Timothy McKenna

Timothy McKenna

Carlisle, Pennsylvania Director of Experience Design | NIC's PA Interactive Joined over 6 years ago

  • 33 stories
  • 143 comments
  • 229 upvotes
  • Posted to Single page portfolio, Jun 23, 2020

    Nicely done!

    1 point
  • Posted to Opinions on how the market will shift during and after COVID19?, Mar 23, 2020

    My two cents on the subject...As a US-based design director managing a team of six that works in state government as a vendor. Like Sherif stated...this is really tough to answer because things are changing every day, and in my state of Pennsylvania, things are very much in flux with our Dept. of Health, Dept. of Human Services, PEMA, and our Governor's Office. Additionally, my wife works in the Dept. of Human Services in the eHealth initiative.

    From municipal and state government perspectives (which may be applicable to provinces and other non-country wide/federal government levels) I see disaster planning and the ability for government agencies, commissions, agencies, and committees to be able to pivot more quickly to remote working. There isn't a lot of infrastructure at for these levels of government to be able to pivot to remote work; mostly from a security perspective and architecture point of view. I think many in local and state government will work to create better continuity plans to enable certain work to continue to operate. This may look like more laptops, more IT infrastructure for remote access via VPN and other tools that will be become standards (I see Zoom, Slack/Microsoft Teams, and even Atlassian's suite becoming some of those tools for government to utilize). Your government experience may vary (state to state in the US, locally to locally, country to country). Pennsylvania is a very conservative commonwealth....conservative in the sense of slow to adopt new methods and approaches.

    From a designer's point of view (and working for a company that works closely with the government). I think while the circumstances of this "grand experiment" were not ideal to enact under, I do think many companies will come to see the possibility of working remotely as a viable option as long as communication, continuity of services, meeting SLA's, and supporting employees all can be sustained meaningful. Unfortunately, the growing pains of this grand experiment will leave some organizations and individuals a bit jaded and have a skewed vision of how to sustainably maintain a distributed workforce. My own company maintains an office where we all work together traditionally. Practitioners could take advantage of a "remote day" once a week and that was it. Since we've all been remote for over a week now, we have continued to provide the same level (if not quicker) of service to our partner. If it wasn't for our parent companies' view on distributed teams being antithetical to our business, we might move to a fully distributed model with leadership meeting in person a handful of times to meet with our partner. My team has continued to operate at the same level (and again, if not quicker) and have found the disruption minimal from a work perspective...many of the issues arise from folks not have a conducive environment at home to be in the same mindset as being in the office. Tools we use such as Figma, Slack, Azure DevOps, Office365, Zoom...basically have allowed us to do the same work at home. Even ideation sessions and brainstorming activities haven't been effected negatively (much to my surprise) with these tools. As a manager, I can still provide the level of individual support to team members as I would in person. In short, the tools to do the work are there...I think for some companies it will be an adjustment of how we interact and setting up the infrastructure to make that happen.

    One of the hardest things I can see with a more concerted shift to remote work is the population of workers who do not have a conducive environment at home to be effective. I am lucky with a first-floor back room that serves as my home office and where I have my drumset and D&D books. One of my co-workers shares a small apartment in the city with two roommates. The only private area he has is his tiny ass bedroom. So that is where I see a lot of issues arise. Also, the resistance to working remotely...not everyone wants to be remote and they like the office environment. For some people, being at the office is the most social interaction they get all week...so shifting towards a more isolated working environment (because co-working spaces won't really address this issue as the same as company-owned offices) may be detrimental to many people's mental health.

    The companies I see benefiting a great deal from this potential shift are the following. - Food Delivery (GrubHub, Uber Eats, etc.) - Food Preparation Deliver (Hello Fresh, etc.) - Food Pickup (Grocery stores offering pick up or drop off) - Internet Service Providers (Mixed bag on this because IMHO US-based ISP's are shit) - Streaming Services (Hulu, Spotify, Netflix, Disney+) - eCommerce Platforms (Amazon, Shopify Stores, BigCartel, Society6, RedBubble, Etsy, Newegg, etc.) - Gaming (Valve, Xbox, etc.) - Niche Social Networks (Ello, Nextdoor, etc.) - Home Security (ADT, Canary, etc.)

    Companies that will make shifts in this era: - Restaurants will begin to offer more online order/takeout options. - Financial Services (Banking like SoFi and BankMobile will lead this charge) - Education (I see disruptors coming up with services and products to make K-12 education at home just as easy as MOOCs and platforms like Team Treehouse and Free Code Camp) - Healthcare (This will provide more desire for telehealth options, especially with mental health, that can take insurance)

    Unexpected outcomes from this time. - Positive outlook: people will value their real-life connections more and support local businesses more frequently, thus you may see vibrant downtowns with shops, restaurants, galleries, and the like because these interactions will provide more than just base needs and service offerings...they will also serve for more social interaction. Think of how breweries and farmer markets draw in large crowds, see this at the downtown level. This could potentially cause revitalization programs in blighted areas of cities. This is a very positive outlook.

    • Negative outlook: Nothing will change and we become more isolated having become more comfortable being behind a screen and losing social graces.

    My own outlook on design: It's hard to say...I see the potential of designers becoming more valuable but also being on smaller, more lean teams. Freelancers and contractors I think will take the biggest hit initially, but certain experts will continue to grow. It's still pretty murky. I think companies with the capital and the knowledge will transition to distributed teams like Automattic, Zapier, and HotJar. But also, many could re-organize and consolidate and work differently in the office environment. Really....IDK.

    My biggest hope is that once we've moved past the worst of this...is that we don't forget about this crisis and act like everything should go back to "normal". That is the future I fear the most...and most likely the one that will happen.

    9 points
  • Posted to Minimalism vs Brutalism: which one to choose?, Feb 27, 2020

    Brutally minimalist.

    3 points
  • Posted to [DN Suggestion] New threads need to be approved by original members, Feb 24, 2020

    How does one become a moderator for DN? Genuinely curious and serious about helping.

    0 points
  • Posted to Bennie F. Johnson takes the helm of AIGA as Executive Director, Jan 16, 2020

    I am excited that Bennie Johnson is going to lead AIGA in a new era, but he definitely has his work cut out for himself. As a prior chapter president and national task force members under previous XO leadership, my own views on the organization are very low. For AIGA to become more relevant and grow, organizational change is needed.

    0 points
  • Posted to What are the most important things you need to know about a company before applying for a remote design position with them?, Jun 17, 2019

    Easy question to ask....somewhat loaded answer.

    For me, there is a series of checks that any company that I would apply to would need to pass, regardless if it's 100% remote or an in-office job. I'll save my remote specific ones for the end.

    1) Industry: I have to work in certain industries. Define good things? I focus more on industries that impact people for the better like higher education, GovTech, healthcare, etc. For me personally, sports entertainment, gambling, tobacco, pharmaceuticals, auto industry, and some fintech companies don't appeal to me. Since I work mainly in product and user experience, I don't think I would ever go back to marketing and advertising. I worked for a year and some change at one of the large student loan servicers in the US and never again.

    2) Company mission: I want to work at a company that sustainable in its growth and roadmap and focuses on employees.

    3) Pay + Benefits: If I don't see a salary range listed, I ask. Most listings I look at list a lot of a company's benefits, but I do a lot of research on salary and what I want to be making. If I can't get at least a range, I won't go any further in the conversation. Every company has a range and sharing that range I believe is the first step in trust. I personally don't need an unlimited vacation. I don't want to be on call though. I need good healthcare coverage, I don't care about catered lunches. I care about retirement plans, not a pet-friendly office.

    4) Work culture and job fit: I am pretty blunt in my interviews about culture and responsibilities. If a job description says that a particular role is going to be integral in setting up processes and defining our design principles, great! I'll grill the interviewer about it and to make they actually mean that instead of just saying it. I look up company reviews, employees reviews, and determine what questions I need to ask because if the company is growing steadily each year and it has a strong product, I want to make sure the company culture and the role they want to fit is supportive to continue that growth.

    5) If I see any company put a job listing with the following in the job title, I won't apply. Rockstar, Guru, Master, Wizard, Sherpa, Killer, Amazing and anything else similar.

    6) Remote Specific: I want to make sure that timezone overlap isn't going to be an issue. I tend to only look for roles that are based in the USA because it'll be less of an issue with health insurance, retirement plans, etc...unless they are a multinational corporation. I don't really care too much about tools but I do ask and discuss their stack (I work on a PC, so I don't use Sketch or Framer) but generally, I don't worry too much about tools. I do ask about how they check in and get work done.

    This isn't a complete list of checks, but they are some of the big ones. I spend a lot of time in the interview process to learn as much as I can.

    4 points
  • Posted to Adobe warns Creative Cloud users with older apps of legal problems, May 14, 2019

    Affinity Designer and Photo (and eventually Publisher) handle all my needs that Adobe traditionally used to...but I cut the cord with Adobe a little over two years ago.

    1 point
  • Posted to Designers who are 40 plus, how are you..., in reply to andreis . , Apr 11, 2019

    I don't actually work for government (meaning I am not a government employee). I work for a company that only does work for state government, so it's a private company with a singular client if you will...but I can speak layoffs/ageism with my counterparts in government.

    If you are unionized, it's harder to get laid off. If you aren't part of a union, you're just as likely to get laid off when government agency budgets are slashed.

    Ageism though...government is slow...and when you have been part of the state government and kept your nose clean, you can stick around for 30 some years, collect your state pension. I have found that ageism actually affects more younger employees. Government can be entrenched, bureaucratic, and monolithic...so if you are young with aspirations of making huge strides....you're going to have a bad time. Older employees don't want to change anything as it could affect their pension and younger employees tend to get pushed out...so when the older employees retire..there is a huge vacuum where skilled people are needed, but not many want to work because of the culture/legacy. This has been my typical observation, but each state and state agency is different.

    1 point
  • Posted to Designers who are 40 plus, how are you..., Apr 10, 2019

    I'm 34 and I have been working in the industry for 13 years at this point. I currently am a design director for a tech company that works solely for state government. I have had a pretty varied career from practitioner to manager in a variety of fields from publishing, academia, healthcare, technology, financial services, and marketing. For me, I want to continue to move up in management roles and take on more strategic/business/leadership functions as I feel that I have the most impact. I'll be honest, I am not the greatest designer...but I feel like I am pretty good at working with designers. I feel best working with and learning from my team...and I try to give them all of the support, resources, and confidence to do the best work they can.

    While I'd love to do this forever...I'm building a safety net retirement plan that hopefully ease a lot of financial considerations in the future. I have a 401k and a Roth IRA that I have been contributing to since I started (parents raised me to always save as a mantra that a company pays you, from that paycheck...pay yourself first, then do your bills, etc). I have bought a house a few years ago and the value continues to raise. So financially, if I wanted to, I could retire at 67 pretty comfortably if all things currently stay the same with savings and whatnot.

    Ideally, I'd like to transition into a consultant later in my career like Jose Coronado. But who knows? Half of the fun for me is seeing what opportunities arise for me to learn and grow and marry that knowledge back to design.

    2 points
  • Posted to Best places for UI/UX job openings?, Jan 30, 2019

    In my experience I have had the best outcomes with these sources..

    LinkedIn Even for remote jobs too

    Indeed

    Ziprecruiter

    I constantly check out these as well...

    Designer News Jobs literally in the navbar.

    WeWorkRemotely

    Dribbble Jobs

    This is a new one (too me at least)...

    RMTWRK

    That covers the main job board sites I check out, but often I look at the careers page of companies I like such as Automattic, Buffer, InVision, Zapier, 10up, Big Cartel, Valve, Wizards, and others. Sometimes they put on a job listing on a board, most times though they don't...guess it depends on the urgency of the need. Certain Slack groups I am part of include a jobs channel as well.

    0 points
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