Cycle Bug

2012 I believe was the year that I acquired my Carrera Virtuoso Limited Edition. Draped in the colours of the Union Jack, it was my first road bike.

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I’d been diagnosed with the Cycling Bug… no treatment needed.

I had the bike before the big hype that followed in the summer I believe. For those hidden in a cave for the last few years. This guy propelled cycling onto the UK radar to the masses by Winning Olympic Gold along with the Tour de France.

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Catching the cycling bug a few years ago, I never really got into it until around this time two years ago. Having cycled to work, the shops and never really having been over 10 miles before, my hockey team mates persuaded me to have a long bike ride to Luton. Everything was wrong about the ride, but I made it through.

A few highlights of what was wrong I can hear you shouting…

  1. My Bike Seat was far TOO LOW!
  2. I was not clipped in and wore trainers with toe straps
  3. I wore a bum bag
  4. My inner wall of the tyre exploded
  5. Generally unfit and didn’t enjoy it

Baring in mind Luton isn’t exactly the gated community or perfect example of an English City / Town, it was not the most pleasurable 30 mile ride.

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Building confidence and having enough time to get out and about on the machine was the main reason why I didn’t clock up too many miles in the first 2 years of having my bike. Also the fact that I lived in a postage sized house was one of my other excuses!

The last 8-12 weeks, I have notched up over 200 miles on the bike, constantly passing and ogling at other middle aged cyclists with their Carbon Fibre ultra expensive bikes and getting bike envy… after I overtake them ūüėõ

I enjoy cycling so much, it takes my mind off the daily grind and gives me a new skill to add to the locker. Short of upgrading my bike, I have changed the tyres, handlebar grips, added elements like a saddle bag, lights to cater for all occasions and scenarios.

If you are around the Hertfordshire area and would like a spin / cycle buddy, drop me a line!

Here’s to another 40 miles this weekend!


eBay vs Amazon

 I spend a lot of my time online shopping. I spend a lot of my money online shopping.

On average I would say I purchase 1 item per month on either eCommerce site. Most likely eBay, I am always intrigued in what makes either one of these Internet Giants more popular with the other.

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There is a fantastic article that highlights the key factors that play a role in which side you lean towards.

  1. Trust
  2. Simplicity
  3. Elegant Design
  4. Customer Buying Experience
  5. Promotions
  6. Selling

A condensed version of the articles definitive list, I know many people that use one site but not the other. Take for instance, my sister, wife and colleague all swear by Amazon. Each for their own reasons…

– Bad experience buying and getting details stolen, in which 8 pairs of Nike trainers were sent to Israel to a random address.

– Too hard to use

The above are just a few comments when asked why a user would choose one site over the other.

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Brand loyalty plays a huge role in getting users to engage and utilise a site. I am loyal to eBay because I am accustomed to the website, layout and experience. I also appreciate that I can grow my ‘buyer feedback’ star rating system. Which currently sits over 500 (I really need to stop spending…)

When we start to drill down to more information regarding both sites and their users, this is where it gets interesting. Simply asking the question “which site is more successful or has more users?” what would you say?

Amazon’s global net revenue $88.99bn
eBay’s annual marketplace net revenue $8,817m
eBay’s total active buyers 157.3m
Unique monthly visitors to Amazon sites 174.91m

The winner here is clearly Amazon, with a monstrous logistical power warehouse at the heart and driving force of their company. Whereas eBay rely on solo and independent traders to shift their products.

Simply seeing statistics and learning about the size of each company makes me want to use Amazon more.

What makes your experience unique and why would you chose eBay over Amazon or Amazon over eBay?

Usability and Users – eBay

Whilst using the eBay application this morning on my usual ritual of “want” vs “need” something had always bugged me about the application. Getting to the “message” part of the app was not intuitive.

The journey consisted of:

  1. Log into app
  2. Press ‘My eBay’
  3. Notifications aka read message
  4. Read the message but have no way of getting to message inboxes

Never one to back down from a comment about Good / Bad UX. It had been bugging me for a while and had turned me away from using the application to it’s full extent for weeks.

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Such a simple design flaw of having to scroll down the equivalent of 2 screens to get to ‘my messages’ had turned me away from communicating with sellers and buyers. If it affected me, I’m certain that it would have driven other users away.

A fantastic insight into how even the companies and major brands can still not quite get it right, even with a full time dedicated digital experience team, sometimes I find it interesting to find out what puts users off and how to explain to them that they can still use the solution or product, but highlight what their pain points were.

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We have evolved to become a society where any excess time wasted can potentially be fatal for a business sale. Users are becoming more and more impatient, wanting more for interacting less.

I will shortly blog about eBay vs Amazon and a great insight into how we have ‘brand allegiance’ with siding to one or the other.


Hands up if you’ve ever been or experienced an Earthquake? I have. My family also now join this group of Earthquake experiences.

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Last night at 2.52am, a 4.3 magnitude earthquake was recorded at Sandwich at a depth of 15km. You can read the article on:

My sister texted me this morning after being awake (during her nightly routine of going to the toilet) and thought the world was coming to an end. Oblivious to this, her fianc√©e was sound asleep. The quote ‘Sleep through a Storm’ is now ‘Sleep through an Earthquake’ to my amusement she didn’t think to wake him up for some assurance, instead, lay there sweating it with anxiety and thought that there maybe after tremors or additional aftershocks.

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Unfortunately I did not experience this earthquake last night, but I vividly remember a previous one in Loughborough.

Shortly past midnight, my wife-to-be and I were doing some standard overtime coursework. Suddenly we heard a low grumble and the cupboard was looking like a wobbling jelly on a plate! Confused and clearly shocked by this, we waiting for it to subside and ran downstairs to check on the other girls that lived in the house. Who were as baffled as we were.

Quite an ordeal!

Fish Suicide

On more than one occasion this year, I have witnessed suicide.

Not human, but fish.

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Suicide, is not quite the appropriate word. Fish don’t naturally want to commit suicide. However they were victims of their own traits.

The two fish in question?

A Garra Pingi Pingi – which are amazing and energetic – I highly recommend for anyone who would like to get one. My Garra lasted for approximately 4 months, doubled in size, then one day as I was cleaning the tank – WHOOSH – he jumps out at least 3 feet, out of the tank, I swipe to try and catch him, miss. He hits the floor which was 3 foot down, goes into shock and passes away. Known for their leaping capacities, it was the equivalent of a human jumping over a 5 floored building, then falling down around 100ft. There was no chance of survival. RIP young Pingi…

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My second fish that committed suicide was a Hong Kong Plec. A wall hugger, as I like to call him. I had purchased two from the fish store which I felt really brightened my tank up and gave it another feature.

Similar story, but this time, I had come down in the morning and during the routine of feeding the fish, I could spot one Hong Kong Plec but not the second. To my horror, he was outside the tank on the table, around 10cm away from the tank. My suspicion?… He had climbed or suctioned his way up the tank side, over the lid which had a tiny 5mm gap and out of the tank to his demise. Poor Hong Kong Plec… RIP

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Hopefully I won’t have to encounter this again in my aquarium and fish keeping career. However, it would be interesting to discover and try to discourage the fish doing harm to themselves.

My other Platys, Gold Clouds and White Cloud cope perfectly, however I have minimal luck with bottom feeders! Looking on forums, I can see / read that others also have had this problem… devastating.

The Science of Packaging

“No one ever sets out to become a Packaging Technologist”

I remember this quote clear as day during my early days at Boots Head Office on my placement / sandwich year.

My career path has been a steady mix of Technical and Creative. Having both skill sets makes me invaluable in a company with my Design, Development and Manufacturing knowledge.

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The Science behind any design is where my main interests lie. What makes a consumer buy a product, the journey taken, the interaction behind the graphics and influencing how they perceive a product because of the packaging is what gives me the buzz!

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The image above illustrates how colour plays a large role in how a user perceives a brand / logo.

The same applies for packaging.

For example – Without packaging a premium product (in some cases) would be the bland brand-less identity of it’s lesser mass market equivalent on shelf. If I said to you, one of the bottles below sold for ¬£2, one sold for ¬£250. Would you know?

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The power of brands that influence how we see a simple shape. The subtle styling, pantone hue / swatches chosen and features make simple shapes such as a rectangle beautiful.

The iPod is a prime example, starting life as a rounded rectangle, it has evolved into a sleek and stylish product that appeals to the masses.

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As with many things we encounter, there are good and bad examples of packaging. When done correctly it can add value to your brand, however, when executed poorly will be detrimental to all parties.

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The Science of Packaging plays a key role in gaining new consumers in tangent with maintaining the interest for the existing clientele. I have only touched upon the surface of the role that Packaging plays regarding branding and perception.

Transit, protection and maintenance also come under the umbrella of Packaging, keeping the product safe from production to warehouse to store.

The role of Packaging truly is an integral part of a complicated product process to sell to consumers.