From Mixing Sound to Equalising User Experience
by Amy Hunter, User Experience Consultant

From Mixing Sound to Equalising User Experience

Introducing Matt Fisher, marketeer and advocate of good user experience, now UX Consultant and valued member of the Experience UX Team. I caught up with Matt to learn more about his passion for UX.

Amy: I’m excited to talk more about your move from commissioning Experience UX within your previous role, to then joining the team. But first I’d love to know what led you to the world of UX in the first place?

Matt: Reflecting back, the common focus of my career has always been about creating experiences for people. I started out in the events industry, having studied a rock and roll degree at university, dedicated to designing and creating live event experiences and my favoured discipline – mixing live sound. When I mix live sound, as I do now and then today, I rack up a large step count as I’m walking around the whole room, sitting in every chair, understanding how the whole room sounds, rather than just the chair behind the mixing desk. I’m literally putting myself in the shoes of the user when I do that!

You shouldn’t notice the sound at a live event – if you notice something, it’s probably because something’s gone wrong. It’s the same with user experience – it should be effortless. Good user experience should be invisible.

Amy: You’re so right! So, how did you then move into the digital space?

Matt: My next role involved running operations for a charity. Shifting into the world of non-profit operations meant applying that same approach of creating live event experiences to good processes, systems, and technology. I had the joy of playing a role in gathering a team of designers and developers to create a digital platform and app to solve a global problem, on a shoestring budget. I relished the challenge of creating the experience the app sought to deliver, from big picture vision to each minuscule detail. That app went on to change lives and continues to do so to this day; I still get a buzz when I see stories of people having success through that app.

Close up of someone's hands using a smartphone

Next, I specialised through a marketing and communications role for a public health initiative. I thoroughly enjoyed this role, and in particular, doing marketing and comms differently, such as building an online community of people seeking to make a lifestyle change together. That life-changing community is a space that sparks powerful peer-to-peer nudges to make lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking or trying parkrun for the first time with the support of a new friend. It was during this time I was fortunate to meet Ali.

Amy: Oh, interesting! How did you first meet?

Matt: It was at a networking and training event, and I recall driving away from meeting Ali thinking, ‘I want to be part of that’. I understood the importance of UX, but not in the way Ali explained it. His simple emphasis on going out and talking to people struck a chord as we were in the process of developing a web app and were missing the crucial ingredient of user feedback. We knew something was not quite right, that was evident to see in the numbers, but we could not put our finger on the precise ‘why’. I brought in Experience UX to complete some user research for us, and it was at this point that my eyes were truly opened!

Amy: Ah ha! Eyes opened?

Matt: Yes! By watching Jenny, Emma and the team complete two days of user research I observed and learnt how our users were truly thinking and feeling. I was glued to the sessions, taking reams of notes and even made some live edits to the website. It was enjoyable and humbling at the same time! Some of the issues were so obvious, so full of common sense that I wondered why we hadn’t seen things that way before.

I got a taste for the fundamentals of user experience research, and it sparked in me a desire to do more.

Amy: You bring so much to the team at Experience UX. What are your main goals now that you’re here?

Matt: I want to help our clients to have the same awakening I did. That eye-opening moment cemented in me a deep-rooted understanding of the importance of incorporating user perspective. Revealing the quick wins, along with the more challenging fixes, all to make a better experience.

I’ve recently been reading and thinking a lot about common sense and empathy. Good customer or user experience requires buckets of common sense, and the core component of common sense is empathy. My mission is to help our clients use the superpower of empathy and common sense in creating experiences.

Reflecting on my journey into UX, it’s interesting how the marketing department is often the most vocal advocate for user experience, as shown in our recent Insider Insights survey. Yet, user experience shouldn’t be led by the marketing department – a realisation I had as I worked with Experience UX as a client. Marketing and communications is, in essence, behaviour change with an agenda. User experience removes that agenda and seeks first to understand user needs and wants, as opposed to organisational needs and wants. Organisational needs and wants are of course important, but behaviour change at scale is dependent on the core metric of adoption. And adoption is directly correlated to how user-centred a product or service is. Take away user needs and wants and all the product or service will deliver is tumbleweed.

Amy: Some great principles to live by. Before you go, can you share a few good reads that have helped you through this stage of your journey?

Matt: Oh, so many to choose from. Alan Cooper’s The Inmates Are Running The Asylum is up there as the call to arms for UXers to take action on behalf of the user. As I touched on, I’ve recently been inspired by Martin Lindstrom’s The Ministry of Common Sense. While not a UX book per se, it is all about experience and tapping into the superpower of empathy and is full of some laugh out loud non-sensical stories. Another non-UX book we’ve got a lot to learn from is Effortless, the sequel to Greg McKeown’s excellent book, Essentialism. McKeown is a champion of the ‘effortless state’ – something we can all agree is essential for good user experience!

Amy: We’re very lucky to have your passion, incredible attention to detail and a solid understanding of the importance of user experience in the Experience UX team. Thank you, Matt!

Matt and the Experience UX Team enjoy after work drinks

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Emma Jones

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01202 293652 emmajones@experienceux.co.uk

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