Wednesday, 13 March 2013

The first post

This is a blog about improving user experiences.    
Why the focus on user experience?

I firmly believe that customer centric thinking is the best way to achieve business success. In general, I view business in an uncomplicated manner: company X wants to sell their products or services, and there are potential customers who need or want those products. By understanding the needs of both parties we can design solutions where customers buy from company X.
If fruit was 'designed', surely the result would be a banana.

Why call the blog Pragmatic?

I think that a pragmatic approach is key to helping any organisation improve their user experience. That is, a pragmatic approach in everything, from choosing a technology solution, to finding the balance between business requirements and user needs, right through to negotiating the needs of competing stakeholders within a company.

With this blog I am hoping to be able to share some of my knowledge and engage with other professionals who are dealing with similar, and different, challenges in the digital space.

About me

I am a digital professional based on Melbourne, Australia and work with leading companies to assist them to get more from their interfaces and products. Much of my work has been research and design based with a focus on websites, apps, and other interfaces. When helping these companies I draw on my experience of having observed well over one thousand people using interfaces, countless hours trawling analytics and other quant data sources, plus numerous interviews and focus groups, as well as an understanding of best practice. While most companies and products are unique at the end of the day it is about people.

My specific areas of interest include:
  •  Measurement: As the quote attributed to Peter Drucker goes “if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it”. Without measurement we have no understanding of our progress towards our goals. This applies across most aspects of life and business, be it in brand or campaign tracking, or monitoring your personal fitness. Measurement delivers the power to make better decisions. And in the digital space we can measure so much!
  • Solving the real problems: Too often we get caught up in the detail and don't view problems strategically enough. I think Seth Goddin’s classic post Bear Shaving, illustrates this brilliantly.
  • Goals and strategy: From clearly articulated goals comes clear vision and purpose. When groups of people have a common understanding of the end goal and how they are going to get there, success is much more likely.
My pet peeves:
  • Users instead of I: A positive trend within the digital industry is the acknowledgement that decisions should be made based on the needs of end user. On the flip side, I now hear more and more people presenting their opinion from the user perspective such as “users want to be able to…”.
  • Bad research and people bagging research: Research seems to be a misunderstood discipline and like any, it requires a specialist skill set to do well, plus an understanding of when to apply the right methodology. So when I hear comments like “focus groups are a waste of time” it makes me mad. Sure, there is plenty of examples of bad research out there but that does not make research itself bad, just in the same way that one bad car does not make all cars bad.
  • Ignorance and lack of respect for other professionals. Too often in the UX space people hold attitudes and preconceived views about other professions which are ill conceived and just plain ignorant. Some common views I have heard include, that developers ruin great design, that business analysts have no vision or imagination and that advertising agencies don’t get digital. News flash – just like the UX space there are good and bad people in all of these professions. As Abraham Lincoln said, “When you look for the bad in mankind, expecting to find it, you surely will.”
Let the blogging begin.


  1. Hi Chris - good start to the blog. Can I add a pet peeve? Mine is the use of the term "UX" when there's no need to abbreviate. Ironically, "UX" gives a poor user experience for anyone outside the industry.

    I look forward to your continued postings.

  2. Thanks for the feedback and encouragement.

    I am guilty as charged and tend to agree with you. Like the plumber with leaky taps we do need to turn the spotlight on ourselves more often.

    But you must agree that 'UX' sounds dead sexy and much better than UE (which I think is already taken)!

  3. Dead sexy indeed. "Hey, you into UX?" Is an awesome way to start a conversation with a young lady at a party - especially because the conversation can go a long way before it runs out of steam. Compare this with a web developer trying to start a conversation about AJAX ... that's going nowhere!