I was the Strategy Director for Conran Singh between 2010 and 2012. In practise, this meant playing a varied and very hands-on role, often split between managing the needs of individual projects and the goals of the business.
Conran Singh was part of the Conran group of design companies. The other design businesses (offering architecture, product design, graphic design, retail, restaurants) work from the same building, so the opportunity was to collectively create true multi-disciplinary design work that draws on a number of different influences.
I worked closely with Daljit Singh, the founder of the business, and helped build the business by winning work, maintaining healthy client relationships, and making sure that all of our design work adheres to the principles of simple human interaction.
The day-to-day of running a business like Conran Singh involved being able to take the 30,000 ft view of what's on the horizon - but be able to dive down to ground level at any moment. That's what kept it exciting for me, and that's why I love this industry so much. We're all learning and evolving our work and there's always so much new to learn about and keep on top of.
I hope it stays that way.
Guardian Discovery Week
Conran Singh was asked by the Guardian to help them envision the future of their digital experiences - as part of their week-long Discovery Week. We were one of forty internal teams - all focused on different discovery areas - and our task was to imagine how the role of the homepage might change over time.
The most exciting part of this brief was that the Guardian weren't interested in a simple evolutionary design, but rather were looking to radically rethink how this important touchpoint for the brand might behave.
We held a number of stakeholder sessions, and very quickly noticed that there were different expectations within the organisation about how the different digital channels should co-exist, and how the home page should service their readers. Out of these conflicting expectations, we built a set of axes which represented the need for both - sometimes conflicting - tensions to exist.
Our insight was that in different scenarios, the page might need to quickly re-balance itself in line with an overriding tension, and so any design should be flexible enough to adapt to the priorities of the day.
We also mocked up a starting point for the interface by wireframing a few new interaction behaviours - design to reveal the back story behind a specific article.
Conceptually, we started thinking
about the interplay between people, their context and how this all might change over different periods of time.
An example of one of the axes
We used Justin Bieber to represent the extreme end of the 'Discovery' axis - where in a completely personalised world, everything spirals down into a very few generalised bits of culture. At the other end of the scale, everything is new, all the time - and our friendly seal seemed very appropriate for this...
A specific configuration
By showing how the different axes change under different scenarios, we brought to life the page and its behaviours.
The Legacy List
The Legacy List is a charitable organisation tasked with re-engaging the local communities of East London with the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park after the 2012 Olympic Games.
Working at Conran Singh, I developed a broad multi-channel communication plan which matched the different audience groups to specific digital channels, and then outlined how best to engage with them.
Once the communications plan was finished, we then outlined and designed a simple web site which can be used as the focal point for all other marketing activities.
Our intention is to build out a range of activities to connect with a fairly hard-to-reach set of audiences by using a mix of physical and digital tools.
The Legacy List web site
The site launched in July 2012 and was built on the Wordpress platform.
Conran Singh worked with M&C Saatchi to help luxury technology brand VERTU rethink how their online experience was working.
Our primary aim with the work was to bring the craftsmanship of VERTU's handsets to the fore, and secondly to showcase the 'life, beautifully arranged' quality of the brand throughout the experience.
We developed a single page design within which the handsets can almost be picked up and played with. By using closeup photographic 'fly-pasts' the site visitor can get a feel for the beautiful materials and mechanisms which characterise the devices.
As part of my Strategy Director role at Conran Singh, I helped develop a digital strategy for the Conran Shop. Although the Shop web site was already seeing large volumes of traffic, we were tasked with building customer engagement and increasing conversion rates to drive up sales.
The team at the Conran Shop were already embarked on a programme of work which would mean better landing pages, more easily merchandisable category pages and richer content, but our view was that they should push further with all of this. We developed a clear view that content would increasingly play a more important role in making products more findable, and making the brand more credible - in campaign terms but also across different categories.
Working in Abu Dhabi, I helped Etihad develop a vision for the future of their digital channels, and was instrumental in building a more people-centric view of the experiences that their passengers encounter.
We created a series of customer personas to represent clear user needs and goals in our design process. To understand these fully we carried out a series of customer interviews with a range of travellers, and quickly distilled this down into a concise set of stated goals.
Building on this understanding of the travel customer, we then scamped out a series of user journeys which illustrated how the Etihad customer might interact with the brand across many different touchpoints - from phone to tablet to web to airline seat - and brought this to life with a rich visual treatment.
An example persona board
An example page scamp
To fully understand the interaction principles at play behind the experience, we created fully scamped-out journeys in this medium fidelity style to dig down into the detail of how pages would behave.
Your Square Mile
Your Square Mile is an ambitious initiative aimed at changing society from the ground up. Their aim is to empower citizens to make change in their local neighbourhoods – the ‘square mile’ in which they live and work.
We designed the digital platform to support the needs of the most active in their communities, and help them find others who might need a little help in coming forward. The site walks visitors through a simple registration that helps them understand how their skills, passion and experiences can help voluntary organisations in their area – benefitting them and their communities.
The home page
was designed to give a very quick and clear overview of the different ways that site visitors could get involved in their local communities. Our aim was to get across the breadth of content and information on the site, whilst encouraging people to get in touch with like minds in their area.
Through the use of a simple postcode search
we display a bunch of useful local information - driven by various content APIs - as well as showing a map of the user's local area.
Universal Music: 'Getting Magnetic' Strategy
Universal Music worked with LBi to develop a strategy for getting closer to the people that buy their music, and I helped develop the overarching strategy that drove this piece of work. Partly a brand challenge and partly a business transformation issue, the strategy described the development of a fully featured digital platform to drive Universal's artist web sites, helping to bridge the gap between the brand and the artists' fans.
The role of the record company - like any content publisher - is quickly moving into places which are sometimes hard for it to fathom. Easy to ignore, and easy to pretend that nothing's pressing down on the business - but it's not long before these disruptive influences start to eat away at the edges of what's been quite a stable, cash-rich marketplace, and force change. Our strategy was devised as an attempt to bring a retail mindset alongside the business, to allow Universal to do what it does best, and keep developing artists - without getting in the way.
The reality of developing such a radical proposition is that it takes time to resonate through the business, and it's hard to convince a successful commercial operation that it may be time to start thinking about change. The strategy was framed as an exercise in winning hearts and minds, and presented to all the senior heads of the business.
At Oyster Partners / Framfab I worked across a range of Orange projects - from web self service to the design of music players to the development of new customer propositions.
The highlight amongst this work for me was the Orange Mercury project - a quick, conceptual piece of work that had at its heart a simple idea: if Orange decided to take five handsets and build a presence in the USA without a physical retail outlet, what might that look like?
Our response was to design a richly textured interface which took its cues from real retail spaces whilst using ecommerce to deliver an entirely customisable product to the Orange customer. The vision for this was to provide ways for the end user to configure their new handset as part of the process, and then receive this out of the box soon after and ready to go.