You can’t work effectively on a product or service if you don’t have a clear understanding of what it’s for and what it’s trying to achieve.

Sounds like common sense doesn’t it, but do you feel absolutely clear on the strategy behind what you’re working on right now?

I definitely haven’t had clarity on many of the projects I’ve worked on over the years.

I’ve always found it hard to get clear and consistent answers to seemingly simple questions such as:

  • What is this for?
  • Why will the world be a better place in the future because it exists?
  • What…


This week : Service pillars, working in the open, practicing what you preach, remote working benefits, reducing screen fatigue and the joys of side projects

Walker skating on frozen floodwater in a field from the River Avon in Keynsham
Walker skating on frozen floodwater in a field from the River Avon in Keynsham
Keynsham’s new temporary ice rink

Archive : wk1 | wk2 | wk3 | wk4

Service ‘pillars’

I’ve been working on a report this week that identifies where, how and why the service we are evaluating is broken.

It’s helped to confirm some thoughts I’d had around how every service has a set of key fundamental ‘pillars’ that it must continually try to improve (but will never perfect) in order to succeed.

One example from our project is the issue of people with…


This week : Asking for feedback, research analysis, serendipity, how to be lucky, resilience, shoplifting, gritter trucks and failing

Frosty hedgerow with houses in the distance
Frosty hedgerow with houses in the distance
It has been freezing in Bristol this week

Archive : Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3

What have I been doing this week?

Analysing research

I’ve been really enjoying working with Julie to analyse the findings from our research looking to evaluate the service that provides physical health checks for people with a diagnosis of severe mental illness.

I’ve found solo analysis of research insights very isolating and inefficient during COVID so we’ve been combing through our notes together via a slack or phone call and recording quotes, insights, patterns etc in Miro as we go.


Conducting challenging research, UX meet ups , David Hieatt, walking meetings, good design, goats and occasional coffee tables.

A walking meeting along the Avon was just the tonic to decompress after a challenging week of research

Archive : Week 1 | Week 2

Doing

It’s been a challenging week, but in a good way.

We’ve been conducting research with people with a diagnosis of severe mental illness to understand more about their experiences of the physical health check service they are eligible for from the NHS.

I often feel nervous before doing research but was particularly anxious about these sessions.

I had concerns about how people might behave and was worried about offending them by using the wrong…


The end of the snowman (sad times) and beginnings of snowdrops (hope!)

Doing

Our discovery research looking at the physical health check service for people with severe mental illness is gathering pace nicely.

A simple but super fruitful question that helped get to the nub of the issue with service providers was ‘What feels like the most fundamental problem that exists within the service/ system today that if solved would have the biggest positive impact?’

It has been so intellectually nourishing to discuss these wicked problems with such smart people who clearly care so deeply about solving them. Inspiring stuff indeed.

I’ve been prepping a talk for some students at Falmouth Uni…


Ok, week 1.

Doing

I’m currently on a brief soujourn to our public sector/ gov team where I’m focussing on health related service design projects and loving it.

We’ve spent part of the week speaking to various people who are involved with delivering a service in the UK that provides physical health checks for people with severe mental illnesses.

It’s a critical service as many service users die much earlier than they should from preventable diseases that would be spotted during these health checks.

Not enough of these health checks are happening so we’ve been asked to help find out…


What ingredients do you need to make your design a success?

When I was younger I used to love taking things apart with my brother to see how they worked.

We would buy all sorts of junk from jumble sales and get to work with screwdrivers to see what we could find.

I still do this regularly at work, but the things I’m taking apart to try and repair and improve are not old radios, but typically things like apps, websites, services and even organisations themselves.

Ingredients for success

When you break these things down into their constituent parts you can start to identify just what it is that makes them work.

I’ve got…


I used to love watching a TV programme called Trade Secrets.

Each episode featured a different profession such as gardeners, plumbers and blacksmiths who would share their trade secrets.

I loved it because it gave a fascinating insight into what people do all day at work and how they had hacked their jobs to make them easier.

Here’s an episode where butlers share some of their trade secrets.

Butlers share their trade secrets

I will definitely be circulating my cutlery from now on!

Reflecting on this programme got me thinking whether I could identify any trade secrets I used in…


Dieter Rams compiled a wonderful set of design principles that I have referred to frequently over the years.

He used his principles to help answer his own question “is my design good design?”

Inspired by his thinking, I’ve been reflecting on some of my own project experiences.

I’ve always thought that ‘good design’ was about creating simple, usable, useful and beautiful things — challenging enough — but on reflection I think there’s more to it than that.

So what is good design?

1. Good design solves problems

Good design solves real problems and satisfies real user needs.

Successful design projects start with clearly articulated problem…


I went to a lecture by Martin Parr earlier this week which has set my brain whirring.

I’ve tried to record as much as I could remember from the lecture which was full of great advice.

In addition I’ve watched an unhealthy amount of Martin Parr video on Youtube this week and harvested some more wisdom which I’ve added here too.

The notes are rough so excuse that, but the advice is gold!

Enjoy!

Have a story to tell

Don’t worry about having to develop a style, decide to take interesting photos and your style will take care of itself

James Chudley

Experience Director @cxpartners | UX | Product | Photography

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