Terrible news this week that my former Guardian colleague Piers Jones has passed away. We worked on many projects together when I was doing information architecture and user experience work at the Guardian, and Piers was in the product management team.
Our former boss Tanya Cordrey has written an eloquent Twitter thread about him here.
Two stories immediately spring to mind about him. When I first joined the Guardian they’d never had an information architect before, so it was a little bit unclear where the responsibilities of the role began and ended. But Piers was enthusiastic about the projects I was assigned to that were in his remit, and we soon built up a great working relationship. In particular Piers was receptive to my sometimes weird methods, and I remember his helping me do some guerilla usability testing on the Guardian Jobs site.
We rocked up to a recruitment fair in Islington, replaced one of the laptops on the Guardian Jobs stand there with my own, and then asked people trying out the Guardian Jobs website if we could just film their faces while they used it for the first time. It turns out that a series of videos of your target market of young graduates looking absolutely baffled and non-plussed as they attempt to use your confusing site is a great way to convince stakeholders that design changes need to be made.
The second thing I fondly recall was that when we were launching a new product I got him to pose holding a phone showing different screens of the app. A few months later he said to me that if he’d realised I was going to use those shots in every single presentation I’d give within the business for the rest of the year, he’d have cleaned his fingernails before I took the close-up pics of his hands.
Piers was an absolutely lovely bloke, who has been taken from us far too soon. I know he leaves behind a very young family, and my heart goes out to them and to all his loved ones. Whenever that cohort of Guardian staff who worked together in the early part of this decade get together, we’ll always miss his presence. Rest well mate