Here are some examples of my work:
UX Writing Fundamentals
~ final project ~
For practical learning, I worked on Handshake, a fictional payments app. The app primarily helps freelancers to keep track of hours worked on a project and invoice the small business owner who commissioned the work. On their own side of the app, the business owner can pay the freelancer. I edited the UI text in prototype screens created in Figma.
My task was to create copy that both met the aims of the users and communicated the voice of the product. The text in the existing mockups needed a complete overhaul to be ready to present to the Handshake Head of User Experience and the VP of Product in a mid-project design review. I focused on ensuring clear interactions and consistent brand voice. In short, creating a smooth and enjoyable experience for the user.
Having in mind how each type of user would step through the screens, I identified where there might be confusion or doubt, and so added appropriate tooltips, microcopy, instructions and hint text. Creating a mini style guide before tackling the UI helped me to define the voice and tone for the app, as well as design the content pattern for different components. The document below includes before and after screenshots and detailed explanations of the choices I made and why.
My changes create a much clearer and friction-free user experience. I also give a consistent brand personality to the copy, to instil in the user a sense that the product is reliable, something they can trust. However, this version of the product does need to be tested by users, so I highlight elements that need feedback as well as suggest possible design improvements.
Impact case studies
~ University of Sheffield
University research in the UK is publicly funded, so universities have to show that the money is being well spent. Sheffield needed several clusters of case studies for different funders that demonstrated the real-world impact of diverse research projects, including in healthcare, environmental sciences, statistics, and engineering. As many of the projects were collaborative, they had to highlight the business partnership too.
Distill the essence of the research from the complex scientific information. Academic research contains a lot of detail and many threads, often with the involvement of many partners from different disciplines. I had to understand the whole, so I could communicate the value (in 400 words).
After gathering as much background information as possible, I interviewed the project leader for each case study. I guided our conversation to help them reveal why their research mattered. They then were able to review several drafts in an iterative process to ensure accuracy.
Through this collaborative process I developed a summary that satisfied both academic precision and marketing brevity, and spoke in the authoritative voice of the university. Below are just a few examples of what resulted from the work.
Safeguarding and Safer Recruitment in FE
~ Desq digital learning design
Staff in Further Education (FE) colleges needed an accessible online course to help them navigate the complex legal requirements, processes and procedures involved in protecting young people and vulnerable adults. In 2010, I worked with digital learning design company Desq to develop this e-learning resource for their client, government body the Learning and Skills Improvement Service (LSIS) (now the Education and Training Foundation).
Make it engaging, while being accurate and comprehensive. Safeguarding is a legal requirement for FE institutions, and the training is compulsory for staff. The issues involved are complex and sensitive, so the tone had to be interesting and warm but also serious.
I formed part of a small team focused on developing this resource. Through close contact with a subject matter expert and the producer at Desq, I helped design the structure of the course and turned the raw information into useful learning content.
We delivered the final product on time to the client and it met their needs. I went on to work as the writer on other projects with Desq, including for BP and the BBC. A 2019 version of Safeguarding and Safer Recruitment is still available online. However, as it’s only available to FE staff, I can’t say how much of my content remains ;), so below is a development document with the content for one of the original modules.
English language teaching
To help people understand how a foreign language works and how to use it, you need clear explanations and plenty of examples (and a patient teacher!). The vast sea that is a language must be broken down into very specific parts, which the student can study and examine, and then put all together.
Each student has some aspects of language that they already understand and use well, and others that haven’t fallen into place yet. As a teacher, my task is to discover what the student doesn’t know, how best to explain it, and how to practice using it to create and consolidate those new neural connections. These require resources.
Teaching English to speakers of other languages is a huge industry and there are already a lot of materials out there designed to do what I’ve described above. It seems pointless completely reinventing the wheel, so I find existing resources (a million thank yous to the sharing nature of the TEFL community) and adapt them to what my students need.
Here are some examples of the materials I have produced to use in my language teaching.
The consonant clusters sheet is a tool for teachers to use in a session with a student. The sheet is intended to guide a lesson on this aspect of pronunciation, giving examples and including the main points. It could also be given to the student afterwards so they could use it for practice to consolidate their learning.
These fluency tips give students some ideas for things they can do on their own, outside of teaching time. This is written for the student.
A plan for an online session for intermediate level students on modal verbs for deduction and possibility. The plan both guides the teacher in the structure and content of the lesson, and gives the students instructions for the activities and a space to record their work.
The Social and Economic Challenges of Nanotechnology
I was approached by Professor Stephen Wood to conduct and write a literature review for this project, which investigated what impacts the new and innovative field of nanotechnology might have. Professor Richard Jones joined us as the scientific consultant, and together we spent nine months scoping the field and shaping our report to communicate what we found.
I knew nothing about nanotechnology! So my biggest challenge at first was getting my head round the science. But I’m good at understanding complex concepts, and my main task was to analyse the debate, draw out the key ideas, and then write about all this for a general audience.
I worked closely with the Professors to define our project objectives and learn from their existing knowledge. Then I delved into the literature, summarising, comparing and contrasting the different perspectives on the technology’s use and potential. With regular team meetings, we kept each other informed of the latest thinking. This made sure the project was relevant and timely.
I wrote the Commercial Applications and Nanotechnology Debate chapters of the final report, as well as editing each section to bring it all together as a coherent whole. Once published, we organised some small focus groups to get feedback from interested parties, and our work was covered in national media. We revisited the project four years later to find out what had changed.
The medial malleolus
~ personal blog ~
In my spare time, I like to write short reviews of films I’ve seen, books I’ve read… in fact, any arts and culture …and put my thoughts down about life in general.