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June 5, 2014 - No Comments!

An Interview with Kellen Styler, Associate Director of Product Design at Hook & Loop

KellenBlog2How would you describe what you do to your family and friends?

I would tell them I manage product design and the creative process in building engaging paradigms for enterprise-level solutions.  My role at Hook & Loop is very much focused on process: refining how we handle engagements—whether with Infor or external clients—by using existing tools in our toolbox within each discipline.

What did you do before joining Hook & Loop?

I was the lead UX technologist for a company called Universal Mind. There, I managed a team of technologists whose talents ranged from strategy, information architecture, design, and development for both web and mobile. When I wasn’t managing I was running a project from start to finish: figuring out the business needs and goals, requirements for prototypes, wire framing, design, and full-on development for HTML web and iOS mobile.

Did you ever think you would be working for an enterprise software company?

Yes. I’ve been doing that for the past nine years!

What do you enjoy most about being with Hook & Loop?

Since I am a little new, I’m still figuring some things out. But what’s so exciting for me here is the opportunity to come in and build a better collaborative process that capitalizes off of the different talents we have within the product team.

I’m excited at the chance to help each team member grow, design better experiences, and to figure out ways to add engagement into enterprise software. Design is one step, but engagement is where you make users excited about using your software. The goal is for people to use Infor products not because they have to, but because they want to.

What do you do when you are not working?

Simple Bots. On this site I explore design, UX, and gesture driven interactions within iOS mobile paradigms, and then develop, build, and deploy it to Apple’s app store. Honestly, my job is my fun. But my wife and I are also huge foodies. And I love snowboarding when I get the chance to do it.

What's been your greatest career challenge?

Coming to Hook & Loop into a leadership role definitely conquers my last career challenge. In terms of a challenge I’ve experienced over the course of my career, it would be repeatedly having to convince management of the importance of user validation and prototyping design concepts as being integral to deciding if something is a good solution.

How do you effectively manage your team members?

It’s all about communication. Providing better communication to different teams so there is an understanding of where we are, where we’re headed, and what we need to do to get there.

You've developed a pretty cool app. Can you tell me about it?

A friend of mine and I decided we wanted to build an iPhone app. We had our day-to-day jobs, but we wanted to explore mobile paradigms in a fun and engaging way. We sat down and tried to figure out what we wanted to do. We wanted to do something people would use on a daily basis.

We came up with the idea of an alarm clock because there are tons in the app store already, but we didn’t feel that any of them were addressing the key points of simplicity and a better UX. A lot were adding in extra features or recreating the wheel with different colors or a different menu.

And so we created Rise, an alarm clock that is true to form, simple, uses gesture driven UIs, and at its heart is fun to use. 2.5 million people have downloaded it to date.

Why do you think design is so critical to enterprise solutions? 

Design brings character, beauty, interaction, movement, and engagement to an application. Character is important, especially in the enterprise. Every application should have a unique character—in terms of how it looks, feels, and its interaction paradigms, so that it becomes distinctly familiar to the user. Design is the core link between functionality and the user.

If you could do any career (astronaut, rock star, etc.) what would you do? 

Perhaps in another life I would do something that involves travel and discovering how design exists in different cultures. From traffic signage to how the flow of information is different from one culture to another. Call it an Anthony Bourdain for design. Maybe it's even in the cards for me in the future. We'll see!

May 14, 2014 - No Comments!

An Interview with Chuck Wentzel, Creative Director at Hook & Loop

ChuckPic2

What's your role at Hook & Loop?

I am a creative director, and am specifically responsible for the branding work for the Rhythm agency clients. Rhythm is a customized and branded corporate website we’re designing that will seamlessly integrate with a CMS and eCommerce platform. I am also involved with a variety of other Hook & Loop projects, from working with the writers to refining and focusing the Infor brand.

What did you do before joining H&L?

Most recently, I was a creative director at Story Worldwide. In other professional incarnations, I was the associate director of The Alliance for Young Artists & Writers and I have worked in films, television, magazine and book publishing as well.

What made you decide to make the leap from traditional advertising to working inside an enterprise software company?

The opportunity at Infor | Hook & Loop with the startup agency for Rhythm and other projects here felt like the right fit. The environment and the mission are so unique that I felt like I might never have another opportunity like this one.

What’s your background: what kind of training or education do you have?

Both of my degrees are from Syracuse University. My B.S. (you should pardon the expression) is a dual degree in Marketing and Writing for Media. My master's degree is in Professional Studies, a joint business and communications degree.

Did you have a mentor or influential person who made an impact on your career?

I have learned from every position I have held, from every supervisor (good and bad) I have worked for, and from almost every co-worker I have worked with. However, my career path has been so non-linear; there has been no one person who has had an overarching impact on my career or the decisions I have made.

What project have you worked on that you are most proud of?

The work with the Alliance was soul satisfying.
I am proud of the robust content program I built for Wyndham Vacation Exchange and Rental at Story. In general, I find the brand work really exciting. I’ve probably been involved in nearly 40 branding projects and something is always revealed that surprises the client and me.

What project are you currently working on that you think will make a difference in the technology landscape?

When Rhythm is live, the industry is going to pay attention.

What websites do you consider the best at appealing to their audience?

I have deep respect for eBay, Amazon.com, and Craigslist. They all handle a ton of data for huge audiences. The experiences are unique and authentic to each of their brands. I admire a lot of sites for their content, or design, or their audacity. But eBay, Amazon, and Craigslist really define and continue to redefine the potential of the web for commerce and user experience.

When crafting a message, what elements do you think are critical to successful communication?

The most important thing to remember is: the audience decides whether the content has value, not the creator. So if the audience tells you that they don’t want your content, you have to be willing to revise your messaging.

What advice do you have for a person starting their career?

Be open to the opportunities that come your way. You might have a career trajectory in mind, but do not dismiss an unexpected opportunity just because it wasn’t in your plan. Consider it seriously and re-evaluate your plan if the opportunity is exciting, interesting and has potential to be a great experience.

What are you passionate about?

I love to travel—mostly European cities.
I am fascinated by how context changes meaning; detest pretense; delight in (real) irony; and find hyperbole to be a comic blessing and a factual curse.

What book have you read recently that you couldn’t put down?

Here are three recent reads that I would recommend highly:
• Roadshow!: The Fall of Film Musicals in the 1960s
• Behemoth: The History of the Elephant in America
• Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune

If you weren’t a creative director, what do you think you’d be?

Let me throw a couple things out into the universe and see if any of these come true in my future:
• An animal rights activist
• A playwright
• A hotel general manager