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 in meeting people half-way and on equal terms.

On the Clock

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 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.

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, the font that I use for headings and navs on this website. Personally, I dislike it in an aesthetic sense. 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:

  1. Vagueness in the requirements
  2. Unclear project goals
  3. Improper problem and solution definitions

This toxic combination can, and most of the times does, end up in “edit hell,” a vicious cycle 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

It’s the standard stuff, but it keeps me happy: football, climbing hills, markmaking, and travel.

Away Days

I support the most beautiful football club in Britain, West Ham United FC, and I often travel to see them live.

Here are 3000 of my friends and I, outsinging 70,000 Manchester United fans, on their own manor.

West Ham away at Man U

The Mountains

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 I call this “my art.” I’ve drawn, painted, sketched and scribbled since I was very young. I never suspected it would one day turn into a career, but here we are. Besides, I get to make my own shirts. Here are some other things I made.

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