James Stirrat

Welcome! Although this site is a little more basic than when accessed by web on a PC (you should definitely check that out!), feel free to drop me an email.



Stealth Mode

Circle is a personal utility focusing solely on personal relationships. With privacy at its core, Circle allows you to broadcast (and view) what you want with who you want, without sacrificing the connections you already have.


What is Circle?

Problem Space:
For all the great abilities of social media, current models are misaligned with our nature - leading to tension inside and outside of these platforms. With the 'Big 5' (Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Twitter and Snapchat) being owned by publicly traded companies that are beholden to share holders, the situation is dire. With monetisation of these platforms focused on data-mining and advertisements, user data (and metadata that lies outside of your direct use of these platforms) is being used to understand and target us in seriously scary ways, with the line being pushed further into the abyss each quarter. The user is also being tricked by design into spending more and more time within these platforms in order to increase Key Performance Index' and ultimately revenue generated from targeted advertisement - "This is our daily use figures, and it is your job as an engineer to make these go up."

Project Description:
Circle is a social utility that allows you to share true with those around. Mixing the connectivity of social media with the functionality of email. It does this through the concept of 'Friend Circles'. Circle is primarily designed for (young) professionals who but don’t necessarily want the dogma that comes with what we have now but do care for the abilities of social networking and online expression. In the core functionality, Circle essentially offers Twitter/Instagram style posting, but focuses on the relationships behind the post. Whether public, private and or the choices in-between, it gives users both more control over who they share to and their privacy as a whole. Moreover, by centring the app around proximate relationships (rather than media), the platform becomes naturally more focused and less cluttered - a better experience for the end user. In all, Circle is a platform that strives to be much more akin to how we naturally share as people.

between the ages of 12-34, 15 million people have left Facebook since 2017 (US only)

Personal Preface:
15 million people have left Facebook between the ages of 12-34 since 2017 (and that's only in the US alone)! That's pretty shocking. Being, one of these users who have left unhappily (since 2017 and in Europe), I thought it would be a good opportunity to redefine my UX Design skills, learn Code, work with others and potentially make something useful for my peers (and myself!)

Therefore, about to dive into a project, I thought the first important decision was to understand and gather more information (particularly about what people were struggling with and what they actually wanted) before putting pen to to paper.

At the time I was travelling through China, the US and India. On my travels, I asked almost all that I met about their thoughts on current social media. However I also talked about the problem with people at home (between the ages of 15-60). The problems were universal.

To make something that people want, it was important to listen to potential users

The consensus was generally that people loved having the option of connectivity but were really having second thoughts about the benefits of these platforms in relation to the cons. As one friend described it - "Social Media is a Double Edged Sword". Repetitively through the interviews, the same pain points came back again and again (if you're an active user of social media I'm sure you will relate). These pain points are:

1. Lack of focus (Signal vs. Noise)
- Consuming a majority of content that is irrelevant.
- Being drawn into “ludic loops” (unconsciously scrolling through feeds, waiting for something to happen).
- Distractions from personal interests.

2. Incentives to Post
- The pressure of image and upkeep of 'social media persona' (Quality of content and upkeep of likes).
- Not knowing where and who your personal media and interactions are going to.
- Comparisons to others.

3. Privacy
- The uncertainty of permanence "I don't want my photographs appearing forever on Google!".
- Data-mining "I'm scared of what data is being taken, where does it go and how is it used?"
- Passwords that are lost or hacked.

As the majority of virtual communication is now made by mobile, it made the most sense to work through the constraints of a mobile app that would provide native experience for each operating system.

A simple diagram explaining how we got to our conclusions - rather than another media focused platform, how about a utility that could help people share between their different circles?

So the main question was, 'how can we have our cake and eat it?' For clues, by looked what already existed and also what I personally used everyday, it was clear that each of these platforms (From Wikipedia to Snapchat) all had a common thread - communication of information - and their interface responded to the type of media conveyed.

Therefore, taking these levels of communication and forcing them into one one interface (focusing on relationships rather than a particular media type), formed the basis of a decision to design a new home feed.

The Home Feed.

The home feed is not centred on the format of the media, but the type of relationship. Based on the idea of dropping a stone into a still body of water, the ripples around form the relationships.

In redesigning the home feed, some key decisions were made. Less Noise. Rather than open directly with media, the app opens onto an interface of relationships that allows the user to tap on the content they want to see. In contact, these relationships are on a basis of proximity, where the user has the ability to sort their contacts through dragging and dropping. A tap on the outer circle opens a typical public feed, whilst tapping on contacts within the inner circles brings up a view with the new media - this again places emphasis on user control.

Moreover, through multiple iterations, there was a conscious effort to place as much functionality on the home screen whilst further simplifying the interface. This meant that there had to be selections in which elements would make it onto the home screen and which would be placed secondary on other parts of the app. (below)
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Wider Development: Wireframes, Sketches and User Journeys.

Design Principles:

- The interface should give the user control, enabling them to make conscious decisions on the content they see.
- The interface should feel native to the device the person is using (in this case iOS).
- The interface should be simple.
- User actions and animations should be quick to respond.
- Features should provide obvious utility so they require little introduction.
- The interface should act as a canvas, using white space to emphasise user journey and user content.
- Relationships are the centre, all social interactions take priority within the interface.


1. Greater focus on relevant content
The user journey is focused on the new home feed and as mentioned the home feed is crafted around personal relationships and not mixed with external media. This allows everything else (that you would use a network for) to form a secondary priority.
- Interacting with the world (Scan); QR Scanner for adding contacts and loading internal WebViews.
- Interacting within Network (Chat); Private Chats, Group Chats, Subscriptions.
- Expanding Network (Explore); Public Channels and forums.
Accessed by panning across screen - The UI is clean, like a canvas. By focusing more on white space, it emphasises the user journey and user content.

2. More Open Sharing
Adopting the principles of 'my friend's friend is not my friend' as default - likes and comments are only viewable by mutual circles or friend groups. This, along with selective sharing, gives the platform a more functional role in direct broadcasting.

3. Clearer and great Privacy
Priority by default. By having control over what is shared and who that is shared to, it allows the user to be simultaneously much more open and much more protected over their content.
© Circle Connect


The value of collaboration, culture, uncompromising product, clear communication and great leadership.
XBrexit Monuments

Type: Competition
Client: Paris School of Architecture
Location: Folkstone, UK
Status: Proposal

Team: Riane Samir & James Stirrat

A competition for a monument to Brexit overlooking the Eurotunnel. Situated in proximity to the Folkestone entrance to the Eurotunnel at Ceasar’s Camp (A site of important English heritage). The site stands perched at a pivotal point overlooking the eurotunnel complex and transport links. Through three primary principles the scheme aims to provide an evolving landscape that adapts and represents Post-Brexit Britain & Post-Brexit Europe. These principles are Scalability – Usability – Flexibility; setting an example for the rest of the project to run. The scheme follows a linear design process, that does not end with the intervention. Like politics in the West, decisions are made democratically, in succession based on the context of current affairs, economy, technology and necessity. With the intervention acting as a living monument to the socio-political implications of Brexit, we took a similar approach, based around the principles previously defined. By creating a hollow and fragile framework primarily from the technology of a simple single joint. The infrastructure is passed on to the newly formed Paris School of Architecture. An active curriculum to design, manipulate and build to the theme of Post-Brexit history as it unfolds. This introduces students to the social and political nature of architecture whilst providing education in design, construction, wider-infrastructure and history.


in-(habits) 4

'Invisible Cities'

Folio Y2


na mara...('of the sea')

RIBA President MedalsRSUA Bronze Medal

Type: IDEA
Client: N/A
Location: Ballycastle, Northern Ireland
Status: Proposal

‘Na Mara’ is a project sited by the harbour of Ballycastle, a Northern Irish town that overlooks the Northern Channel - the body of water between Ulster and Scotland. The proposal has dual purpose; a boat building facility to craft the traditional timber sailing boats called ‘drontheim’ and a specialist sea food restaurant; building on past and present industry in order to establish the future of this seasonal seaside town.





Economy Student Housing in the conflicted city of Belfast.

Type: IDEA
Client: N/A
Location: Belfast, UK
Status: Proposal

A brief initially commissioned for a block of 16 accommodation units - the project is able to house up to 240 students. In response to the problems of the Belfast (domination of traffic, lack of public space, declining population), the tower sets a new standard for the city. The ground level is recreated as an open and permeable pedestrian plaza. The sheer density of the tower bridges the density gap between the University Quarter and the CBD (an area previously abandoned by night). Panoramically towering above its context at 103m, it sits as the tallest building on the Isle of Ireland. A programmed core and a scaffolding system constructed of 'off the shelf' materials creates a new typology of building that is simultaneously permanent and temporary.


Vanke HQ

(Miralles Tagliabue EMBT)

Type: Invited Competition
Client: Vanke
Location: Shenzhen, China
Status: Proposal

Team: EMBT 2018

A proposal for Vanke's new mixed use HQ in Shenzhen Bay. The complex of towers were inspired by the Mangrove trees that line the adjacent Shenzhen Bay Park. Designed at my time with EMBT in Barcelona, our aim was to weave the beauty and serenity of nature throughout the scheme - offering a third pace of life within the Shenzhen metropolis.


Parco Del Mare, Rimini

(Miralles Tagliabue EMBT)

Type: Commission
Client: Comune di Rimini
Location: Rimini, Italy
Status: In Progress

Team: EMBT 2018


Nanshan Zhigu


JianJiang River Valley



Some Essays that I am writing. Some are thoughts that I have been thinking about for years, others are me trying to gain therapy from writing. I will (maybe) upload them as time goes on.

- The Pursuit of Beauty
- Desire, Risk and carving through the sky
- Environment over Willpower
- Escaping the Bubble (More is less only when less is more)
- Making things people want
- The Age of UX
- Equating truth with use
- Heaven as a state of mind?
- Originality from the Origin
- Why Christianity?


Book summaries are a mix of key takeaways with some of my personal thoughts



Simplification in both business and product has been the result of the majority of the greatest business successes in the last 120 years. You can choose between two methods of simplification, proposition simplification (10x better) or price simplification (10x cheaper). Proposition simplifying revolves around making a product a greater joy to use through greater ease of use, usefulness and art whilst price simplifying revolves around making a product cheaper by 50% or more.


Although not all great businesses are the result of simplifying, simplifying tends to deliver the most economic benefit to humanity.

The majority of the greatest 20th and 21st century business success stories are stories of simplification. Ford, Apple, Ikea, Amazon, Spotify, Uber, Airbnb, Google, McDonalds.

Simplification can be split into two groups. Proposition Simplifiers or Price Simplifiers. Some rare companies have managed to achieve both but they set out clearly as one. Usually these companies have also been involved in dominating a completely new niche. Eg. Google or Amazon.

10x better, 10x cheaper or completely new.

Proposition simplifying revolves around making things a greater joy to use. Ease of use. Greater usefulness. Greater artfulness.

In proposition simplifying, price reductions are considered only if they do not compromise the main goal of making something a joy to use.

Price simplifying revolves around reducing price by 50% or more. Other propositions are secondary and added over time, generally making said business long term more dominant over the competition.

Proposition simplifying leads to a premium market, price simplification to mass market.

The ordinary way of doing business is not the best way. However, imitation is usually more vital than creation. I would add that there are two paths, that of experimentation (commandeering new territory) and imitation (surviving within new territory).

Great is better than new. Most of us spend too much time in the last 24 hours rather than the past 6000 years.

Build something that you yourself want, it's that simple. “We knew how cool it was because we knew how badly we wanted one personally.” - Jobs on the iPod development

Unitary business flows organically from single purpose. What is your North Star?

Designers must make trade offs and conventional thinking will never lead to virtuous trade offs (eg. having both your cake and eating it).

Any business person writing memoirs will make the most of the opportunity to advertise the quality of their product.

Imitation of a simplifying competitor. This can be a sponsored spin-off company. Acquisition. If you are going to be cannibalised it is better to cannibalise yourself than to let another cannibalise you. Pursue the destruction of what you have created.

As things expand, the default mode is to increase complexity. Particularly in management. Avoid the complexity trap. Simplicity on the far side of complexity.

Added value through subtraction. The concept became so beautifully simple. A designer knows he has achieved perfection when there is nothing else to take away.

Non simplifying strategies include elaboration strategies and invention strategies. Elaboration strategies involve making a product more complex, it is usually a little bit of simplification mixed with a lot of added complexity. Usually each service and product is bespoke (reminds of architecture).

Invention strategies both simplify and complicate. They are seductive and commercially successful, up to a point, yet eventually complicate or even compromise our lives and their value. Is an online meeting or relationship generally superior to a good old-fashioned person to person date?

You can simplify almost anything if you view it as a product to be standardised and automated as far as possible. If air travel and restaurants can be automated, and a mass market created by offering very low prices, the same must be true for any other sector. Opportunity lies wherever an industry has not yet been automated.

The gods of economics and customer psychology favour the simplifier.



The Star Principle is a simple concept around investment (of both time, energy and money). You should only invest in stars. A star is made from two criteria (1.) That the business is acting within a high growth market (a market that has been consistently growing at a rate greater than 10% for 5 years or longer) and (2.) the business is the market leader within that niche.


"I must create a system or be enslaved by the system of another"

To know much is not to be wise.

Ability is not to sole factor in success. How hard you work is not the sole factor in success. Nor is it the people you work with. Much of success is about being the right person in the right place with the right idea. Many people of average ability have achieved extraordinary results whilst many people of extraordinary ability have achieved average results.

Determination to succeed - providing something different and attractive to certain customers - finding a way to please customers whilst generating high profits - being the leader in a high growth niche - finding a gap in the market and being the first to exploit it.

Determination, confidence, self-belief, creativity, unconventional thinking, an ability to discern patterns when others see a blurred mess, a willingness to work all the hours God sends.

Most ventures start off in the wrong tact & find their niche only because the founders experiment relentlessly until they find a formula that works.

For a niche to actually be considered a separate market, it must have different customers, different products & a different way of doing business.

If a firm fails to grow rapidly, and it really is a star business, it is because you don't have the right people. So be willing to take the back seat. Focus on the one or two activities that you are really great at and enjoy. (Note for self: T.H.U.X)

Ideas shape the course of history.

The multi-headed entrepreneur. The first 20 employees of a new venture are the ones who create the business, the idea, the DNA of culture and the character. These first 20 employees are the entrepreneurs just as much as the founder. Forget about the myth of the solo entrepreneur.

Therefore equity should be distributed fairly. A good rule of thumb is that the founders have no more than 10x the equity of employee number 20.

Imitation precludes uniqueness. The star idea is unusual and specific and stops you wasting time.

Disaster can turn into sweet outcomes if you experiment enough & listen to what the market is telling you.

You can trigger ideas from other places. Vagabonding is a great way of realising this. A round the world plane ticket could provide a fantastic investment.

Two metrics are vital. Growth rate and the length the rate of growth lasts. (I would add a third, the reason for that growth rate. By understanding why that growth happens, you can understand if it has actual substance or if it is a vanity metric that is actually long term damaging. If the growth has actual substance you can focus more energy on the reasons for that growth, hopefully triggering more of it).

50% growth rate over 10 years is 22 times greater than 10% growth rate over the same amount of time. High growth sustained over a long enough time frame creates amazing value.

You have to state why and how your business is going to be the leader. Typically star ventures create their own niche. Niche creation usually fails, why? There must be a gap in the market and there must be a market in the gap.

Increasing one or more benefits of the product in the main market to a marked degree.

Creating one or more new benefits that do not currently exist in the main market.

Subtracting benefits that exist in the main market.

Innovation is best based on what you do best and most distinctively. It makes it impossible for a competitors to catch up. It reinforces and extends profitable variation. Innovation is hard, and it takes deviant thinking and persistent non-routine action.

The fuzzier the focus, the less chance of success.





Golden Personality Profiler

Curious about my natural wiring and inspired by Ray Dalio's approach to using the test within Bridgewater (where the results of the test are shared with everyone else at the firm. on a “baseball card”), I decided to take the test.

As written on Golden: Personality is the essence of who you are as a unique individual. It is reflected in what you say, how you feel about yourself, how you act, and how you choose to live your life. There are 16 different personality profiles.


How you focus your energy: Introverting (I)
How you gather information: iNtuiting (N)
How you make decisions: Thinking (T)
How you approach life: Adapting (A)
How you respond to Stress: Calm

I've put the report below:

Circle - UX Design
Apple - Experience
Gen UK - Experience
in-(habits) - Arch
in-(habits) 4 - Arch
A Very Merry Brexit - Arch
Vanke HQ (EMBT) - Arch
Nanshan Zhigu - Arch
Parco Del Mare (EMBT) - Arch
Folio Y2 - Arch
JianJiang RV (EMBT) - Arch
Na Mara (Of the Sea) - Arch
Golden Personality Profiler
I am James Stirrat!
Passionate about problem-solving and the abilities of technology, my output is centred on user experience, connection to context and work that is socially scalable. Mainly networks. I initially studied Architecture & although I love it, my focus has always seemed to stem back to a desire to create uncompromising user experience. Therefore, I have concluded that my overall objective is to create quality product. I also enjoy drawing, skydiving and photography, often using my camera as a way to record and understand the world around me.