Why is Nia danced barefoot?

With bare feet we have access to sensation through 7000 nerve endings, providing greater stability as we strengthen the muscles, tendons, and ligaments of the feet, legs, and trunk.

Barefoot exercise maintains foot flexibility, stimulates blood flow, replenishes skin, strengthens muscle health of your foot, and is overall beneficial to a healthy immune system.

Understanding how your own feet work is key. It is essential to evenly distribute your weight so ankles and knees are supported, and toes are given the freedom to direct movement. Take a moment to look inside your shoes to notice where your sole wears the most. This will help you note your foot’s preferred side, reminding you to be attentive to the other side for a balanced stance.

If there are physical reasons not to practice Nia barefoot, a soft sole shoe may be worn.

For more science on barefoot see https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0966636215004993

New web guidelines – June 2018

Version 2.1 of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) was published on 5 June 2018. The guidelines make web content more accessible to a wider range of people with disabilities and in doing so they make content accessible for everybody. Just look at colour contrast – if the contrast of text on a background is not strong enough then everyone finds it difficult to read.

image showing colour contrast of text on backgrounds

Alexander Skogbery’s article on the new guidelines gives a great explanation and summary of the new criteria. For example guideline ‘1.4.10 Reflow’ states that users must be able to browse a website using a 320 pixel wide screen without having to scroll horizontally.

Bristol Usability Group is a friendly group for the South West of the UK and run an excellent conference called UXBristol every year in the summer (this year’s has just happened).

Alexander Skogbery’s blog about WCAG 2.1
WCAG 2.1 official guidelines

Rapid paper prototyping

Generate ideas

Paper prototyping is a great way to generate lots of ideas at the early stage of a project. Bring the idea into reality by drawing it and it doesn’t matter how good it is. A picture paints a thousand words. When you see it take form you can understand it, talk about it with your team, test it with users and iterate it.

Throw some away

You can also throw ideas away. Paper is much easier to screw up and chuck (recycle) than something digital. Its also cheap and quick.

Two people sketching in a notebook
Sketch credit: Aurora S Melchor, twitter @roarsdraws

Interactive paper?

Sketch, glue, label or stick to make what you need to bring the idea into reality. Be creative.

Rapid paper prototype workshop

I saw a great prototype technique at UXBristol 2016 (2018 has sold out already and I wasn’t quick enough for a ticket, boo) by Sandra Gonzalez, Head of UX at JUST EAT and founder of UX for Change. She developed it while prototyping with kids in educational settings and its just as powerful in other settings. In just 45 minutes you create the prototype, test it, iterate and test it again.

I gave a workshop on it today and had such positive feedback I though I’d share it here.


Use simple, cheap tools

  • Small notepad – to replicate the size and *feel* of a small smartphone
  • Post-its & stickers – to navigate around the app when testing
  • Sharpies/pens – for drawing
  • I bought materials for 32 people at a total of £9

10 mins to create the prototype

  • Draw your screens – a new screen per page
  • Leave Space – leave 5 pages between each screen (you MUST do this)
  • Show navigation –  place dot Stickers on buttons & match the colour to post its
  • Show pop-ups – by mini post-its

5 mins to test the prototype

  • Get into groups and test your prototype
  • Give the person your prototype and ask them to ‘think aloud’ as they view it
  • Note any problems/improvements

5 mins to iterate

  • This is why you have 5 blank pages… now you can tear off the screen you want to change and draw a new page

Test again / show and tell

  • test/iterate as many times as you need to
  • if you have time you can have a show and tell of ideas and even vote for the best ones to take forward to a digital prototype.



Digital Exeter and cows

Share and connect with like minded digital professionals at this free evening meetup

Digital Exeter now has a 1000 members and meets in the evening every other month at Jury’s Inn, near the bus station and Vue cinema. It’s free and is for like minded digital professionals to hear talks and network. You can book a place on the Meetup app and the next event is early Sept.



What happened

I went for the first time on Tues 6 July to reconnect with the digital world before returning to work in Nov from maternity leave.

It was relaxed and informal with a bar and a room set up in theatre style. The first talk was on UI/UX design from Honeybe Creative. The second on Cows and technology from Milkalyser which was really fascinating to learn about changing from a government scientist to owning a business and applying for grants as well as setting up data transfer about healthy cows from across the globe.

I really enjoyed the meet and recommend it to others from whatever part of digital you are working in. There was lots of insider information on other digital talks, tech talks and discounts.


Digital Exeter (and Tech Exeter)

Free event run by Rob Glover

Every 2 months, evening

Jurys Inn, Exeter

Book a place on the meetup app

UXBristol is back

UXBristol is one of the best UX events I’ve been to. I went last year and met lots of UXers, took part in hands on workshops and had pizza & beer.

Three workshops that really stood out for me last year:

Sketching notes

We sketched the workshop in notes, learnt shorthand sketch and what pens to use. I’ve been taken no notes that way ever since and it’s saved me time & paper.

Board games 

We created a board game, prototyped it and tested it on other teams. You learn a lot in a short space of time. My team themed theirs around Shaun of the dead.

Quick notebook prototypes

Using a small flip notepad to create a prototype for a game played on handheld devices. It was a cheap, quick and effective way to prototype.

I recommend UXBristol as one of the friendliest and interactive UX events there are. Go and play 🙂

UX of babies

There’s been a gap in my blog posts as I am now a Mum to an amazing girl, Mango Mae, born 6 weeks before her due date.

What a life changing time. I have never been so happy and overwhelmed at the same time. Babies have very simple needs and yet they are complicated to work out because one cry covers every need.

Imagine carrying out User Research on a project with babies as it’s all about asking the right questions with users who can’t reply. You’d have to study and understand their needs.  

My last project at the Met Office before maternity leave was working on weather visualisations for the media and I look forward to seeing what’s new when I go back in September 2017. 

Smashing Conference

sunset in oxford

Make huge leaps in knowledge from Conferences

Last week I spent three days in Oxford at the Smashing Conference learning from Designers and Developers as they talked about their stories and their craft. Most speakers talked in part about their life and the history of culture – experiences which tied into their craft. Where human and technology mix. It’s aptly named – smashing.

As a Designer I learned most from the UX and Design talks and saw ways that these corresponded to my own work. It was great to gain an insight into Development as well.

The talks

Here are the talks with links to the slides (where available). All of the links and also videos of the talks will be added as they become available.

Design talks

  • Understanding People – Chris Shiflett
    Summary: Perception versus reality. What is right isn’t as important as what is perceived to look right. User’s aren’t stupid, they are human.
    Checkout: change blindness (spot the difference in the pictures), ambient signifiers like the chimes on the Toyko tube and the piano stairs that are more fun than easy escalators!
  • Joining up the dots – Heydon Pickering
    Summary: explores the Web as the ultimate outcome of our unique impulse to make systems of shared meaning.
    Checkout: punching salads.
  • Living Design Systems – Jina Bolton
    Summary: creating a design system for a large Enterprise company. Design for scale.
    Checkout: opensource tool called Theo which converts files to several types automatically.
  • Design Systems in Difficult Places (no slides yet) – Mark Boulton
    Summary: talked about working in challenging places with distributed teams, devolved responsibilities and little understanding of users. Create a design system to create change and not just to create pictures. Mark spoke about his work at Al Jeezera and CERN.
    Checkout: stories about GB road team winning the Tour de France by taking a holistic approach and tweaking every possible aspect so that small gains = large overall gain.
  • Overthinking Design and Embracing Minutia (no slides yet) – Jon Setzen
    Summary: good experience is key to happy, loyal customers. It should be holistic and ever evolving.
    Checkout: Snoop gets mad, but who should it be at?
  • Souls & Machines: Designing the Future of Content (no slides yet) – Hannah Donovan
    Summary: Content without context is meaningless. Perspective gives feeling. Humans care about things, it’s how they determine what matters.
    Checkout: designing for desire is ok (just as for needs is ok), cleaning up API vomit, design invents culture.
  • Improving On-screen Legibility (no slides yet) – Tobias Frere-Jones
    Summary: sub pixel rendering causes problems with legibility. Mosaic effect. Small sizes can be legible as proved by printing press over hundreds of years.
    Checkout: his experiments with Mallory to get sizing exact.
  • Building Great Design Teams – Aaron Walter
    Summary: UX teams require Researchers, Designers and Developers. Work together, sit together, respect each other.
    Checkout: Many great insights from his work at Mailchimp, including videos being good ways to share research and knowing each others superpowers and kyptonite.

Developer talks