You have to be nimble and quick to successfully traverse the tectonic shifts from print to web to mobile that have transformed the field of graphic design over the last twenty years. That’s why it’s no surprise, that Scott Hooten, the co-founder and Creative Director at Imulus, a mobile application and web design company based in Boulder, Co is also a serious trail runner. Hooten entered design school at Cal Poly SLO back when the internet was a seedling. Luckily, he had the foresight to go right back to school at Savannah College of Art and Design as the internet began to take hold.
By the end of the millennium, Hooten was riding high on the dot.com wave, working as Art Director at Refinery, a Philadelphia-based web design company, with offices in Boulder. There, he worked on big, complex projects for Sony, Warner-Bros, Johnson & Johnson, and a handful of other Fortune 500s.
When boom gave way to bust and Refinery closed up shop in 2002, Hooten and two of his colleagues founded Imulus. Today, Imulus has high profile clients and over 16 developers and designers, two of whom were just named MVP candidates by Umbraco, a growing community committed to using Umbraco as their primary CMS.
Here’s what Hooten had to say to Built in Colorado about Imulus and the creative process:
What is Imulus’s unique value proposition?
It’s kind of changed but one thing that hasn’t really changed is that a lot of companies are started by either a designer or a developer and the focus gets skewed in one direction. Imulus is a unique mixture of both development expertise and design. It is really balanced, which is really playing out now that we’re working on mobile apps where you need to have the design and the development working together collaboratively, constantly. So, the process isn’t that the designer designs something and then gives PSDs to developer who goes and builds it. Increasingly, as sights become more interactive and especially with responsive design, that just doesn’t work anymore. You need to have that collaboration throughout the process. Otherwise, the design doesn’t get carried through and things don’t work as well and usability falls apart.
Do you have a specific type of client you cater to?
I would say what we strive to find clients who are just really passionate about what they’re doing, you know, whatever that might be. I don’t think we have a particular niche. We have clients all over the board. We have nonprofits, we have startups, medical companies… it’s all over the board as far as industry, but the projects really come out well when someone is passionate about what they’re doing and when we get collaboration with the client as well. We really strive for that, to get them involved in the process. It’s not just, they tell us what they want us to do and we go off and do it and then come back. That just doesn’t work. We want them involved throughout and them being fully invested in it and interested in it.
What do you like most about your job?
I like solving problems. Every client that comes, there’s a problem to solve there. We like those complex, interesting projects. You know, not the easy stuff. And I also just like learning about peoples’ businesses. Every time we get with a new client, some of them we haven’t heard of before, it’s like a whole new thing to learn. I really enjoy that. That’s one thing I really like about being an agency versus being in-house, where it’s always the same stuff over and over again. I learn about stuff I’ve never known about before every year. So, it just keeps it interesting, keeps it exciting.
Any tools you regularly use in the prototyping process?
All kinds of things. We use Envision app a lot, which is really nice for doing demos of apps and that sort of thing, websites as well. It allows you to make things look fairly real. And allows a client to click through things or on a phone to flip through and operate, get the app to feel like it’s a real app without building anything which is really nice. There’s an iPhone app called POP which works really well for quick prototyping. You can just sketch out little wireframes, take pictures of ‘em, and then you just hook ‘em up all together on your phone. That’s a really quick way to do it. Those are the primary ways for that. We use lots of other apps for the actual building of the software.
Would you tell me about Fiddle?
We’ve had lots of projects in that our people do in their spare time or at night and they come up with ideas and as a result we’ve built a few products along the way. And so Fiddle was kind of our place on the site to hold all of that stuff, kind of like a playground for fiddling with things and messing around with code and whatever. So, that’s where we showcase those things. Just about everything on there is open sourced. One of the most popular things on there is called Retina JS. We built that just to solve a problem when retina screens came out to help our websites to detect, “oh, is this a retina screen that we’re on?” and then deliver a higher quality image, so you don’t get the blurry images that you sometimes got when they went to the new screens on phones and laptops. So, we built that and put it on GitHub and Fiddle and opened it up and we get requests and people commenting on things and fixing things and changing things all the time.