TEQ: Give us the elevator pitch for Sparkbox.
Ben Callahan: Sparkbox builds things with web technology. More specifically, we plan, design, build and improve websites and web applications. We have a focus on content, user experience, ecommerce and custom software engineering, but also on education—hiring Sparkbox is an investment in your team. Most of our engagements involve helping our clients grow or build their teams while we help them build their products.
TEQ: Why did you open a Pittsburgh office and how’s it been driving Sparkbox’s growth?
BC: We care deeply about relationships and providing high-quality, nurturing environments that encourage our team to learn and grow. So any new Sparkbox location has to have a solid tech scene for our team to learn from and pour into. Pittsburgh is only a four-hour drive from our HQ in Dayton, Ohio, and the Pittsburgh tech scene is fantastic. Plus, reaching a new network of talented designers and developers allows us to grow in a sustainable way.
TEQ: Any particular tech trends that you are paying attention to at the moment?
BC: The recognition that we need to be designing and building systems is absolutely changing everything right now. Almost all our work involves building a design system or pattern library—even if the end goal is a web-based product or an ecommerce site. And this falls right into the shift to amazing front-end frameworks like React and Vue.js, which allow us to think and build more modularly. We’re also digging into a more inclusive and empathetic design process, working these ideas into everything we do. And there are so many other things: voice-driven interfaces like Alexa and Siri that are moving us toward “conversation design”; Google’s AMP (so many opinions on this); behind-the-scenes AI algorithms that allow us to create software capable of learning. The list goes on. Might be better answered over a coffee or a beer…
TEQ: Let’s do that over a beer! So what are your thoughts on how Pittsburgh and Dayton can grow tighter business/tech relationships, leverage each other’s strengths?
BC: There are a lot of similarities between these fantastic cities: our hard-working people, great higher education options, large healthcare players. But there’s also a lot of uniqueness to each, with the presence of massive tech players like Google and Uber in Pittsburgh, and Wright Patterson AFB, the Air Force Research Lab, and all the aerospace work happening in Dayton. We see these as opportunities to collaborate, share and learn alongside each other.
TEQ: Top thing a business should think about as it embarks on building a new website?
BC: The reason we build websites is to get the right information to the right people at the right time. The tech will always be changing, but this primary motivation will always be true. Spend the time to know your content and audience, and you’ll have a fantastic start to serving your customers better. Bonus thought: The web is never done—launching a site or a product is the beginning of a long journey. Plan for this and you’ll be in the right mindset.
For more information regarding SparkBox, visit the website at HTTPS://seesparkbox.com