July Spotlight

Mike Messina, Senior UX Designer

First, a few vital stats: tell us where you’re from, your career background, and your path to design.

I grew up in Stoke-on-Trent in Staffordshire. I’m now based in a small village called Yatton in North Somerset, near Bristol.

I was most engaged at school in Art class, and I sketched a lot at home when I was growing up in my spare time. I was encouraged by my parents to pursue a career path that was more creative, and started fresh out of secondary school by studying Graphic Design at Newcastle-under-Lyme art college on an HND course. It was a great environment to learn the fundamentals and a place to explore creatively with it being a small, tight-knit intensive course that emulated a design studio environment with realistic briefs (some of which were live).

With a good foundation under my belt, I continued my studies in Graphic Design for a couple of years at the University for the Creative Arts in Epsom. After returning to Stoke, my first design job was at Stoke City Football Club as an in-house graphic designer in the marketing department. After a while, I made the move to London in order to progress my career and to experience a bit of what the big smoke had to offer me. During my 10 years living and working in London, I was fortunate to work at well-known companies such as Trinity Mirror, AOL, Skype (Microsoft), & Farfetch. Over time, my focus seemed to naturally shift more towards user experience design, and building products that people want to use – including Design Systems!

Tell us what you do without using the words ‘design’ or ‘designer’.

I’ve been at News UK for almost two years now, working on the NewsKit Design System. We build components that can be themed for multiple brands, as well as defining guidelines that other teams use to help increase the speed of creation and innovation in News Corp’s digital teams.

Take us through a typical workday.

I wake up pretty early and take my dog Cooper out for a long walk to the local woods in an attempt to tire him out a bit. I get him settled and grab a coffee or two to perk me up, then I join our team’s morning standup – and from there, my day differs depending on priorities. I can have meetings about different topics during the day; designing in Figma, spending time in “documentation mode” defining component specifications, or working with the other designers and engineers on the NewsKit team to progress the design system. Every day is different from the last, each with its own interesting challenges.

Who or what inspires you as a designer?

I take inspiration from other Design Systems like Adobe Spectrum, Base Web, IBM Carbon, Gov.uk, and Google Material Design

Show us your workspace setup

I like to keep my setup pretty simple, with multiple screens where I can have different browser tabs open at the same time while I work in Figma, or chat with colleagues via Slack or on video calls.

I do enjoy coming to the office at London Bridge to see colleagues and have a change of scenery from time to time. However, most days I work from home, and I’m fortunate to now have a spare room to work from. I like a dedicated space to work where I can focus on the task at hand, and on occasion listen to music or podcasts while I work without disturbing my wife or the neighbours now that everyone is pretty much working from home these days.

Tools or apps you couldn’t live without?

For work – Figma, Slack, Confluence, Chrome

For fun – Instagram, Whatsapp, iPlayer, Netflix, YouTube

What would you say are the main challenges of what you’re working on at the moment?

As a team, one of our main areas of focus is on getting our documentation site – newskit.co.uk, in the best place possible, so consumers of the NewsKit Design System can reference from. It is an extensive undertaking by everyone in the team that will continue to be added to and improved as the design system grows and develops.

Tell us a fun fact about yourself (or even a claim to fame)…

I was once an extra in the British indie film “Control” about the late Ian Curtis – lead singer of the band Joy Division. I’ve paused the film multiple times but can’t really see myself (didn’t make the cut, clearly).  I remember the catering truck being quite good though.

More Spotlights.

Jasmina Jambresic

UX Designer

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