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Q&A with Nathan Smith

UX researcher & JavaScript developer

I work at projekt202. We describe ourselves as a "design led technology company". Our motto is "we make software make sense". We have a few distinct disciplines: UX research, visual design, UI development, technology ("back-end" development), and digital marketing.

On that spectrum, I fall somewhere within the first three categories.

My job title at projekt202 is "Principal UI Architect". That just means I do UX and front-end stuff.

Lately, I seem to be splitting my time between: research, wireframing, and JavaScript.


I use a retina MacBook Pro that has been pretty buggy since I got it. Thankfully, hardware has very little to do with the quality of work one can produce, as long as it's a reasonable baseline. I have a 27" Dell monitor at both home and work. I'm not fond of Apple's reflective screens. Lately, I've been frustrated with Apple's hardware – the previous generation MacBook Pro was more reliable – but I still like OS X as an operating system.


In terms of tools that actually matter (software), I use: Sass / Compass, Git, Sublime Text, OmniGraffle, and Fireworks (for now, though Adobe end-of-life'd it). The usually suspects, I suppose.

Dream setup

My dream setup? Um… I guess that would be a MacBook Pro that doesn't freeze 50% of the time when plugging it into an external keyboard and monitor! Seriously though, I'm pretty content with what I have.


I like a clean aesthetic. Perhaps that's because when I'm doing design, I want something that will be easy to build on the front-end. So, I'm lazy in that regard. In terms of inspiration, I really like sites that put a focus on content and treat it with respect (not littering the page with ads). is a great example of this.

Jared Spool said awhile back that "Design is like air conditioning. People only notice it when it's not done right." In that regard, good UX is transparent. It's how it should be, neither too "hot" nor "cold" – Not overly ornate, nor too sparse. I've also heard it said that: "Art is meant to be appreciated. Design is meant to be used."

I enjoy working with (and aspiring to be) a designer whose work facilitates a purpose. You can tell when a designer has used a project as an outlet of self-expression, to the detriment of usability. I strive to keep my work focused on the task at hand.

In a word, I think "utilitarian" sums it up.