Thom Saunders | Digital design specialist

My strengths lie in working with stakeholders, crafting user-centric designs, and coordinating projects. I’ve collaborated with government, research centres, educational institutions and private companies, where I’ve transformed project requirements into user-focused designs, managing them from inception to public release.

Visualising Environmental Predictions

I hold a strong interest in visualising environmental data, particularly predictive estimations of future conditions. A prime illustration of this estimate data can be found in The Long Paddock, an open data resource developed by the Queensland Government. It involves data generated through a range of programmatic mathematical models, each with its own distinctive methodology for processing data inputs to predict future environmental conditions.

My recent focus has been on exploring techniques for visualising this data, aiming to provide a clearer understanding of the disparities in outcomes between various models. These approaches illuminate how each model employs similar inputs while yielding diverse results.

  • 3D charts have often been criticised for their tendency to exist for aesthetic reasons rather than enhancing data comprehension. They can sometimes distort the data’s meaning rather than clarifying it, especially when compared to 2D charts.
  • However, various elements like position, size, colour, highlighting, and viewpoint can effectively highlight differences within the data. Leveraging human pattern recognition can help identify unique aspects between different estimates.

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Meaningful Visualisation Projects

Cancer Atlas

The Australian Cancer Atlas made its debut in 2018 following an extensive 12-month design and development phase. Notably, this marked the first instance where all state cancer registries unanimously adopted a single reporting standard, ensuring consistent and equitable data comparisons.

  • Working with the Cancer Council Queensland to ensure a quality outcome
  • Devoted significant time to the design process, complemented by a sequence of nationwide workshops featuring representatives from every user group.

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Project Portfolio Optimisation

The challenge was to develop a digital product for optimising complex project portfolios in large enterprises. By integrating business architecture, interactive project visualisation, and mathematical optimisation, we generated project scenarios that met specific constraints. These scenarios can be stored, shared, and visualised, providing enhanced strategic clarity at the organisational level.

Key features:

  • User-friendly interface capturing operational project details and sending them to a mathematical engine for solution generation, which is then visualised.
  • Animation demonstrating how each solution arranges projects and their relationship with both hard (time/costs) and soft (capacity development) benefits.
  • Collaborative model enabling users to generate, share, and modify solutions collectively.

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Equipment Benchmarking

In collaboration, we conceived a dynamic subscription model for equipment benchmark reports. The interface grants secure access to 8000 years of global mining equipment data, enabling users to create detailed, customisable reports using various KPIs for refined performance statistics.

Key features:

  • Online subscription service allowing the generation of comparative equipment benchmark reports. Each report was timestamped and could be stored and updated with current data to provide currency to the benchmarking
  • Users have the ability to select individual equipment models and mix and match for dynamic benchmark reporting.
  • Visualisations clearly highlight differences between equipment with high operational time and availability.

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Osteopathy Patient Journey

We visualised the time intervals between appointments as an indicator of treatment plan effectiveness: shorter gaps indicated acute issues, while evenly spaced intervals suggested a well-established management plan and patient comfort.

Key Features:

  • Detecting the pattern where individual appointment cancellations correlate with compliance issues and a brief patient journey.
  • Presenting expected patient journeys, including appointment count and recovery duration, during patient visits.
  • Integration of third-party patient booking data into a mobile app for real-time operational data visualisation.

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Notable projects

Fat Cow Motel

In 2003 on the premiere night of the Fat Cow Motel TV episode, a surge of 60,000 viewers flooded the servers, sparking excitement and anticipation. A clever typo-turned-clue revealed on the ABC Fat Cow Forum added to the intrigue. The synchronised 5.5k page website allowed players to engage in solving the weekly mystery.

Over the 12-episode journey, 20,000 dedicated participants spent countless hours solving puzzles to earn points and maintain membership in the “cow pat club.” The coveted prize? A plastic meat tray. The audience’s enthusiasm for the game was truly remarkable.


  • My role on the TV set involved creating graphics and interfaces for the PCs used in the show. These visuals were crucial for scenes where characters interacted with the computers.
  • In the process of managing user interactions and tracking, we uncovered an entirely unexpected demographic of gamers who were just as dedicated as any other gaming enthusiasts. Surprisingly, middle-aged women emerged as the largest audience.

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Emmerdale Murder Online

The Emmerdale Murder online experience coincided with the ITV broadcast of Emmerdale, a long-running UK soap series with over 8000 episodes. Launched in 2007, the online channel engaged viewers in solving the murder mystery of one of the main characters. We meticulously designed and developed a virtual rendition of the show’s settings, including character homes and the local neighborhood, to support players in their 22-week quest to uncover the murderer’s identity.

In my capacity as the project’s design and technical director, I led a team of 20 professionals in crafting an interactive experience for the ITV Emmerdale series in the UK. Our responsibilities encompassed integrating user sign-on, developing SMS components, and creating marketing materials. Furthermore, we collaborated closely with scriptwriters and the production department to enrich the virtual town with images, sounds, and videos, enhancing the overall immersive experience.

A million unique IP addresses from the UK accessed the interactive experience.


  • Building the online version of the Emmerdale world alongside writers and producers as they created the TV episodes.
  • Capturing photography to virtually reconstruct and merge the interior and exterior sets. Visiting the sets in Leeds was a highlight.
  • Prize winner who was the first to solve the murder needed a new washing machine on the day they won the cash prize.

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Aftermath, Queensland health

I led the creation of an innovative drug awareness campaign for young people that moved away from explicit imagery. As design and technical director, I worked with a team to craft “Aftermath,” an interactive narrative blending film, gameplay, and education. Each narrative immersed users in first-person scenarios with critical choices, fostering a more impactful learning experience. Deployed at universities in South East Queensland, via touchscreen kiosks the project underwent extensive approvals and focus group testing.


  • Innovative approach using a combination of choose your own adventure and branching stories. Each time you select it’s a different outcome. Analytics from users of the kiosks showed that the YES response and the clubbing narrative were the most popular.
  • Successful approval for the narratives that depict real life situations and does not use explicit imagery.
  • Visiting Japan and receiving a Japan Prize highly commended for the project.

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Actively seeking contract work opportunities to leverage my experience and deliver exceptional results. If you’re in need of an experienced Senior UX/UI Designer with a track record of success across various industries, please feel free to reach out. I’m eager to discuss how I can contribute to your next project.

Thom Saunders | | 0412 911 276 | LinkedIn