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Interview with Matt McElvogue – User Experience Expert

An Associate Creative Director at Seattle-based design consultancy TEAGUE, Matt focuses on tackling user experience problems at the source and finding creative solutions through forward-thinking strategy, ideation, and creative direction. An expert in interaction design, motion design, and design research, Matt collaborates with clients like Intel, Microsoft, and Starbucks to bring innovative products and services to market. With over a decade of experience in creative consulting, Matt has worked across a variety of industries including automotive, communications, mobile, gaming and retail, and has delivered successful projects for major clients including Acura, AT&T, GE, Samsung, Target, Siemens, and Microsoft. Matt received a bachelor’s degree in Digital Design from the University of Cincinnati’s School of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning.

Q: POWER in design is…

A: The POWER we have as designers goes beyond styling, form, and materials. It’s about shaping experiences… helping to define how people accomplish things, how they engage with their communities, how they live their lives.

Q: What are three implications of design power that you have encountered?

A: As we know from Spiderman comics, “with great power comes great responsibility.” Designers have the opportunity to impact people’s lives in major ways through their work. Three implications (or responsibilities) of design power are:

We have to be empathetic—empathy with end users and with our clients properly equips us with the ability to properly support and defend user needs through our design work.
We have to strive to improve the world through design—anything we create should improve the world it is released to. There’s a lot of noise out there, we should avoid adding to it.
We have to operate ethically—We have to design inclusively and avoid all malicious design tactics (e.g. dark UX patterns).

Q: When have you had powerful impact through design?

A: Most of my more impactful work is in fact quite mundane. At a prior job, we designed a tool set that allowed developers and product managers to quickly create new experiences on their platform. This tool wasn’t flashy or overly exciting but it impacted the lives of the users, freeing them up to focus on the enjoyable parts of their jobs instead of spending time in meetings or hunting down files.

Q: Tell us about a project that you completed that you are most proud of.

A: Recent work with Intel on trust interactions for autonomous driving has been very enjoyable. It’s future-focused work but still grounded in user testing and technological possibility instead of fanciful ideation.

Q: How did you get into design?

A: I’ve always been interested in systems, be they mathematical, scientific, or even systems in games. I enjoy learning what rules they have, what inputs and outputs are involved, how they can be understood, and how they can be interacted with.