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Who is Matt Laurence?

I'm the one on the left... mystery solved


The wizard of UX, DumbleMatt
I am the very model of a
strict Gestalt practitioner
As a widely experienced UX product design and research leader, I am a creative and strategic problem-solver, customer-focused and self-motivated. I have a proven track record of delivering successful products, fostering cross-functional collaboration, and managing multiple priorities and projects, living at the intersection of business, technology, and user behavior.

In addition to design, research, and strategy, I build teams, educate colleagues, forge connections, empower people, and start meaningful conversations to get results in an ever-changing technology landscape.

Along the way, I value a group of colleagues with whom I look forward to pushing some boundaries every day; to do good work for good causes; to learn new things early and often; and to play as much music as possible.

Ares of skill and experience

User advocacy; communication; interaction design; information architecture; UX project and people management; cross-functional team collaboration; wireframing and prototyping; usability research and testing, generative and evaluative; coaching and mentoring; diplomacy and negotiation; significant experience with all the usual tools, a few unusual ones, and the ability to learn new ones quickly; HTML/CSS/JS and assorted flavors thereof; design thinking; visual design and art direction; audio and video production, post-production, and motion graphics; a dose of appropriately-applied humor and whimsy.

My process and philosophy

And ideal process model with all the trimmins
Process.... where possible
Wherever I enter a project, alone or with a team, I try to follow a fairly common design process - because it works. In the first phase you understand the space, identify the users, and make sure you know what both users and the business are trying to accomplish; you want to define the right problem to solve.
Developers still seem to think this is our motto
NOT my actual UX motto
Next, you ideate, collaborate, prototype, test, and iterate until you are pretty sure you solving that problem the right way. Then you build it and get your beta in front of people, ready to test and repeat any of the phases as needed.

Like Agile, however, it is rarely as simple or straightforward as it sounds, and we need to deal with the realities within which we are working, and sometimes educate our own product teams. I see an important role of UX as being a constant reminder that:

  • Our users are going to have an experience with our product, whether or not we design for it
  • An experience is something people HAVE, not something that can be designed; we can only design circumstances to try and ensure that users have a good experience
  • Every member of a product team has responsibility for designing that experience
  • It is much better for everyone - and our bottom line - if we define things early around the user's needs
  • YOU are not your user!
This is why so much of UX is improvisation. From altering an ideal process to fit the realities of a specific team, to switching up methodologies on the fly (or inventing new ones), to actively listening during user discussions and varying from the script to gather the best insights... you need to think on your feet. And it is about 90% accurate to say "All answers in UX start with 'It depends.'

Bits 'n' pieces

The Akatoasts charter members
Chartering Akatoasts
Evolving into a product design manager and UX leader at Akamai has been deeply fulfilling. Along the way, I have been a founding member of the Akatoasts Toasmasters club to help build condfidence and presentation skills across the company (including in myself). I have been part of the club leadership for many years, and recently achieved the coveted Triple Crown, completing three Toastmasters awards in a single club year. All of these efforts combined have given me the confidence to dip my toes in the presentation waters at UXPA Boston, Enterprise UX, and Akamai’s Tech Summit, as well as leading Girls Who Code activities in the classroom.

ROCKamai performing at Tech Summit 2016
Faster Forward: ROCKamai!
I also founded the Akamai Jam Group, which has over the past six years gathered over 80 Boston-area members, has hosted jam sessions with visiting Akamaites from all over the world, and performed some fairly epic and fun-filled live events. We even did a few pandemic "distributed performances" for our annual Tech Summit conference, held remotely in 2020.

Apologies to Lin Manuel Miranda
Yes, I went there
Music still plays a very big role in my life, though these days more of my efforts include songs that focus on UX and data, among other more frivolous topics. Often these end up as videos, though I’ve also performed them live on occasion. I also started the Akamai Jam Group, which over the last six years has gathered over 80 members, and resulted in several live performances, with players from all over the globe including a few COVID “distributed performances” that I put together for virtual company events.

I live with 11 female creatures
A lot of managers
Finally, on a personal note, I am the token male in a household with 11 women (or at least females).