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Ask the Expert: Sandra Barkhuizen, Relayware Lead UI Developer

UI development is a constantly evolving combination of technologies, visualisation, psychology and human behaviour. This is an area that makes every day an adventure, because it’s forever changing.

Relayware Partner Relationship Management

Ask the Expert: Sandra Barkhuizen, Relayware Lead UI Developer

On Web Development

Question: What’s your background in Web development?

Barkhuizen: I have been in the Web development industry for over 12 years. I was primarily self-taught in graphic design and Web development, and after 5 years I decided to pursue my degree in multimedia. During that time I was lucky enough to meet some interesting people who have been an inspiration. A few of them were art directors, including Simon Whiteley and David Nelson, and their team from Animal Logic, who are the creators of the 3D animated movie Happy Feet. Listening to how these guys use everything around them to create a successful user experience was what led to my passion in user interface (UI) development.

UI development is a constantly evolving combination of technologies, visualisation, psychology and human behaviour. This is an area that makes every day an adventure, because it’s forever changing.

Question: Tell us about your role here at Relayware.

Barkhuizen: Here at Relayware I am the lead UI developer. I have been here for over one and half years, and in this time I have implemented responsive design into our portal. I also support the entire company with good practices in HTML5, CSS3 and responsive design.

Question: You work in a constantly evolving field. How do you stay educated and up to date?

Barkhuizen: There are a number of ways I keep up to date. I have a list of forums I read on a daily bases one of them is www.smashingmagazine.com. I am constantly looking for books I can buy to keep my knowledge and skill current. Also living in a city like Oxford makes it really easy to network with people who are doing interesting things in Web development. Additionally, I attend the UI and UX meet-ups regularly.

Question: Can you tell me about website usability best practices?

Barkhuizen: Let me walk you through a little thought exercise -- How do you make decisions? If you’re like a lot of people, you’ll probably answer that you pride yourself on weighing the pros and cons of a situation carefully and then make a decision based on logic. You know that other people have are easily swayed by their emotions, but this rarely happens to you.

Going through this thought exercise, you’ve just experienced the fundamental attribution error — the tendency to believe that other people’s behaviour is due to their personality (“Josh is late because he’s a disorganised person”) whereas our behaviour is due to external circumstances (“I’m late because the directions were useless”).

Cognitive biases like these play a significant role in the way we make decisions, and today experts examine these biases to see how to exploit them in the design of websites. There are many attributes that need to be considered when designing good UI, and these attributes are forever evolving.

Question: You created Relayware’s Friday Matters. Why is this an important program for Relayware?

Barkhuizen: Friday Matters was created to help bring the company together and give everyone freedom to present ideas, technologies, shared training on new and existing Relayware functionality and assist with team building. We thrive on learning, and this was a natural extension of the culture we strive for here.

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