I am a designer

In an attempt to avoid calling myself a ‘graphic designer’ I choose the vague yet entirely accurate title ‘designer’. But designer is a fair label when one considers the wide range of skills & roles which all rely on a basic foundation in design theory. Let me explain my thinking.

15 April 2012 • Design

Keep Calm but panic when there’s snow

If you check the original Keep Calm and Carry On poster, you may notice a note left off all the modern variations, special instructions regarding snow in England.

5 February 2012 • Design

Rebekah Cox from Quora explains design

I’m always looking for great presentations and examples of what design means. Today I discovered a presentation Rebekah Cox from Quora recently gave at the Web 2.0 Conference in San Francisco. There’s a short 5-minute video of the presentation on youtube (see below), but better still, the presentation was transcribed and posted with the slides on Quora.

12 May 2011 • Design

Don’t Forget About this new website

I have been working on a project for a few months now, a unique approach to simplifying the getting things done (GTD) and bookmark apps. It originated from a problem, keeping a running wish list of movies I want to see and books I want to read, often needing a quick way to capture this suggestions. A GTD app can keep a running list, but these that list would be among many and they are time and task based. I could create a bookmark list to store these items, but I have enough bookmarks with illegible urls, and how do I hunt through the list. So along with the excellent coding skills of my co-founder Joel, we’ve created dontforgetabout.com. It’s a simple web app that creates a list of things to eventually consume. Each item is a verb and noun pair, so I can remember to watch Four Lions, or read Switch: how to change things when change is hard. More importantly, each noun can be linked to the place I’ll buy it from. And we made a mobile version of the website for adding items to the list on the go, such as when I see an ad for a movie or I’m in a shop and see something I’d like to buy later. It’s a work in progress as new features are added and tweaks are done. Try it out by starting your own list on dontforgetabout.com.

27 March 2011 • Design

Blogging, micro-blogging and tweeting

While I don’t tweet as heavily as many of the people I follow, I often have thoughts and ideas to share. Except these thoughts are hard to state succinctly. I’m an advocate of omitting useless words, which should mean composing succinct tweets would be easy. Then I again I naturally ramble, often getting sidetracked within one sentence discussing another topic or at least backstory such as how I started this post weeks ago and only returned when I wanted to write a completely different post on the topic of not blogging enough. Oh wait, where was I? Wordpress is a great tool, and I’ve used it numerous times to build up websites, replacing older systems such as Textile. This current design was built around a Tumblr feed, but I abandoned that feed in lieu of Wordpress. Of course I actually wasn’t using Tumblr and my feed was not being updated.

22 March 2011 • Design

You break it, you bought it

I have been spending some of my spare time updating my web coding skills (when not distracted learning to code my iPhone). My main outlets so far are a handful of website, because I don’t already have this one to ignore 😉

My latest mini-project has been to create mini-feeds from the content on tappick.com and flixflip.com (because some day I will make an api for one or both sites). Tappick and Flixflip, as well as mike-barker.com, are built on Wordpress so there are many helpful plug-ins, including the JSON API which has enabled a simple JSON based feed. So now in the footer I have two mini-feeds with the latest news from Tappick and top movies from iTunes courtesy of Flixflip (and, well iTunes of course). The Flixflip movie feed is *hopefully* geo-specific for most English speaking countries, therefore the feed you see should be for your local iTunes store.

Naturally when it comes to experimenting, something breaks just as I introduce a new feature. And of course bugs appear, in my code!, just before bedtime when I don’t have time to fix them. Don’t you just hate going to bed with bugs remaining in you code? Luckily tonight I fixed one problem I created.

26 July 2010 • Design

Experimenting at home

I have been spending a good deal of my free time experimenting with the latest in HTML5, CSS3 and returning to an old favourite, PHP. Over the last few months I have created a number of website with a mixture of WordPress and custom web apps. Yet I have neglected my own website after its’ last major redesign. I still like this design but it’s time to freshen it up and give the back end a throughout change, hence I am going to begin tweaking some design elements as I transition to WordPress.

I say transition but what is more accurate is “install WordPress and cause current site to go offline, then try to merge the code from two sites together.” Strangely enough this is not the best approach. Neither is starting the process at 10pm on a work-night.

In the meantime, check out a few of my own sites. Tappick is devoted discovering awesome apps for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. Flixflip solved a problem I often have when I want to watch a movie and cannot decide what to watch; I flip for it and this little web app randomly selects a movie for me, from the iTunes Store (so I can rent the movie on demand). Just now it selected Muppet Treasure Island, how cool is that.

20 July 2010 • Design

Post-it Note conversation across offices in St. John Street, London




Post-it Note conversation across offices in St. John Street, London

Originally uploaded by mike.barker

This photo comes from a series shot in early July at the Quidco office. We were doing some infinity sorting for a project and began using the windows when we ran out of wall space. The office across the street thought we were talking to them and began sending us messages. It ended with an article in The London Paper and a few pints at the pub downstairs from work.

19 July 2009 • Design

Revisiting the portfolio/case studies

I’ve added an additional Case Study, my Thesis Process Book from my final design project in College. I’m slowly working through my archive of Indesign files and exporting some projects in Flash/SWF format. Of course at this rate my physical portfolio won’t have very many surprises. A slight draw back with the Indesign SWF export concerns exporting from book files which is delaying the update of Case Study 1, the School of Design Annual.

In other news: the RSS has been fixed however it’s currently empty. I blame a lack of anything interesting to put in the feed.

26 February 2009 • Design

The ever-evolving website

As a designer I often suffer from being a perfectionist. This is very true when it comes to my website, which I’m always searching for ways to improve. 

Today I have updated my sit yet again (the previous design was a little more than a year ago and had been tweaked numerous times). Now I’m utilizing Twitter (see the ticker at the top of the page), Tumblr (which you’re reading) and a new grid via Blueprint.

Of course I’m not done updating my site, but now that clients are calling, the next update will come when I get some personal play time.

23 February 2009 • Design