Hi
I'm
Geoff
Barnes

About me

I'm a passionate user experience designer, a lousy-but-improving banjo player, a respectable painter, and a lively public speaker. I'm currently an interaction designer at Google, where I design Voice User Interfaces for The Assistant. Before this, I was Lead Designer at MAYA Design. Before MAYA, I was a contract UX designer at Google, and prior to that, I was Director of User Experience at Elliance. (Rewind even further, and I'll tell you about my first startup and the indy years, but that's kind of a lot of rewinding.)

By training and first love, I'm a fine artist. I have a BFA and an MFA in Painting, and I spent the first ten years of my professional life teaching college students to paint, draw, and think critically about the media we create and consume.

In 2001, I left my teaching position at SCAD and moved to Pittsburgh to help get one of the country’s first degree-granting Web Design programs up and running. By 2005, that program was healthy and stable. It was a great accomplishment in which to share, but as I let myself exhale and enjoy it, I started to notice that I had let academia’s hoops and hurdles erode my creative spirit. At the end of that academic year, I left teaching to design, full-time. While I miss the classroom, I have remained engaged with the most vibrant parts of the academic community through speaking engagements, mentoring activity, and advisory board service.

When I initially left teaching, I spent a couple of years working with a startup that did two very interesting things. The first interesting thing it did was make SAAS software for use by state and federal emergency management agencies. Specifically, our software was/is used to prepare and deploy for mass-casualty events like a big hurricane or a flu pandemic or a terrorist incident. As you might be aware, there are federal guidelines that dictate specific protocols for emergency medical response in these types of situations. It is those guidelines with which software like what we made had to be compliant. So, the second interesting thing we did at that company was ghost-write the federal guidelines to which we and competing vendors wrote our specs. That made for one heck of a civics lesson.

After a couple of years away from teaching, I was craving rhetorical and persuasive challenges again. In 2007, I joined Elliance as an Information Architect, and began to mature an approach to IA that aimed to treat the user as hero rather than audience, treating the user experience as the telling of the hero's story. (If you want to know what that's all about, check out the slideshare presentation.)

I live in Pittsburgh with my wife Julie, my four kids, our dog Winston, and that poor banjo I already mentioned.