Portfolio - Featured Projects

Almost two decades of work creates a lot of content, so I've selected four projects from the past five years featuring different aspects of my experience. The first is from a startup, where I had to create a new style and design language from start to finish. The second was concept development resulting in a joint venture, where I led the process from prototyping to actual use of a first responders service during California's largest earthquake response exercise. The third involved me leading the interdisciplinary academic research into how advanced distributed learning could be improved by using adaptive interfaces and user centred design approaches, resulting in clear recommendations. The fourth was remote problem solving service for Locksmiths where I learnt about using hammer therapy to get a lock to behave. Hammer therapy? Get a hammer, hit the lock.

SellanApp - crowdfunding app ideas (2013-2014)

Brief: As with any start-up, constant changes to the business model mean SellanApp's service offering and style has to keep up. The existing site had had so many changes and as a result was cumbersome to use. And, iOS 7 beta had just been released, signalling a new style direction. A new style was needed for SellanApp that would reinforce the brand and its mission in crowdfunding app ideas for iOS - in a flexible and consistent way.

Role & Activity: I'm responsible for Product & UX at SellanApp, and take a hands on approach to strategy, research and creative direction. Though we're a close-knit start-up, our brand aspirations hadn't been fully explored. I ran workshops (e.g. affinity diagramming - see photo) and analysed the site and user behaviour. My strategy meant creating a style and a design language in terms of elements, emotions and actions. Elements allow consistency and flexibility across the style. Each element is described in terms of emotional fulfilment and achievement.

Result: After finding out about ourselves, our audience and how we'd like to be perceived, in the creative brief, I decided to use iOS7 and colours visible from the Millennium Bridge in London as the inspiration. The visual designer then took the deliverables brief and built the embodied style. The elements language took longer than expected. We are already seeing a payoff in terms of flexibility, speed and consistency. For example, users can now have a consistent relationship with an app idea regardless of where they see it. New interactions are now possible without breaking the style. I really can't wait until we launch it!

Interface for Emergency First Responders, City of Los Angeles (2008-2009)

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Brief: ESi provides collaboration tools to large organisations, among them emergency services and nuclear generators. Speech recognition was considered as a means of gathering First Responder reports, and ESi wanted a better understanding as to whether it worked and suited their market. If successful, the concept would be demonstrated at the ESI user conference in Boston. Following a successful conference, the City of Los Angeles (lacity.org) decided to pilot the new interface.

Role & Activity: I worked with the ESi personnel to understand the existing product and its users, such that a new interface would be compelling. It was, and ESi invited me to give a presentation to over 400 of their clients at their conference. We let delegates try the interface for themselves - allowing me to gather feedback via survey, passive observation and semi-structured interview. For the LA City pilot, I Interviewed Response Centre personnel, and did context gathering to clarify the strategy for the new scenario. I worked with a US designer to create a new variant of the interface.

Result: The proof of concept was so successful that I was invited to present to 400+ of ESi's clients and demonstrate the product at their conference. User feedback was very positive, and LA City wanted to deploy the interface into their existing system immediately.

The interface was used in the largest earthquake exercise in California - Golden Guardian 2008 State-wide Disaster Exercise. This success resulted in spinning the product off into a joint venture between ESi and VoxGen.

Using user profiling for multi-modal adaptive interfaces in distance learning (2008-2010)

Brief: The US DoD spent over $22 Billion on training in FY2009. They run research programmes to improve their understanding of training and its effectiveness. Within one of these programmes at the Office of Naval Research (ONR), an opportunity existed to propose and research a way of using multi-modal interfaces which adapt to the user's psychological profile. This had to be accessible wherever the learner may be - submarine or otherwise. The research had to be done in compliance with the US Human Research Protection Program, such that participants are protected.

Role & Activity: I wrote an academic applied research proposal to set out a framework by which users (distance learners) could be cognitively profiled and receive information via an adaptive interface. I built strategy from Instructional Design, Cognitive Psychology and Multi-modal interfaces. I evaluated the state-of-the-art of Instructional design theory to see how User-centric Design could be used for the adaptive interface. I explored ways for the multimodal interface to adapt to the individual and how they could learn anywhere at any time. I handed the project over for the demonstrator phase.

Result: The proposal won its funding of $400k. I undertook the research and presented at the program review at Stanford University. I advanced the theory on using multimodal interfaces & user profiling. I identified key use-cases and proposed new work into using social theories of how to leverage adaptive interfaces across populations' emergent behaviours; and into the impact of cultural differences into speech recognition interface design. A demonstrator was built in the second year.

Remote Problem Solving, The Lock Program, US DoD (2007-2010)

Brief: The US DoD Lock Program supports DoD locksmiths all over the world. A small team deals with the enquiries, but new theatres demand round the clock support for locksmiths. No budget was available to increase personnel. Locks and safes were being destroyed for want of guidance in fixing an issue.

Problem queries came in from across the globe. The service had to provide guidance to the people depending on the type of lock, what they had locked up, and the issue they had with that safe or lock.

Role & Activity: A colleague had described this as impossible and wanted to turn down the $350k funding for the proof of concept. I decided to investigate a strategy for how to ensure users could proceed, and my proposal was funded. I led contextual inquiry, on-site research, domain analysis and semi-structured interviews of locksmiths and support agents. After the successful proof of concept, follow on funding was granted to support all existing locks & safes, and began with full discovery and user journey maps.

Result: Interface concept proven, follow on work was granted. The follow on work completed the full contextual discovery and domain knowledge exploration - creating user journeys maps for each lock in use. Unfortunately, pressing operational issues made the budget unavailable. The client admitted that while ultimately the project hadn't been completed, they did use the journey maps to solve issues with locks, which improved their problem throughput.