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I am Kathy Cook, a part-time MSc student studying a Masters Degree in Computing Interaction Design at Thames Valley University. My postgraduate studies are something I do in my spare time on top of a full-time job as a Marketing Manager for Yell in Reading in the UK. I love User Experience, usability, all things about Human Computer Interaction. I am lucky enough to do a job in Marketing where I get to do UX stuff, put my experience to good use and use what I’ve learned on my degree.
I am lucky enough to have worked with online customer experiences for 15 years, since my first job at Heinemann when I launched the first Heinemann Library Online website, working at Reed Business Information as their Internet Marketing Manager where I managed Estates Gazette Interactive through a redesign, and then at Orange as a Senior Product Manager to launch the Orange.net ISP and website, mobile small business portal, and SIM card applications. At Yell I have focused on trying to make life easier for Yell’s customers and sales people by delivering new Point of Sale tools using User-Centred Design methods to improve the customer experience. But the clincher came when my Dad expressed extreme frustration about trying to buy something online, and I just thought ‘this is so unnecessary’.
What I love about usability testing is diagnosis, so getting to the real issue and then being able to solve it. Everyone can see the big road blocks: the fallen tree, the mud slide. But research with real users identifies all the ‘little things’ that add up to them thinking in future they’ll take another road: the potholes, the lack of signposts, the road was too busy, it was too narrow, it was too bendy, they felt lost, stressed – and so on. I love usability testing because I love solving problems. Being able to identify all those things that if you or I just took a glance at a screen we wouldn’t see, but finding discovering the truth of what users enjoy or have to suffer is always a revelation. I’ve run many, many usability tests now, and every time the joy is always about discovering the truth. Then being able to go back to an amazing team and collaborate with them on some shiny new ideas to solve those problems is very, very exciting. And taking those ideas back into usability testing through an iterative approach means once again discovering the truth about whether those ideas will really fly. So, it’s all about diagnosing and solving problems, and the kick is making the world an easier place to live in. When this all adds up it makes a big difference to customers, and so products and businesses also having an easier time, and not struggling on a road full of potholes.
Better user experiences which result in good usability make the world a better place, in all ways, which is why I have spent 3 years studying my masters in the subject. It’s been the best 3 years of my life.
Yell have been absolutely brilliant sponsoring me to study my masters degree, but nothing whatsoever on this site is about Yell or representative of anything from Yell – this is my personal blog about my studies.
This blog is about my postgraduate research project on blog and blogware usability for my masters degree. I am publishing my research as I discover it to get feedback.
The research I am doing is using proven tried and tested usability methodology, so views given about blog usability are not my personal opinions, but are derived from usability testing with real users. I ensure all my usability tests are with 6 users who represent the target user profile, which is the proven optimum number of users to identify the succcesses, issues and questions about a user interface design which you would see occur in the majority of users. The complete details of the methodology is provided in the papers published on this blog.
I love user-centred-design, user experience and usability so much I have mixed feelings about this dissertation and research project coming to an end.
I live in the UK by the River Thames, and enjoy photography, art, painting, skiing, reading, films and travelling.
You can find me playing around with photos most of the time, and have stuff on Flickr.com.
My love for travelling is why my username is wilddogsandenglishmen – in 2007 I started a blog about self-drive camping in Botswana. I did it to help anyone who may follow in my footsteps. It’s pretty specialist, but has been helpful to a lot of people who have travelled that way. I posted all my maps, GPS data, campsites, etc. Good if you ever want to wander that way and not get lost in the bush. You can see this other blog at http://www.wilddogsandenglishmen.wordpress.com My last trip I was trekking in Nepal in the Himalayas. My next trip is trekking across the Sahara desert in Morocco. Whether I’m travelling in Botswana or the Blogosphere, I’m having a lovely time.
I would love to hear about your blogging travels. so please feel free to linger a while in this blog, comment, take part, and hopefully find some stuff that will either help you or make you smile.
You can see my CV on my LinkedIn profile at http://uk.linkedin.com/in/kathyrecook