Introducing our Designer Spotlight series, we are excited to feature an interview with Dan Dinsmore of Overit Media, a digital agency that invents, designs, and deploys effective media. They have designed some award-winning sites using SocialEngine, like Opposites Connect, so we were eager to pick Dan’s brain on all things design!
SocialEngine: Thanks for agreeing to the interview, Dan. So to introduce us to Overit Media, two sites you’ve designed, Opposites Connect and SkinPoison, are both featured in our client showcase. How did you get started designing social networks?
Dan Dinsmore: We are a passionate group who stay ahead of the curve and on top of emerging digital technologies. Our skills and strengths are: web design and development, mobile and interactive media, video and motion, design and brand, web marketing (SEO, PPC, social media), application development, animation and 3D, content development, and public relations.
So considering this skill set, we really thrived on the platform and felt it made a great deal of sense to work in the social network arena. We started designing social networks simply because we have had multiple clients with the need for quality custom design and a solid social network platform. We found the user experience with most of the networks were lacking in UX design and flow. We were well versed in web development and design and it really just seemed like a natural progression for our team.
SE: How important are design decisions to the success of a website?
Dan: We feel it is what makes or breaks the experience. We really love to push the envelop and give people something they want to use over and over again. Design is just so crucial even search engines are now starting to rank sites based on usability and quality. Mapping a site out to function, taking the user into account as well as the goals of our client are extremely important. The design is what carried this to fruition.
SE: Tell us a bit about working with clients. How do you typically approach new projects? Who holds the reigns, so to speak, you or the clients?
Dan: Research and learning are at the forefront of planning a working strategy to meet the goals and core vision of our clients. Throughout the entire life of the project, whatever the project may be, we feel that complete collaboration is the key to success. This is a core belief in our process so every step from design, development, marketing, SEO, and public relations revolves around a very succinct method of communication.
We typically look for clients that have a unique spin on their effort. Furthermore, we really look for companies that we feel are going to be successful in the social arena. We have been fortunate to have clients hire us for our knowledge, skill and process so they trust us to guide them. We love the collaboration process and we have really developed a great way to bring out a fantastic collaborative experience for us and our clients.
SE: Facebook and Twitter are the standards for social network design. What advice can you give our community when they approach the design of their own social network?
Dan: We would really want to be as creative as possible, concentrating on great user experience. Some of the “standards” work really well since it provides a feeling of confidence and ease for the end user. However many of the newer social networks are starting to become more specific to particular demographics, so in turn we can really design to that demographic and push the envelope a little more. Our advice would be to keep it simple, and make sure it’s designed with the target audience in mind.
SE: Being a digital agency, you do more than just web design for SocialEngine. In fact, your company is split into three departments: creative, development, and marketing. What is your opinion on the influence of social media in branding and marketing in general?
Dan: At its core, social media is essentially marketing, and as such is a major element of any brand, for companies and individuals alike. It is the backbone of any new product or service. We feel the key is validity, if a user senses a lack of validity it could do more harm than good so it is critical to have a well thought out concrete plan for your social campaign. We have been building social campaigns for quite some time and we always see it goes back to valid content.
SE: What are your short-term goals for Overit Media, and where do you see the company in three years?
Dan: Short term goals for Overit is to continue to provide great products for our clients. We are also building new innovative products. These include social networks, mobile applications, video and of course great solid design and development. In 3 years we will be continuing to do what we love. We just love what we do.
SE: Any comments on your experience working with our SocialEngine platform?
Dan: SocialEngine has been a wonderful platform that we are continually using and it is part of our social process for build outs. It’s solid and flexible and provides just a ton of functionality. For us it’s just so great to have the flexibility to be able to adapt to whatever we want. As a matter of fact, we are currently starting to develop some useful plugins for SocialEngine.
SE: I noticed that Ovie, the German shorthaired pointer, seems to command some attention in the office when he is not out modelling. He may want to make a profile on Pawsley to post some modelling pictures! What can you tell us about this special employee?
Dan: Ovie has been a part of the team since he was 10 weeks old. We all love him and enjoy when he’s here. He used to live above Overit Media with my wife and I, but since Overit has grown (as has our family) Ovie now has a larger yard and two places he calls home. Ovie is available for more modeling gigs in case you are wondering. Thanks for the tip on Pawsley!
SE: To finish up, any last words for our readers?
Dan: Yes – Please check out our Web Design Portfolio and get in touch with us. We welcome all feedback, suggestions and always love to make new friends in the community.
Our twitter is @overit and also please take a look at our work at overit.com and ostudios.tv. We also want to thank SocialEngine for talking with us. What a great team and thank you for your great product.