About where I’m from
I was born and raised in Hanwell, West London and have worked in Trinidad, Singapore, and Hanoi, Vietnam. I now work and reside in Reading, UK, and the founder of webinmotion.co.uk, previously design web solutions and pitchlake multimedia
About this site
This is a Drupal 9 site. It’s a redesign and Drupal upgrade I’ve planned for a couple of years and still unfinished so apologies if some content is missing, time permitting I’ll be adding articles in knowledge sharing, giveaways. Some of the projects are incomplete but all are listed.
The UX is targeted towards stakeholders, investors.
An analogy would be example when you’re buying a medicine to consume, you normally read the full description on the bottle including the ingredients before you buy.
I want to deliver the same sort of messaging for digital product design, in “layman” terms.
UI design dark background and light text but aimed for mobiles and I’ve made sure the UI follows at least AA accessibility.
The content is original, and where it’s not I have given reference.
I’ll add this site as a project and link how I’ve designed, developed, and deployed it. I have done as much UAT as one person can do, that’s testing on mobile the UI, debugging, and fixing. It should show on any handheld to big screens responsively.
The written content has been proofread but I see mistakes every time I read something, so sorry again if some of the grammar is a tad bit off. There are many images (snapshots, screenshots, maps, graphs, comments for example), something you learn in art and design foundation years, is to record your work through a project log. So, lots of stuff!
About my early days
I began my creative journey from fine art in junior and high school, studying art and design at Islington College, London, and graduating in 1999 with a degree in Product and Furniture design at the School of Design and Manufacture at De Montfort University. My journey wasn’t linear indeed it’s been filled with life’s ups and downs but in the words of Buddha I, “strive on tirelessly” with focus and integrity.
Some sketches from college days and recently, I like to draw when I can. Underneath is my final year project called Mimic, a project that was discussed for years after by tutors and lab technicians, unfortunately my design was stolen and produced (it’s a long story of design protection and rights you have as a student).
To the right is my first interactive design. A user interface over 20 years ago, produced in Flash called the Wool Project for the interior design department, on CD-ROM
About my inspiration
During the degree I found a strong aptitude to modelling products using 3D Max and Photoshop. I was also experimenting with Virtual Reality Modelling Language VRML, showcasing my products using virtual reality and having users interact with them.
First portfolio in 2002 I worked under the name of pitchlake multimedia, together with other developers produced this interactive flash folio, all original graphics (GUI) and ActionScript. It has features like music selections of ambient sound loops, GUI colour and background changer, as well as LED displaying real-time notifications. I couldn’t really develop websites with flash commercially as it took time to load graphics, so I used flash sparingly normally for small CTA’s, navigation, and small banners. Flash started to become redundant when the iPhone came out and Flash is processor intensive and opened security issues on the device.
About my skills transference
I found what I had learned in product design were skills easily transferred to implementing “online” digital products to any kind of service model, like e-commerce or information services for example.
Product design involves, gathering requirements, writing briefs and objectives, stakeholder management, user experience research quantitative or qualitative, market research, technology research, analysis and recommendations, documentation (project logs, presentations, workshops), concepts and prototyping, reverse engineering, viability studies, marketing and production strategies to list a few, learning to balance the user experience or creativity with technology and manufacture a successful product in the most simplest way.
I was taught Bauhaus as a foundation to product design and the mantra “form always follows function”. Meaning the product must first be functional before applying any aesthetics to it. This principle is how I approach any type of design, it must be functional before you add any visual styling to it and visual styling of product brand UX connected to the function, requiring minimal user cognitive loads, keeping it simple and consistent.
AGILE principles weren’t written at that time, there was software cycles, with no Lean UX and only waterfall development, change of experience was not considered. There were some tools which helped like Macromedia and Adobe products. UX practices like information architecture was whiteboarding, card sorting, with lots of paper on the walls, checklist, and stickies. Wireframes printed in b/w surrounded you, or rooms would be set aside for you specifically. My method would often have some tech leads scratching their heads to why this was needed for UI design to be developed, why the wait. When its multiple divisions IA can get very complex. It’s a mindset change of how UX is incorporated into the software cycle.
A personal note on a global shift, a UX mindset change
I was working for DCD, Data Center Dynamics and designing the Drupal CMS solution as well as the UX and UI when Windows 8 was released.
I still think today probably the most accessible UI of all OS’s so far on mobile. Compared with Android and Apple, Windows 8 was hugely more user friendly; you can make tiles (badges) bigger and smaller; you could categorise the layout. It considers functionality first and is simple to use and has a tiny cognitive load whereas; I think if Steve Jobs was here being a graphic designer and typography expert not sure he’d be happy with so much empty UI space between App badges/Icons adding cognitive load, eye stress, you sometimes need to do a lot of work to find an App.
It’s pretty much the same with Android too, except Android offers a thousand more ways to frustrate the user with themes and too many options. The clear UI comes with overlays to blur out the background and focus the eyes.
Windows 8 uses a simple UI grid pattern that scaled a responsive design with a mobile first approach. In comparison iPhone 4 didn’t look as good IMO as the Nokia windows.
images below sourced of google for comparison purposes
About me evolving
Over the years as the internet ecosystem has evolved and grown, I try to keep my skills (coding and tools) and knowledge (user behaviours and UI patterns) up to date with it. I like to produce future proof products, ones that are sustainable, with longevity and scalability. I use open-source software like LAMP for development, PaaS or SaaS systems using Drupal CMS frameworks, for over 10 years now.
About my extra learning activities
AGILE is very much an established practice in SE Asian. Some Vietnamese software houses, adopting AGILE into all aspects of their business not just development, but daily running of their administrative functions.
I worked on a few projects with project managers and product owners, as the product designer or in their vocabulary solution architect. I was involved in presentations and workshops. During this time, I got a certification to teach English as a second language, with a syllabus in international English for business. This helped me create more focused understandable workshops, as language can be misinterpreted quite easily, and clear concise vocabulary is a priority in team AGILE principles.
My most recent certification has come from a highly demanding 10-week intensive course at Cambridge Judges Business School in, Digital Disruption: Digital Transformation Strategies, which was very useful as I felt it quantified the experience I had gained over the years, practising digital transformation for example with start-ups and large businesses. It comprised of several modules, navigating digital disruption, which were Dealing with Disruption, Platform Strategies, Business Models, Challenges Adapting, Ecosystem Evolution. Insightful conversations with some other 80 peers with 10+ experience and the school's professors. Was worth the effort and time.
Speed to Market
I've been fortunate enough to be involved in all aspects of the product cycle from pencilled conceptual ideas to digitally deployed products. It is almost second nature now. I feel I excel with grass roots or start-up situations. From experience, I can produce working prototypes very quickly, either with AxureRP a collaborative prototyping tool, pencil, and paper (whatever is faster) or prototyping using predefined accessible Mobile UI frameworks, components, and patterns, with Bootstrap UI and “out of the box functionality” PaaS, Drupal CMS. Applying brand UI specifications using TWIG, SASS/CSS, and JS, deploy to a live development web server and a test-first approach to product development.
I’ve helped mentor and train to all levels of the production team and helped investors and stakeholders build product or software teams, with best practices and production transparency.
Throughout my work I test solutions. This is the outcome of research and analysis from the start to end of the production cycle. For me it’s a sanity check. Am I recommending something that’s not going to come back and haunt me. I will often ask random people not part of the project, necessarily, does this make sense testing my hypothesis. Testing the interaction of the UI design and its UX, observe their behaviours, watching for hesitation, how fast they can find objects on the handhelds or bigger. This is known as contextual / observational user research with sometimes a sort of guerrilla technique.
Re-inventing the wheel
To quote what I wrote in the homepage
It is a misconception however that technology by itself can get good ROI. User experience using the correct technology is sustainable, not the other way around.
We’ve been designing for centuries now; the Bauhaus Movement of 20’s/30’s provided the connection with in depth investigation of consumer interaction, collecting user data like anthropometric data, with architecture and products, like cars and mobile phones. There is clear innovation with the IoT’s internet of things.
Markets are saturated, so innovation is happening, except to niche markets, within the production cycle, like DevOps and CI, the speed of data transfer (globally all 4G, UK 5G), the code frameworks, the user behaviours, UI patterns as I’ve mentioned previously.
Literally all the success of the production work is logical and just employs plain common sense, with a huge amount of conscientious planning and strategy building.
The vocabulary used for me is extremely important, that everyone involved in a project uses correct language. Not in the way AGILE advocates clean language but I mean correct terminology. For example, misunderstanding happens when UX designer or UI designer provides UI specs for development. Description of the UI is confusing as the designers have used incorrect terminology, causing needless blockers, pushed back from development teams or SCRUM masters. One method of solving this is to have UX and UI designers attend some stand-ups at certain phases of the project. Collaboration is key to successful production.
Digital Product Design an analogy to Product Design
If you take for example Henry Ford designed the first mass produced car. It was revolutionary. He knew exactly what the user wanted. His production model is still used today, by all big product manufacturers not only cars, but all large produces of phones for example.
Henry Ford produced a sustainable model because he developed a customer lifetime value. I don’t know too much of how he started up, he had a great team to help him perform demographic and ethnographic research, design, marketing, strategy, model, engineer, develop, prototype, test, manufacture, produce and sell.
There’s no need to repeat the digital product paradigm and I think its better to speak in layman terms quite often using real world analogies to present design hypothesis.