User feedback directly in the product using Intercom.

Regularly I am asked to take a look at a web page or task to improve the user experience. However often the task is the opinion of a product owner or purchaser and not a request of the end user.

For me, gaining user feedback is the first part of the process. It may back up the opinion of the Product Owner but its likely that the user is struggling with a different part of the process and the task needs to be re-focused. At MuddyBoots the customer is not always the user of the product. The customer is a company manager who purchases the application for their staff and i needed to communicate with that end-user and preferably whilst they’re using the application.

My research lead me to Intercom, an in product communication tool that has clever features enabling messages to be personalised, timely and relevant. This was how I presented the new Dashboard ideas to users before my company committed time and resources to coding them.

A timely message appears on screen informing users of the redesign and they can choose to see a sneak peek of the screens and provide their feedback. The wording is important as customers are providing their time and insights for free. As well as the message users can submit how they feel about this communication by clicking on a happy, neutral or sad face behind the message. These are recorded so we can approach customers who are consistently unhappy to discuss their concerns or issues.

Intercom also provides statistics of the user feedback message. It shows how many people have viewed the message, clicked through to the survey and if they are Happy, Sad or Neutral. The results of the survey are for a separate discussion but Intercom was a successful method in connecting me to the users and ask them for their views on our product whilst using it.

red telephone box yatton

Book Swap – Box Refresh

book swap yatton

The Telephone Box is having a refresh. It has been 7 years since i converted it into a book swap and its time for a tidy up.

A couple of the glass panels are in need of replacing with perspex and it could do with a repaint as its starting to look a bit faded.

So this weekend with help and donations from the community I made a start on the work. I emptied all the books, gave it a sweep, a wash and repainted the door. One of the glass panels has been replaced and i have 2 more to fix to make it rain proof again.

Inside the box, the Billy Bookcase has become water damaged and no longer supports the large number of books on the shelves. I have sourced a replacement and will install it as soon as all the glass is fixed.

Many village residents stopped to chat about the book swap and offered encouragement including one who posted it o the community forum. I hope this brings in more volunteers. It’s fun but a time-consuming process.

For more information on the red phone box and details of the progress, check out the facebook page i created.

ux designer

Working with a UX Designer

Recently I was asked exactly what do i do for a living. I always find this question a bit difficult to answer. My gut response is to say “I’m a Web Designer” and leave it at that. But after 15 years of web design I believe I am selling myself a bit short and have much more to offer. In fact much of my work could be put under the umbrella of UX Designer. However, often when I provide this as an answer I get a glazed look followed with a comment like:”Oh, okay, great.”

I still have a job explaining my role role because there are many variations of the term. UX Designer, UI Designer, UX Researcher. Whilst these are all different roles, I believe these variations are  all used under the term ‘UX Designer’. Particularly in a small organisation, where one person can do many and sometimes all of these roles.

How to work with a UX Designer:
The result is to explain it in a Prezi presentation which outlines my skill set and the best ways in which to work with me.. Use the arrows at the bottom of the video panel to skip through the slides. I hope you find it useful. 

This was created when i started my role at MuddyBoots Software.

If this does not work you can view the presentation on the Prezi website

website redesign

Portfolio website redesign

I have redesigned my portfolio website. It is a new WordPress theme which I have customised and I am happy that it is better than the design it replaces.

Like many user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) designers I spend all day making interfaces look more intuitive, cleaner and eye catching. My own site gets neglected and so I start to build up a list of ideas that I would like to include in the redesign.

Website design

This redesign uses a single page layout to provide a quick overview of myself, my experience and work examples. There is a much improved portfolio section, contact details are tidier and the site is responsive. This ensures the layout adapts to different screen resolutions and looks good on all platforms.

The other benefits are behind the scenes. I have optimised the site to work quickly on all platforms and perform better in search engines. I now have more control over the titles, keywords and descriptions of each page. This  allows each webpage to be indexed and display better on different devices.

Mobile first

More and more people are using phones and tablets to search the web and my portfolio website is no different. My site analytics show nearly 75% of those looking at my website do so on mobile devices!

I hope you like the site and feel free to give any feedback on the redesign Should you require any help or advice designing your company website in WordPress, please contact me.


Profiterole – Wedding photography

This profiterole photo is part of a series of photographs taken for a friends wedding. I was asked to take some photographs for a friends wedding which is an unenviable task, particularly if they are a good friend.

I took some suitable shots of the day including a few of the food which the caterer had asked for. The bride and groom were happy with my efforts and so was the caterer who subsequently asked for copies for their  company website.

Wedding Photography Cost

So how much did I charge for the happy couples photos and the catering photos? Nothing of course, they are good friends and there’s nothing like a good profiterole.

Have a go at making your own profiterole. Profiterole recipe.


My T25 VW Camper van

After owning a Mazda Bongo a few years ago i decided to take the plunge and buy a camper van. This VW T25 is 31 years old and is in good condition for its age. He is called Pippin and a video of the previous owner can be seen above and on youtube.

It has a reconditioned engine, seats four people with belts and sleeps 4. A littler fridge, a grill, a sink, electric hookup and a drive away awning. Even a great stereo complete with i-Pod dock.

No power steering plus the steering wheel is huge! It is like driving an old bus but i love it –  lots of character and that classic VW sound! However, it is the later water-cooled version so hopefully a little more reliable but I joined the AA just in case.

The friendly wave

When I collected it last weekend a mint condition T2 camper drove past and gave me the thumbs up and we exchanged a wave. Wow, i haven’t enjoyed that vehicle recognition since owning a Fiat Coupé.

Hopefully plenty of adventures ahead, i’m already planning a trip to the coast, the New Forest and Dorset.

Now Sold

So almost 5 years later and i sold it. We had many adventures to campsites in Devon, Cornwall and South Wales. Plus a trip to the Goodwood Festival of Speed.  However i found that we didn’t use it as much as I expected and it’s time to let someone else have some fun. No regrets, just another tick in the bucket list.

If anyone is looking for a great VW specialist in Bristol i would whole heartedly recommend Jeff’s Shack!

red telephone box yatton

Yatton’s Book Swap

A new lease of life for the village red telephone box.

A great deal has happened since I first thought about updating the telephone box into a book swap and all of it positive. Thanks to a warm dry summer, I have spent time sanding, priming and repainting it. This took longer than i had anticipated but my next door neighbour and friends kindly helped out.

The book swap takes shape

Two coats of Pillar Box red really made the box shine and caught the eyes of many passers by. In fact i had many encouraging comments. Passers by saw me painting it and stopped to talk about my plans. It even got added to the Yatton Community Facebook page.

After painting the telephone box I replaced all the broken windows with tough 4mm perspex (cheaper than glass, and more difficult to break). I  cleaned up the inside and removed all the rubbish left inside. After a quick scrub with soapy water there wasn’t too much to do except add an Ikea Billy bookcase which i had a spare and I thought may just fit. I measured it twice and it was inch perfect.

I then secured it to the inside of telephone box so it wouldn’t tip over. Removed the old poster describing the coin-op telephone instructions and replaced it with a new one explaining the book swap idea and providing details of a Facebook page and Twitter account I set up to help promote the box.

Finally I added some books which villagers and friends had kindly donated and put up some  ‘Book Swap Now Open’ signs. Two weeks later, the red pillar box opposite the book swap is also repainted complimenting the telephone box. If you’re ever driving through Yatton, take a look.

The finished box from the outside.

Books in a telephone box – an awesome response!

Newspaper article helping promote my idea to restore and re-purpose the telephone box.

Following on from my post about my efforts to restore and re purpose Yatton’s old red telephone box I have had an awesome response.

Well over 100 likes on Facebook, some small PayPal donations and yesterday an article was published in the local newspaper.

It is clear to see from the newspaper photo the poor state of the box. It has lots of broken glass and the paint is pealing off.However  already I’ve had emails and messages from lots of people in the village offering help and support – although one good friend kindly points out that the photo in the paper makes it look like i’m steeling the books.

A letter from America
Yesterday I also received a letter from America about the project. It was from an ex villager who has fond memories of Yatton and in particular using the phone box as a teenager to arrange dates with the local girls. He has kindly sent a cheque to cover costs of paint, replacement glass and materials for the restoration. How kind!

So it looks like its starting soon. I need to order the supplies and organise a date for the work to begin.  Smashing!


Click here to see an update on the completed telephone box restoration.

red telephone box yatton

The Village Red Phonebox

I live on the High Street in Yatton, a small village, approximately 15 miles west of Bristol. Everyday I pass the old red telephone box outside the hair dressers. Its been de-commissioned and now stands unloved, the paint is peeling away and many panes of glass are smashed.
I decided to do something about it and have recently been in talks with the owner of the shop that it sits outside with a view to restore it turn it in to a village book swap. It could also be a village noticeboard.

These red telephone box is part of our heritage, they are disappearing from villages as they are no longer used. I have a chance to save this one and make it useful rather than watching it fall apart. It would be great to restore it to become part of the village community, hence the idea of a communal book swap that never closes.

These red telephone boxes were introduced in 1935 and are a British icon. There are many up and down the country which have been converted and i think they are great.

I have now set up a Twitter account, a facebook page which has over 100 followers and have added a page to streetlife which has a number of local businesses interested in helping out with the restoration.


My photographs are in Cardiff artwork

Last month I was lucky enough to be involved In a photography workshop with Admiral. The new office building is being constructed ready for 2014 and a local artist has been commissioned to decorate the construction hoardings around the sides.

These 8ft by 10ft boards run around the perimeter of the site and will contain words about Cardiff and the city. These will be made from photographs taken by myself and the other selected member on the workshop.

Remember? Okay here is a link back to the post. I took plenty of close ups and texture photographs, along with some wide landscape shots of Cardiff bay. Some very colourful and others more monotone, hopefully this contrast gave enough of a selection. These will be seen in the city centre for the next two years along with my name credited along the bottom.

The Result:
I am quite pleased, i have a fair few of my photographs in the final piece including the snail photograph which was a querky shot that was a little off brief.  There are literally hundreds of photos that make up the word Evolve and now my photographs (probably a good 50 of them) can be viewed for 2 years until the building is finished. So if you’re visiting Cardiff pop along and take a look.