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Team Q&A: 7 Questions with our Head of UX, Matt

Solving problems for customers is the ultimate focus for our Head of UX, Matt Spier. Here Matt gets into the nitty-gritty of how he came to choose UX as a career and why customer-centric is best.

18 Feb 2020 by Ariel Jehwo-Malcolm

About Matt

Matt is a font loving, family-orientated muso, and also Head of UX here at Coassemble.

As part of his role, Matt completes user research, product design, UI design and quality assurance across business projects. Matt works closely with the product and development teams as UX is considered at all phases of our product design and development process.

1. As the Head of UX, for those who don’t know exactly what UX design is, how would you explain it?

I’d summarise UX design as the process of considering user problems and designing experiences for all aspects of user interaction with a service or product. This encompasses everything from a user’s first contact with the brand right through to purchase, ongoing use, help, and support.

2. So, UX revolves around our platform users. How do you discover what’s most important to Coassemble’s users?

We’re privileged at Coassemble to be able to talk directly to our customers. It could be through CS and sales staff or through more traditional UX methods like user test or focus groups.

Speaking directly with customers enables us to uncover interesting insights fairly quickly and provides us with a mechanism to validate our design hypothesis with the same audience or a new segment of our user base. We combine this qualitative data with quantitative research (Google Analytics, Hotjar, Intercom, reports from our database) to help us further define the issues facing users of our platform.

3. When did your passion for UX and product design first begin?

I’ve always loved trying to figure out how things work—as a kid I was always drawing cross-sections of X-Wings, the Death Star—basically just everything from Star Wars.

That led me to study Industrial Design at Newcastle University. As part of our course, we studied Human Factors for a semester—this was my first real exposure to UX from a product design point of view. I loved how anthropometric data was used to shape the design of a product—like designing for the 90th percentile hand size when designing a power tool, or transcending language barriers by using haptics to communicate the function of a switch or button. I loved the fact that design decisions were being based around a human actually using the product.

Studying industrial design grew my love and appreciation for beautifully designed products—it taught me how to design products, but not necessarily why. As I transitioned into digital product design, I became really interested in the methodology of product development—I wanted to know more about uncovering who we design for and why we design a product a specific way. This led me to the Customer-Centric Design model which really resonated with me—it places customer problems and desires first, before all other factors, bringing the product design process back to solving problems, which to me is the definition of design.

4. Being in UX, your role is quite creative. Where do you find inspiration and the latest trends?

When I’m doing UX work I like to forget about the latest visual trends and focus on defining the problem, then wireframing solutions based on conventional UI patterns.

As I move into more high fidelity UI design I’ll usually check out Product Hunt and Behance. I’m also really inspired by typography, so I’ll usually go and check out a few foundries like Klim, General Type Studio and Grilli Type. I’m a fan of clean, minimal design and these sites do this really well while still presenting their product in a really interesting way. If I was rich, I would just spend all my money on Fonts.

I usually try and steer clear of Dribbble and sites like that, as often most of the product design/UI design showcased isn’t really anchored in real-world constraints.

5. Can you share some insight into how design impacts your personal life?

There’s something special about a product that just nails it—whether it’s physical or digital.

For me, it’s all about attention to detail. It might be the way a button feels to push that’s just ‘nice’ or when a UI micro-interaction is so well designed that it feels like it was made just for you. This is problematic because I spend way too long looking at the interface design of expensive synthesizers that I’ll never be able to afford. But you can dream, right?

I find that the empathy part of UX design spills out into just wanting to understand people in everyday life and that’s nice—I’m finding the deeper I get into UX (sometimes) the more patient I am—this is handy when trying to reason with my two-year-old daughter...

6. When you’re not working, what do you like to spend time doing?

You’ll find me spending time with my family, or writing and performing music.

7. You’re a bit of a muso. What song instantly puts you in a good mood?

‘Good Times’ by Jamie XX or ‘Run’ by Tourist.

Also pretty much any track off John Farnham’s ‘Whispering Jack’ will do the trick. What a masterpiece.

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