Mike Barker
Senior/Lead UX designer

With a traditional graphic design education I have worked across print and digital, and filled several design roles focused on editorial design, graphic production design, branding design, user experience design, and digital product design.

Since focusing on digital design, I transitioned from a web designer creating layouts, to a UX designer focused on the needs of customers and businesses. I credit the opportunity I had early in my career to be part of a usability study into a website created by the product incubator I worked for. I am a web designer, but this research study opened my eyes to human-centred design. My graphic design education taught me crucial design principles and the craft of good typography, colour theory, and composition, yet design thinking barely scratched the surface and our understanding of research was limited to looking for inspiration or working with a focus group.

I started working while still in college, focused on perfecting my skills as a graphic designer, and proficiency with the software. My work spans these varied job titles, and all emphasize good design in service of the end customer. I have designed newspapers, apps, information/wayfinding systems, websites, museum exhibits, books, brands, and magazines. And I’ve always taken a human-centric approach to designing the experience, whether a digital one or a printed product. I have held roles as a UX designer, UX/UI designer, and Product designer—titles I find are often interchangeable.

As a UX designer, my areas of focus include user research & testing, information architecture, product & experience strategy, design sprints, wireframes & prototypes, and UIs & interaction. Over the last decade, I have been able to work on every aspect of the UX flow—in the early days before specialising, every part of UX was required.

Design school and editorial design

I attended the School of Design at George Brown College, specialising in corporate design (editorial) and multimedia. While in school I worked at the school's student newspaper, the Dialog, and freelanced laying out learning tool books for Maya/Autodesk. Between years two and three, I was also on the team that delivered the Canadian Urban Leadership Awards exhibit.

My final design thesis at George Brown College was to create a resource to help student newspapers with design & production. The result was a book, Requires Assembly, that was published and distributed to all student papers in Canada (and used as a textbook for news design courses). At the same time, I began giving workshops on editorial design and took on two important contracts.

The first, working on the Globe and Mail's redesign team where I produced documentation and lay out guides. I even had numerous opportunities to layout various Globe and Mail pages while I was a design editor intern. After The Globe and Mail, I worked on other editorial redesign projects, including creating prototype newspapers for the Toronto Star (designing elements that eventually were included in the Star Metro dailies).

A designer who can code

We didn't have graphic design courses in my high school, and while I did take the Applications class (maybe because we got to use the only Macs in the school), I also ended up studying Computer Science. And like most of the class, I was an A-student with Pascal! I've been making my own personal websites since college, and in recent years I have contributed front-end code to several projects.

Most of my side projects combine design and development (and also, far too often, data through an API or data I collect myself). Whether it's Dew, my coffee-finding iPhone app, or the IKEA store openings animation, I like to keep my skills fresh and up-to-date. Recently I wrote a new version of the Dew website using NextJS in order to learn the new technology, and I'm updating the app using SwiftUI. Read more about my coding skills

Notable design projects