What I love to do the most outside of my job is trying to be as self-sufficient as possible. I love creating things with my hands using materials that are readily available, whether that is growing our own vegetables (which we grow a lot), or upcycling old furniture, or working on a DIY project around the house, or raising free-range hens that provide us with plenty of eggs – that is what I love to do. I get great enjoyment out of creating things both digitally and physically, so being able to create things for myself and my family is far more rewarding than paying for others to do them.
My name is Shane Doyle, and I’m a UX/UI designer with a strong product and technical background. I’m based in Wexford, in the so-called sunny south-east (which is definitely debatable).
I’ve worked with a wide range of companies, from start-ups focused on consumer products to more enterprise B2B systems. I’m currently the design lead at Threefold, where I lead a team creating a wide range of products. We create everything from websites, landing pages, mobile apps, and right up to internal marketing tools – so every day is different, which is both challenging and rewarding. I also do a good bit of mentoring in my spare time too. I’m a design mentor for the Learn UI Design community and ADPList, so I get to share my experience and knowledge with lots of people who are beginning their journey in design.
I’ve always been interested in creating things, both physically and digitally. As a kid, I was mostly found playing around with KNex or Lego, creating all sorts of things – or at least trying to create all sorts of things. As a teen, I began creating websites at home using Adobe Photoshop, Dreamweaver, HTML, and CSS.
I never really thought you could make a career out of tech, let alone get paid to do it, so when I finished school, I began an apprenticeship in carpentry, which was at a terrible time as a year or so later, the Irish property bubble burst. So with little or no work available, I decided to go to college and study Software Systems Development at WIT – that is where I fell in love with creating digital products. Since then, I’ve got plenty of experience working across the whole digital product lifecycle. I’ve helped turn failing 2-star apps into 5-star ones, grown digital products, and designed beautiful user interfaces that delight users. I’ve been lucky to work with some seriously talented people who wanted to share their knowledge and experience.
I always had a passion for creating with my hands. There were several things that pushed me to start creating more. The first was when my wife and I moved into our home, which was previously an old farmhouse – there are a good few outbuildings with lots of work to be done, and we had plenty of space to grow vegetables and raise chickens. There’s that, along with the fact that I had people around me who encouraged me to do more. My father-in-law – who lives next door to us – is an amazing handyman, and he’d put his hand to anything, so I often team up with him on several projects.
Several of my friends recommended a book by John Seymour on self-sufficiency. The book shows you how to live a self-sufficient life with tips on how to create food from the garden or from animals, how to craft things, and even stuff like managing waste or harnessing energy – which I have yet to do. This book really changed my outlook on what could and couldn’t be done. And since then, I’ve been growing more vegetables or working on newer projects around the house. I started to dream big about what could be achieved. Added to the fact that I’m a notorious minimalist, all of these led me down the road of creating what I needed and only buying what I couldn’t create.
When it comes to DIY projects, I’m mostly into upcycling old furniture so that it gets a new lease of life and can be used around the house. I recently turned some old dull wardrobes that were going to be thrown out into a beautiful Parisian style bedroom armoire – if I do say so. I also like to create stuff that can be used out in the garden, such as cold frames for growing vegetables, or a hen house for the chickens. Other than that, I might be laying down a new wooden floor or something along those lines.
There are a few things that I love about working outside. It takes me away from the screen and the desk, I get to use my hands, and the act of creating something or growing something is extremely rewarding. I love being able to grow vegetables that feed my family – not only is it delicious, but being able to walk out to the garden and pick some food for lunch is amazing. But the biggest thing I love about it all is that I’m doing my bit for the environment, and not falling into the pitfall of the consumer culture (which is to buy stuff you never need). We need more people to spend less and give back more to the environment. I’m happy that I’m doing my little bit.
My favourite project has been the work we did on creating a chicken coop and pen for our chickens so that we could keep them safe. Honestly, this hen house took weeks to complete, and is so big I could nearly sleep in it myself. I was told that it could house 30 chickens, which means that our 6 plus the resident rooster get to have a spacious home. We fenced off an area the size of a pretty huge garden to roam around without the worry of Mr. Fox coming. Plus, we installed automatic feeders and an automatic door that opens at dawn and closes at dusk, so they require very little work to maintain.
We’re currently working on turning an old outbuilding into a games room/man cave, so I’m really excited to see how that will turn out. At the moment, we just brought out a new power line to the building and are in the middle of putting a new roof on it. So in a few months, we’ll be able to play pool, darts, and rings out there. In the future, I’d like to build a glasshouse, so that is going to be a big challenge, but something that will be awesome. I do have a long-term ambitious goal to generate our electricity from a stream that travels through our land. I’d absolutely love to be able to do that project in the future.
Looking at my other experiences, I also am interested in Blogging. This began around the time I joined DoneDeal back in 2013. A few weeks into the job, I was asked to do an interview on local radio since Fred Karlsson – the founder of DoneDeal – was double booked. I remember saying to Fred “what the hell am I going to say?”, and he told me to talk about my experiences. Well, I did exactly that and it was really well received; a few people even reached out to me to ask about certain things I mentioned. That got me thinking that there are probably things I’ve experienced that other people may be interested in hearing about too, so it gave me the confidence to start writing about my experiences. Only later did I realise that writing would make me better at my job and that it was a good way to give back to the community too.
When I’m blogging, I like to share my experiences and thoughts so that we can create a better web that is more inclusive. I’ve been lucky enough to work right across the whole product development lifecycle, so I can write about what has worked for me and, more importantly, the lessons that I’ve learned – both the good and the bad experiences I’ve had. So I share my stories from UX, UI & Product Design, right up to Product Development. Lately, I mostly blog about design-related things, and particularly UX & UI design. But honestly, I’ll blog about anything that I think is worth sharing.
The thing I love the most about blogging is that I can get my thoughts about design and the digital space down on paper. It is just the by-product of what I experience on a daily basis as a digital creator designing apps and websites. I also enjoy reading over old posts I created and seeing how my view has changed on things; that’s brilliant as it shows me that I’m growing as a person and continually learning as I experience new things.
My favourite blog posts are the ones aimed at making the web a better place. The first is one I wrote for designers who are struggling to create a portfolio, with tips on how they could grow their portfolio while providing a little goodwill at the same time. Basically, when a lot of designers are creating their portfolio, they will do redesigns of famous apps or services – the problem is most of the apps/services have a huge number of designers already working for them, so they don’t need other designers to help them out; they already have an advantage. What I’m suggesting to designers is to look out for websites of small companies that need help from a design point of view and to spend an hour redesigning their homepage or providing them with tips to improve accessibility. And of course, I want to send on the tips to people who own/run the site since they could do with a little help.
My other favourite post was one about inclusive design and why it is important that designers start creating experiences that have everyone in mind. I loved this post because it was as much a reminder to myself that I have to be better at designing experiences that are inclusive for all people, and that inclusive design is the right thing to do, so we need to start doing it right now!
Funny enough, neither of those posts are on my most-popular list, but they are two that I’m proud of writing:
My future goal with blogging is to get back to writing multiple posts per month. My next series of posts will be about the impact our designs have on the environment and how designers can create experiences that are good for people and the environment.
I see a ton of similarities between my hobbies and my job. Creativity is the biggest similarity since DIY, vegetable gardening, blogging, and product design all go through the same creative process. They all start with a problem I want to solve or a goal I want to achieve. I then ideate how I’m going to solve that problem, and finally, I test it out. With them all, I fail a lot and learn from those mistakes so that I can be better in the future. And you repeat the process over and over, getting better and better.
I definitely think DIY & Blogging have been a benefit to my technological career. It’s funny because with your hobbies, you’re not frightened of failing, so you end up creating stuff that is really cool and you’re proud of. But for some reason, we don’t take that approach with work; we play it so safe that we become bland. So the hobbies have helped me discover the importance of not being afraid of the risks of failing. Plus, the time I take away from the screen makes me better when I return to it; I don’t feel overworked or burned out. It helps to reset my batteries and go again.
Technology is also great for vegetable gardening and growing in general. I think there are a lot of opportunities to use AI and the IoT to improve farming. There is a project called the Wadhwani AI in which farmers in India are getting localised advice from AI to help improve their crop growth and reduce the negative impact of pests and pesticide usage. This just shows how technology can be used to improve the lives of people and the environment.
My advice to anyone who interested in either DIY or Blogging is not to have a fear of failure or worry about what anyone else thinks. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else, and don’t worry if you’re terrible at it. Does it make you happy? If yes, then do it for yourself; be greedy and make yourself happy. And if you keep at the hobby, you’ll get a lot better over time. So in a nutshell, my advice would be to not let others stop you from doing what you want to do. Start small and go from there.
There is always more than yech. I think we get bogged down in focusing too much on what we do for a living and only sharing that. Life is more than that – it is about experiencing new things, hearing about cool stuff people are doing outside of tech. For me, I love seeing what others are doing and what they are passionate about; it is always fascinating even if I don’t understand it. In fact, I enjoy that stuff even more as it feeds the curiosity of the unknown.
Be sure to read and explore Shane’s full blog through this link: