JMCQUARRIE.co.uk

James McQuarrie is a London (UK) based User Experience Consultant who designs and helps build digital products & services that delight their users.

About James

Whether you have an idea for a new digital product or service, or want to review, add to or improve an exisiting one I can help.

James McQuarrie  

I have spent over ten years helping companies of all sizes from start ups to multinationals make their digital products and services easier to use.

What I do

My role when helping companies usually comes under the title of User Experience (UX) Consultant, or UX Specialist, or sometimes UX Designer. Whatever the title, I help companies research and understand their audience and then help them design and build their products or services to meet their audience’s needs. That usually involves me following initial user research with work that includes one (or more) of the following three disciplines:

  1. Information ArchitectureWorking out what content, functional areas and features a product or service needs, and how to group and arrange them in a way that makes sense to its users and is easy to navigate
  2. Interaction DesignUnderstanding the processes that people want or need to follow to complete tasks using the product or service and making them as seamless and easy to do as possible
  3. Interface DesignDesigning the screens and tools that people will use across a product or service and making sure they work and look right across all devices and in all environments.

The tools and techniques I use on a project depend on the client, the timescales, the budget and the task at hand but usually include:

  • running requirements workshops
  • conducting formal and imformal usability testing
  • writing functional specifications
  • creating wireframes, usually by hand or more formally documented in software like omnigraffle
  • creating prototypes that can be viewed and used and tested in browsers and on devices.

My preference is to work in a very iterative way that allows a design to evolve as ideas are tested and evaluated and improved upon throughout the development process. I’m also a big fan of making designs universal (where it makes sense) so they work in any browser on any device, large or small.

Take a look through my portfolio of work to see some examples of the types of clients, projects and deliverables that I have worked with over the years.

How I got to here

If you would like to see a detailed traditional version of my CV please see my Linkedin profile. If you are more interested in just getting a feel for what I have been up to here is the story of how I got to where I am now…

2000

“Learn HTML in a weekend” – one book changes everything

It’s the year 2000. The beginning of a new millennium. I’d just finished secondary school (high school) and Yahoo still rules supreme over the Internets.

At the recommendation of a friend of mine I decide to teach myself a new techincal skill before I start my degree. I’d been exploring the web via a 56k dial up connection for a year or so and HTML seemed to be as good a skill as any to pick up, so I picked up a copy of Learn HTML in a Weekend (which came with a CD-ROM, remember those?) and started learning what markup was and how to get content on the web. Little did I know what that one book would lead to…

I buy my first domain name and hosting – mylocalsites.co.uk is born

Enthused and amazed by my new found ability to add things to the web I decide the world needs a directory site that lists all other websites based on specific real world location. mylocalsites is born and quickly killed as I realise the world doesn’t really need such as service. It had interactive imagemaps.

I discover the Web Standards movement via zeldman.com and Alistapart.com – no more non-standard markup in my work ever again

2001

I buy my second domain name for my personal site- cheezepie.com

Having failed to do anything useful with the mylocalsites domain, I decide to build a personal site instead and base the domain name on my (at the time) yahoo email address. cheezepie.com becomes a rudimentary blog, before we called them blogs and before there were any tools to build them, it was all hand coded.

Alistapart publish Practical CSS layout tips tricks and techniques – changes how I code for ever

Start my first year of studying Computer Science & E-Business at Loughborough University

Armed with my newly gained technical skill I head off to university to expand my computer related knowledge and learn about this new thing called “E-Business”. During the first year I learn about Computer Systems, Logic and Functional Programming, Databases and that maths is not my strongest skill.

I read Don’t Make Me Think!: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability
and realise that making web sites simple to use and easy to understand is key to their success

2002

My first client’s website goes live

Having figured out the basics of designing and building websites I design and build my first client site using the content management system Textpattern. Holiday cottage websites will never be the same again.

Apple launches first iPod – all your music in your pocket? Wow.

Start my second year of studying Computer Science & E-Business at Loughborough University

This year we learn all about; Requirements Analysis, Formal Specification and Systems Design and, my personal favourite, HCI

2003

Internship at PA Consulting as the Training & Development team’s web guy

In the third year of my degree I take a “sandwich year” and work as an intern for a year at PA Consulting. I work in PA’s Training and Development department, hired to maintain and develop their intranet based training website. I do bits and pieces of work on their website, but mainly spent my time learning about the world of consulting and how to deliver IT training, which I get to do in PA offices all over the World including: London, Cambridge, Oslo, Copenhagen, Hong Kong and Sydney.

I buy and use my first (and only) PDA – a Dell Axim – feels like I’m holding the future in my hands. No one else thinks so though

2004

Final year of studying Computer Science & E-Business at Loughborough University

After my time as an intern at PA Consulting I go back to my final year of studies at Loughborough where I design and develop an online Life Coaching application for my dissertation (as a Comp Sci student we had to design and build software instead of writing a thesis…). I got a 2:1 overall. As well as a “Diploma in Professional Studies” for completing my internship at PA.

Firefox 1.0 launched – IE is starting to look old

My first client starts a new business, I build the website

Having seen what a website can do for their first business, my first clients come back to me when they launch their new restaurant business and I design and build them a new site, this time using the power house that is WordPress.

Facebook is born, but only for those who have been invited

2005

Back to PA Consulting as a graduate

Having been sent around the World as an intern, PA Consulting seemed like an attractive choice of employer so after graduating I go back to PA as an Analyst in their ISI practise where I get more training in the ways of a consultant.

TechCrunch launches – soon becomes the go to site for startup tech news.

2006

Facebook opens up to everyone and seems to go global almost over night.

Promoted to Consultant Analyst at PA Consulting

Within a year of re-joining PA I get promoted to Consultant Analyst and spend my time working on PA Venture projects (essentially internally funded startups) defining and designing their web based applications. These ventures included: Aegate – a drug authentication company, Adition – a mobile advertising company, Bullcox – a reverse auction site for heavy plant hire and ProcServe – an online procurement company.

Twitter is unleashed on the world. Not everyone gets it.

2007

Front End Architect at ProcServe

Having spent all my consulting days working for PA ventures, I finally take the hint and join one of them (ProcServe) full time as their Front End Architect – responsible for scoping, designing and developing the User Experience and User Interface for their online procurement systems.

Apple launches the iPhone – complete with Mobile Safari, the mobile web gets a shot in the arm

2008

Introduce a new product at ProcServe

Having spent time learning the ProcServe systems and talking to ProcServe customers I see a need for a slightly different product offering and busy myself building a mockup of the interface for a simple online procurement tool that acts as a single point of entry into the ProcServe eco-system. OTIS is born.

Apple launches the iPhone 3G – apps take over the World
Google launches its browser – Chrome proves very speedy

2009

So long corporate World, hello the great unknown

After years of threatening to do so, towards the end of the year I finally give in to the urge to stride out on my own and leave the safety of a corporate job.

2010

JMCQUARRIE Ltd is officially launched

Having taken a few months off, I finally put my money where my mouth is and go back to the world of freelancing and contracting, this time with a wealth of consulting experience under my belt. I set up JMCQUARRIE Ltd and start looking for new clients.

Apple launches the iPhone 4 – my old employer releases a surprisingly humorous video about it’s antena issues
Apple launches the iPad – puts the web in your hands

Zoomatelo redesign

My first freelance client, Zoomatelo, is an award winning student startup who need some User Experience help for their carpooling web application. I help them redesign their product interface and enjoy every minute of it.

The CV Nurse sets up her clinic

As the economic downturn really begins to bite, The CV Nurse decides it’s about time a wider audience benefits from her years of CV reviewing and interviewing experience. I design her website and have a ton of fun in the process.

Contracted by Roxxor as a User Experience specialist

I get my first introduction to the world of design agencies working with the small team at Roxxor. Working on some short, sharp and agile projects for the likes of Aiimi, Addison Lee, Bearing Partnership and PayPerks. My game is officially upped.

2011

Flights of Nancy launched

A long time friend and ex-colleague from my PA days also goes freelance and needs a website to peddle her wares, I design, build and maintain Flights of Nancy for her.

Apple launches the iPad 2 – the one with the swimming pool cover

Work with Glowlabs as an Information Architect / User Experience specialist

Building on my Roxxor agency experience I take on the challenge of working with Glowlabs and their clients doing more Information Architecture focused work.

Contracted by a Sweet & Maxwell (part of Thomson Reuters) to work on their online product’s UI design

I go back to my corporate roots to work with the development team as a UI designer and User Experience consultant at Sweet & Maxwell.

2012

Apple launches the iPad with retina display

Dream It Get IT (DIGIT) is born

I’m approached by one of the founders of a new startup company DIGIT and asked if I would work on the UI and interaction design for their new product. I jump at the chance to work on a startup again.

Google join the tablet market with their Nexus 7

Goodbye Sweet & Maxwell

After 12 months of working with the team at Sweet & Maxwell and having already extended my contract three times, I leave the project in the safe hands of their inhouse teams.

Apple launches the iPad Mini – no retina screen, yet…
MicroSoft join the tablet party with the launch of their Surface RT

The Union

I’m hired by the guys I worked with at Aiimi while working for Roxxor to come in and help them work through the interaction design and information architecture of a new product they are creating as part of a startup with three other companies called The Union.

2013

JMCQUARRIE redesign

After months of tinkering and sweating the detail, I finally get around to designing and implementing a new design here at JMCQUARRIE.co.uk.

Apple add a retina screen to the iPad family with the introduction of iPad Air. And introduce fingerprint readers to the iPhone line up with the iPhone 5s

iRumour Generator

With the Apple rumour mill growing so large it is almost an industry in itself, I thought it was time someone helped the rumour hungry out by making an automated rumour generator. iRumour Generator was born. Apple rumours at the click of a button.

2014

Head of UX at DIGIT

I join the team at DIGIT full time as their Head of User Experience, where I worked to help them turn their idea for a great new technology into something useful.

2015

Apple announces the long rumoured Apple Watch – no signs of a web browser though…

So long DIGIT, hello contracting

After over three years of working with and for the DIGIT team I felt it was time to go back to contracting. I said my goodbyes and re-enter the world of being a gun for hire.

Consulting at DAD

I’m hired to spend three days a week providing UX consultancy to a new start up founded by my first contracting client, Ben from Roxxor. DAD gives you instant access to home repair experts via face-to-face video calls.

I got married!

Work on NEXTFREE begins

When I’m not working with Ben and team at DAD, I start working on an idea I’ve sat on for over three years: NEXTFREE. NEXTFREE helps freelancers share their availability with the World.

Apple announces the iPad Pro, a huge iPad that could replace laptops?…

I go right back to my roots and work on a consulting firm’s internal learning and development website

While juggling DAD and NEXTFREE work, I find some time to help out an old friend from my PA Consulting days, and put together the designs for an internal learning and development website for Arcadis where she now works.

2016

Hello DAD

After months of consulting 3 days a week with the DAD team, I join full time as their “Head of Experience”, focused on making sure our products and services are as customer focused as possible.

NEXTFREE grows

While working full time at DAD I, and my business partner Paul, continue to grow NEXTFREE. Learning how to find our audience and understand what works and what doesn’t for them. We even sponsor the 2016 iOSDevUK Conference in Wales.

Apple launches the Touch Bar on the MacBook Pro. The Internet is divided over its usefulness

2017

Moving on from DAD

Having been involved with DAD from the very beginning, helping Ben and the team go from idea to implementation of a complete end-to-end service I felt it was time to focus my time 100% on NEXTFREE and getting that service up to speed, knowing the team at DAD are in a great position to build a great service and business.

What’s next?

Who knows? I’m currently 100% focused on building on the early success of NEXTFREE. But I’m always looking for new and exciting projects to help out with so if your project could do with some UX input get in touch and I’d be happy to talk you through how I could be of service.