Get to know Matt Grimm, designer and developer

Recently we got to spend some time talking with one of our extremely talented designers and developers, Matt Grimm. He's been a part of the team for over two years. During that time, he's worked on many of Element Fusion's client websites, and now Matt's efforts are focused on the products team, providing design work on the LightCMS system itself. He's had an unorthodox journey into the world of design, which demonstrates just how much a person can accomplish when he or she works hard. Get to know more about Matt below.

How did you get started as a designer / developer?

My story is very different from most people in web development. I started getting into web design in late 2004 to early 2005 and had never really been into computers before that. My family didn't even have a home computer until I was in 10th grade. Pretty crazy. I had never taken a computer class in high school because it wasn't required and in early 2004 (my first semester of college) I had to take one of the basic intro to computer classes. Seriously. 

Anyway, I was in a band and through that got into designing t-shirts and setting up a cheesy website. That sparked my interest and I changed my focus at school to graphic design / web development. Honestly, though, college did nothing for me. It's just a piece of paper and the curriculum was years behind what's happening in the real world. Yes, you can learn basics but if you plan to leave college with a degree in web development with no real world experience you are in for a huge surprise. Luckily, I read books, blogs, tutorials, etc. in my free time and just got really passionate about learning. 

I did a small amount of freelancing while still going to school. After school I was hired by a small startup company here in Oklahoma. I worked there a few years before moving on to work for Lockheed Martin (yes the aerospace company!). While at Lockheed I got to work on some really exciting, large scale projects. I came to a point where I felt like I had built up enough skill and experience to apply for my dream job at Element Fusion. So, I went for it.

What are your responsibilities as designer for Element Fusion?

For the last two years I've been designing and cutting up websites for clients. Recently, I've moved onto the products team! I'm getting to focus on making LightCMS cleaner and more intuitive.

What do you love most about being a designer for Element Fusion?

Flexibility. EF is an amazing place to work. If something comes up in life that you need to take care of, you can just go take care of it and come back. If you need a break, you can go play a video game or browse the web, chat on Facebook, or whatever. It's great because it's not like a lot of other companies that are so strict on time where they do crazy stuff like block websites. But I must say with that flexibility comes great responsibility. EF really brings out the best work in us.

How would you describe your design approach or design philosophy?

You are not the best designer. You never will be. Most of your ideas have already been created. Look at other people's work. Get inspired.

What do you see as the upcoming technologies or issues that web designers will have to tackle in the next few years?

If you are strictly a designer you MUST learn the basics of the technologies that are powering your designs. If not, you are limiting yourself and your future. Start with HTML and CSS. Then move to learning Javascript and maybe a server side language.

For the designers that already do their own cutup work: don't get comfortable. You are never done learning. I suggest learning some real programming languages, server side stuff or even desktop/mobile. I don't believe the web is going to exist in the future as it does today, as we are moving more and more to an "apps"-focused internet.

What advice do you have for anyone who wants to grow their skill in or pursue a career in web design?

Do not specialize. Learn a little about everything. There will be many, many more opportunities for you to pursue if you are well-rounded. Picking a few technologies and learning nothing past that is like gambling; you better hope you picked right because in five years you might not have a job.