We’re programmers, designers, security experts, cloud junkies, tech support superheroes, and more — but we’re also real humans, not the faceless robots some people like to imagine us as. The DreamTeam is made up of many hardworking talented individuals with interesting stories to tell. In our Employee Spotlight series, you’ll meet some of these people, learn what they do (on and off the clock), and how they keep DreamHost irreverent and fun — just the way we like it.
After five years of being a customer, Matt Felten knew he liked DreamHost and its services, but had always wanted to take a stab at redesigning its control panel to make it more intuitive. Luckily in 2012, Jonathan LaCour (now VP of Cloud and Development) offered Matt the opportunity to interview for a design role at DreamHost. Matt has since become the Lead UX Designer at DreamHost, whose responsibilities include working with a team of product designers, reviewing design work and front-end code. “I’ve been running user testing sessions a lot more this year too, which is exciting. I jump around meetings a lot, being an advocate for design/UX with other teams as well as building momentum for more design-focused projects. Lastly, when there’s time left in the day, I’ll put on some music and design/build new features or work on one of our redesign projects.”
When Matt’s not working, you can find the Downtown Los Angeles resident biking, brunching, reading (current read: Leviathan Wakes), and wandering around The Last Bookstore. A card and board games enthusiast, Matt is also working on a card game prototype. In today’s spotlight, we discover what design principles guide Matt’s work, his array of musical interests, how it felt to work on DreamHost’s recent major redesign projects, and more. Read on!
What do you love most about working at DreamHost?
DreamHost is a pretty magical place. I’m surrounded by smart people working on really interesting and complex projects.
What aspect of your role do you enjoy the most? What is the number one challenge you face in your role?
Piggy-backing off that last question, being able to get some of those smart people in a room together and talk over a problem is a great feeling. Web hosting is complicated. I won’t pretend I understand it all. I love being able to take a complex problem and work with everyone to distill it down so it’s understandable and intuitive to use.
I also really love pushing forward the quality of design that we’re putting out. We’ve completed some really great design projects in the last couple years and seen great results from customers about them. I’m continually excited about how to keep pushing that bar higher.
What are the basic philosophies or principles that inform your designs?
I’ll answer this with a photo of the post it notes I have on my monitor:
What are some UX designs that inspire you?
I’m really into apps that have no-UI right now. Square Cash was a revolution to me. Just adding firstname.lastname@example.org to the CC field of an email will let you send money to friends. That’s awesome. It uses technology we’re already using to do something that, up to then, was incredibly difficult. Another one I like a lot is Digit. That one works only through text messages. There’s no app or anything. I like Operator also but haven’t really used it too much.
Is there a design project you’ve worked on that stands out? Why?
I think the biggest, most visible project would have to be the panel refresh that I posted an article about. I also did a ton of work on the dreamhost.com redesign year before last. That felt pretty good.
Most of the projects I enjoy now though are small and quick to get out. Making a nicely reusable piece of front-end code. Doing a quick wireframe of how to display pricing. Deleting something. Oh, man. Deleting code feels really good. You should try it.
What TV shows/music/apps are you currently obsessed with right now?
I haven’t been able to seriously watch anything since finishing Making a Murderer. It was too good and depressing. I did watch Wall-E earlier this week though and it’s still pretty great.
I have music on all day, every day. I saw Com Truise last night and he jammed pretty hard. He plays this weird, glitchy style of synth-wave that I’ve never heard anyone else do before. I’ve had Kavinsky’s OutRun album on loop for months. Youth Lagoon’s newest album gets better the more I play it. I’ve been listening to Beach Slang a lot too. They’re a cool mix of indie rock and punk, like Japandroids a bit. I can keep going for days.
Words to live by — What are yours?
I don’t really have a phrase I live by or anything, so I’ll just shoot from the hip here. Pay attention to details. Make yourself laugh. Do things that’ll make good stories.
If you could have a drink with anyone, (fictional, alive, dead, famous, non-famous) who would it be and why?
If I could have a drink with anyone, I’d have a drink with myself at 70 years old. Firstly, I want to see if I grow up to be the cool, bitter old man I hope I’ll be. Secondly, I’m sure he’ll have some pretty good advice for me about events that haven’t happened yet. I hope it doesn’t Butterfly Effect me though. That’d be a bummer.
When he’s not designing awesome things at DreamHost, Matt can be found tweeting awesome things on Twitter @mattfelten.