’Twas the Night Before Site Launch

Innovating UX Practice

Inspirations from software engineering

A column by Peter Hornsby
December 19, 2011

’Twas the night before site launch, when all through the place,
Not a server was stirring, not even a trace.
The breadcrumbs were hung by the navbar with care,
In hopes that some customers soon would be there.

Our clients were nestled, all snug in their beds,
While visions of riches danced in their heads.
And the coders in their tees, and I with my apps,
Had just closed our notebooks for a quick winter’s nap.

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When down from the chimney there came such a clatter,

We all sprang from our chairs to see what was the matter.

Into the studio everyone ran in a flash,

Tearing open the curtains to reveal —

The glare of a street lamp illumined new-fallen snow,

But we could see naught in the swirling drifts below.

Then, what to our wondering eyes should appear,

But a UX designer, with a copy of Axure.

He had hi-fi wireframes, so polished and slick;

User journeys that promised a sale, oh so quick.

More rapid than eagles his personas they came,

And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

“Now, card sorts! Now, testing! Now, collaborative ideation!

On, standards! On, structure! On, eyetracking fixations!”

We built the Web site from the designs that he drew,

With a fine user experience and valid code, too.

The graphics were tight, while adding some spice,

And our elegant code loaded in a trice.

The pages, they flowed, and were found first by Google,

Our clients were happy—being typically frugal.

Our designer sprang into his ride, to his tools gave a whistle,

And away they all flew like a hot design missile,

And we heard him exclaim, as he flew out of sight

“Happy browsing to all, and to all, a good site!”


Director at Edgerton Riley

Reading, Berkshire, UK

Peter HornsbyPeter has been actively involved in Web design and development since 1993, working in the defense and telecommunications industries; designing a number of interactive, Web-based systems; and advising on usability. He has also worked in education, in both industry and academia, designing and delivering both classroom-based and online training. Peter is a Director at Edgerton Riley, which provides UX consultancy and research to technology firms. Peter has a PhD in software component reuse and a Bachelors degree in human factors, both from Loughborough University, in Leicestershire, UK. He has presented at international conferences and written about reuse, eLearning, and organizational design.  Read More

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