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DEVELOPER SPOTLIGHT: Shane Santiago, SBS Studios

This is the first of what I hope will be a long running series from the Horizon Interactive Awards content department. The Developer Spotlight is an interview session with many of the top designers and developers of interactive media from around the world.  I will kick this off with an interview with Shane B. Santiago of SBS Studios in Jacksonville Florida.

HIA: Shane, Thank you for taking the time to be our first interviewee in, what I hope to be, a popular blog post category on the Horizon Interactive Awards website.

SHANE: Thanks so much for having me. We’re excited to be a part of it and honored to be considered!

HIA: What is your background, Shane? (where you are from, experience, etc.)

SHANE: I was born in Hawaii, but grew up in Jacksonville Beach, Florida. I graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in advertising. My first job was at OgilvyInteractive in New York and that’s when digital became my life!

HIA: Shane, tell us a little about what your company does, types of projects, clients, etc.

SHANE: SBS Studios is a digital creative agency. We develop the creative for all facets of digital communication; from sites, advertising and social media to mobile and more. We’re lucky to have a great mix of clients, mainly because our client roster reflects our own personal interests. Why not get to work on stuff you’re personally passionate about, right? So our clients range from entertainment and gaming, to hospitality, to nonprofits and associations. We work with Marriott International, Discovery, the American Advertising Federation, ADCOLOR, the Ad Council, and the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, just to name a few.

HIA: How did you get started in the business and when?

SHANE: As I mentioned before, my first job out of school was in the late 90s at Ogilvy. Such a great way to get experience working on some of the world’s biggest brands with some really remarkable and talented people. My time there really set the stage for how I’d approach my entire career, especially from a creative process. I didn’t know I was going to be working in digital when I started; it just happened that I was put on one of the Interactive Creative Director’s teams, and the rest is history.

HIA: What do you think is the most important thing about your work in terms of the customer’s perspective?

SHANE: It’s really about the experience first and foremost. What we try to do is to really try and discover what makes a particular audience member tick and develop an experience that engages them and goes beyond simply fulfilling expectations, but truly immersing them in the story.

HIA: I know that you have entered and won in multiple Horizon Interactive Awards competitions.  You have even provided some valuable feedback about the competition that we have used to shape future seasons. Tell us why you enter the HIA and what it means to win the awards.

SHANE: We enter the HIA because we see some of the great work being recognized, along with the amazing agencies and brands. We really look up to a lot of these agencies and aspire to contribute to the industry much in the same way they do. We’ve found that the HIA is a great way of honoring that work, and we’re really grateful to have been recognized alongside some of those folks.

HIA: Where do you see web technology and design going in 2012?

SHANE: I think it’s going to continue to push the boundaries of being more adaptive and responsive; about recognizing the shift to mobile and tablets that’s been going on for years and taking advantage of how people interact with various devices while at the same time not sacrificing creativity and content.

HIA: What are some of the technologies you utilize with your projects?

SHANE: We try to stay “platform agnostic” and not latch onto any specific technology without appropriately identifying it as the right one for our clients and their needs, since they vary so much. That being said, we’re identifying opportunities for standardization using HTML5 and CSS3 where we can, and we like to experiment with various front-end platforms that use Javascript, and we still do some Flash. With back-end platforms, we are a little more wide open for the reasons I mentioned but we find ourselves working with PHP, and .NET frequently. And of course we’re growing into the mobile space more, with Objective C and others.

HIA: What do you think is most important about design for web?

SHANE: I think continued innovation and creativity. If you have a compelling story to tell, you’ll find the technology to do it. If the design and creative are truly engaging for the user, the tech behind it should feel seamless.

HIA: Where do you turn for creative inspiration?

SHANE: Everywhere! My wife and son. Sometimes I’ll watch my son Bradley playing and it’s so interesting to watch how he experiences the world. The SBS crew is very inspiring, and I’m lucky to work with some of the most creative people in the business. I also make it a routine of mine to regularly check out blogs, galleries, books and movies for inspiration. And definitely we look around at other digital agencies to see how they’re pushing the industry forward as well.

HIA: Do you have anything else you’d like to add to our interview?

SHANE: Nothing other than saying thank you again for having me and for recognizing all the great work that’s being put out there!

HIA: Shane, 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.

If you want to learn more about SBS Studios visit their website: www.sbsstudios.com or follow on Twitter: @sbsstudios