Hi, I'm Smokie!
My name is Smokie Lee, and I'm a user experience and visual designer from the Springfield, Missouri area in the United States. I have been designing, developing and maintaining websites and other visual assets for over a decade, and I specialize in establishing and improving the web presence of small businesses and non-profits, especially farms, ranches, and agricultural organizations. Small businesses have unique challenges and needs that I am experienced in addressing in a timely and cost-effective manner.
Small and Agricultural Business Experience
I was raised at Liar's Lake, an exotic animal ranch in Sparta, Missouri. I spent the majority of my childhood helping raise and market exotic animals all over the country, and I understand first hand the unique challenges that both small and agricultural businesses face. It also happens to be the first website I ever worked on, all the way back in 1998. Today I still maintain the website for my mother.
In 2000, I donated my time and skills to the World Watusi Association, an animal organization dedicated to the breed of African Ankole-Watusi cattle, and helped them build and maintain their website and brand for the next 15 years.
Large Ecommerce Business Experience
Even though I was raised in the animal industry, I was always more drawn to art and design than to zoology and husbandry, and in 2001 this lead me to Missouri State University to get a Bachelor's degree in Recording Arts. Unfortunately, the year after I graduated the 2008 US recession hit, and finding jobs in the music industry was next to impossible. So I decided to turn my hobby of website design into a career and got a job at Bass Pro Shops as a web developer. I worked there for five years, helping to design advertising assets and micro websites for sales and other promotions as well as managing the look and feel of their main ecommerce website.
This experience taught me about working with teams to the completion of a common goal (in this case, a project) and gave me valuable experience in large-scale ecommerce practices. It also showed me the similiaries between the challenges faced by both large and small businesses and introduced me to the concept of usability.
Master's in Information Technology: Web Design
I started getting my Master's in Information Technology (with an emphasis in Web Design) part time at Southern New Hampshire University in 2013 because they were the only accredited school at the time with a fully online Master's program. In 2015, I had the opportunity to focus on my coursework full time and I took it, starting in May of 2015. I graduated with my Master's in 2017.
Working on a difficult degree online helped me improve my time management skills and gave me further experience working with others in a collaborative environment.
Freelancing and Contract Work
Since receiving my degree, I've worked for several startups and built up my freelance clientele. I worked for CopyCopy, a small startup in the UK, in 2016, helping them create marketing illustrations and improving the user experience of their web and mobile applications. I worked as the UX designer for Self Interactive, a small application design studio in Springfield, Missouri until 2019. During this time I've also done several freelance branding projects.
Freelancing affords me the ability to work with exceptional clients and the flexibility to prioritize my time to provide better value and efficiency to my projects.
I'm still taking contract UX and visual design work while honing my skills in various web tools, and of course my daily responsibilities with family and friends. I play a lot of Overwatch, World of Warcraft, and watch crappy television to relax when I'm not hard at work on another project. ;)