Work

I am a principal user experience consultant with User Vision in Edinburgh. I help people make human-centred decisions. My background in social science helps me understand what makes people tick.

I identify how products and services are performing, and where they can be improved to deliver the best experience. I have a track record in successfully integrating human-centred approaches in agile projects. I am also an accredited service designer, enabling me to see how people’s experience can be improved across multiple touchpoints.

I have significant experience in enabling organisations to make human-centred decisions in a wide variety of sectors: higher education, government, healthcare, financial services, travel, and membership organisations.

My degree is in economics and politics, and I have a particular interest in behavioural science. I enjoy incorporating this knowledge into my work to make services more human-centred.

Work history

User Vision

Principal user experience consultant — 2022–present

I lead the user experience team. Our work helps organisations understand who their users are, what needs they have, and how to deliver the best experience, through the application of user research and service design techniques.

I devise and test research-based information architectures and prototypes. I also help organisations understand the value of human-centred approaches, and how to bake them into their standard ways of working, aligning stakeholders through highly collaborative workshops.

I also deliver training on a variety of topics including the fundamentals of human-centred design, and user experience management.

The University of Edinburgh

User experience manager — 2019–2022

I led the User Experience and Digital Consultancy service within the Website and Communications section. My team provided user research, content design, consultancy, training and facilitated collaboration expertise. We enhanced the delivery of human-centred services for a wide variety of projects supporting academic research, learning, teaching and web technologies.

I also led on user experience, information architecture and content within interdisciplinary scrum product teams delivering a web publishing platform and a design system.

My mixed-methods programme of qualitative and quantitative user experience initiatives around the needs of staff and students working with course materials digitally is credited with having “paved the way for a seamless move” to hybrid teaching at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Read my posts for the Website and Communications blog.

User researcher and editorial development officer — 2017–2019

Working as part of the Website and Communications team and the User Experience service, I supported departments throughout the university to undertake user experience initiatives and develop digital strategies.

I also provided specialist website editorial, site build and support expertise to ensure the delivery of a user-focused, sustainable and legally compliant online presence for the university.

SRUC — Scotland’s Rural College

Web manager — 2015–2017

I managed the external-facing digital presence of SRUC — Scotland’s Rural College. I led on content management, information architecture and user experience.

In addition to running the main SRUC website, I developed and managed associated websites in collaboration with partner organisations including the Scottish Government.

I supported and trained the community of web editors. I also line managed the digital communications officer, with oversight of social media channels.

University of St Andrews

Digital communications officer — 2013–2015

I formed and led the digital communications team, owning the external-facing digital presence of the University of St Andrews.

I led a project to completely overhaul the webpages aimed at prospective students. This involved the implementation of a new user-centred, responsive web design and new content management processes that were gradually rolled out to the entire external-facing website, and informed the first versions of the digital standards manual and design system.

Further duties included developing content strategies and guidelines, information architecture, programming the content management system and training content editors.

Read my blog posts for the digital communications team blog.

Web editor — 2009–2013

I was responsible for creating and editing web content that was visually appealing, well written, up-to-date, accurate and engaging. I ensured that webpages conformed to corporate branding, accessibility guidelines, web standards and usability best practice.

I also supported and trained users of the content management system, providing second line support for the university website.

Duncan Stephen

Blogger and writer — 2002–present

As a blogger, I have regularly reached thousands of readers every month (peaking at a regular of 18,000), and made several appearances in the media. I ran the popular blogs doctorvee and vee8. I established Scottish Roundup, a weekly compilation of the best of Scottish blogging, which was featured on BBC Radio 5 Live.

I have also written articles about user experience, motorsport and politics for other high-profile websites, including:

Digital and user experience consultant and researcher — 2008–2015

I have researched, designed, managed, developed, maintained and written content for a variety of digital products and publications. I have a strong focus on human-centred design. My background in social science helps me understand what makes users tick.

I worked with a wide variety of clients: education, small businesses, third sector, politics and government.

Willie Rennie MP, and Dunfermline and West Fife Liberal Democrats

Campaigns intern — 2009–2010

I was responsible for writing and designing campaign literature such as Focus newsletters and updating the website, among a wide range of campaigning duties in the run-up to the 2010 UK general election. This involved regularly liaising with constituents, an MP, an MSP and councillors.

Woolworths

Sales assistant — 2006–2009

I worked for Woolworths while I was a student. I remained there until it closed down. It was a surreal and challenging experience to work for a national institution that was going out of business in the middle of a hectic Christmas shopping period, while my colleagues and I were on the brink of losing our jobs.

As the company went into administration, the store became busy and attracted a different, more demanding sort of customer. The experience taught me a lot about people and how to handle stressful situations.

Read my inside story on the closure of Woolworths.

Education

Service Design Academy — Dundee and Angus College

PDA in Service Design — 2019

This hands-on course enabled me to further develop and formalise my service design and user research skills. It involved attending three intensive two-day bootcamps where we worked on live client briefs.

Activities included interviewing people on their doorsteps about their experiences of social housing, and prototyping a physical space to help improve collaboration between different college departments.

Throughout the course I applied the skills I was developing directly to my workplace projects at the University of Edinburgh, demonstrating my practical ability to design, plan and deliver service design projects.

The Professional Development Award is accredited by the Scottish Qualifications Authority.

The University of Edinburgh

MA (Hons) Economics and Politics — 2:1 — 2004–2008

Economics and politics may not seem to have much relevance to my career at first glance. But studying social science made me a better designer.

Economics is really about how humans behave and how they are motivated. This knowledge has helped me understand how users tick, informing my design decisions and the way I approach my work.

My dissertation was about the paradox of voting, the phenomenon whereby rational choice theory struggles to explain why people vote.

Certifications and training

UXQB Certified Professional for Usability and User Experience — Essentials in UX and HCD Management (CPUX‑M)

iSQI — 2023

Credential ID — 71142952

UXQB Certified Professional for Usability and User Experience — Foundation (CPUX‑F)

iSQI — 2022

Credential ID — 59041991

Agile Project Management Registered Practitioner

APMG International — 2014

Credential ID — 02921884-01-KBH4

ITIL v3 Foundation

APMG International — 2010

Credential ID — 02331141-01-8ZE4

Digital Preservation Training Programme

University of London Computer Centre / Digital Preservation Coalition — 2010


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