Interview Scott Riley Interaction Designer

Today we share with you an interview with Scott Riley a user experience designer who has a focus on interaction design.


Who is Scott Riley?

Scott Riley is a user experience designer who’s preferred focus is interaction design. He likes finding new ways to delight users through sexy visuals, awesome interactions and emotional involvement. He likes tattoos and beer and would punch a child for Nutella.

What was your path through education to your current working situation?

In high school I wanted to make games so I started learning ActionScript and making some pretty terrible games. Then I got into a program called RPG Maker. That shit was awesome. It was basically point-and-click game creation, but you could add logic in the form of Events and Switches. Looking back that was my first experience with conditional logic and went on to help massively when I started coding.

I studied Software Engineering in college, got a job at 17 coding PHP applications, went to University to study Computer Science and then had a crisis of identity after realising I hated coding, which in turn shattered my dreams of making games. That’s all I wanted to do for 5 years so it was pretty weird coming to that realisation.

I dropped out and started teaching myself design. The skills I use daily now all came from books and mistakes. I’ve always been blunt with myself and I try not to be blind to my errors. Fucking up has been a huge part of learning. Doing stuff, finding better ways to do it, then doing it better next time has pretty much been my process through the 3 years since I dropped out of University.

I freelanced for a long while and barely made enough to survive but the amount I learned and the rate I found myself learning it at was insane. Putting in those long hours for next to no money was all part of the process and really helped me expand my skills, I took on a WordPress project for a pittance so I could learn on the job and that led to some more smaller WP jobs which, long story short, led me to being able to do some kick ass shit in WP and become the resident WordPress dude at Simple as Milk.

My main passion, however, has been almost completely design-focused since I gave up University. The tools I learned along the way are just means to an end, that end being an awesome user experience. And that’s what I do now, I’m a User Experience designer, which to me is just a nice term for a designer who does a little bit of everything. I think those couple of years of taking work on as a semi-educational experience helped me nurture a lot of different skills and mean I’m pretty much in my element right now.

What have been your favourite projects to work on to date?

I’m currently working on a responsive site for a local English council that I think is pretty damn awesome but is under NDA, you’ll just have to take my word when I say it’s probably the best thing I’ve produced in my time as a designer.

Of the more recent projects, rocking out the WordPress and interaction design for Jess Marks Photography was great because the client is totally awesome and their brand, illustrations and videos are full of personality. The simple little touches are my favourite parts and it was an awesome chance to add a bit of delight to an already awesome design.

Why is your preferred focus interaction design?

Interaction design, to me, feels like this awesome middle ground between visual design and front-end development; I love getting lost in visuals and writing the cleanest front-end code I can manage; but that extra layer of interaction design really brings things to life. I think my passion for interaction design stems from my love for video games – I feel that great games are the best examples out there of interaction design and I love picking out concepts from games and trying to apply them to websites and applications.

Also, the emotional and broader psychological motivators behind how and why people use things massively interests me; I love connecting with people and trying to work out what makes them tick and I think interaction design is an awesome way to do that. Adding those extra little touches to an already beautiful project is also a really rewarding experience.

What ambitions do you have for yourself as a designer?

I want to get interviewed on Design Juices. I think that would pretty much be the pinnacle. Other than that I want to further every aspect of my craft however I can. This, to me, means working on more and more awesome projects. Thankfully that’s going well and I’m progressing more with every project I take on.

I’d really like to speak at more conferences; speaking to others about what I’m passionate about is awesome and people’s willingness to share their ideas, findings and inspiration is a huge part of why I love this industry. I spoke at Points conference in Brighton earlier this year and loved it; conference speaking is definitely something I can see myself doing more regularly.

How much of a different challenge is speaking at conferences to a huge room of strangers?

It’s totally different to pretty much any design or development challenge I’ve ever encountered; even speaking to some really big clients doesn’t come close. When I spoke at Points it was to a room full of my peers, lots of people there were more accomplished than me, better designers and better developers; that’s a daunting experience.

On the flip side, anyone who knows me knows It’s pretty difficult to get me to shut up about something I’m passionate about, so to get up in front of people who’ve came to listen to just that is a totally awesome experience. I think it has more in common with stand-up comedy than design or development, so yeah, a totally different challenge to my normal work.

Where do you go online to gain inspiration?

I have a love/hate relationship with Dribbble. I have a stream of people I follow who regularly blow me away with awesome stuff; I love that. I hate the copycats out there and the bullshit trends that keep cropping up, so I steer clear of the popular page.

I don’t use any web inspiration galleries at all; I find myself always tempted to half rip-off what I see and that makes me hate myself ever so slightly more every time.

Instead I use DropMark (which bloody rules) and just dump whatever screams ‘awesome’ at me at any given moment.

I feel inspiration is more of a moment than anything else, it’s that one point in time where you just sit back and think ‘holy shit this is awesome’. It’s cliched, but inspiration finds you more often than you find it. To me; being prepared to capture those moments is way more important than having the resources to try and find them.

Who are your 5 favourite people to follow on twitter?

It’s hard to narrow that down as I’ve had so many valuable moments with people on Twitter, but here goes:

@JohnONolan is a sexual being; he’s living the dream and tweeting the fun parts. Also willing to ruffle some feathers and speak his mind, which is basically a requisite for me on Twitter.

@pomennedy is my man crush and always ready to give useful design and freelance tips to anyone, whether they want them or not. Taught me a hell of a lot about client interaction over the last year or so. Also a mega babe.

@zachinglis always seems to hit the nail on the head when it comes to some of the prevalent discussions in this industry; loves a debate but, more importantly, recognises the benefits of a proper one.

@aarron is someone who has taught me a hell of a lot, an amazing UX dude and regularly tweets out some great resources and links.

@jackiesaik is wonderful.

How do you relax away from work?

I play guitar and write music; play video games; read comics; play football and watch awesome TV shows like Dexter and The Walking Dead.

I think it’s important to have escapism in my life; I do not subscribe to the ethos of being consumed by work, something which seems to be perpetually glorified in our industry. I love working but, quite simply, I love not working more. There are things in this world more enriching than wireframes and CSS and I’m glad to have these means of drifting off and forgetting everything.

Follow Scott Riley Online and @scott_riley