True to form for the .NET Reflector team, Ryan brings a suite of talents to the table. UX specialist, top-notch facilitator, front-end web designer, triathlete, and gourmand. All essential skills. Ryan takes no prisoners, makes no compromises, and pulls no punches. In another life, we’re pretty sure he was a gritty, hard-boiled, film noir detective. On a sweet bike.
What’s your background? (What technologies have you worked with, etc.?)
My story starts in a one room shack on the side of a mountain in North Carolina. The screen door flapping in the light breeze, the dog barking, rocking easily on the porch while fighting the oppressive summer heat with ice tea in hand. When my granddad did move the family off the mountain, he finally ended up building aircraft carriers at the Norfolk Shipyard.
By the time I was old enough to switch on a computer I began doing things like playing Bushido and Parsec and writing TI Basic, which was very basic. With a strong interest in science, art and music I went to University to study art.
With a degree in studio 2-D art in hand, I began traveling and building websites in 2003. My strengths and experience are firmly rooted in UX, visual design, front-end web technologies and time working in PHP development along side of my experience in marketing, strategic branding, and all the other skills you pick up working in boutique web shops.
What are you working on at the moment?
Currently I’ve just helped in some small way to get v7.5 out the door. Mainly working on improving the experience around the Visual Studio installation and helping out with the decompilation and PDB creation within VS.
That’s just the beginning though, and I’m working hard to lay the groundwork for v8. We’ll be doing some user research and more usability testing to create an even more seamless experience inside of VS. If you’re interested in helping with research and feedback please get in touch with us and let us know, as there will be some exciting opportunities to help look to the future of Reflector.
If you could make one change to the .NET Framework, what would it be?
I’d give it a sexier name, something like LoveFrame.
What’s the most interesting / satisfying project you’ve worked on, and why?
The most satisfying project I’ve ever worked on was helping an orthodontist in the States bring the energy and fun she brought to her office, which was covered in murals by a mate of mine, to her website.
I find doing work for small businesses extremely satisfying. You’re (hopefully) helping people realize their dreams, and what can be a small job for you can make a big impact on them. In this particular case, it was just fun to work with someone who cared about her patients and wanted to make something as scary as orthodontics as fun and welcoming as she could.
Sadly the work I did for her isn’t still around, but it was definitely one of the most satisfying projects I’ve worked on.
What do you do to relax?
One of the ways I relax is cycling when I can get the time. The farmland around Cambridge on a sunny day is a glorious time to enjoy the English countryside. Currently I relish relaxing on my custom build Omega titanium frame with SRAM Force, Fulcrum 3 wheels, 3T handlebars and seatpost. It’s no Pegoretti, but I’m really enjoying it.
What’s your favorite book (technical or non-technical), and why?
“Duchamp” by Calvin Tomkins, because it is about one of the world’s great artist and consummate gamesman, and is a textbook on how to keep a playful mind throughout your life.
“Farewell to Arms” by Ernest Hemingway, because it shows how men can be manly, yet know war is wrong and still write incredibly sad, beautiful stories. That’s a true man.
“Facilitator’s Guide to Participatory Decision-Making” by Sam Kaner, because interfacing people is as technical as you get.
Do you have any advice / suggestions / questions for other UX Specialists
I’m sure lots of people could share their wisdom on being a great User Experience Specialist better than myself, but I would say being a good User Experience Specialist is a lot like being a well-rounded person. It helps to be good at lots of different things and be able to pull those things together in new ways. I’m learning these days to embrace my inner generalist and realising that it’s a strength, not a weakness.
Beyond that, I think what makes you really good is to always remember that implementation is a crucial part of design. The real design happens when you try to actually create something, not when you conceive it. Often during implementation is where some of the best solutions come from. If you want to be an artist, you don’t want to work with developers, but if you want to be a great designer build a relationship with the best. Nothing pushes you more than working with amazing developers and testers. Luckily the Reflector team has those in spades.