Simplicity: Reimagining the tube map

Harry Beck famously redesigned the London underground map in 1933.

Original tube map design by Harry Beck

Original tube map design by Harry Beck

He was an engineering draughtsman at the London Underground Signals Office, and he realised that – when you’re underground – the map doesn’t have to represent actual geography.

So he redrew it using equal distances between stations joined by vertical, horizontal and 45-degree diagonal lines*. This became the model for underground maps around the world and is still used to this day.

Back-of-an-envelope design

It even inspired me in a 1974 science lesson when studying the relationship between chemical reactions. The teacher told us the diagram in the book was unclear, and set us homework to simplify it.


Cobblers’ kids have no shoes

  • CobblerCobblers’ kids have no shoes
  • Builders’ houses are the worst on the block
  • And marketers are so busy working on their clients’ marketing that they have no time to do their own

I’ve been speaking, training and writing about websites for years. Meanwhile, embarrassingly, my own website was only about 75% of what it should have been.

So, after two years of research and development, and four months of intense working before, after and around client projects, here at last is my new website.*

Ta da!


RIP Sue Townsend, aged 68 and 0 quarters

Adrian MoleYou’ve probably heard the news that Sue Townsend died yesterday, author of the bestselling Adrian Mole books that defined teenage angst in the ‘80s and beyond.

Social media was abuzz last night, with then unconfirmed reports and tributes to her comedic skill and impact on a generation. Many tweeted that she was our JK Rowling and Adrian Mole was our Harry Potter.

I studied creative writing with her on a Greek island in 2001. Even then, she was unwell and missed the first week because of a problem with her foot. She’d suffered from diabetes for years, and had recently been declared blind.

Running classes outside a taverna, she would make notes on an A4 pad using a thick black marker, fitting only a handful of words on each page and peering at them through dark glasses.


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