The Developer Spotlight is an interview session with many of the top designers and developers of interactive media from around the world. This edition will be an interview with Jeff Jahn from DynamiX in Kennesaw, GA. Learn more about DynamiX at their website: www.dynamixwebdesign.com
HIA: Jeff, Thank you for taking the time to talk with us. I am hoping that by sharing stories and interviews of developers all over the world, we may begin to be a source where business owners, designers and developers can go to share ideas and learn from one another. Most importantly, we are keeping with our mission to highlight great talent from across the globe.
JEFF: Thanks so much for having me! We have been long time fans of the Horizon Interactive Awards, and it’s a pleasure to be with you.
HIA: First off, tell us a little about your background: (where you are from, experience, etc.)
JEFF: I grew up in the Atlanta area, and have been working with computers since I was very young. My first “business” came at 14, setting up networks and computers for small businesses. Having to ask clients to drive me to their offices was a little embarrassing, so I took a break from entrepreneurship for a couple years and talked my way into a position on the IT staff at my high school instead.
In the past ten years, I have founded and co-founded six companies, all with a significant digital focus. One of them, a neighborhood-based social media platform called Home Elephant was featured nationally in dozens of publications including Fast Company, The Huffington Post, Fox News, Adweek, CBS The Early Show and many others.
HIA: How did your business start and when?
JEFF: I founded DynamiX as a sophomore at Berry College in 2005. I actually started developing websites shortly before that time, as a way to afford an alarm system and other various things for my car. From there, I was rapidly introduced to many small businesses and began taking on a full time workload. While it was difficult to balance a full time class schedule with running a business (my first full time hire came as a senior), it also afforded me the ability to directly work with some amazing professors and staff that helped to accelerate my growth.
HIA: Jeff, tell us a little about what your company does, types of projects, clients, etc.
JEFF: We specialize in hand crafted, highly unique websites for great companies. We’re not the “template shop” developers, rather we dedicate ourselves to creating sites designed to truly solve the needs of our clients.
We typically work with small/mid-size businesses, and tend to avoid heavy ecommerce because it’s generally not possible to create a highly interactive and exciting experience under the confines of an e-commerce environment.
We have developed over 250 websites for businesses around the country, working with small companies all the way up to nationally syndicated radio show hosts and just about everything in between.
HIA: What do you think is the most important thing about your work in terms of the customer’s perspective?
JEFF: That’s a great question. I would probably say it’s our approach to the process. We take on a limited number of clients, allowing us to fully immerse ourselves in the culture and personality of the businesses we work with. Moreover, we take a very deep dive into where their challenges and opportunities are, as well as learning what really sets the business apart from others in their space.
Before ever touching a wireframe or a line of code, we have a very thorough understanding of the business and what needs to happen in order to dramatically improve their effectiveness online.
Thereafter, we put the control of the website in the client’s hands, allowing them to make even significant changes easily and without needing our support. Of course we are there to help, but to me a critical part of a good website comes in the ability to manage and maintain that solution without having to continuously lean on a developer for changes.
HIA: Talk a little about how you have seen the trends in web design changing over the last few years in terms of how you design, code and generally what elements are important.
JEFF: For one, the number of devices has exploded in the past several years, from tiny phones to “phablets” and up to high-end retina displays. Many businesses even use TV’s and other nontraditional devices. The site has to not only look beautiful across all of these different channels, but also tailor itself intelligently to the device. As an example, on a small mobile phone your number one goal is most likely going to be ensuring a lightning fast load time and making it incredibly easy to find the company’s contact information and call them. On a desktop, you want great visuals that guide the visitor through what makes the company great, getting them excited about moving forward. Without dedicating significant attention to the details and optimizing the experience, it’s all too easy to nail one aspect but completely miss the mark on another.
Beyond devices, the emergence of CSS3 and HTML5 have really allowed developers to create amazing things that weren’t possible just a few years ago, and faster phones and computers are allowing more complex animation than ever before.
HIA: Where do you see web technology and design going in 2015 and beyond? Are there things on the horizon you plan to begin adding into your workflow?
JEFF: It’s anyone’s guess as to how disruptive new technology including virtual reality and wearables will be, but at a minimum I think we’re going to continue to see more of a transition towards web components and other technologies designed to allow developers even more control over creating highly creative, scalable products. As to us and our workflow, we are always tinkering with the latest technologies, so it’s a lot of fun any time we get to work with something new.
HIA: Where do you turn for creative inspiration?
JEFF: Aside from the various award and inspiration galleries, I look a lot to product design and packaging, automotive design and even what I come across in the real world. I’m a big believer in looking for inspiration in unusual places, as I’ve found it helps create truly unique and compelling experiences that aren’t merely copies of ideas that others have had.
HIA: You have not entered the Horizon Interactive Awards in the past. What do awards programs do for you and your business and why did you decide to participate with the 2014 Horizon Interactive Awards.
JEFF: It’s funny. We’ve been in business for almost a decade now, but up until a few months ago we had never submitted any of our work for recognition, anywhere. Call it a personality quirk, but I’ve always had an aversion to publicizing our successes or our projects, preferring to build great things for our clients’ enjoyment rather than looking for a broader audience.
It took our hiring a marketing director towards the end of last year before we finally started to dive into showcasing our work in other places. I’m glad we have, as it’s exciting for both our team and clients to enjoy knowing that our hard work has been appreciated.
HIA: Do you have anything else you’d like to add to our interview?
JEFF: Thanks very much for inviting me to chat, and for developing a fantastic medium for showcasing the creative work of companies around the world.
HIA: Jeff, thank you for taking the time to talk with us. I wish you the best of luck in this year’s competition and with all that you do for your clients.