This week, we meet thee Wes O’Haire, designer extraordinaire.
So how you doing?
Me? I’m doing pretty good. Just talked with some middle schoolers & junior highers for career day, and getting ready to get going on some redesigns.
What are you redesigning?
Starting off with a new Influxis.com website, and then we will be redesigining the customer portal. Huge update!
Sweet! Sounds like you have weeks worth of work ahead…
Easily, just those two alone, will be about 2 months. I think it will be in Q3 that we plan on launching the new wizard.
So tell me what’s your favorite part of what you do at Influxis?
My favorite part of what I do is a combination of brainstorming new feature ideas or UX flows. That’s probably the best part of it – coming up with UX flows and prototyping those out.
What’s your design background?
Started designing in Photoshop 4. <Laughter> I feel like a frickin’ dinosaur. We are now version 20 or something. “Your momma’s so old, her IP address is 1.” <laughter>
I started Photoshop 4 back in high school, and from there started doing small projects for friends, and then eventually started learning web technologies like Flash, HTML and CSS. I got my degree in graphic design from CSUN, and have been in the industry ever since.
What is the future of the design industry? You know where it’s been, where is it going?
I think the future of the design industry is going to be a little bit like my own personal journey which is going from consulting and designing for clients to designing and making web products that either get resold or are a service in and of themselves. There will always be a need for consulting and freelancing, but I think there is a shift away from that.
Into more of a product approach. There have been several design/development agencies that have converted into startups. Basecamp(formerly 37signals) is a good example. Heroku is another good example. They were a development agency, but they turned into a platform.
That’s right. So do how you see Influxis evolving over the 7 years you’ve been there?
I will start with this. We are historically a dev company – founded by developers for developers. That’s probably our strongest tool in our toolbag. But I think we will begin to evolve into a lot more of a user experience and customer experience type of company where our platform and our apps will be a lot more intuitive, easier to use, and just a higher quality overall. We’re taking it up a notch! And beyond that I think Influxis will be able to build a stronger brand outside of the niche that we’ve been in.
What niche is that? The developer niche?
Yeah, the Flash developer niche. Because if you were a former Flash developer, you probably know who Influxis is. But probably 95% of the developers out there (Node, Ruby, PHP, Python - those guys) – none of those guys know who we are.
Do you work with branding and if so, what do you think needs to happen in order to reach those guys? What does Influxis have to offer that crowd?
I don’t really know if it’s marketing stuff. We’re building a lot more features into our platform that are geared towards modern developers, like the API. We just created the API which appeals to that crowd a lot, because most modern developers are API driven. As far as marketing goes…doing things that we’re already good at, but doing them in new places and venues – like meeting people at conferences and getting to know those players in those circles.
Makes sense to me. So what is the most exciting or your favorite project you’ve worked on during your tenure at Influxis?
My favorite project so far has been the most recent design of the customer portal mainly because it’s the main app that our customers use – in a lot of ways the customer portal is the product that our customers use. It was the first time I personally got to work on that. And it was the first time we migrated from Flash to HTML and .NET and whatnot. Migrating it to HTML opens us up to a lot more options – like better integration with third party services, mobile compatibility, faster run times, all that jazz.
How has own role developed in the business over time? Have you always been working on the kind of projects you’re doing now?
No. When I first started I was mainly just designing our marketing materials, and our apps and then smaller things on our website. Then over time, I started to design everything which included the website. As our company has moved into HTML, I’ve been doing a lot more front end development as well because HTML and CSS is part of my background. So instead of just sending a comp to Noe [an Influxis developer] or someone like that to put into Flash, I send it to myself to build it out in HTML.
That’s like throwing a pass to yourself and then catching it to score a touchdown. So you’re more than simply a designer. You’re also a coder.
Yeah, honestly, I wouldn’t say I’m strictly a designer. I probably spend more than half of my time doing front end development.
Do you like to do it all or do you wish you had more people to spread out the work?
I guess I enjoy the challenge of it, but it would be nice to have a real front-end developer just because, even though I do it and I do it alright, I got into it more by happenstance. There are guys way better than me that could crank out cleaner code quicker than I could.
So to wrap it up, on a personal note , I hear your first year anniversary is coming up. Any words for the special lady who might be reading this?
Let’s go to San Diego and feed some giraffes!
Awesome! Have a good time, fatten up those long-necked beasts, and keep designing crazy cool stuff - Influxis is better because of it.