Paul Seys has been working as a web designer in the UK since 1999. However, he can now be found working at Redweb as Head of User Experience, in Bournemouth. Paul’s portfolio can be found at joystik.co.uk. He can also be found giving opinions on his blog shortboredsurfer.com
I asked Paul if he could spare some time for an interview and he was kind enough to say yes. So here goes:
1) Firstly, if you could introduce yourself and give us a little bit about your background and the route you took to become a UX designer/consultant.
Hello, my name is Paul Seys and I am Head of User Experience at Redweb. I started off at Bath Spa University where I studied for a BA (Hons) in Graphic Design, specialising in Multimedia. In my final year I won the RSA Student Design Awards Multimedia Award along with Steve ‘Buzz’ Pearce (formerly of Poke now Creative Director of Skype) and James Scully (founder of Nevado). I went on to work as a Digital Designer at Deepend and continued to work as a designer until joining the team at Redweb. Since my days at Deepend I’ve taken a real interest in UX and over the past 4 years have specialised in UX/usability practices to help strengthen that area of our business.
2) What is it about UX that interests you and why do you think it is something that web companies are beginning take notice of?
Having initially trained as a Graphic Designer I knew that at its core design is was about communication. When I started at Deepend back in 2000 they were just starting to employ Information Architects and Usability consultants. Although at the time there seemed a real reluctance for designers to listen to usability practitioners to me it made perfect sense. To me design was still about communicating a message to a user so who better to ask how that message should be delivered.
Since that time I’ve always tried to keep UX at the heart of my work, although it wasn’t until I joined the team at Redweb that the use of usability practices and ux design methodologies was properly embraced. What interest me most so being able to focus on the needs of the people actually using a system and making sure what we design meets those needs.
I agree that agencies are starting to realise the benefits of UX more and more but there’s still room for improvement. Although agencies seem to accept the principles and the need for it the impression I get is that they’re unsure of how to sell that benefit onto the client.
3) Describe to me your average day.
To be honest at the moment I don’t think I have such a thing as an average day. This year I’m mainly focusing on building Redweb’s UX team and solidifying the services that we provide as well as helping to deliver those services. From a project point of view days can vary from running usability studies or research sessions such as user interviews or collaborative workshops to working closely with a project team to help design and build a site.
That probably comes across as really vague doesn’t it!
4) Have you got any particular places where you go to read up about the latest UX news?
I try to do as much reading as I can. Twitter has been a great help recently as I’ve been able to follow people I respect and read articles that they’ve personally recommended. I also use Google Reader to manage feeds, some worth noting are: Boxes and Arrows, Good Usability, UXMatters, Userfocus, Disambiguity and Adaptive Path. I try to read as much as I can offline as well but I don’t always have the time. Thats why I setup @uxbooks to try to motivate me to read more.
5) Finally, have you got any advice for anyone looking to become a UX designer like yourself?
I think its something you really have to work at. For me becoming a designer was really natural, I liked creating things and it seemed to just ‘happen’. Becoming a UX Designer in my opinion takes alot more work as a you need to understand alot more things. I’d recommend to anyone wanting to move into UX Design that they first do a decent amount of reading, Steve Krug’s book ‘Don’t Make Me Think’ is always a good place to start and will give you a basic level of understanding. There are courses available that do a good job of introducing you to Usability methods, in the UK Webcredible are a good provider of this sort of training.
But alongside any formal training or reading I’d strongly suggest that anyone looking to become a UX designer focuses on involving actual users wherever possible in their design process. Even if its just an informal chat with a couple of people rather than a full blown usability study it’s still worth doing and will help you to understand the basics.
I really appreciate the time out Paul took to answer my questions and I hope that you found his words of wisdom a help to you.
Paul is a very active twitter user and I would recommend you follow him. His name is @Paulseys