I was recently invited to talk about collaboration at CoDes, an event which explores the relationship between content experts and designers in contemporary experience design. This article aims to summarise my talk, and share some of the resources and concepts covered on the day.

Founded by Clearleft’s content strategist Rachel McConnell, Dominic Warren and Chris Harding, CoDes aims to explore how the intersection of design and content specialisms can improve the quality of experiences we create.

Collaboration is a subject close to my heart. I appreciated the opportunity to share my thoughts on the foundations of good collaborative practice, as well as the specific ways content and design can better work together. I had a blast speaking about the topic, and had some fascinating conversations with attendees post-event.

Photo courtesy of Dominic Warren

I’ve had a few requests for my slides, and a reading list to dive deeper into…

Last year I wrapped up my first interim leadership role. It would test my leadership experience, and highlight the unique challenges of interim assignments. This is what I learned about the unique skillset this mode of management demands.

Photo by Suad Kamardeen on Unsplash

Design’s business value is being realised. Seats are being pulled up at tables. Waterlines for design maturity edge higher. The career expectations of design professionals grow — Progression. Satisfaction. Purpose.

As our field professionalises, we’re examining the shape of leadership it needs. There are conferences dedicated to design leadership. Communities have emerged offering peer support to an expanding cohort of design leaders.

Leadership talent has never been more in demand, and career options for seasoned managers are becoming more attractive and numerous.

A specialised management role could experience growth as a side-effect of this demand; the interim design leader.

From agency-side to interim


A couple of weeks ago I attended Leading Design conference, returning for a second year after a seriously impressive 2016 debut. The timing was perfect, coming just a few days before I would start my first contract (rather than permanent) leadership role as interim Head of Design for a talented internal design team.

I’ve just finished reviewing my notes from the event. This is the only conference I ever take detailed notes. Many I attend focus around distinct techniques, trends and tools. They act as signposts for the things I need to learn more about, providing primers for memorable themes…

Last Tuesday I tuned into a webinar hosted by content gathering software people GatherContent. The session was run by content expert (and Brighton local) Ellen de Vries, and covered an important subject close to my heart: collaboration.

The session was fantastic, and involved some thought-provoking practical activities. One analogy particularly stuck with me from the talk: digital projects having the same affect as camp fires.

To quote Ellen, campfires are:

a great mixture of conviviality and responsibility”.

So what attracts us to a campfire, and how is it’s enticing glow maintained?

A good campfire is visible from a distance. Digital…

I moved to Brighton from East London in summer 2009, joining a small but ambitious web agency called Makemedia. I didn’t realise at the time how rewarding this move would be, or just how long I’d be part of the team.

Fast-forward and 2016 would be a landmark year for a more mature Makemedia. Not only was it the most successful to date, it would coincide with the company’s tenth birthday.

 Taking over the British Airways i360 in Brighton for Makemedia's 10th Birthday Party
 Taking over the British Airways i360 in Brighton for Makemedia's 10th Birthday Party

Taking over the British Airways i360 in Brighton for Makemedia’s 10th Birthday Party

Maturing Design

Although size isn’t necessarily an indication of progress, by the summer of that birthday year Makemedia…

Recently my colleague Natasha and I were invited by Virginie from Wired Sussex to speak at one of their regular Breakfast Sessions.

This month’s theme was ‘Creating Valuable User Experiences’, and we shared our thoughts and experience using the Kano Model. You can check out the slides on SpeakerDeck or find out more about the Kano Model by reading Makemedia’s recent post on the subject.

Having previously attended a Wired Sussex Breakfast Session on the subject of company culture, I was familiar with the format; two short talks followed by a longer Q&A session with attendees. …

As an organiser of UX Camp Brighton, it can be tricky to squeeze in time for a talk on what’s usually a pretty hectic day. Preparation in the run-up to the event also makes it challenging to find time to put together a talk, so this year I decided to run a discussion rather than sweat over a slide deck.

I’d chosen to talk about Google Ventures Design Sprints. Having recently run a few Sprints both client-side and internally, I thought I’d share my early findings. …

As part of the team who organise UX Camp Brighton, it can be difficult to attend sessions on what’s usually a pretty hectic day. I’m pleased to say this year panned out differently and was my most enjoyable year as both as an organiser and attendee.

Other than the benefit of a few years experience under our belts, there were some important factors contributing to a less stressful day than usual.

The venue

We’ve not had the logistical advantage of running UX Camp Brighton at the same venue two years in a row since 2011–12. Calendar clashes, cost and last minute cancellations…

As a designer, where does my most valuable work happen?

I’m increasingly found away from the practical tools of our trade, my time instead spent negotiating the political, cultural, and interpersonal landscapes of the companies I work with in the pursuit of better design.

Uncovering opportunities to make design happen more effectively is a growing — but seldom advertised — facet of my role. Executing the tactical work required for progress can be an exercise in diplomacy and compromise as much as a test of my practical skills.

This ongoing focus shift has brought with it some guilt. Can I…

On Tuesday, Brighton’s regular(ish) UX Brighton meetup took on an automotive theme for the evening. As a strong personal interest of mine, I’d been hoping to create an event around automotive design for a while, and after discussing the theme with UX Brighton founder Danny Hope, he agreed to let me curate this month’s meetup.

With Alex helping to organise the venue and ticketing, we managed a great turnout at the Lighthouse in Brighton. Here’s a quick run-down of the evening’s talks (which I’ll hopefully follow up in more detail soon).

Dashboard design and the cockpit experience

Our first speaker was Phil Higgs, design manager for…

Tom Prior

I design digital products & lead design teams — www.thomasprior.co.uk

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