My name is Cat Townsend and I'm a designer, writer & information architect. In other words I help people communicate complex ideas in a way that others can enjoy and understand.
I've been doing this as long as I can remember - as a big sister, a tutor, an engineer, a project manager and now in my current professional life as a consultant. With a diverse range of interests and skills I work on everything from logos, brochures, reports and exhibitions to huge information architecture and design projects with print, web and mobile applications. I enjoy the satisfaction of bringing an idea to life and nurturing it through all stages of its development.
I believe passionately in the ability of design to make a real difference, and approach every project with the aim of making a solution effective first and pretty second.
WHAT MY CLIENTS SAY ABOUT ME
Cat is like a magic box. Put in a confused, tangled mess of information and out comes a re-invented, sharp, clear piece of communication. The result often takes a product, brand or service leaping positively in a new direction and leaves you thinking 'why wasn't it like this all along?'.
Martyn Routledge - Creative Director, Open Agency
As you can tell I'm pretty passionate about what I do. Here are a few topics that you probably don't want to get me started on...
THE PERFECT IDEA
Suppressed for eight long years of an engineering career it is the creative side of my job that keeps me jumping out of bed every morning. Yes, I constantly strive to make things logical, intuitive and easy to use, but whatever I create also needs to be engaging and memorable or people simply won't pay attention. It's all about ideas, and ideas can't be manufactured. They just happen!
USER CENTRED DESIGN
The best ideas are completely wasted if they aren't executed in a way that the audience is going to engage with and understand. But in order to achieve this you need to REALLY know your audience. You need to talk to them, get their feedback and test your ideas out on them. Great ideas and pretty pictures can get you so far, but combine it with a usable execution and you'll be unstoppable!
I'm the type of person that gets profound satisfaction from neatly and orderly packing her groceries. For a long time I thought I had an obsessive compulsive disorder, but it turns out I'm just an information architect. Nothing gives me more pleasure than gathering information and ideas and re-presenting them in a logical and coherent way that makes even the most complex systems look simple.
I spent a good portion of my 20s playing bass guitar in a band and dreaming of rock and roll stardom. When I started enjoying designing the CD covers more than making the music I realised it was time to make a change. The rest is history. Fortunately my design skills have come a long way since then, but I still find that time stands still when I switch into design mode.
I loved writing as a kid, but my hopes of becoming a writer were crushed in 1987 when my best friend was selected to go on an inter-schools writing camp and I wasn't. I was devastated. Later in my adult life I picked it up again, less out of a desire to become a writer but because I realised it's power as a tool to educate and engage. Pen. Mighty. Sword. Etc.
Some might say that as the eldest of six children, telling people what to do is second nature to me. I'd prefer to point to my years of experience as an engineer and project manager where I had to coordinate stakeholders and suppliers and persuade them to commit to our goals. The secret to my success? Words of encouragement and chocolate biscuits!
Packing in a 'safe' engineering career, moving from Australia to
the UK and starting a business would probably be enough adventure for most people. But I typically like to have something crazy on the agenda to look forward to. When I'm not on crazy adventures like 24hour non-stop hikes across the the Scottish Highlands or cycling from London to Amsterdam, you'll find exploring the foods and culture of Europe in my trusty Landrover Defender.
SPORT & FITNESS
I'd like to tell you I'm a damn fine hockey player, but in truth the only accolades I've ever won are for team spirit, club loyalty and (since we're being honest) boat-racing. But as they tell losers, it's the taking part that counts and you will usually find me in the thick of things. In recent years I've developed a bad marathon habit, the most successful of which was the 2008 London Marathon where I stopped on the 23 mile line to propose to my boyfriend. Luckily he said yes.
WTF? Yeah, I know it' s a very strange interest for a 30-something married woman to have. But my first job out of university was working with an eight foot, one tonne robot called George, and in that time I caught the robot bug. Robots are people to you know! And George is one of the best. He taught me to programme, draft technical drawings, design interfaces, give presentations, plan and conduct testing and most importantly to ask for help. He is a pretty cool guy!