datapanik - elegant tools that do useful things for real people
Vancouver, Canada
phone: 604 767 1997
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Adam Smith
User Interface Designer / Usability Specialist

Vancouver, Canada
phone 604 767 1997


My main desire at the moment is to build elegant software and systems for real people. It’s my belief that we need to be enabling people to do more with less effort rather than what we have now, where people are required to learn new skills and master complex and confusing new tools on a regular basis just to keep up. I’d like to build things that reduce the complexity of people’s lives instead of increasing it.

I’ve designed application software, new media software (CD-ROMs and other disk-based interactives), and Web pages. I am interested in a number of areas of interface design, particularly software and information appliances (ubiquitous computing, embedded devices, etc). In short, my interest lies in designing useful systems, wherever they may be implemented.

I’ve also come to realise that one of my more useful skills is in problem solving. I know that everyone claims to require or have this skill, but it has been brought to my attention that I have an unusual ability to examine a problem and find appropriate and resourceful solutions to it.

My personal style is informal, friendly, and cooperative, but with an underlying structure and professionalism. This allows me to balance the need to establish a good rapport with end users, techies, and other stakeholders, while maintaining clear paper trails and documentation.

Adam Smith’s user-centred design approach is the result of copious studying of formal HCI, cognitive psych, and software design research combined with direct observation techniques and an uncanny intuition about how “real people” use software. He has also been described as having “hypertrophied organisational skills” and is well versed in rapid development methodologies.

Adam’s recent work involves designing user interfaces for a leading developer of software for television broadcasters and video editors. Prior to that he organised and ran the usability test of a configuration interface for a major American technology company. He also recently worked with an Internet startup who were attempting to build an Internet application for finding and tracking information. Before that, Adam was a partner in datapanik software systems. datapanik specialised in new media and application development for Tacca Musique (Montreal), High Performance Sports Specialists (Toronto), and National Research Bureau (Chicago, IL). He has also led interface design teams developing application interfaces for IBM (Boston, MA), and acted as a usability consultant on web sites for IBM (White Plains, NY) and Sony America (Pitman, NJ. His first position on arriving in Toronto was interface designer/art director/project manager for internationally recognised Mackerel Interactive Multimedia, where he designed and directed projects for Toyota USA and USF+G. He has 12 years of experience with the Internet (his first email address used a "bang path").

Adam developed the curriculum for two courses in User Interface Design as part of the New Media Design Programme at Centennial College’s Bell Centre for Creative Communications, and taught those classes for almost two years. He was invited to return to the College to develop and teach the same subject part time for their continuing education programme. This course is now a very popular part of the web development certificate programme. The course focuses on the basics of UI design, human factors, and usability, with examples drawn from Web design, but is also applicable to other types of new media, software, and design in general.

He has been regular columnist on new media and music, appeared on television as a commentator on new media technologies, and is a member of the ACM’s Special Interest Group on Human Computer Interaction. Because of his no-nonsense approach, good communications skills, and insight into how people and computers work together, he is regularly asked to speak about usability, user-centred design, and understanding the needs of end users.

Adam has gathered a broad knowledge base through self-education, including cognitive psychology, human factors, development methods, visual design, usability testing, user-centred design, information use, and other technology-based interests. He continues to read, learn, and find practical uses for his expanding knowledge.

Prior to moving to Toronto, Adam worked for 7 years as a graphic designer and prepress production artist in Vancouver, Canada. He worked alongside Kosta Tsetsekas at Signals Design Group and with Sousae and Associates where he was involved in the design and production of award-winning corporate identities, annual reports, marketing materials, billboards, and posters.

Prior to Vancouver, Adam was a seven foot chicken, an eight foot shoe, rented televisions in a hospital, ran a record store, was a late night FM disk jockey, and spent a brief time on a free-range chicken ranch. You don't want to know about the things he did as a child.

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S E L E C T E D   W O R K   E X P E R I E N C E

Inscriber Technology Corp 2001 to present
User Interface Designer

  • Designing user interfaces for applications aimed at television broadcasters and professional video editors
  • Planning and executing site visits to gather information about user needs, context, and habits
  • Working with programmers and product managers to define requirements and designs

Devlin Applied Design 2001
Usability Specialist

  • Updating existing usability lab to include audio and video capture facilities
  • Preparing and running usability test, including setting test parameters, recruiting, facilitating, and writing final reports
  • Consulting with designers and production artists to establish priorities and make suggestions concerning the usability of Web projects
  • Pre-design information gathering and setting user-centred design priorities for proposals

Steelbridge/openCOLA 1999-2000
Project Management/User Interface and Usability

  • Establishing production strategy and development methods for peer-to-peer network client software
  • Building a usage-centred design strategy for user interface, including user profiling, user-centred interface and software design, user testing
  • Defining and documenting requirements for the project
  • Working with developers to establish requirements, design architecture, and set production schedule
  • [Ongoing: member of Technical Board of Advisors]

Datapanik Software Systems 1997-2000
Software and UI Design / Project Management

  • Securing and managing clients through the entire business relationship
  • Managing projects, including scheduling, risk assessment, quality control, and overall strategy
  • Researching and analysing user needs and context to establish design priorities
  • Designing software workflow framework and user interface
  • Cooperating with software engineer (partner) to establish and execute development plans

Centennial College 1998-current
Instructor, New Media Design Programme
(Bell Centre for Creative Communications)

  • Curriculum development for first and second semester courses in UI design for new media
  • Teaching user interface design for new media, basic and advanced courses
  • Curriculum development for part-time course in UI design, usability, human factors, and information architecture specifically oriented to web development
  • Teaching part-time course
  • Member of Programme Advisory Committee for Continuing Education New Media Programme

Mackerel Interactive Multimedia 1995-1997
Art Director, UI Designer, Project Manager

  • Creative direction on new media projects for web and disk
  • Project management of multi-disciplinary teams from 3 to 9 people
  • User interface design of web and disk-based interactives
  • Project rescues (regaining control over runaway projects)

Datapanik Media 1990-2001

  • Graphic design and prepress production artist for arts and corporate clients
  • Long document and technical document typesetting and prepress production
  • New media and application design and production

Sousae and Associates Advertising and Marketing
Prepress Production Artist

  • Graphic design and prepress production artist for award-winning advertising and marketing agency
  • Corporate IDs, large format brochures, advertisements, building site hoardings, billboards

Signals Design Group 1992-1995
Design and Production Assistant (to Kosta Tsetsekas)

  • Graphic design and prepress production for internationally respected Signal Design Group
  • Corporate ID and annual report work recognised in Canadian and international publications

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S E L E C T E D   P O R T F O L I O

Curriculum Development
User Interface Design for New Media, New Media Design Programme
UI Design, Human Factors, and Usability, Continuing Education Programme
Centennial College [Toronto, Canada]

Software and User Interface Design, Project Management
Shopping Centre Directory on CD ROM
National Research Bureau [Chicago US]

Software and User Interface Design, Project Management
HPS Athlete Training System
High Performance Sports Specialists [Toronto, Canada]

Software and User Interface Design, Project Management
Jorane ECD
Tacca Musique [Montreal, Canada]

User Interface Design
Makoro Software Suite
IBM [Waltham, US] under contract to ICE Inc, NYC

User Interface and Usability Consultant
Sony Consumer Electronics
Sony America [Park Ridge, US] under contract to ICE Inc, NYC

User Interface and Usability Consultant
IBM Sales Incentive Plan Web Site
IBM [White Plains, US] under contract to ICE Inc, NYC

Monthly Columnist
New Media, Technology, and Music
Chart Magazine [Toronto, Canada]

Art Direction, Interface Design, Project Management
USF+G Interactive Recruiting Brochure
United States Financial and Guarantee [Baltimore, US]
under contract to Mackerel Interactive

Project Management, Art Direction, User Interface Design
Try Tacoma Interactive Promo
Toyota USA [Torrance, US] under contract to Mackerel Interactive

Other clients and projects include MPR Teltech, BC Central Credit Union, Canada Post, the International HIV Conference, CGA Canada Research Foundation, Zulu Records.

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As an independent freelancer, a partner in a small business, and a full time staff person within small- and medium-sized companies, I have had the opportunity to learn and practice a broad range of skills. Here are some of my demonstrated abilities:

  • Interface design for application software, Web sites, new media software
  • Project management for software development including scheduling, risk management, client management, bug tracking, and quality assurance
  • Requirements analysis and documentation
  • Information gathering, including contextual enquiry, user profiling, and questionnaires
  • Detailed design documentation
  • Usability management, including heuristic evaluation, user testing using informal and semi-formal methods, and reporting
  • Team leading for teams of 2 to 10 people
  • Graphic design and production (advanced skills using Adobe Illustrator, Macromedia Freehand, Quark Xpress, Adobe InDesign, Adobe Pagemaker, Adobe Photoshop)
  • Creative design and art direction for print media, new media, Web, and application software
  • New media programming (advanced skills using Macromedia Director, and SuperCard)
  • Web site production (basic skills using Macromedia Dreamweaver and Adobe GoLive)
  • Application prototyping (REALbasic, SuperCard)
  • Proficient with Mac (expert level skills), Windows (advanced level skills), and UNIX (beginner level skills)
  • Strong familiarity with networking technologies based around TCP/IP networking (active on the Internet since 1989)
  • Presentations and instruction, including lecturing in formal educational environments and informal business situations, adult education course development and teaching, and various public speaking situations
  • Hardware installation and maintenance for Macintosh computers and network devices
  • Familiarity and experience with a broad range of software including MS Office, Filemaker, Web browsers, network administration tools, Web servers, Appleworks, Adobe Acrobat, and more

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openCOLA [previously Steelbridge]
Helena Kameka, Human Resources Manager

NRB Shopping Centre Directory on CD-ROM
Elliott Good, VP Digital Publishing, Webcom

User Interface Instruction: New Media Design Programme
Nate Horowitz - Director, Bell Centre for Creative Communications

More references are available upon request.

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