Small Villages, United Kingdom 🇬🇧

Matt Allison

Design Lead

Hey! I’m Matt, a Design Lead at NatWest Group. I love to travel, eat mounds of BBQ food, and drink far too much tea. You’ll find me wearing flip-flops regardless the weather.
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Where are you based as a UX/UI designer?

Non-covid world 👉 Central London

Currently 👉 Dual locations between Hanslope and Suffolk coast

What led you into UX/UI design?

I'm that person that always used to be into Art & Graphics at school, but realised there wasn't money or necessarily a career in fine arts to be had, so I did a degree in Multimedia Design with a specialism in Interactive Design.

After graduating I knew the market was competitive, and with a lack of industrial experience, I turned up at a design agency and asked for a job stating I otherwise wouldn't leave. From that, I freelanced with them for a year designing and coding various websites until I got my first full-time job working as a designer for a company that dealt in Education career recruitment.

Why are you a UX/UI designer?

I like creating, be it crafting apps and UI's, to mentoring juniors, and engaging stakeholders in workshops.

I get to work alongside so many different and interesting people, be it designers, researchers, developers and engineers, product owners, marketing. My days can be mixed from sessions deep diving into click rate conversions to designing a hare doing yoga to indicate a flexible product.

There's an element of actual doing and making, that keeps me from getting bored. The idea of being in an office using Excel all day is not for me.

What does a typical day look like for you?

A typical day starts with tea & water. I probably have shares in Yorkshire tea the amount I drink..

8.30/9am,  Orders of business include checking work mail, any conversations to follow up on Slack (I have a couple of apprentices at the moment, so they're my focus of making sure they're ok for the day), my JIRA sprint, and building team sprints. I also update any pre-amble conversations of tickets that need updating ahead of refining.

Stand up at 10.15am (which, I might lead). I run through tickets in the stack and any blockers. Go around the team for updates and blockers and then AOB.

10.30am, Planning or refinement session to talk developers through planned stories for following sprint, and any additional requirements or scoping. This allows me to capture any additional tech comments from wider built team (e.g. states, interactions, restrictions).

11.30-1pm, more tea. Always tea. I will now be designing the rest of the day, hopping into meetings or catchups when they're scheduled in my diary.

1-2pm, lunchtime - I always make sure I go for a walk for the hour. Be it work-from-home and traipsing fields with Monty or London Spitalfields.

2-5ish, continue designing and/or attending meetings, either with wider businesses and then even wider companies. Or, I'll have some catch-ups with product owner or development lead to discuss some crazy new features I have an idea for.

What is your current desk setup?

I don't bother with monitors because when I was in the office I had to hot desk. When I did have a desk, I still had to take my Macbook to meetings and spent time faffing with RGB settings; so, I keep my desk sparse.

I'm left handed so my sketchbook, post-its and pens are on the left side of my desk. Tea is always within reach. The right side is usually my adaptors and USB's.

My desk is a wooden top on trestle legs. The chair is some solid plastic number, and I use a posture cushion. I have a folding desk stand which I use to mix up my working so I'm not seated all the day; this helps elevate my screen.

On the back row of my desk, I have a speaker for my music, a waving cat from Singapore, Elephant from Thailand, couple of prints by Paul Jackson and Massive Face, Nodding baby Yoda, and a coaster from Brouwerij't ij Amsterdam.

And your Workstation setup across devices?

Finder, Notes (I had so many post-its, that I now keep it all on notes), Slack, Spotify, Firefox (I like to keep my RAM, so no Chrome for me), Sketch, Citrix, PS, and Azure server.

Snap of their workstation

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What work are you most proud of?

It's still in Beta testing, but I'm proud of Pomelo. It's an app that helps people get rewards for saving. Fintech that's based around lifestyle and usage as opposed to getting rich off people. It's something I have worked on with a really small team as a side project; but, grass roots means there's more passion to it.

Latest 'job' wise would have been converting a convoluted quote and application to an all in one 'quapplication' that bolstered conversion.

Side project work would have to be my illustrations. It's different from the day to day work, and a bit quirky. Make sure to mix your hobbies and interest in with your work.

Which Product recently blew your socks off?

I am really bad at keeping up to date with the latest and greatest. Although, I was really impressed with the Perseverance rover landing and the Ingenuity helicopter. They were insane feats for how far we've come with space and technological capabilities from first pictures in 1965.

What challenges do you face as a UX/UI Designer?

It's tough designing a product and being confused with the creative aesthetic and everyone having an opinion - this is great, but also makes it very difficult to appease everyone - and, often times, people are fixated in their mindsets. Stakeholders are often political, and fall into the camps of:

  • they don't like it because it's their company / project / generally they own it.
  • feedback being 'I don't like it' and that's all you get.

I find that data helps validate decisions; either illustrating benefits of a solution, or prompting more thought to develop a solution.

At the end of the day, business stakeholders have a vested interest in conversion which can supersede creativity and user requirements. Speed bumps are part of the job.

What tunes do you listen to whilst designing?

Mac Miller, ISSUES, David Bowie, Dance Gavin Dance, Ryan Adams, Neck Deep.

Spotify playlists are often random clicking and seeing where it leads to.. currently listening to:

Three suggestions for budding designers?

  1. Technical software skills you learn for a job. But, the understanding of design thinking and soft skills make for a career.
  2. Never be afraid to challenge and ask - it's how we learn.
  3. Take on any and all jobs. Make loads of work - quantity over quality in the early days, as it's how you'll find your approach and help you create a diverse portfolio.

Thanks for reading my story!

Small Villages, United Kingdom 🇬🇧

Matt Allison

Design Lead

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