Mark Cossey has been Senior User Experience Designer at Caplin since June, 2012.
Mark takes two minutes to tell Jennifer Reid a little bit more about his experience at Caplin and what UX means to him.
Q: There are a lot of definitions out there used to describe UX design. What’s yours?
A: I don’t actually like the term ‘User Experience Design’. I know when I’ve had a good experience just as I know when I’ve had a bad one but I don’t think in either case the experience was ‘designed’ to be such a way – it just so happens that my emotional response was good or bad.
UX is such a broad term that you could say actually applies to everyone at Caplin. I secretly (or not so now) think of myself as a Product Designer who thinks about how our product works, what it looks like and what it feels like.
If you want to ‘produce’ a good user experience for someone you have to ask questions like a journalist, listen like a counsellor, sum up like a high court judge then roll up your sleeves and get building. Thick skin helps too.
Q: Tell us how you chose UX as a career path – what led you to it?
A: I started out as a graphic designer in the 90’s doing mostly print stuff but moved into digital in 2002. I worked for a company that designed web portals for school children and it was there that a group of us laid the early foundations for a product called DB Primary. It was an exciting project to work on as we had to dismantle software and workflows for something as simple as sending an email and then redesign it for a 5 year old child. I guess it was from there that my interest in the user really took hold.
Q: Everyone’s had a job they hated. Tell us about your least favourite job.
A: I worked in a large pet superstore for a day once. It must have been some kind of initiation thing but they made me try and lift a 50kg bag of peanuts onto the top of a high stack of shelves whilst the rest of the staff stood around and laughed – thankfully there were no smartphones or youTube in those days though the emotional scars have never healed.
Q: In 5 sentences, tell us what you do on a typical day at Caplin.
A: Coffee, daily team standup, UX standup, solve problems, attend meetings to talk about more problems, interview potential UX folk to help solve problems, coffee, remember what problems need solving. Home.
Q: Favourite breakfast in the Caplin kitchen?
A: Yoghurt and a banana. If you really want to talk breakfasts though you need to ask Onay about hers. It’s a work of art.
Q: Last tech gadget you bought?
A: Since having kids and taking on a bigger mortgage, gadgets are few and far between these days. A while ago my wife bought me a really cool torch (yes… torch) which I love.
Q: How is a good user experience design crucial to creating compelling e-trading services within a single-dealer platform?
A: I talk about interactive exposure quite a lot at the moment – pointing that as users of computers, tablets and smartphones we have unspoken benchmarks of usability and performance. When someone has been exposed to iOS for example, any other system that doesn’t quite match the level of interaction really stands out in a bad way.
Good interactions quickly become invisible and expected while bad ones are remembered for the wrong reasons. A single-dealer platform (SDP) sits behind a browser, an operating system and hardware and the user of that SDP probably used an iPad on the way to work, an iPhone at lunchtime and an electronic program guide at home. If our solution is slow, ugly and buggy it will be the worst interactive experience of that user’s day. http://vimeo.com/44807536
Q: Do you have any good recommendations for those looking to read more about UX (favourite books or websites?)
A: This might sound odd but I would recommend trying to find some episodes of a fly-on-the-wall documentary that was shown recently called ‘Inside Claridges’. The way that the staff and hotel responded to its guests at all levels of the business, for me was User Experience done exceptionally well. Remembering where regular guests preferred curtained pieces of furniture in their rooms for example. Brilliant.
Q: Mark, what does the future hold for UX design – what are you excited about?
A: At this very moment, when thinking about Caplin Trader, I’m exited about ‘the bits in between’ I.e. How we move from one part of a workflow to the next. I suppose its a refinement exercise and it goes back to my previous rant about interactive exposure but I want to try and evolve the ‘how it feels’ layer to a new level. Watch this space.