The purpose of this blog


My name is Bernard and I am a user experience professional. I am not your “normal” UX professional. I’ll explain why.

This is my newest corner of the Internets. I’ve been writing on and off on “the Internets” since the late 1990s.

I went through the usual phase of inane writings, to regular writing (and photographic posts), on to some infamy (my blogging got bad people investigated), eventually to distain and lethargy, to rejection of blogging and everything about it.

Before UX

In late 2010 I started a career change from working as a telecommunications engineer to working in Human Computer Interaction.

I has been working for Nokia, then Nokia Siemens Networks, building mobile networks infrastructure for mobile operators such as 3 Ireland, 3 UK, Vodafone, and o2 for almost 4 years. If you want to know what I was doing before that, have a look at my work.

Picture of a telecome equipment cabinet in a datacentre.
My work environment, when I was a telecoms engineering professional.

Career Change

The opportunity for the change came about for a number of reasons; I was bored with my then technology career of 11 years (endless technology upgrades that no-one ever saw, and little cared about), the telecoms industry was suffering a drastic reorder which was changing it forever. I also found myself being co-presenter a conference talk at the Information Architecture Summit in Denver.

I was surrounded by technology professionals that seemed different – they cared about the people more than they cared about the technology! They also seemed to openly discuss how best to do things, how to get best results out of testing. And they were willing to share what they learned and discovered with “their competitors”. This was something new to someone like me who had it drilled into them that “our competitors were our enemies”. (Engineers knew this not to be the case. We’re all human after all)

At the end of the conference, after being amazed by how friendly everyone was, I stood up at the 5 minute madness session, where “anything goes”, and said something like “Hi, I’m Bernard and I’m an engineer. I work with the 1s and 0s and fibre-optic and cables, and routers and switches. I want to learn what your guys do. Can someone please help me?”

I was approached by an awesome lady who, once we got back to London, gave me tonnes of advice. She listened to my million questions. I ended up applying to some universities for MSc courses. I was accepted to City University’s MSc in Human centred Systems.

In between my partner (the main speaker of our Do It Yourself Mobile Usability Testing project) and I continued traveling giving our talk at lots of different UX and technology conferences.

Usability and security

Fast forward 18 frenetic, hectic months and it was dissertation time. I knew I wanted to do my dissertation on privacy, security, and usability, I just didn’t know what exactly specific topic.

In the end, rightly or wrongly, I ended up choosing the topic mental-models and their affects on user adoption of technology. It struck me thinking about “privacy software” and why people who “knew” they were supposed to use certain software ended up not using it. Was it laziness, was it the software, was it they didn’t really care, or maybe a mixture of all?

Eventually, I “birthed” my dissertation, as a friend described it. It has brought me a very long way. It has given me opportunities I never thought I’d get. I’ve been introduced to a lot of wonderful people and found some very smart organisations: Tactical Tech, Open Internet Tools Project.

Photo of paper prototypes and wireframes on a wall
My work environment, working as a UX professional.

Purpose of this blog

So, to the purpose of this blog. This blog is my attempt to start blogging again – but this time about what I feel is important, about user experience, user research, usability testing, security and usability.

I plan on writing about the topics of user experience and security. Hopefully I’ll be able to maintain it.

Not everything will be focused on privacy or security – I also work in the non-security related areas of UX. Please don’t let non-technical posts about “minimising user errors through inline validation” put you off.

Likewise, if you’re not a “security expert”, please don’t let posts about encryption or public/private keys scare you.

My intention is to communicate these topics in a way everybody can understand them. It’s only complicated when you don’t understand something.

In user experience no one is an expert in everything.