About Neil Allison

Neil Allison champions usability and user-centred design at the University of Edinburgh in his role as UX Manager with the University Website Programme. He is an active member of the Scottish chapter of the UX Professionals Association.

He believes everyone has responsibility for the user experience, and as a highly experienced trainer and educator, works to give colleagues the skills and confidence to conduct their own research and inform their work.

Neil Allison

LinkedIn Linkedin profile: Neil Allison

Twitter - @usabilityed Follow Neil on Twitter @usabilityed

Why aren't you blogging so much at the moment, Neil?

A couple of big things happened to me in 2013 which continue to take up a lot of my time:
  • I became a father for the second time. Family trumps blog. Simple.
  • At work, we began the development of a new content management system. We're using an agile methodology and it's a hungry, relentless beast.
We also kicked off a blog at work, so I've been contributing to that. My posts there are totally Edinburgh-centric, but the theme is still UX and content management.

I'm still reading and thinking and commenting. And I will get back to more active blogging as my son gets a bit older and the agile project comes to an end (for the time being).

At the University of Edinburgh

Neil is UX Manager for the University Website Programme at the University of Edinburgh. His main areas of interest are digital strategy, user experience, information architecture and web management community development.

Neil played the role of product owner in the agile development of a new University CMS for a year during which time he set the product vision and established a number of user-centred design practices. This followed on from his leading an extensive web publishing review and requirements gathering process with the University's website management and publishing community.

He has subsequently been the project's UX lead as well as leading the evolution of the website's information architecture. 

Neil’s approach ( inspired by Jesse James Garrett’s model, The Elements of User Experience) has been employed successfully in a range of website and software development projects.

One refinement alone to the content management system in early 2010 is conservatively estimated to be saving the University £50,000 per year (with the true figure is more likely to be closer to double this).

A case study of this project was published as part of Jakob Nielsen’s Usability Return on Investment report (4th edition).

Neil has pioneered research activities investigating the prospective postgraduate student experience. In a cross-institution project, Neil combined personas, analytics and user testing to identify issues, communicate and initiate change and then monitor the effectiveness of ongoing improvements.

He has developed training and workshops on writing for the web, analytics, discount usability testing, prototyping and persona development. He also coordinates monthly website publishing community get togethers and has established a user experience interest group.

Writing for the Web training overview
Usability testing training overview
Participant reviews of Neil's usability testing course (PDF)
Prototyping for beginners (first delivered as part of a UK HE usability and UCD event)

Neil also presents regularly on user experience and content management related topics. This list is restricted to events outside the University of Edinburgh (as he presents there pretty much every month):

What's with UX in Higher Ed? (IWMW 2014 conference)
A bluffers guide to information architecture and content strategy (Edinburgh Open Source Breakfast 2014)
Marketing is dead - long live UX! (CIM Higher Ed conference 2013)
Experiences in user centred design at the University of Edinburgh (IWMW 2012 conference)
University content management system management (IWMW 2012 conference)
Introduction to prototyping (Scottish Usability Professionals Association)

Neil Allison's presentations on Slideshare

Previous roles

Prior to joining the University of Edinburgh, Neil worked in web marketing and communications for Otago Regional Council (New Zealand) and the University of Sheffield; leading usability research and user-centred design activities in both organisations as they introduced content management systems. He also devised and delivered writing for the web training, to enhance the quality of content produced within their devolved publishing frameworks.

Quite a long time ago, Neil worked in higher education student recruitment marketing. And in what feels like another lifetime, he was a secondary school teacher.

Neil’s interest in usability and user-centred design stems from his successes and failures in the classroom with activities he liked to devise himself. School teaching is pretty much a series of user testing sessions with 30+ participants who are all too ready to tell you when the product isn’t working for them.