About Jacob

Jacob has over 15 years experience in the design industry
Portrait of Jacob McAdam
Jacob McAdam
Designer based in Oakland, CA
đź‘‹ Hello!
There's a lot about design I enjoy. In fact, I consider design a methodology to better understand the world around me. This philosophy is evident in my design work, articles I write, and through the art I make.

Read on to learn more about my career path and what led me to design. If you have a question or you find something striking please reach out!
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Thanks for being here,
— Jacob

Autobiography

From Art to Design

Jacob showed interest in the arts at an early age.
Art has been at the core of my life since the very beginning. From early school years through college, I consistently engaged in drawing and painting. Each summer, I participated in Artstart’s youth arts program, where I received mentorship from esteemed artists like Tony Speirs, Mary Vaughan, and Mario Uribe. Together with fellow young artists, I collaborated on designing and creating murals and installation art across Sonoma County.
With a deep connection to the local art community and a supportive family, I naturally gravitated towards graphic design. My introduction to graphic design began with basic courses at BYU-Idaho, where I learned about design principles, page layout, and print design for editorial, poster, and packaging projects. Additionally, I delved into branding, logo design, and typography.
As my journey progressed, I found myself drawn to web design, sparking my interest in HTML coding and website development. I honed my skills through courses at Santa Rosa Junior College and soon began building websites for local artists, blending my passion for art with my newfound expertise in design and technology.

Jack of All Trades, Master of None

An identity crisis motivated Jacob to specialize.
Freelancing allowed me to explore various creative roles as a designer and developer. I started with simple hand-coded HTML websites before transitioning to WordPress as a CMS and crafting custom themes. While working at PBHS and OptiRev, I immersed myself in SEO, email marketing, social media, website design, development, and branding.
Balancing a plethora of skills, full-time employment, and freelance gigs, I grappled with the "jack of all trades, master of none" dilemma. This led me to reevaluate my path and the absence of a degree fueled my decision to return to academia.
Choosing between computer science and graphic design proved challenging. While computer science seemed financially appealing, it lacked personal fulfillment. Recalling my passion for art, I decided to pursue design. Transitioning from a BYU-Idaho dropout to a part-time student at SRJC, I eventually transferred to San Francisco State's Visual Communication Design program. Despite the heavy workload of freelance projects, part-time work at OptiRev, and full-time studies at SF State, I remained committed to completing my education.
In 2018, I graduated from SF State with a Bachelor of Science, harboring ambitious aspirations of establishing myself as a designer in San Francisco.

Hello, (Tech) World!

Jacob became a designer in San Francisco's tech industry.
Only a few months out of college, I was hired at Inkling as a Front End Designer, a role that uniquely merged my two passions: visual design ("art") and writing code ("science"). My responsibilities included building templates and content design guidelines for enterprise companies within the Inkling platform.
Working with proprietary software at Inkling presented a new challenge, but my past experiences proved invaluable. Designing structured systematic content required a similar approach to building WordPress themes, considering all website elements and optimizing the user experience in the WYSIWYG tool. I iterated on the process to streamline design and development, enhancing relationships with content strategists, implementation managers, and clientele along the way.
As I delved deeper into the tech industry, my perception of roles and purpose shifted. The career trajectory of being both a designer and developer seemed limited, with a high burnout rate. Seeking depth over breadth, I aimed to focus more on purpose-driven design, contemplating a shift towards brand design or user experience design.
Initially skeptical of UX, I perceived it as robotic and lacking creativity. However, after exploring workshops and discussions with industry peers like Jonathan Ramulla and Jesse Showalter, I realized that UX was deeply rooted in empathy. It became evident that UX Design was a fusion of art and science, aligning perfectly with my desires as both a designer and developer. This realization was profound, as it unified my passions under one identity.

Design is for Humans

Jacob made the move to Product Design.
After completing my certification in Product Design, I transitioned to the UX team at Inkling. I began with projects focused on optimizing user administration apps and printing experiences. These projects involved every stage of the design thinking process, from problem definition to research, ideation, prototyping, and testing.
I have a natural affinity for design systems, cultivated through my experiences in print design, WordPress themes, and Inkling templates. This background has prepared me well for developing scalable design guidelines. I firmly advocate for the atomic design theory, which emphasizes building from foundational components and patterns. I believe in integrating user accessibility into design systems from the outset, ensuring it's inherent in our products. My ownership of the Inkling Design Ecosystem has expanded my expertise beyond web design to encompass mobile apps, governed by systems like Apple's Human Interface Guidelines and Material.
Drawing from my past role as a front-end web developer, I bring valuable insights when collaborating with engineers. I am driven to create elegant solutions that are both technologically sound and scalable. Collaborating closely with engineers, I contribute to UI architecture and integrate front-end frameworks into design system guidelines. I provide consultation on the execution of components and product behavior.
My experience with agile methodology equips me to work effectively within scrum teams. I am well-versed in sprint cadences and grooming processes, enabling me to plan and size work appropriately. This approach facilitates seamless communication and coordination with product managers and engineers, ensuring successful feature delivery and handoff.
Currently, I am focused on furthering my skills as a Product Designer. I am eager to tackle challenges that allow me to empathize with users and develop meaningful solutions.

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