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Michael Sigler 28 February 2008

Michael Sigler

Pixel pusher. Dungeon master. CSS dominator. Design nerd.

Country mouse in the big city, Sig moved from Kentucky to PDX four years ago and has never looked back. He started working with the interwebetron back in its early days, running a Wildcat BBS with his dad. They provided 6,000 rednecks with screaming fast 14.4 connections. He still remembers his giddiness when they started hooking up their first 28.8 modems. After that they moved into sheer lunacy with the 56.6′s. He got his first real taste for web design back in those days, hand coding a blue and gold border around a GIF of a Tiger for his high school. He still remembers RIP vectors with fondness.

Since then he’s been pushing pixels with the best of them, arguing with clients over tastes in color and desperately attempting to push web-standards to whomever’s in earshot. Not quite the standardsista he once, he still avows their virtues and is enjoying the recent debates. Like all designers he has a very deep and personal vendetta against IE6. He looks forward to the day when he can listen to hip, young designers complain about some new-fangled browser then shake his head ruefully and bore them with tales of the Great Evil One.

Sigler is also a huge RPG fan, eagerly looking forward to the upcoming 4th Edition of Dungeons & Dragons. He and his friends run the fansite Dragon Avenue. His geek cred includes interviewing Matt Wilson, touring Privateer Press, being board of Puerto Rico with Margaret Weiss, gaming with Larry Elmore, failing at some map designs for No Quarter magazine and playing Mythos with some TSR grognards. He is also quite comfortable with dropping names.

Michael and his wife, Joleine, both work at Jive Software where he juggles between web design, creative misdirection, and UI experimentation. Someone decided his title is Sr. Graphic Designer though he’s still vying to have that changed to Sr. Pixel Pusher. Or perhaps Pixel Punisher.

He also goes by quite a few nicknames: Sig, Sigler, Big Sig, Sigmeister, Sigglestick, Mike, Mikey, Chibbell, Chibbs and Chibby. He prefers Chibbs. Dungeon Master if you’re rolling 20′s at his table.

What are you up to?

Like most of us I have far too many irons in the fire. I absolutely love my job at Jive. Its rare that you find a place that truly appreciates someone as disruptive as myself. At any point I’m working on our website, complaining about logos, proposing ideas for our product or groaning about a presentation.

I’ve also recently relaunched my website and have several other projects up my sleeve. I’m working on Beer and Blog (beerandblog.com), Dragon Avenue (dragonavenue.com) and building yet another web app.

What are you into?

Obviously I am quite passionate about design. I find it hard to look at a billboard, a commercial or website without completely oozing over its design or ranting and raving about some poor schmucks decision to misalign a couple of pixels.

I am also very much into RPG’s, specifically old faithful, Dungeons and Dragons. We have a great gaming group full of some very bright and interesting people. Its great to see the game start to rise above its various stigmas. I’ve co-launched my own community, Dragon Avenue and am working on a character generation webapp.

What do you like most about Portland?

The sheer amount of diversity. The people, the food, the communities, and the area. I’m pretty used to the gently rolling hills of Kentucky and the banks of the Ohio. To suddenly be an hour away from the beach, a mountain or a desert is still pretty fascinating to me. For an urban area I’ve been amazed at the friendliness of people, especially in the business sector. The amount of collaboration going on is amazing. Who needs the Valley? This is where it’s at.

What’s your take on the state of design in the web industry?

Design is finally starting to mature a bit. We have a humongous web-standards movement that has made some really great strides into providing a better overall user experience. Even the Internet Explorer team has started doing a much better job of communicating with the design community.

Design has also reached a much higher level of appreciation on the web. People have begun to expect more out of their applications. Now that we’re passed the stage of “cool, I can bank online”, we’re finally at a point where design can really come in and improve the experience. Everyone wants the web to be faster, easier and more intuitive.

I also think its great that we’ve seen a surge in design fads on the web. While we all certainly have our opinions about the glossy, stripey, bright Web 2.0 look, you must admit that it’s the first time we’ve really had a singular design trend that completely shaped the industry.

I eagerly look forward to new trends and further maturation of the industry.

So why D&D?

Dungeons and Dragons has had a humongous effect on my life. It involves a huge number of skills that I’ve found valuable in my professional career. Team management, leadership, thinking on my feet, quick decision making, creative thinking and expression and even better basic math skills.

It’s a game that for the most part lives solely in your head. Its a humongous creative exercise, especially when I’m running a game. As the Dungeon Master (or you may prefer GM for Game Master), you are the primary source of information about the game environment. Everyone looks to you to know how characters act, what the architecture looks like and just how bad those Troll’s smell. Players often react quite differently than you might expect so it takes a quick whit to keep one step ahead of them.

Recently I’ve begun to realize just how little the online world has to offer the RPG market. For the most part, RPG geeks are well educated, internet savvy and have decent incomes. The roleplayers have grown up.

So why are there no really excellent tools to help with game play? There are quite a few great attemps out there and even fewer successful ones. I’m looking forward to diving headfirst into the market and seeing if we can’t jumpstart something really new and exciting. I think it would be really interesting to combine my application devlopment and design expertise to the RPG market.

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