Continuation of Part 1: Tech Life Podcast with Creative Director Aaron Quinn
Recently our creative director and founder Aaron Quinn sat down with Rich Conte to discuss how eHouse Studio is helping companies; big and small, local and national with their branding and user experience design needs.
[Transcription from interview]
And as an experience practitioner and even thought leader in the field of user experience, what are some of the aspects of the discipline that you’re most passionate or excited about?
The whole area and whole user experience/customer experience thing is shifting, it’s changing, there’s a lot going on. I think we’re still kind of trying to define what it is as an industry. I think what we’re really passionate about, I would say, is working with companies and brands where we’re really trying to understand how we can use their brand essence, their company strategies and really use user experience design and strategy kind of as a vehicle for just making their customers happy. If we can do that we can make healthier businesses and healthier brands.
I think what we’re really passionate about, I would say, is working with companies and brands where we’re really trying to understand how we can use their brand essence, their company strategies and really use user experience design and strategy kind of as a vehicle for just making their customers happy.
But I think that’s what we’re really excited about, I think that’s what we’re passionate about is feeling like we have the power and the know-how and the knowledge to do that and make an impact whether it’s for something small or for something really big. I think we’re really excited. We work for our clients but we say we work for their customers, that’s what we’re excited about and I think that’s what gets us out of bed in the morning.
And you talk about the evolution of the UX discipline and it’s interesting to watch as the field evolves and broadens at the same time and specializes in the distinct sub disciplines. How do you at eHouse connect your work with the ongoing evolution and growth of the discipline?
That’s a great question. I think we try and stay really focused on some core beliefs. One of our core values is really innovation focused on customers and employees. So that’s kind of our north star, it’s like anything else, I think. Even though the industry is changing, and evolving and maturing and we’ve got sub disciplines like UX research and things like that all learning their place in the world and really, design in general learning its place in the world in terms of how it belongs in the C-suite and at the executive level.
I think for us, we believe that as all those things are changing and shifting, it really boils down to – companies still have the same problems; they need to solve problems, they need to provide good experiences for their customers, they need to differentiate. And if we focus on those as kind of a north stare that’s always a good thing for us. And then I think, really, we’re always kind of focused on where our clients – not necessarily where the disciplines are always going but where our clients are. We need to be up to date and really understand what’s happening in the UX field and what we can learn from. But what’s more important for us is what do our clients look like, where do their needs fall and how do we align with those needs?
So as many of our clients – they have brand strategies or business strategies in place. So we might focus our work and do focus our work on how we can use that to take those different pieces and execute that across a user experience or a user interface. How do we distill that and present that through experience design? Mailchimp is kind of a perfect example of that; they have an extremely strong brand and a brand essence and a company and a product strategy. And it’s really just trickled through everything they do. There’s not that really good experience here but a really bad experience over here, it’s all really consistent.
So as companies change and our clients change and they bring on some of this internal knowledge and skills, we’ve kind of shifted ourselves to pair where they’re not. And so continuing to kind of add value. So we might provide UI kits and frontend development and train them on how to use those because they have internal teams. So providing the IT teams or the internal design teams or UX people with either the resources or the knowledge, or training or pieces for them to take it to the next step.
Some of our work really involves concepting work and kind of challenging the current through process. Being an outside party, you can have a lot of advantages; you can look at things in a really different way. So we provide that as an opportunity for our clients and with Rick being one of my partner, you know, he has a long background and being a strategy executive at a Fortune 500 company and consulting with Fortune 500 companies. So for us, we’ve done a lot of work and, you know, how do we help internal UX teams communicate and align with senior teams around company strategy and things like that and communicate in a way and build that kind of common understanding?
I think it’s also exciting; we have the opportunity to make it what it will be. We’re not just putting things out and it’s just happening and nobody is looking at them and it’s not super critical to the business. The things that we’re doing are critical, they’re pivotal, they’re so important to the business and the people that, essentially, we serve that it’s a bigger and bigger responsibility. So we just have kind of shifted our focus to work with, whether it’s companies like Mailchimp or whatever just to kind of work with them and say, like, how can we plug in, where can we add value?
The things that we’re doing are critical, they’re pivotal, they’re so important to the business and the people that, essentially, we serve that it’s a bigger and bigger responsibility.
We’ve got McKenzie and those types of organizations going, “If you don’t learn design and your company doesn’t value design, you’re in trouble. You’re literally in trouble.” So what you’ve got is people going out and they’re hiring people, going “Let’s just hire 30 designers” and yet they have no idea what to do with them. And these designers come in because we need them so fast. We’re hiring people right out of school, they don’t have the experience. And so having conversations about “yes, I know we need to redesign that but it’s not in the roadmap, it’s not in the budget.” So we need to figure out how do we get the biggest [bang] with optimization changes or how do we convince them that it needs to be part of the CapEx?
It’s not there, so we’re kind of like little kids screaming and in our rooms going “Why don’t they understand?” And it’s because we’re not speaking their language. We have a program here at eHouse that we work really extensively with our team on a regular basis which is basically just learning how to speak to C-suite executive level teams because Rick was the one, really early on a go – you know, it’s an industry full of craftsman, they’re doing a lot of wonderful things. They just don’t know how to communicate at an executive level and how to get it through. And especially when it’s so important, it needs to get through.
And so we spend a lot of time with new team members and that sort of thing taking them through “how do you communicate, what does an executive summary truly look like and why is it so important” and really going through that aspect of the engagement with our clients because that’s the part that’s really hard because that’s what we haven’t been learning over the last 14 years of building our craft. We don’t know how to do that, we’ve never been in that room before.
And a big focus of our show is the growth of the tech and startup communities here in Charleston. How would you characterize the UX and design community here, specifically, and how would you compare it to the community in other cities?
It’s growing like lots of things in Charleston really fast. I think it’s great to see design and user experience and product companies coming in to play and all that kind of technology happening in Charleston. We’ve got a lot of exciting new thought leadership coming in as well as events like GIANT and Revolve. All that stuff, I think, is really adding up to what we’re seeing as – you know, we see better and better attendance at meet-ups that we have at our office and other local meet-ups and then seeing things like the Iron Yard come in.
I think all in all, it’s really healthy for Charleston. I think in terms of how it compares to other cities, I think it’s still very early. I think it’s in its infancy but I think we’re on a really kind of exciting trajectory. And I think if stay at this pace we’re going to see very similar growth or a very similar type of local markets like Boulder and Austin where those communities are maybe a little bit more mature. But I think we’re on a really good trajectory and I’m excited. That’s why we’re here in Charleston.
Listen to the entire podcast below.