Mike Smick UX Sketch Sub Page Image

Skills Descriptions

User Interface Design – I have over ten years experience in creating designs for desktop, mobile, digital signage, from wireframing to high fidelity to animated and fully functional prototypes built in HTML5/CSS.

Wireframing – I work on paper and with Adobe Illustrator, XD, Sketch, Axure, Balsamiq, Xara and even Visio or Powerpoint to create quick turnaround mockups, in single variants of one idea, to entire sequences of screens. I will call out certain portions of the screen for talking points in presentations in order to elicit conversations for the next variations.

HTML5 / CSS / Bootstrap – These tend to be my most used technical skills used when I build products from scratch. I have over 20 years experience writing HTML and CSS. Bootstrap I’ve used since 2010 and like everyone I started out feeling limited but shortly after I can build anything custom and adding and removing from the existing framework. I don’t see Bootstrap as the best, but I think it’s a great way to start the build of business web applications and its ‘competitors’ in CSS frameworks also have their own challenges.

Javascript / jQuery – I like to be very specific about my skills in Javascript. I’m no expert, certainly not developer level in Javacript. I often will use jQuery libraries to fullfill necessary scripting requirements in my HTML prototypes. Though I’ve used it for many years, it’s only sparingly and most often grabbing from existing work and modifying it to ensure reliability and maintain turnaround efficiency.

UX Architecture – I create flow charts of a process, which will help solidify some of the areas that are unique to the process. This comes out of many exercises I have always done naturally, which is to be in a position of a persona using the product, and how that transaction hits the customer service, the order fulfillment, manufacturing and how the experience is perceived. One of my primary contributions is plotting potential errors and ensuring the successful reversal of accidental or experimental behaviors back out of the funnel at nearly any point of a transaction.

Interaction Design – While subtly part of nearly all my work, I evaluate the use of existing components vs the design of something unique to facilitate the interaction. Most of what is out there is tried and true, but when deviating from that, I can illustrate the interaction in mockup or animated form, with a close eye on user expecations, timing, overhead and maintenance tech debt.

Responsive Web Design – Nothing I’ve built since 2010 hasn’t been made using an existing or custom responsive grid. Often new projects have encouraged me to experiment with some of the many grid systems. Over the years I’ve used and fully customized Bootstrap (up to 4.0), Material, Materialize, Foundation 3-6, Skeleton, Boilerplate and probably more. Currently working through CSS Grid, as it seems to be nearly supported everywhere I need it to be.

Adobe Creative Suite – A long history with Adobe, I wrote a technical manual back in 2005 that was internationally published on Adobe Creative Suite 2. At that time for that version I was also an Adobe Certified Expert in InDesign. I also for many years was a workshop trainer in the software an plugins. While much has changed, I’ve followed through and kept up on it, though I don’t use the apps primarily, it still remains something I consider myself having trainer level expertise in the key programs. One of my favorite things about it is still finding ways to automate activities turning 3 hours of work into 5-10 minutes.

Video / Editing / Photography – Not a primary task of mine, but having an education in media production which included extensive video courses, I can shoot and edit and integrate photo media into projects. I have many hours logged in Adobe Premiere, Vegas, DaVinci Resolve, AfterEffects, Avid Media Composer and others. Of late I use it to create quick tutorial or marketing content, where I’ll also add voice over and other visual elements such as 3D models for improving comprehension.

Visio / yED / DIA – While not primary parts of my work, I like to have the ability to share quality presentations of the flow of my projects. When is the case, I will use yED or DIA or Visio if I’m not illustrating it using another plain vector illustration software. I find whatever helps get my mind onto paper I’m willing to learn, these are just two of probably a dozen ways I’ll diagram or mindmap. With a strong graphic design background, there’s a difference in what I’ll use to generate ideas and understand something for myself, but I’m also able to create high quality vector maps or flows of the project.

Copy and Technical Writing – One of my favorite and most necessary activities is writing as it relates to my work. For personal and freelance work I keep a fairly detailed wiki on the different projects I do, documenting challenges. In that same space, I will also write up instructions for clients. At my full time position, I find myself wanting very clear instructions, and so I write them and contribute back into corporate intranet, be it SharePoint or Confluence. With a lot of my UX work, I have to turn vague ideas into concrete processes, and that often includes writing alerts, on-screen prompts, instructions, section headers. My baseline writing will often be formulated into approved messaging but it all starts with me seeing the need early on. I have some experience writing and editing marketing collateral and press releases for clients too.

AGILE / SCRUM – I’m no agile expert and I don’t see every activity as meaningful as I’ve participated, but I do believe strongly in the aspect of daily and frequent interactions, and from those making effort to show and document the progress at a frequency where problems, pitfalls can be detected, and other team members and supervisors become part of clearing roadblocks. If needed I can run a SCRUM meeting, I don’t consider myself a SCRUM master, but I do follow the methods and consider the system and language beneficial in how I write up or respond to Jira tickets for example.

Axure – I’ve only used axure in my own work, not in a collaborative environment, but I love the wireframing feature. Sadly it was removed in a recent version, so I’ll be sticking to that version. I think it’s not as good for providing high fidelity work, but I like it’s export features so that developers can view the link and see interactions as they are working on a component or managers are understanding the application or behaviors in the entire sequence.

Training / Webcasting – I’ve conducted many online trainings, some off-the-cuff with clients, but many were large webcasts to customers in an official capacity to demonstrate product features or walk through how to perform an operation in software correctly. This is something that is being done by everyone these days, but I have a level of comfort to presenting online as I do in person.

3D Modeling / Blender – Blender has been my go-to graphics software since the early 2000s. I’ve used it for composition, for other work, making composite images with it, product animations and other motion graphics. I use it often to draft products before I build product prototypes or furniture. It’s a complex tool that I don’t nearly use all the features for, but it helps me think and I’m fairly equipped to do hardsurface modeling, some particle effects and building animation sequences such as corporate logo work.

Windows / Mac / Linux – I am comfortable on all of these platforms. I use Windows primarily at home but have used Mac in the workplace for decades. I’ve been a lab tech and application support for Mac and Windows since Windows NT and Mac OS 8.6. My enjoyment of Linux is mostly due to curiosity and getting old systems running smoothly, but also general desktop work, some web work using localhost LAMP. My peripheral vision is always on how I could do all of my work using just applications on Linux. Not impossible, but I find it hard to justify, so I continue to watch the space. I also dabble with the Raspberry Pi doing projects with them at home on occasion.

Email Marketing Campaigns – For client work, I’ve set up several instances of email marketing software and created templates, managed lists and submitted communications on their behalf. I find myself making recommendations more lately than actually working in the software and that’s just fine by me, but as needed I can jump in.

Version Control / GIT – When I do work on teams where I’m contributing layout code, I am equipped to use version control. I’m not an expert at GIT but I have used Github, and Bitbucket in corporate environments. I’ve also used in house version control systems, Subversion and Tortoise but it has been some time since I needed it. When collaborating with colleagues in Sketch we’ve used Kactus, but it never was as helpful as sharing via normal network file share or OneDrive just based on team dynamic. What always helps is just to work carefully and ask a lot of questions so my initial commits go smoothly. After that I will have documented my process and will get in a good rhythm.

InVision – Not primary software for me, but I’m equipped to work with Invision if needed. Since I can make workable prototypes or illustrate sequences of screens in a multitude of ways, stakeholders have never expressed the need to see the work in Invision. In the testing I’ve done with it, I found it adequate.