In 2012, I went on a 3600-mile road trip following a band on tour through the US and Canada, and in 2015 I saw the same show 7 times in 8 days. My point is, I move around.
It used to be an every-weekend affair, as long as it didn’t interfere with the West Ham matches, but nowadays I only get one or two big climbs a year, and a few local ones, usually in the N. Georgia mountains.
Cave paintings on a different medium
Sometimes, when seized by a bout of eccentricity, I call this “my art.” I’ve painted, sketched and scribbled since I know myself. I never suspected it would one day turn into a career, but here we are. Besides, I get to make my own hoodies. Here are some other things I made.