Each month we introduce you to one of our Mentors and ask them a few questions about their career and thoughts on UX.
This month we talked to Leonardo Mattei…
Hi, I’m Leo. I’ve lived in London since 2015 and I am very interested in humans’ perception and interaction with the world. My goal as a UX designer is to make people’s lives better. I love to understand people’s missions and help them to pursue them, by understanding the problems they are facing every day and making their experiences better through design. I also love to play guitar, brew beer and taste it 😀
How did you start your career in UX?
I graduated at ILAS designers school in Naples, Italy. I started my career as a brand designer for many clients in Italy and around the world, then I moved to user experience and visual design, because, from the beginning of my career, I was more interested in how people interact with systems, how people perceive the world, and how the cognitive process works. My brand design background helps me a lot when it comes to understanding companies’ goals, strategies and priorities, and inform UI decisions when it comes to applying branding correctly.
In 2015 I moved to London where I continued my career as a User Experience Designer at Superawesome, which is currently the #1 technology growth company in the UK. At Superawesome I had the opportunity to design a platform which allows developers to build 100% GDPR compliant and kid’s safe apps, and also a companion app for parents to oversee their kids’ activities online and manage them in complete transparency. Clients like Hasbro and Disney are using the platform.
Then I moved to Elsevier, where I’m currently working. Here I look at how researchers stay up-to-date, which is a very interesting problem to fall in love with, because, by helping them finding the most relevant literature, the most relevant news, the most relevant conferences to attend and so on, they can improve the quality of their research and have an impact on the world.
What is a typical day for you?
I tend to wake up early to not be in a rush in the morning. I take the tube, so I have enough time to read a book (which is usually some boring book about society and economics -that I love-, or sometimes a more exciting book about design or cognitive psychology), then I get to the office a little bit before the starting hour, so I can have a relaxed breakfast and catch-up with emails, Slack and news. During the work-day I do many activities, probably very similar to what you do: I sketch flows, prototype, run user discovery sessions, attend meetings, etc. Probably the main difference is that I meet with very exciting researchers every week. I speak with people who are researching how to defeat cancer, or how to use renewable energy in an effective way, people who are having an impact on the world and this inspires me every day and encourages me to do my job, the best I can. I also communicate a lot with my team, the developers and stakeholders in order to have a solid shared understanding of the product and design together. After work I usually go to the gym, then back home I read or study something related to design or Human-Computer Interaction (sometimes this activity is replaced by Playstation 😀 ), then have dinner and watch Netflix before sleeping.
What do you recommend to someone who wants to start a career in UX?
Be curious and never stop learning. Be always responsible for what you put into the world. Design can be dangerous. Design can harm and even kill. Always take this into consideration whatever you are designing. Fall in love with the problem, not the solution. The more you understand the problem, the better your product will be and the bigger your impact on the world and on people’s lives will be. Put the users first and remember that we are doing this job for the people.
What is the best advice you have received in your career?
Probably the one about the responsibility. I didn’t realise I could have such a big impact, because when it comes to digital products, we don’t feel like they can harm like a physical product, but they actually do, and they can have very serious consequences. “Be responsible for what you put into the world” is a great advice.
What is the future of UX for you?
I think the UX field will continue to grow. With the growing of technology, there will always be new ways to apply our skills. We will be more advocates of good UX practices. We need to be experts when it comes to understanding users’ mental models, humans’ perception and interaction. We need to have those principles very clear in order to apply them to whatever product / system we will be designing for; it doesn’t matter if it will be a digital product, a physical product, a voice interface or a VR interface. Even more companies will be design-led, in order to offer meaningful products / systems to their users and stay competitive on the market. Therefore, we will play an even more crucial role in companies’ organisations, so it will be our responsibility to be even more confident about the right way to offer a meaningful experience and about the design that we deliver.