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Part 3: Tech Life Podcast with Creative Director Aaron Quinn [Interview]

Continuation of Part 2: 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.

What are some of the events and activities here locally that folks who are interested should plug themselves into?

There’s a lot going on so you’ve got Refresh Charleston, so Karl does a great job with that, Startup Grind. We recently took over the Charleston UX group, so our team here is really managing that. So we had one of our first events this week. We also put on Dribbble CHS, another event for local designers and we’re working on, I think, even putting together a developer group as well. So there’s lots going on but those are – just to name a few – some really great ones to take a look at.

And we were fortunate to chat with you as part of our Revolve conference recap episode a while back. You presented at the conference, what was the presentation about and what was the experience like for you? 

As far as the experience goes, it was great. I think it was a really good first conference. The team there put together a great line up, I think it was a really great group of people that came out to the event, a really kind of mixed groups, which is always nice to have people from all different types of industries and really kind of come in together for common knowledge share.

So I think as far as my experience goes, it was great. I’m looking forward to it again. My talk was You Can’t Afford Not To Prototype. So it’s basically kind of a look at our process and the evolution of our process that really uses a prototyping mentality or an evolution mentality to help generate more and really better ideas while gauging feasibility, i.e. time and budget and technology. And that basically allows us to focus on the most important areas of a design or a project to really maximize the value that a project or clients sees.

It’s really a snapshot and an introduction into some of those major principles and thinking that has kind of allowed us to generate better ideas on projects that we’re working on with this process and bridge language gaps for different departments, whether it’s I.T or the ecomm department or the marketing department helping people reduce confusion and waste and allowing us to do things like usability testing. But really, in the end, it’s about saving time, effort and money so we can put that back into a project and do better and better works. 

We got a lot of great feedback on the talk. I did the talk again this week. And so we’re putting together the next evolution on where we’ll go with that talking about maybe a book, maybe a workshop. So stay tuned on that.

And we hear a lot of talk about the need to attract tech-talented Charleston. Is there anything unique or especially challenging about attracting creative talent?

Aaron I think right now as far as attracting and getting talent, I think it’s about having to compete, I think, with large companies right now. It could be large technology companies or internal departments, whether it’s an insurance company or a hospital. I think there’s just more and more demand for the talent, whether it’d be in a creative field or development or user experience or research, there’s just such a need and it’s really driven by – you can barely pick up a product now where there’s not some bit of technology that integrates with it. Or with our work being so much in ecomm and on online, nowadays with the holidays – I mean, that’s where people are focused from buying gifts to groceries, really, and having that be a regular thing.

I think there’s so much of a need for it that we’re not generating enough people and talent. The problem is always, you can teach people but they need experience. So it’s just new and there’s a lot of growth going on. So it’s about finding the right people. I think Charleston is really kind of – we see it as our ace in the hole, it’s something that we dangle heavily in front of people because it’s such a wonderful place. I think with bigger cities like San Francisco and New York, I mean, when you look at the cost of living and the quality of life, there’s a huge cost of living difference and a huge quality of life depending on what you really value when you make the transition to a place like Charleston.

So I think we use that as a cookie, so to speak. And then really kind of focusing on, hey, you’re here in Charleston providing a company and a culture that values work-life balance and family. And then also really just focusing on people not necessarily being just kind of another cog in a huge company or system where we really focus on people that really want to do work where they’re in the trenches, they’re making things happen and they’re getting to see that. So I think that’s kind of how we approach recruiting, we’re always recruiting, so we’re always looking for people and keeping an eye out for people. 

It goes more than just putting jobs up on the website, it’s so much more than that.

And what’s your perspective on the tremendous growth in the tech industry here over the past few years and what’s driving it? 

It’s kind of what I talked about earlier. I think nowadays, technology is becoming so much a part of everything we do. I mean, very little of the gifts I bought for my family or my kids [didn’t] have some technology component or be purely based on technology. So I think our services, our products, everything is becoming integrated with this need. So it’s inevitable that – with a city like Charleston which is progressive – we’re going to grow in that area. So having that growth, I think, is inevitable.
I think part of it has to do with the need and desire to get out of the normal areas. The San Francisco, the New Yorks. Trying to get away from that in those large cities where cost of living is so challenging. So I think that’s where you’re starting to see some of those growth areas in terms of Austin or Boulder, Colorado which is where we were originally from and started eHouse. You’re seeing those growth in those areas, that’s where people, I think, are gravitating to.

What are some of your favorite aspects of living and working in Charleston?

Well, I’m a surfer so I love being by the water, there’s nothing like being able to get in the water, have a quick surf in the morning and come in. We’ve got a shower here so I can get changed and get to work. And we’re downtown so it’s a beautiful city, great food, great beaches, great things for families to do. There’s really just so much to offer that we fell in love with it. My wife and I were here on a weekend and basically ended up buying a house on a whim, in all honesty, and that was 10 years ago. So we were bitten by the bug.

And where can listeners go to learn more about eHouse Studio?

They can find us at www.ehousestudio.com and always great to sign up for our newsletter which you can find on the site which has information about what we’re up to, information we’re sharing and then we also do a pretty good job communicating on what’s going on with local events and things that we’re putting on and things that are happening around us.

Great. Well, Aaron Quinn, founder and creative director of eHouse Studio, thanks for joining us today on the show.

Great. Thanks for having me.

Rich: Really enjoyed my conversation with Aaron. Many of the issues that eHouse is helping its clients tackle resonated personally with my own career experiences. I’ve had a front row seat to the evolution of software and use experience design throughout my career and spent the last couple of years helping a software company grown and mature its UX practice.

It’s exciting to know that we have thought leaders in the discipline like Aaron right here in Charleston. It’s a field where we can expect to see significant demand for talent as local tech startups continue to grow. I encourage local listeners to seek out events hosted by eHouse and to look for them at events around.

Listen to the entire podcast below.