Joanna Matthews is a User Experience and Interaction designer leading the UX team in Austin at Electronic Arts. Learn about her human-centered design approach, and her mission to find a healthy way to make pizza – hell yes! You can also check her out on LinkedIn or Twitter.
Tell us a little about yourself.
Hi! I’m Joanna. I’m a User Experience and Interaction designer with fifteen years in the industry. I live in Austin TX. I love what I do. It allows me to solve puzzles, be a clear communicator, and get exposure to different types of industries all while working alongside some really brilliant people.
I constantly watch how things work and analyze why. I overhaul self-checkout machines in my head at Target. I reorganize my kitchen on a frighteningly regular basis so I can cook more efficiently. Through a human–centered approach, my goal is to facilitate interactions among people between people and the systems they use while being a strong advocate for the user.
“I constantly watch how things work and analyze why. I overhaul self-checkout machines in my head at Target. “
I believe in design experiences from beginning to end – not just individual features – while maintaining high standards throughout the entire product experience. And when I’m not doing that – I am working on home improvement projects, reading, practicing yoga, searching to find a healthy way to make a pizza so I can eat it daily, trying to be a good friend/daughter/sister/aunt, binge watching something on Netflix, or walking my basset hound.
What is your current role and which aspect is your favorite?
I am leading the UX team for our customer service organization at Electronic Arts. It’s fun for obvious reasons in that it is a gaming company, and we have a light-hearted culture of passionate gamers. I was not a player before taking this role, and I’ve developed a ton of respect for the art – the graphics, the story telling, and the attention to detail game designers have is incredible.
My favorite part of my job is the opportunity to innovate and continuously investigate where we can help our users. Our leadership is supportive of us exploring all options in supporting our players and that let’s us be creative and open-minded to lots of new possibilities.
What are your top resources you use to keep up with the latest trend?
Social media has been my biggest tool. I follow lots of designers and companies, as well as design blogs and magazines. The best advice I get comes from my peers so having a strong network is key. It’s important to keep up with trends, but it is also crucial to give users what they want and what they will use. A certain pattern may work great for one customer segment and horribly for another. Test, test, and test again in the most realistic scenario you can – data is your best friend.
“Test, test, and test again in the most realistic scenario you can – data is your best friend.”
What would you recommend to other women/younger girls who are aspiring to work in design/UX?
Approach each project with new eyes. Be willing to ask lots of questions. You often may be the only person asking and the answers can result in some important discoveries. Be flexible with your approach but don’t be afraid to be honest with what works and what doesn’t work.
Don’t define yourself by a list of tools you know – software changes constantly and your job is to solve problems – Sketch/Photoshop/etc is simply a piece of that larger task. Ask your clients about their goals and document them. Revisit those goals to make sure you and the team are working in the right direction or if you need to change the goals.
“Keep a sense of humor. Be approachable. Be humble. Listen to feedback with a sense of curiosity and don’t take it personally. You’re designing a web page, not negotiating a peace treaty with Iran.”
Don’t be afraid to scrap everything and start over if a project is not working. When in doubt, start white boarding. Know the technology your creation will be built in. Be on good terms with your development team. Don’t re-invent the wheel. If something has been successful before consider using it. Your role is to help your client reach their goals, but also to ask ‘what if’ and push them to grow even more.
Keep a sense of humor. Be approachable. Be humble. Listen to feedback with a sense of curiosity and don’t take it personally. You’re designing a web page, not negotiating a peace treaty with Iran.