Hello Campaign Monitor.

I love making simple, effective interactions.
Im Matthew.

Here's how I think.

Why I’m a designer

There’s a famous psychology experiment in which a mouse is placed in front of cheese. The mouse moved toward the cheese but the cheese moved backward. It lingered, disappointed, moved backward, and found the cheese moved forward. Delighted, it rushed forward only to see the cheese move backward. The mouse failed to understand the contingency.

What makes us human is our ability to understand contingencies. Cause and effect. It’s innate and intuitive. That’s how we learn how to interact with our environment– we try, we succeed, we learn that that action is a good action.

Watching someone play with an interface and get it—or not—is the greatest thing in the world. It’s like they’re a child again, playing with their blocks and dolls. My friends, my grandmother. It’s wonderful. Uncertain, hesitant, but willing.

But why are regular people so intimidated with computers? It’s not because they’re not smart enough or too old or don’t want to learn.

There’s a cup on a table: you can pick it up and move it. We’ve learnt how the physics work. But with a computer: windows pop in from nowhere, files disappear, applications crash, buttons don’t do the same thing every time.

The computer is infiniteness. It’s magic. Anything can be happen. And because anything can happen, it doesn’t follow our learned contingencies and expectations. My sole directive as a designer is to create UIs that follow simple, understandable, consistent, predictable contingencies. That’s how we get regular users to trust computers.

Convinced? Jump to the contact details.


I believe in humane design

A problem many sites face is bottom-up design direction. Developers have implemented the system in a certain way and therefore the easiest and most cost-effective method of implementing designs is to follow the system’s implementation. But good design is ensuring the user’s experience is the easiest; not the developers’.

I'm me and I know how I think about time. Drop down menus force me to think about things differently. Here, one types in the easiest way they know. See the animation.

Credit card data entry is a good example. Instead of forcing the user to enter credit card numbers in a specific format (no hyphens! No spaces! Bend to my will!), let the user enter the information in the format in which they’re most comfortable. The system will deal with it. That’s why computers were made; to make our lives easier. Not the other way around. Sometimes we forget that bit.

Convinced? Jump to the contact details.


I’m in their shoes

Good chefs will always advise their apprentices to taste their food before serving to the customer. Good design has to appreciate the user’s perspective— their situation that causes them to have a need for the product, their goals in using the product, their expectations. The most frustrating website and application problems could have been easily solved if they used the thing they made.

I believe in purposeful design. Regular people use computers as a tool. To get something done. My design’s primary purpose is to ensure that those goals are accomplished. Everything else is supplementary and possibly obstructive. Purposeful design has to be easy to understand without direction, fast to accomplish, clever to the situation.

We created Halftone app because there was no good client design sharing application out there. Everything else was not designed for the client in mind. Halftone's purpose was to make sure it was effortless for the client to be notified, see and comment on designs. Anything that inhibits them from doing that, affects client relations and the designer's bottom line. See Halftone app.

Convinced? Jump to the contact details.


I delight & amuse

Animation doesn’t have to be gratuitous. Animation is meaningful and understandable. In real life, things move, bounce, fill, slide down. They don’t just cut away. Animation in UI is a metaphor for real life.

I used metaphor of a paper receipt in a bank transfer interaction to replace tedious and confusing drop-down menus. See the animation.

Delighting and amusing users isn’t a crime. We love our iPhones because it’s evolved from a tool to an extension of ourselves; an experience. It brings us joy. It reminds of always-distant-but-ever-nearing The Future that Hollywood has portrayed so many times.

Essay projects are represented as stacks of paper (showing the actual PDFs) in a folder. This isn't kitsch, it's known and understandable.

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Apps should be smart

I’m making an app for students to help them in essay writing. But unlike every other app made in this domain, this one is smart.

With a press of a button, it downloads the journal PDF, scans it for metadata, and references the journal by looking it up on Google Scholar. If it fails to find metadata, it uses heuristics to predict what might be a title, what might be an author; and looks it up in Google Scholar. The user must only ever press one button; the app must do everything itself. It’s a smart app.

If you don't know, guess. Thesis app predicts that this is the title by its size and formatting. Google lookups confirm. In flowchart form if you're into that sort of thing.

A smart app gets out of your way and does things automatically. A smart app makes educated guesses.

There’s so much pressure for application logic to be completely known and perfect. But we, as humans, don’t know everything; we try, fail, learn, and improve. Why shouldn’t a computer do the same? Once we get past this hesitance, our applications can be smart.

Thesis scans text to seamlessly and invisibly function: Scan pages for text; then look for titles, authors, page numbers; then create a reference source—seamlessly.

Separate products are designed to be versatile. Versatility demands user attention and participation. When you’re writing an essay you want peace-of-mind, support, and efficiency. You want your research and writing to take the focus, not the tool that helps you get there. Thesis reduces steps to “get the job done”. To students, convenience is the ultimate selling point.

Convinced? Jump to the contact details.


The nitty gritty

Matthew Farag

Twenty-four

m@madebycanvas.com

@mattrobs

See my shots

Of my most recent interactions

Experience

Sourcebits, largest iPhone/iPad design firm, Senior Interaction Designer.
Fellows relied and trusted me to simplify complex problems, question their additional feature requests, design simple and clear UIs, and design interactions and animations. Design lead, Piotr, liked my science-, philosophy-based approach to design.

Freelancing in a designers & developers collective, the Pistachios.
Many delighted clients. Working with other passionate creatives is wonderful because we have the drive—the tingle—to make something of which we're immensely proud. Like-minded also means we trust in others’ specialities.

Design lead in “Project Wheatfield”, a startup determined to provide emotional, permission-based, personalised advertising to an Internet upset about poor-quality, interruption and irrelevance.

Education

Photoshop, Illustrator, HTML5, CSS3, JS, Ruby, Rails

B/ of Psychology and Neuroscience, University of Sydney

Twelve time DUX: each semester y7–12;  UAI 97

School leader, lead fundraiser, debate club

Loves

I'm re-reading George Orwell's 1984. It's just as relevant today, and so extremely well-written. I love writing copy (and writing in general), and his juxtaposing phrases are my favourite pieces of semantic manipulation.

Coleridge. My hero in evoking lucid, vivid imagery from the written word. ”Yea slimy things did crawl with legs upon the slimy sea.”

Mad Men, Dexter, The Wire, The Sopranos. Character pieces to appease my drive to analyse and explore emotion and behaviour. Design is the practical application of psychology.

Soccer, tennis. Federer is making a comeback; you wait and see.

My email again

Just in case you missed it the first time

You've reached the bottom. Thanks for reading. It was a pleasure to write to you.