Mobile UX hints, tips & insights from Joe Pendlebury, AKA "The UX Chap" - a 31-year old, Senior Mobile UX professional, from Derby, England.


Allow me to introduce myself, my name is Joe Pendlebury, and in a poor effort to rip-off the title of Kid Cudi's, 2010 chart topper, I'm on the pursuit of [UX] happiness. 

My interest in UX first came about whilst studying for a BSc in Multimedia Computing, at De Montfort University, in Leicester (2003-2007).  As part of my final year project, I set myself the task of designing a website, with the sole objective of teaching people in the UK, the rules of American Football.  As a long-suffering, Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan, I wanted other fellow Brits to share my pain.  So, in an effort to draw new interest into a sport, which at the time, was slowly on the rise in the UK (as a result of the introduction of the first NFL International Series game to be held in London), I went about researching what websites were already out there, that taught the rules of America's game.  To my absolute surprise, there weren't any. 

Now, I think it's fair to say, that American Football has one of the most complex set of rules, of any sport, to understand.  15 years on from when I first started following the Bucs, I still don't fully understand all of the rules!  Regardless, I started to plan my website design, firstly detailing the key rules, any new fan, would need to have an understanding of, in order to follow a game.  Focussing too heavily, on the rules, and the rules alone, I quickly realised that my website, would put potential new fans off.  At the same time, I wanted to incorporate detail about the aspects of the sport, that make it a real crowd-pleaser - the tailgate parties before the game, the atmosphere inside the stadium on game-day, the intense rivalries, and of course, the dream every fan lives for - the build up to the Super Bowl.  Oh, and not to mention the cheerleaders!  If that's not a pull-factor, then I don't know what is!

After detailing the requirements; in true novice-style, I made the schoolboy error of delving straight into developing my first website, without firstly considering its architecture, or design - let alone its usability and accessibility.  Being the excited. eager beaver I was, I had tunnel-vision, and rushed straight into putting my newly-developed HTML and CSS skills to the test.  How wrong I was to adopt that approach.

Suffice to say, the website failed to fully deliver on the objective, I originally set out to achieve.  By being side-tracked into striving for delivering a standards-compliant website, I completely lost focus as to what to the whole reason for building the website - to teach the UK, the rules of American Football, in an effort, to guage international interest in the sport.  The resulting website wasn't by any means awful, but it could have been so much better had I put the time and effort, into considering the goal of the website, throughout all phases of the project lifecycle, many steps of which, I omitted altogether - wireframing, prototyping, user testing, etc.

For me, this is when the penny dropped.  I lost focus on the goal I originally set out to achieve, and as a result, delivered a bad user experience.

Not only that, but I was annoyed at myself for it.  I had an opportunity to produce a website that could have proved to be of much greater use / value to my target audience, had I put more thought into how those users, would use my site, at the beginning of the project.

They say, that we all learn from our mistakes, and this proved to be a great learning experience for me.  My first, of many.

Since graduating, in every company I have worked for since, I have now taken it upon myself to raise awareness of the importance, of putting the user first, in every area of our day-to-day roles and responsibilities.  Whether it be in the design of a new retail mobile app, or the point of contact between a Sales Assistant and a Customer, in a brick and mortar store - I urge everybody, no matter what their position in the company, to think about the experience being delivered, and more specifically, how we can each contribute to making that experience a more memorable one for the end user - for the better, not for the worse.

An organisation which understands the importance of providing a great user / customer experience, is one, who its customers will undoubtedly come back to again.

Fortunately, my enthusiasm and passion for UX, over the years, has helped me to land the position I now find myself in today - a Mobile UX Architect, for the UK's largest fashion retailer.  It's a great job - not without it's day-to-day stresses, mind you - but it's satisfying to know that everything you do, and strive to change, is for the long-term benefit of your users.

Despite this success, I'm not quite ready to rest on my laurels just yet - not until I'm 68 anyway, if the UK Government have anything to say about it!  Suffice to say, I'm determined to further my knowledge and understanding as to what makes a great experience, whilst also looking to share nuggets of insight, that I've learnt from my superiors so far, as I continue along my pursuit of UX happiness.

Oh, and if you're wondering why I refer to myself as, The UX Chap, it's because that's what most people outside my team refer to us "UXers" as, internally.  They seem to have forgotten that we actually have names (and feelings too)!


The UX Chap