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Matt Evans

From Dublin, Ireland and Webflow Developer at Fido & Patch, Matt is an enthusiast for the outdoors and adventure sports who never imagined that technology and development would be the core of his business and skillset.

About this episode

In this episode, we'll discuss the excitement of problem solving with client to build sites that resonate with site visitors and accomplish their goals. Plus he reminds us to reach out or ask questions to those in the community that you respect, because they're probably more approachable than you'd expect.



Matthew Munger: Hey Matt. Thank you for joining me today.

Matt Evans: Nice to join you too, Matthew. Thanks.

Matthew Munger: Why don't we start off by learning a little bit more about you and who you are.

Matt Evans: Yeah, my name is Matt. I'm originally from Wales, and live in Dublin now, and I've been developing on Webflow for two or three years now.

Dublin, Ireland

Matthew Munger: And what is it like to live there in Dublin?

Matt Evans: It's great. I've been here two years now. We're on the coast. The people are super friendly. It rains quite a bit. It's a maritime environment. But yeah, it's brilliant. I used to live in London. And I love London, but Dublin has just got that sort of Irish hospitality. We moved here because my wife is Irish, so I kind of knew a little bit of what to expect, but I didn't realize how friendly the Dubliners were. I was a bit apprehensive moving here in the first place, but yeah, it's been brilliant. We've got the coast, got the mountains, we've got the food, the pubs. Cannot complain at all.

If you're walking down the street in a lot of places that I've lived, actually, you wouldn't get much of a hello. But in Dublin, everyone seems to say hello to each other. It's almost like you're going into a little village pub, and you know everyone in there. I go down to the park in the morning with the dog. And you could be there for an hour and a half, and that's because you bump into strangers. You don't know their names. You might know the name of the dog, but you're just chatting about random stuff that's happened in Dublin at the weekend, whether it's some of the Gaelic football results or the weather. But generally super friendly and they just want to chat and get to know you. It's just a very welcoming city, I think. Yeah.

Matthew Munger: Yeah, that does sound very friendly. What do you like to go out and do around Dublin?

Matt Evans: A couple of years ago when we first arrived, we were on the beach probably every other day. We've got a very energetic Labrador dog, so we’re on one of the many beaches here on the east coast. And then at the weekend, we'd probably go up into the Wicklow Mountains for a trek.

We were looking at, like, doing mountain biking as well, but then we found out that we were expecting a little one. So our life has sort of narrowed down a little bit. We still go on treks with him on our back, but a little bit more considered now and a little bit less freedom to do that. But yeah, we're out and about, walking, running sometimes. But yeah, just being in the outdoors is primarily where we spend most of our free time.

Dublin, obviously it's not in the UK, but it's very close to the UK. And I grew up in the UK, so I grew up in Wales, which a lot of people think is part of England, but it's actually a separate country. I grew up in the mountains, my father was in the Air Force, so he flew fighter jets for a living.

Although I grew up in Wales primarily, we traveled around the world. So we traveled primarily in the UK, but lived in Germany for a while, and in Italy. And then, yeah, my natural instinct, I guess, when I graduated was to go to London. And I spent probably 15 years in London in the media industry, in the product tech industry.

But yeah, I was a bit apprehensive, come to Dublin. It's like a small city with a big heart, almost. It is different. It's just the hospitality, I think, is just a little bit different to the smoke of London. Although London, it's great fun when you are younger, I think. But yeah, as we're getting older, we need to sort of get a bit more air in our lungs and a bit more locality to our everyday life. So yeah, Dublin's doing an amazing job on that at the moment.

Matthew Munger: Yeah, I get that fresh sea air and mountains at your back.

Matt Evans: Yeah, it’s just the fact that the traffic here can be pretty bad. The public transport's not great, but when you get out onto the beach– And there's a little kind of island area just off the north of Dublin and feel like you'd be in the middle of nowhere. We went kayaking there the other day and you're hanging out with, you know, 80 seals just following you.

Matthew Munger: Wow.

Matt Evans: And, you know, there's dolphins there and stuff that you don't feel like a Dublin or a UK lifestyle has. But yeah, it’s just chalk and cheese compared to the middle of the city, which is quite industrious and quite dark and there's a few shadows. But yeah, we tend to go out of the city rather than into the city these days. 


Matthew Munger: What does your workspace look like?

Matt Evans: I'm in a sort of makeshift office spare bedroom, where the guests stay. The biggest thing in here is the desk, a standup desk with a monitor and my laptop, and that's about it. Nothing fancy. I thought maybe I'd get some lights to brighten it up or something on the wall, but it's just bare walls, a blind, a bed and a desk.

I move a lot around, so I'll move downstairs and work on the kitchen table. And then a couple of days a week I'll go out to the local cafes– the dog friendly ones– where I can just take the dog and we just hang out there for a few hours.

I don't put too much weight on my home environment like a lot of people I know. I wish I could maybe, but when we get a bigger house, maybe I'll have a dedicated space to call my own.

I have a window. I’m looking out over the neighbor's garden. Luckily we're on the back of the house, so when it gets warm, this room stays nice and cool. But yeah, there's nothing remarkable about my workspace, unfortunately. It's pretty plain.

Matthew Munger: Do you listen to anything while you work?

Matt Evans: I used to do a lot of brown noise, white noise type of 40 hertz tracks, because I have some ADHD tendencies. And that tends to calm my brain down a bit and let me focus on one task at a time. More recently I've actually started listening to, like, rock playlists. And that seems to do a similar job, and not get so monotonous as the brown noise, 40 hertz beats that I used to have on YouTube.

Our 20 month old, also, he enjoys sticking a bit of AC/DC on the morning as well. So it’s serving two purposes now, so it’s great fun. Yeah.


Matthew Munger: Do you have any hobbies or interests?

Matt Evans: I used to play rugby a lot. My wife and I actually met playing rugby, we were playing on the same mixed, touch rugby team. That used to take up a lot of my time. I used to play sort of proper rugby, as they call it, up until I was about 30.

And then as the bones started creaking a bit, I switched to the less aggressive form. So yeah, I used to do that a lot. Since we moved over here and had a young family, that's become a little bit harder to do. A lot of the time it's more getting out. We'd spend a lot of time out and about with the dog. It's a good excuse to explore new trails in the area. Whether it's on the coast– we go over to the west coast where my wife is from a lot, which the scenery is amazing. You know, you're dealing with big mountains and gorgeous, world-leading beaches.

So just being out and about and trekking is probably something that, yeah, I would call it a hobby and interest because we do it at least once a week. I used to be big into my skiing and snowboarding and used to try and do that a lot, as much as you can do from where we are, where there is no snow.

Matthew Munger: Where would you go to get skiing in?

Matt Evans: Mainly the Alps in France and Austria. Although one year we went to India, went to Kashmir.

Matthew Munger: Oh wow.

Matt Evans: We went there for 10 days and had the most amazing sort of deep powder experience, where we had a few local guides who just took us up the mountain all day. And yeah, we had 10 days of ridiculous snow that we've never seen before. So when we came back to Europe, we were a little bit disappointed. But yeah, that was my last sort of big, big trip where I was doing it with a friend and we, you know, packed up, went, take it as it comes kind of trip. And it was amazing. But, yeah, I haven't done that in a while.

Matthew Munger: Yeah. It sounds like outdoors and kind of adventure– or maybe even extreme– sports have kind of been something you're into for a while.

Matt Evans: Yeah, definitely. I lived in New Zealand for a year, and part of my journey there was because I just loved the way that they spent every day outdoors. I lived in a place called Queenstown, which is in the south island. And it’s kind of an adventure mecca.

They have a lot of the bungee jumping and skydiving, but just generally, I worked in a mountain bike shop renting out mountain bikes. And then in the evenings, the local guys would come over and go, “Hey, do you wanna come out and we'll just camp underneath the rock and go rock climbing in the evening and wake up here and go back to work again in the morning?”

It's those kinds of vibes. So, yeah, I did a lot of that over there. It’s a bit harder to do in the UK and London. It's not as accessible, but we’re hoping that if we move out of Dublin one day that we can reignite that with the kids and get them into, you know, the outdoors and that kind of stuff.

So yeah, it plays a big part in our life. We're not a huge sit indoors at home kind of family.


Matthew Munger: You've mentioned a lot of things you've done already, but is there anything that would surprise people to learn about you? 

Matt Evans: The one thing I tell people is I learned how to fly a plane on my own before I learned how to drive a car. I was very lucky when I was 16, going on 17. I got a scholarship to the Royal Air Force in the UK. They gave out scholarships for teaching people how to fly.

And I went up to Scotland for three weeks. Sort of an intensive course, I guess. And yeah, I got the train up there and they taught me how to fly a plane. And I did 3 hours on my own in a little Cessna. And that was the summer before I was allowed to drive a car legally. 

I've determined I did 20 hours of training and you had to do 40 hours to get your full license and I'm pretty determined one day I'll get my full license and be scooting around the air of Ireland and hopping back to Wales every so often. But yeah, one day.

Matthew Munger: That would be cool.

Matt Evans: Very cool, yeah.


Matthew Munger: What is your role and how do you describe what you do?

Matt Evans: So day to day now, I’m essentially a Webflow developer who freelances for independent clients. I don't do a lot of design work, mainly dev. So I would speak with the clients, either liaise with their design team or work with a designer that we can find independently, and turn those designs into a Webflow site. And then connect it to any of the services that we need to sort of bring it to life.

Yeah, that's my day job. I love bringing static files, I guess you can call them, into interactive files that everyone else in the world can interact with. So, to be honest, I thought I was gonna be a pilot when I was younger.

Matthew Munger: Hmm.

Matt Evans: My dad was a pilot, and I sort of had an interest in doing that. And then I kind of went into the business side of things. I was very interested in creating a business that sold something to someone. And I never really thought that technology would be a major part of that. 

So yeah, being a Webflow developer, I think I did a bit of freelance front end stuff way back, maybe 10 years ago. And it never really stuck as a thing I thought I would be good enough to sell my skills at. And it wasn't really until probably three years ago now where I heard about Webflow. And Webflow popped up and it was like, “Wow, I can do this all visually, and I can move quicker and I can create what's in my head a little bit more proactively than in a code editor. Wow. Maybe I can make a living out of being good at this.” Webflow is just a magical thing that you can open and 10 minutes later you've got someone looking at the stuff that you are looking at. It is just, yeah, it is pretty cool when you think about it like that,


Matthew Munger: What motivates and excites you to keep going on this journey of building cool stuff on the web?

Matt Evans: It's working with people. My favorite clients are the clients that come to me because they want my thoughts on how to do something in a way that will help their business go forward. So I'm not super keen on– or very good at, to be honest– the design concepts. I just love the problem solving, that a client will come to you and go, “Okay, look, this is our problem. This is the custom that we have. This is what we want to get them to feel when they hit our website, and this is what we want them to do as a result of seeing what they see on our website.” 

And that just gives me the excitement and the motivation to go in. And I can play with the CMS stuff and I can look at call-to-actions and just look at the site map and see, “Okay, maybe the information infrastructure needs to be changed around a little bit.” All that kind of stuff. 

The fact that you can do that without getting your head too far into the technical weeds is what excites me. It does light a little bit of a fire inside me when a challenge comes up. It just adds a layer that makes it so much more interesting and richer because you start having deeper conversations with the client and that’s the human bit of it, you’re not just pushing pixels on a screen. You're actually helping someone who's– You know, I work with an accountancy firm, and they're very small, but they sell across the world. And it's just amazing to see what these guys are doing, and I'm able to be part of that problem solving when they launch a new course or they launch a new product. It's me that can be part of that little cog that makes it a little bit more efficient. And that's very satisfying.


Matthew Munger: I'm interested to know, what do you think is a resource that more people should know about?

Matt Evans: Oh, good question. I think from a web developer point of view, and it’s going back a long time, but there’s a website called CSS Zen Garden, which is a website that has all the layout and the content is fixed, essentially. And you have to use CSS, or the styles to change what it looks like on the page.

And if you're familiar with how Webflow works, and not so familiar with how CSS or the underlying bit of how the styles are applied, I would encourage going and having a look, and having a little bit of a deep dive in what people can do by just changing the styles applied to a piece of content. It's mind blowing. 

It's been around for many years, I think. I don’t know, it must be 20 years old now, and it hasn't changed. Maybe 20 years is a bit long, but however long CSS has been around. It just gives you a bit more of a fundamental understanding of how Webflow can do what it does, how the browser, essentially, can be changed and manipulated– or what you see in the browser can be changed and manipulated to look so different by different styles that you put on it. 

Yeah, CSS Zen Garden is just very old school, but it's still, I think, a fundamental way to learn how CSS and HTML kind of work together.

I guess it's like, in a Webflow way, it explains things in a visual way, when probably before that, it was quite hard to concept around what’s different between the CSS and the HTML and how they work together. Yeah, it does a great job at doing that.


Matthew Munger: Who is someone in the Webflow community that inspires you?

Matt Evans: I think the first person is probably Jack Redley of Webflail fame. I think, by his own reckoning, he's not a super experienced Webflow developer, but he has a knack of bringing lots of Webflow people together. Personally, he’s helped me a lot over the last year. I just talk through stuff with Jack. It's great to have a different perspective. And the energy he brings to everything he does is infectious. Yeah, he's just a big inspiration.

Matthew Munger: Mm-hmm.

Matt Evans: Who else is there? I suppose Max Joles who I worked with at 8020. He was a very good mentor of mine when I was there– I was there for just over a year.

And yeah, he was sort of my line manager, but it never felt like he was a traditional line manager. But Max's technical abilities are second to none. And when he doesn't know how something should be done, he has a great way of finding out, or at least instilling the confidence in the rest of the team to be able to find out. He doesn’t spoon feed you solutions. It’s a great skill, and yeah, he's a very good person to know and he's very inspirational in the way he goes around his business. 


Matthew Munger: What is some advice that you would like to share with others? What's something that's really had an impact on you, something you've learned or shared with you?

Matt Evans: I think the biggest thing in the last probably two or three years is I would encourage everyone to reach out to people that they see in the community doing good stuff that they respect. But reach out to them, because at the end of the day, most people are, generally for the most part, very approachable. They're human and they actually enjoy interacting with others in the community. 

Sometimes it might feel like there's people, you know, doing lots of good stuff and they’re very technical and they're doing these YouTube videos and it's great. But just reaching out and speaking to them. Yes, we're all behind a keyboard, of the day, but just drop a DM to someone if you want to ask them a question. Don't be afraid because the vast majority of people will reply with an answer. They'll reply with advice. But generally they'll reply as a human who just wants to talk as well. So that's the only thing I could say. 

It’s a brilliant community. It's probably one of the best communities I've ever been part of outside of my local rugby team who I play with on Saturdays. You know, it has that feel-good factor that I haven't found anywhere else in my many years of professional life.


Matthew Munger: Well, speaking of connecting, can others in the community reach out and connect with you?

Matt Evans: So you can find me on Twitter, if we call it that, most days. So yeah, just drop me a note on Twitter. Or LinkedIn I check every so often. But yeah, just drop me a Twitter and I’ll try and get back to you. And yeah, maybe we can arrange a call and just hang out for an hour or two and listen to rock music. Who knows.

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