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The How Do I? Blog

The How Do I? Blog

#TakeFiveWith Craig Abbott

Craig Abbott is pictured in a blue long sleeved shirt typing on a laptop, the caption on the left hand side of him says 'Take Five with Craig Abbott'

Craig Abbott is pictured in a blue long sleeved shirt typing on a laptop, the caption on the left hand side of him says 'Take Five with Craig Abbott'

Could you tell us about yourself and your job role? And one hobby/fun fact?

My name is Craig. Cats and code pretty much rule my life, and David Attenborough is my hero.

I'm a senior interaction designer working for DWP Digitial in the Department for Work and Pensions.

My role is about challenging assumptions and testing ideas, rather than making things look 'pretty'. It's my job to translate user needs into a solution, and then to research how well those needs have been met.

I like to think I'm a bit of a problem solver, but a Rubik's cube still takes me around 3 minutes.

 

What is a typical day like for you?

A typical day starts with a standup meeting.

Our whole team gathers around the board and we discuss how each user-story is progressing. This lets everyone know what's being worked on and we can identify any issues.

After standup, I'll usually catch up on emails and our Slack channel to see if anybody needs support with anything.

The rest of the day is usually spent working through designs with our user researcher and content designer, and making sure we have a prototype all coded up and ready to test.

When I'm not designing for my service, I spent my time getting involved with anything else I can add value to. Whether that's other services or contributing to the wider design community.

Sometimes I'll just go hang out with other teams. See how they do things and see what I can learn.

 

Could you tell us how you got into your role?

Ok, weird story. I actually served my time as a bus mechanic when I left school. I realised I hated it right away. But, I was pretty good at it and I had no idea how to move into something else, so I just stuck at it for several years.

I'd always been into coding. I learned my basic web skills by building and maintaining a rollerblading website in my teens. I'd also create custom HTML MySpace templates for my friends.

My spare time after work and on weekends was usually spent doing freelance work. I'd do logos and flyers for bars and nightclub events in Newcastle. Adobe flash was pretty big back then. Urgh.

Eventually, I plucked up enough courage to put down my spanners and began working full-time for a startup company as a designer. I'd work for several of these before joining the department as a junior designer in 2015.

 

What motivates you to do a good job?

Empathy.

Government has a bit of a reputation for being archaic or frustrating. Long complicated forms and a 23-page booklet that tries to explain how to fill it out.

I have a deep-rooted desire to help. To make things better. Helping people is the thing that makes me get up on a morning.

Working for startups was cool. I mean, we had a pool table in the office! But making things better just meant the product made more money.

Working for DWP gives me the chance to actually make a difference to people’s lives, and that is way cooler!

 

How do you learn at work?

Government has a really good design community, where we can share knowledge. Whether that is sharing articles, contributing to forums or watching show-and-tells about other people’s work. There's always something to learn!

I also like to attend conferences. I've been lucky enough to get to several this year, including Camp Digital, Frontend North East and NUX Manchester.

 

What are your aims for the year? For example, if you work in accessibility do you have any plans to help make workplaces more inclusive? If you work in Learning and Development how are you going to promote workplace learning?

I plan to continue promoting all the great work that's being done in Government. We're always on the look-out for more designers to come and make things better.

However, I think my main aim for the next year is to continue to raise awareness of accessibility and why everybody should be doing it.

Whether this is doing my empathy in accessibility talk more, writing blog posts, badgering service teams or just ranting about it on Twitter. Whatever the method, that is my plan!

So, if you want me to come and talk about empathy and accessibility at your event, just let me know and we'll see if we can sort something out.


You can contact Craig on the following platforms:

Twitter: @abbott567

LinkedIn: Craig Abbott

Would you like to be interviewed or know someone in the tech, design, accessibility or inclusion sector who would like to tell their story in the #TakeFiveWith series? Contact Zeinab at zeinab@wearehowdoi.com