Boundless Connections: Matt Richards

Matt RichardsWe’re happy to welcome Matt Richards, our new web designer, to the team! Matt will be working from our brand new (and growing) DC office where he’ll be crafting interfaces and developing the user experience for hosted services like Mapmeter and other upcoming products.

Hi Matt. Welcome to Boundless! What were you doing before you joined us?

Most recently, I was at Cvent, a software-as-a-service company that has a platform for event management services. Think of it as Eventbrite for small-to-large businesses who host large events like conferences, meetings, company events, and tradeshows. Cvent manages and automates the more mundane aspects of logistics, marketing, and management for the entire event process.

While there, I worked as a web designer on the marketing team, so my projects were all public-facing. From landing pages, to new product announcements, to complete branding packages, my role was part visual design, part web development, and part creative guru. I led the design and development for Cvent’s most recent marketing project, the CrowdTorch website.

Before all of that though, I began my web design career at the ripe age of 16 in rural West Virginia.

You started a web design company prior to starting college?

There's not a whole lot to do in West Virginia. <laughs> I stress that I lived in a very rural part of the state and wanted to do something cool out there. When I was younger, I ended getting into the competitive gaming scene. I designed graphics for gaming tournaments, leagues, and that sort of thing. From there I built up word-of-mouth referrals to build my client database, and I also did a lot of client work online.

Around the time I turned 16, I had enough of a client list and enough freelancers in my stable that I made an actual go of it. I registered as a business, began working with local and regional clients and had some pretty good successes along the way. I worked with developers — they do the programming and I would make it look cool. I built out websites, invitations, and collateral for gaming challenges. I was also building online networks for the competitive gaming scene. I became a well-known graphic designer within the gaming circle.

What excites you most about working on the new tools and products that Boundless is currently developing?

With an upcoming product that is taking on a new space in the market, I have the unique opportunity to design an interface and experience that isn't really constrained by older, out-dated processes. This is really exciting as a designer — it means you can embrace the most recent design ideas and create a new user experience from the ground up. I'm really excited to start making what'll hopefully be the best looking Boundless product to date.

What are your design resources and sources of inspiration?

Two pillars of the web design community are A List Apart and Smashing Magazine, both blogs I read regularly and find very useful. Some of the most interesting stuff I’ve seen recently has come out of Medium, specifically the Design/UX section. There's a ton of other stuff scattered around though and I use sidebar.io and Panda to filter through the nonsense and find the best articles. I like to keep current.

What languages or programs are your main ways of working?

As a visual designer, I'm an expert at Photoshop use it quite frequently. But I'm also good at designing using HTML5, Canvas, and CSS3. I also have a some Javascript experience, namely jQuery. I'm also big into the principles of responsive design — all of my designs for the last year have been fully responsive. One area that I haven't had a lot of experience is Less, but I'm excited to be using it at Boundless.

Do you have any experience with open source development?

I’m limited in this regard. I was exposed early on to the virtues of open source from my Dad, who was a passionate open source developer. I remember that he was always on Slashdot — this was back in the days when Slashdot was just the worst looking website around. <laughs> He was really passionate about using open source tools and was a big Linux advocate. I was very pro-Windows in those days, due mostly to my interest in gaming. I just didn't have the appreciation for anything beyond the Windows gaming world back then. But now that I'm older I can see what my dad was excited about it. I'm really excited to be at a company that has open source values.

What do open source values means to you?

To me, it means the willingness to select tools and components that are the right ones for the task at hand. At proprietary companies, I see that there is more of a business decision process that leads development. That leads to tools and solutions being chosen based on political or cultural factors. Boundless seems to have a strong culture of embracing the best ideas and products and using the right tools for the job. An open source foundation provides a lot more flexibility and control.

What has been your favorite project to have worked on?

Professionally, my favorite project was the company career microsite for Cvent. I was able to go off-brand with colors and treatments, which was a satisfying technical and aesthetic challenge. There is a lot of video and photo assets that I incorporated into the site and I was able to make it more friendly and approachable than the typical branding was. It was immensely satisfying being able to stretch my design wings.

Another project that I really enjoyed working on was a the full brand build-out for CrowdTorch. I worked on the color, typography, icons, website design, and development. It was a really exciting project, because most what resulted was stuff that I conceptualized, designed, and eventually developed.

What’s an interesting facts about yourself (that you haven’t already said)?

When I was 15 years old, my family moved out to middle of nowhere: Thomas, West Virginia. Our parents decided to homeschool my two sisters and me. As part of that, we opened a music venue and cafe called The Purple Fiddle in an old general store. It was a bar/cafe/performing space in a small town. It was a much-needed venue for the area. The town had a population of about 250 people, and basically cafe was the highlight of the area’s entertainment.

For those of us not familiar with competitive online gaming, what are some popular trends right now?

There’s a growing industry known as “esports” that basically boils down to a bunch of gamers sitting in a room and playing video games — mostly Starcraft II, Defense of the Ancients 2, League of Legends, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. It doesn’t sound that competitive or interesting, but I assure you it is. At the largest tournaments, tens of millions of people tune in to watch gamers from all over the world compete for millions of dollars in prize money.  The numbers can be staggering at times; the biggest live viewership was 32 million. In comparison, NBA games usually get under 2 million viewers. It’s a bit crazy to comprehend how much it’s grown, but the scene is exploding and I was happy to be a part of it during it’s early stages.

What other hobbies do you have?

I’m a creative at heart, so my hobbies are basically just other creative outlets. I’m a DSLR geek, so I take photography whenever the opportunity arises. Even though there’s not much on it yet, I do plan on posting more photography to my 500px profile. I’ve also made quite a few short films. Here’s a few videos I’ve been proud of: an indie-rock music video, a short film about finding yourself (won an award!), and a trailer for an utopian sci-fi film that never was finished.

 Interested in joining Boundless? We have an amazing team of passionate, creative, and incredibly bright people and we’re hiring more!

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