Research Side Projects

How are career pathways navigated by humanities graduates?

research participants banner

After initially thinking art school served no link to future work I found that it was the perfect education for a job that, at the time of my graduation, had not even been invented yet.

Twenty years later I’ve decided to revisit this question – with a potential project in mind – to help creative arts and humanities students and graduates explore career pathways.

I’m currently conducting research interviews and seeking participants for 45-60 minute conversation to explore the needs and experiences of students and graduates of creative arts, humanities, and related degrees in relation to career pathways.

This audience research will inform a concept for a potential new website. The website aims to share career journeys and stories of arts graduates who are advanced in their careers to help current students and graduates navigate their ambiguous futures.

If you would like to participate or have any comments or thoughts on the general concept please do comment here.

Side Projects

Pushing beyond the MVP

I did some volunteering here and there for one of my favourite organisations Open Australia. This included occasionally managing the twitter handle for their project “Election Leaflets“. My job was to tweet and answer questions. I began noticing some patterns and then dug a little deeper to see what it all meant. I wrote up my research in an article: Scrutinising the Audience Experience of Election Leaflets.

Towards the end I made an observation about MVPs — minimum viable products, that distinguishes them from minimum viable experiences.

“Election Leaflets was a minimum viable product that successfully made election ephemera easily accessible online. Its future may be at a cross roads – the National Library also archives election pamphlets although it doesn’t yet publish content live for either enjoyment or scrutiny. The next step should its evolution continue will be for us to create a minimum viable experience for both familiar and new users to meet the needs of the community as a whole.”

In this case the MVP certainly proved the capability of the product and found a product market fit for those already familiar with Open Australia. The next step was to evolve the product into an experience that would see it expand to serve a new “market”, of politically engaged people unfamiliar with Open Australia and make the usability of the publishing flow more transparent.

Read the article for the full context but in the meantime consider whether your MVP caters to the needs of your audience across their end-to-end journey.

Election Leaflets Twitter User Journey revealed some break points in the experience with the product
Election Leaflets Twitter User Journey revealed some break points in the experience with the product where how to contribute was not clear for unfamiliar but engaged users.
Service design Side Projects

Considering customer efficiency in experiences

There’s efficiency and there’s experience. Last month I published an article for UX Mag on the subject of customer efficiency. It opens with a story about the Melbourne trams. It’s conductors were replaced by machines in an efficiency drive. However the efficiency of customers and of the service required consideration around tasks beyond ticket purchase. Conductors served a multitude of customer needs but in the narrow assessment of their use they were deemed redundant.

Tram conductor – Illustration by Nam Nguyen

A reader of the article, Lisa Chow, cited an example from her own professional experience as a library consultant in the comments. A system to check out books replaced librarians doing the task but the self service model wasn’t necessarily efficient for users trying to achieve multiple tasks in the act of borrowing a book–like querying outstanding fines.

Customer efficiency is not about the streamlining of one or two tasks. It is about services anticipating the end goal of customers and providing resolution in a manner which does not increase effort for the customer. This must be a consideration in the design of systems, services and processes undertaken by customer facing staff. If you are curious to read more about the topic check out the article on UX Mag.

It was heartening to receive so many comments (after the hard slog of writing the article 😉 particularly one that provided another case study. The article is part of a series on “The 7 essentials of customer experience” by Different. The first was on predictability and the 3rd article on convenience will be published in coming weeks.


And thanks to my editors – Joe, Amanda and Mimi. It would have made no sense without you!




Side Projects

Rev head leet speak

My most recent book PL8s is a collection of car number plates. It’s my second attempt at the book, after changing the cover design, and accounting for some issues experienced on my first go.

Why number plates? For the hell of it and because I love making collections and lists of things. I also think number plates are the original source of the shorthand language we use in SMS and IM messages and that before we chuckle at how clever and beyond 2000 we are we should take time and reflect on older sources of short hand language. Enjoy.

Side Projects

La la love you (tribute)

La la love you (tribute), originally uploaded by erietta.

Missing playing around in Illustrator, and it’s raining, so I thought I would finish this little idea I had when I saw the Pixies play Doolittle live.

Side Projects

My Blurb book’s back

I received my second book made by Blurb in the post the other day. This was the first book I had made that was a black and white text, 5″ x 8″ paperback. I ordered one hard cover with dust jacket and a couple of paperbacks. I was well impressed by the paper quality and the binding. The hard linen cover is beautiful and austere, but unfortunately the image did not align correctly … or at least as I thought it would.

The dust jacket front image went over too far on the right edge. I was thinking to try and refold the dust jacket but the spine was printed in exactly the right place. The soft cover image did fit, but only just and it didn’t look quite centred.   It was interesting to see how differently the same image alligned on the dust jacket and the paperback. The image is a lot bigger on the dust jacket and didn’t fit at all. This could be improved by Blurb.

The solution? Well I think I was a bit ambitious making an image that was reliant on lining up just so. I have redesigned the cover so the image is much smaller and is well away from the edges. I think the new cover looks much better too.

Lessons learned:

  1. Keep important parts of the image well away from the edge, even a bit further than book smart software suggests.
  2. Make the image for the dust jacket design a bit smaller than the paperback cover image.

Oh, and by the way, I was not at all fussed by the experience. I won a voucher for the books from a UPA meet up, which gave me the opportunity to try it all out for free. Thanks Blurb!

My Blurb book's back
The package label

My Blurb book's back
Wrapped in plastic

My Blurb book's back
Crooked dust jacket

My Blurb book's back
Linen hard cover

My Blurb book's back
Paperback: The image only just squeezes in to the top and bottom edges.

My Blurb book's back
How I thought the cover image would line up

My Blurb book's back
Inside cover

My Blurb book's back
Original cover design

My Blurb book's back
Plates cover version 2