When I was about five or six years old I plagued my parents with strange questions. One I remember in-particular was “who would I be if I wasn’t me”? Such riddles are not uncommon at this age because it is around this time that children begin to develop – or construct – a rudimentary form of identity. An embryonic Self that will grow into something resembling a final form during puberty and early adulthood. As we age, the foundations of identity sink into the subconscious, their origins lost, becoming so conflated with the notion of consciousness to the point where we can no longer tell them apart.
We talk of Self as if it is who we “really are”, like some kind of secular Soul, but there is growing evidence that the very notion of our personal identity is a fluid and ever-changing fiction that emerges through the brain’s interaction with society and the environment. A cognitive technology built from the lego blocks of language to tie together past experiences into a cohesive whole and use them as a blueprint for anticipating future events. The ultimate tool of a species of toolmakers.
Project Quantum was a collaboration between Firstcom and the Research and Development division at Glen Dimplex International to create the next generation of smart-grid heating systems. Having spent years perfecting and implementing the technical infrastructure, Glen Dimplex turned to us to develop a sleek a intuitive interface that would turn these innovations into a viable product to sell to Energy Companies. After a series of meetings in which we ascertained the goals and intentions of the users, I developed a series of sketches highlighting the key interface screens, which soon became a UI prototype. It became apparent that many tasks – such as tweaking individual settings on radiator systems in a single house or even a whole block – would become mind-numbingly repetitive for the user very quickly. As such, I developed a set of tools that allowed them to customise settings and save templates, as well as applying them at an apartment and estate wide level.
Project Quantum was unveiled to the public in December 2012, and demonstrated to the Irish Taoiseach.
Aercap are the worlds leading leaser of modern Aircraft with over €12 billion in assets, and customers on every continent. In early 2012, Firstcom were invited to Amsterdam to work on a project to revamp their archaic website, and develop something to make them look like the robust international presence that they are. Working to tight deadlines, we quickly developed a strong interactive wireframe which was quickly iterated upon via Skype conferences and a number of further trips to their International HQ in Amsterdam. Enhanced by HTML5 and jQuery, we ensured the site would work across multiple formats and have an array of rich features, such as rotatable 3D models of the aircraft, and an interactive timeline. Instead of developing the site responsively, it was decided that the goals of the user on mobiles was sufficiently different to require a dedicated mobile site with a separate structure.
When First Advertising decided it needed to reboot itself, we needed to create a site that reflected the company’s new emphasis and philosophy. It was designed from the outset to be responsive but also structured in a way that emphasises one of our four core services; digital, identity, advertising and marketing. The transformation of the company however was not just cosmetic. It was a the culmination of a three year process in reorienting how the company thought about it approached developing websites and online marketing. Through a new methodological and philosophical outlook that I guided the company towards, they are now in a stronger position than most of competitors to cope with the ever changing digital landscape, and crucially in a great position to find new opportunities for their clients.
Ireland’s oldest shopping centre, Firstcom (in its previous incarnation as BBC Advertising) had worked with The Square Tallaght since its construction in the early 1990s. When The Square went into administration in 2011, Firstcom were only one of two vendors kept on by the new regime, who had been tasked with turning around the flailing enterprise. Our continued relationship was conditional, however, on producing a “world class” website for the renewed centre.
Having had innovative new ideas quashed in previous years, this was just the opportunity we had been waiting for. Allocated a generous budget, we first set out to conduct research into what users currently thought of the site. This led us to a number of revelations that would guide the emphasis and structure of the new interface. Instead of just becoming a dry directory of stores, the site was to become a hub for the Tallaght community; something mirrored in the physical reconstructions in the centre itself. The site was to become a way-finding tool that matched identically those in the centre, and means to communicating all of the latest offers and sales; something woven throughout the site in the maps and store pages. Furthermore, our data also showed us that a growing proportion of the traffic was coming from mobile devices; leading us to devise the new site to be responsive in its inception, and have downloadable maps that could be used offline.
A year after launch, with a combination of on-the-ground encouragement to get stores to use the new site, and ongoing work in the real of Facebook promotions, we saw the very tangible result of a 15% increase in footfall.
Watch my interview regarding the User Research conducted at The Square