About Me

Web Standards & Progressive Enhancement

I'm a firm believer in web standards and always aim to incorporate features as progressive enhancements which degrade gracefully around an accessible semantic core.

Usability and Accessibility

I studied Interaction Design as part of my Computer Science Masters and although studying usability theory from an academic perspective first sparked my interest, what fascinates me now is how these principles can be applied on a practical level within the diverse technology space and design space that makes up the modern web. In my role at Dulay Seymour and Webmotion I was responsible for making practical suggestions on the usability and accessibility issues of the sites we developed, both during pre-production and through the design and build phases. I communicated these within our design team as well as with clients where appropriate.

Incorporating accessibility features into the sites I develop is a natural part of my workflow and I aim to make all sites as accessible to as wide a range of devices and users as possible. Typically this means always meeting Level A and often meeting Level AA or Level AAA success criteria of the WCAG 2.0 Working Draft.

Pre-Production & Project Management

As well as developing sites I also deal with the pre-production and project management of the websites I develop.

I avoid considering technologies too much during early pre-production. Concentrating instead on determining business objectives and target markets while gathering requirements and site assets. By ignoring the technology you tend to be less limited by it. That said, as technology has moved on, being aware of current techniques can sometimes add possibilites and creative opportunities that could be missed otherwise.

Typically the members of a project team will have a range of different backgrounds, levels of understanding and experience. Communicating problems and solutions effectively within a diverse project group like this is often key to the success of a project. Methods I use to help achieve this are card sorting, wireframing and lo-fi prototypes.

For sitemap and wireframe development I always start with pencil and paper and use card sorting for establishing site structures. For making them client-ready I tend to use Omnigraffle on the Mac.

Graphics and Flash

I mainly use Fireworks, Photoshop and Illustrator for my graphics work. I usually work from designs created in Photoshop but I tend to use Fireworks for exporting and image optimisation to make use of its excellent compression capabilities.

I'm not a hardcore Flash coder but I know my way around it. I know ActionScript (2.0 currently) and I've used it to develop hybrid Flash-XHTML websites, banners, dynamic photo-galleries and even the odd fully Flash site where appropriate. I'm currently toying with object oriented coding in AS3.

XHTML/CSS/DOM and Other Abbreviations

I typically work in XHTML 1.0 Strict, positioned and styled with CSS (1, 2 and implemented parts of 3) and behavior added with unobtrusive ECMA DOM JavaScript. I use AJAX where beneficial and for data-sharing I use XML and JSON.

I code XHTML/CSS by hand but I'm also familiar with Adobe Dreamweaver and typically use it in code view to speed up my workflow.

Back End Development

When required to get my hands dirty on the server side I use PHP and MySQL hosted on Apache servers. I've created a number of bespoke dynamic solutions this way, including Property Management Systems and Mailing List Managers. For sites that require more complex dynamic functionality I've previously adopted the Open Source CMS Drupal as a base framework which I have learnt to extend and theme as required.

Platforms and Browsers

I use both a PC and a Mac for developing sites and I test sites on both platforms.

Firefox is my development browser of choice, though I always test my sites in all major browsers including IE6, IE7, IE8b, Opera, Chrome and Safari (Mac & Win).

BSc/MSc

My Computer Science Masters from York University gave me a solid foundation in software design principles and focussed particularly on user-centric HCI/Interaction Design for web-based, mobile and other interactive devices.

For my Masters Project and Thesis I studied wiki and wiki-based collaboration which gave me a lot of insight into the social factors involved in web-based interactions and usability. More detail on this project and a link to the final report can be found here: Wiki Collaboration - Masters Project & Thesis.

You've Read This Far, Now What?

If you're not sick of me banging on about myself, you could contact me. I seem to be most popular for wiki-related questions, but I do my best to reply to emails on any topic.

Alternatively, if you'd like less information you could request a copy of my CV or for further information on my work interests and recent projects you could take a look at the recent work section.