Basically, I make sure the right product gets built.
I’ve been around long enough to remember when it – the entire field – was interaction design. We didn’t use web design – the graphic designers grabbed that, and the industry suffered as a result for many years. Actually, when I started in 1995, the commercial web was only just taking off. It was all CD-Roms and Kiosks before.
Then we had information architecture being used to mean interface design, then user-centred design, and now user experience design. It’s all product design to me. Or just good design, really. User-centered design is a tautology, after all (because if you’re not thinking about the user, you’re doing art, not design).
Put simply, I solve problems. I bring a multi-disciplinary skill-set, encompassing business, design, content and technology. I bring experience. And I bring an outside view. I quickly get to the heart of the project, its requirements, its context, resources, budget, any issues that may have already arisen. I’m pragmatic in coming up with viable creative solutions. Quite often, I get brought in to rescue projects that have gone off track. I’m very good at that. But it’s better if I’m brought in at the beginning so I can help prevent that from happening in the first place.
I design systems. Web sites, intranets, extranets, applications – anything with a user interface really. But it goes beyond the front end. Content, data, information flows, process flows, back end functionality and business logic, administration systems and content management, user journeys and interactions… Everything that goes into making a great digital product that does what the users expect and what the business needs. Two things I don’t do though – the colouring in and the technical infrastructure. That’s better left to the graphic designers and technical architects – who I’ll work with to make sure they fully understand the requirements.
My output is typically in the form of annotated wireframes. I’m also good at writing other types of business documents – from management reports and business cases to scopes of work to detailed functional specifications – though I find it’s rare for a project to need a full Waterfall approach these days. But equally, Agile is not always the right approach either. I believe there’s a happy medium to be found, usually involving lightweight specifications and agile implementation. The system still needs designing, regardless of how you build it. Someone needs to look after the overall vision. That’s what I do.
I work both client-side and agency-side. Clients typically bring me in as a Project Manager, Producer or Technical Lead – to work out what the business needs, come up with an appropriate solution, select the right supplier or team, and oversee the project to completion. Agencies usually bring me in as a User Experience or Information Architect, or as a Business Analyst (or a combination of all three) – to tie down the client requirements, champion the end user as well as the business, and work with the design and technical teams to design a solution that can be delivered on time and within budget.
I work in a freelance, contract or interim capacity. My engagements typically last from a couple of weeks to a few months, sometimes even longer. Or sometimes just a few hours’ consultancy to help generate some ideas, provide some clarity and help the client understand where they need to go. I try to be as flexible as possible and work in whatever way suits the client or project. The one thing I’m not looking for is a permanent full-time position.
If you’re looking for a cheap freelancer, I’m not your man. (And they probably won’t be that cheap anyway, once you’ve allowed for your time managing them, the time they’ll take to get the work done, and the mistakes they’ll make along the way.) If you want someone who is proactive, works quickly, and does the job properly – let’s talk. I am motivated by interesting projects that give me the opportunity to make a difference and add value. If you’ve got one, I’d love to hear about it. Call me on +44 (0) 1273 726714 or +44 (0) 7957 434784, or email me on jon (at) hirschworks dot com.