Michele Ide-SmithI started this blog in July 2009 to explore my MSc research questions and share my experiences and ideas with other like-minded folk. I currently work as a User Experience Specialist for a software company in Cambridge.

I got into web development back in 1997 and was always a big fan of information architecture (IA). From the late 1990′s I spent 7 years in a digital agency designing the IA of a variety of web and mobile applications, managing web projects and a development team.

I got well and truly bitten by the UX bug in 2004 whilst working on some projects for the Open University with two inspirational practitioners – Caroline Jarrett and Whitney Quesenbery. In 2006 I started studying a part-time MSc  in Human Computer Interaction and Ergonomics at UCLIC. Since completing my MSc, I’ve been involved in organising UX events with the Cambridge Usability Group.

Prior to my current role, I spent 5 years working in local government as a Web Strategy Manager. I managed a small, dedicated team and our mission was to make our websites work well for customers and save the Council money. There is huge potential to use web technologies to improve local democracy, public services and access to information. But it can be challenging for local Councils to design technology well, for such a diverse range of users.  I embedded UX in every aspect of our web development.

As a big fan of evidence driven design. I mentored the team to use a ‘top task’ approach to tame our corporate website (hat tip to Gerry McGovern who tirelessly promotes this approach). I also introduced the use of social media for engagement with citizens and created ShapeYourPlace, a community website developed in WordPress which is actively used by local residents, the Council, Police and Councillors to blog about their local area and discuss and resolve local issues.

In the last couple of years I’ve also become something of an Agile convert and have blogged about my experiences of using Agile in local government.

I’ve used this blog to reflect on the the successes (and failures) I’ve had along the way and share what I’ve learnt. I really appreciate the comments and ideas from other people on my posts. I’ve learnt a lot since I started using social media to share my experiences and learn from what others share on their blogs, slideshare and Twitter. I enjoy public speaking and from time to time I speak at events.

In case you are wondering, the opinions on this blog are entirely are my own and do not represent those of my employer, in any way. Please read my disclaimer.