Hi, I'm Avril - Brighton based, sushi obsessed, user experience designer who loves designing experiences for humans.
Designing for real human beings with goals and emotions, frustrations and sometimes a short attention span. For me it’s not always about the latest technologies and trends, it’s about solving real problems in the real world for all kinds of people - all types of humans.
A design professional with over 17 years experience. I have been creating online experiences for 14 of those years. Over the past five years I have specialised in user experience design, I have built up a toolkit of methods and techniques that I use to give me insight into the real users and business needs and to help me create empathetic, simple solutions to complex problems.
I have end to end project experience from project scoping, user research and working with stakeholders through to design and testing. I enjoy working in a collaborative and adaptable manner, using iterative techniques to move projects forward and get results quickly. My creative background, coupled with a strong understanding of user experience methods and techniques allow me to pull on years of experience when considering approaches and solutions.
Back in June, I quit my full-time job to become an independent user experience consultant. Since then I have been busy working with some exciting new clients as well as continuing to work with The Student Room (my previous employer) on new UX projects. I have recently completed an awesome project working with a household name in celebrity magazines - I’m not allowed to talk about in detail just yet, but I’d love to discuss my other work with you.
Previous to this, I was the Design and User Experience Manager at The Student Room Group. Having been lured from the life of freelancing by this young, exciting company working in the youth/student market. The opportunity to really make a difference in a start up environment was too good to resist and I became the user experience designer in residence for this inspiring young company in 2010.
Having been referred to as a "team of one" throughout my time with The Student Room, I worked on everything from designing new sites to finding solutions to specific user problems, large or small. As the sole user experience and design resource within the company, I was an advocate for the users on all the projects I worked on and introduced user experience as an approach. I also introduced the company to their users through my research and user testing. Helping the company grow it's audience from 402,000 uniques visitors a month to 6.6 million within 3 years.
Before joining TSR full time I was freelancing, with a number of lovely clients, including TSR. But before the freelancing world called, I had held the role of Web Design Manager at First Choice Holidays, one of the UK's biggest travel companies.
Originally designing holiday brochures for a small travel company (which was later bought by First Choice Holidays), I recognised that there was a skills gap in the design team. I was lucky enough to have a manager who supported me in teaching myself web design and creating a new role for myself. When the company joined First Choice I remained the only web designer, this time within a huge company. My skills quickly became in demand across the company and over time my role grew and I became the manager of a small team of designers.
It was in this role of web design manager that I oversaw the complete redesign of the company's flagship site. Working with a user experience focused design agency, I was responsible for overseeing the entire process. This was my first taste of the user experience design approach, it was a great learning opportunity and one that got me hooked on the meaningful difference that the user experience design approach can bring to a project.
"Avril has always put great user experience at the heart of her work, and has worked hard over many years to ensure she has the best of breed UX processes and techniques at her fingertips. She has given The Student Room a real UX focus, and was the driving force behind our fully kitted usability lab. I have no doubt that the UX world is her passion and her future."
Chris Newson, Chief Executive at The Student Room Group
"Avril's understanding of design, incorporating the latest techniques in User Experience have been invaluable to the success of a particularly tricky project we undertook together - the re-brand and redesign of a website with 10 years of on-line history.
Avril very successfully introduced User Experience as a concept to the project, resulting in a look and feel and user journey (via various funnels) that has been highly commended by both our SEO partners Bronco and our CRO consultants PRWD.
Avril first introduced the idea of User Experience on a project we worked on together for our website The Student Room, in late 2009 early 2010. This work helped us discover the real user journey, adding the concept of persona's to lead thought in design and feature building.
Avril later took the concepts learnt in this early project along with the latest techniques from UX conferences and thought leaders to produce the Marked by Teachers site."
Pete Taylor, Group Director of MBT, Operations Director for TSR Learning at The Student Room Group
User experience designer
Interaction designer and sushi addict