More About Me
So, you’re a designer and a writer?
I used to feel awkward about this. My background is in art history, and for as long as I can remember I’ve always wanted to be a writer. As soon as I graduated, I went to work in the cultural sector, first in the art world, and then as an editor in book publishing. In my spare time, I wrote about all sorts of things that interested me. Eventually that led to a couple of book deals. The first version of joncrabb.com was an author’s page and had info about my writing. Over the years, I’ve contributed to several magazines and books on the topic of art history. Along the way, I fell into UX and started doing more and more design work. I wondered if I should buy a second domain name. Would an employer or client find it strange to see my name on a book about 17th-century woodcuts? Probably. But I was also getting email from people who’d read my books and articles. If somebody knew me as a writer, would they be confused that the editor of Decadence: A Literary Anthology was also designing websites for Samsung? Perhaps a little disappointed? It was a concern.
Nowadays, I see it as a positive. I just have joncrabb.com for everything and have embraced the contradictions. Besides, I think having a broad set of skills and a varied background makes for a better UX designer. And if nothing else, a more interesting person.
What have you worked on?
I worked as a researcher for several museums, including Tate Britain. Then I worked as an editor in illustrated book publishing for many years, where I developed skills in design, project management, copywriting and storytelling.
I worked on subjects ranging from jazz music to medieval art to modern fashion. At T&H, I worked on official books for Blue Note records and the Rolling Stones, and while Editor for British Library Publishing I commissioned titles on food history and the art of aviation. I also found and reissued the world’s first cocktail book (maybe… that one’s hard to claim, to be completely honest).
It was a challenging but rewarding time and I still love working with colleagues who can think big and adapt to high-pressure environments.
After moving into UX fulltime, I worked for a cryptocurrency startup, an advertising agency (where I worked on some of Samsung’s biggest product launches), and as a consultant for Tata and BT.
I like to take captivating ideas, break them down, and communicate them to as many people as possible. My combined background in publishing and UX helps me tell simple stories about complex ideas.
Anything else I should know?
I love a good challenge!
I once became slightly obsessed with memory systems and learnt to memorise multiple decks of cards. I've yet to do anything lucrative with this odd skill like take on the Las Vegas card tables.
I had sudden hearing loss when I was 30 and am deaf in one ear. Silver lining: I’m more sympathetic towards accessibility issues. I think this is one area of UX where much can be improved.
I enjoy extreme endurance events and once ran a 100km ultramarathon.
When I’m not training, I sometimes distil absinthe.
I am a UX consultant, researcher, and author, based in London.
I think working across several domains makes me better at solving problems.
I've worked on cryptocurrency and digital privacy. I've also written books about early modern woodcuts, and decadent literature… I realise this is an unlikely set of interests.
Is generalism > specialism? It certainly has its advantages.
An old tradition
I always enjoyed books that told you a bit about their design, or at the very least, what font they were set in. It’s a pity that more websites don’t continue this tradition.
Clean, clear, minimal. My old website had a lot of animations, hover states, big, bold colours, parallax scrolling… It looked pretty cool, but it was unnecessary. I prefer to do more with less now. Plus the occasional vaporwave statue.
The text is set in Avenir and Avenir Light. This is a font that is both elegant and readable. The majority of all paragraph text is set in 20px (at desktop screen size). The minimum standard for legibility has shifted from 12px to 16px, and now 20px is increasingly common. I think 20px is more readable. I’ve also gone out of my way to ensure 50–100 characters per line, following Mary Dyson’s research on optimal line length and reading speed (2004).
Pretty much just black and white. However, pure black and pure white are hard on the eyes. The black used for text is #181818. The white used for most backgrounds is #FAFAFA. Other colours are kept to a minimum.