UX Snapshot: An Interview With Ben Tollady

UX Snapshot: An Interview With Ben Tollady

A caricature of Ben Tollady

Lately we’ve been spending some time interviewing UX Designers who we admire and respect, to get an insight into how they do what they do.

Luke caught up with Ben Tollady, from Thirst Studios in Melbourne, Australia. Here’s an excerpt from their chat.

Lately we’ve been spending time interviewing UX Designers who we admire and respect, to get some insights into how they do what they do.

Here’s an excerpt from our chat with Ben Tollady, from Thirst Studios in Melbourne, Australia. We’ll be publishing more of these interviews over the next few weeks.

Ben Tollady is User Experience Director and co-founder of Thirst Studios

Ben, take us through what a typical day looks like for you.

It’s pretty varied, actually, the life of a UXer. I guess that’s what I like most about the job.

It tends to be lots of meetings at the moment, and lots of emails as well. I’m working closely with the team here to sketch out ideas and whiteboard various bits and pieces—maybe some wireframing and a bit of testing and report writing. Like I said, pretty varied.

You mentioned meetings—what types of meetings? What do you cover in them?

Of late I’ve mainly been in involved in new business meetings with prospectives—new clients—which means lots of explaining what we do and our UX processes and how we like to work. Other meetings consist of stakeholder management, some focus groups with clients and site users, to understand the requirements for a site or product.

Thirst Studios is located in Melbourne’s CBD.

What tools or documents do you use to help with these activities?

In terms of our user experience work, aside from sketching, we use OmniGraffle for wireframes, and Photoshop for UI design. We use these almost on a daily basis. We’re also using ZURB’s products, mostly Notable which is a great thing for sharing designs and gathering feedback from clients. That’s all of the “fun” UX tools that we use.

Ben’s toolkit includes both digital and analogue artifacts.

The more regular tools are things like Word, Dropbox, Mail, Basecamp, Harvest, and we’re using rdio as well at the moment for all of our music in the office, which is very important! For reminders, I’m using Apple’s Reminders app quite a lot at the moment as well. If it’s not written down. I completely forget to do it! So I have to keep making long to-do lists.

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Where does your inspiration come from?

Most inspiration comes from blogs and design websites, as well and talking to inspiring peers within the industry. We attend lots of meetups as well.

I also tend to find inspiration in products—architecture and furniture design magazines, and in nature and the environment around us too.

Ben finds inspiration both online and offline.

With all that blog reading—how do you deal with information overload?

Good question! It’s not something I’m particularly good at.

I’m experimenting with putting more information straight in to Basecamp and things like Highrise to try and keep things out of my email, because I keep losing messages deep in the inbox. The other thing, as I mentioned before, is using Apple’s Reminders app to make lists of things, so I’m doing that at the moment to help with overload.

In the morning, when I first get into the office, I actually tend to write down a bunch of tasks that I need to get done that day on a piece of paper on my desk. I’m finding that helps me focus on getting things done as well.

Ben and the other co-founder of Thirst Studios, Andrew Gunstone

You can follow Ben on Twitter at @tollady.

The full transcript of this interview is available in our ebook, “Everyday UX”. Let us know what you think of this interview. Are there any UXers you’d like us to interview in this series? Leave your suggestions in the comments.

Written by
Luke Chambers
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