Westlake Interactive began as Westlake Design in 2003. In Internet time, we’ve been around about a century. Way back then, the web was still a place where principles of print design ruled over functional useability, and “design” pretty much meant visual.
But the web has long since shaken off its print legacy and embedded itself into every aspect of commercial operation. In 2014 we became Westlake Interactive to reflect our specific focus on improving user experiences through the development of high-performance interactive platforms, mobile apps, and more.
Yes, we still design. But the first questions aren’t about the color palette. They’re about the business challenge.
Before founding what was then called Westlake Design in 2003, Mark held leadership positions at Thomson Consumer Electronics (RCA) in both the US and Europe, and at Powerway, Inc. in Indianapolis. Mark’s career began in the curious and quirky world of a small independent TV station, WTTV-Channel 4 in Indianapolis. Say what you want about shows like Sammy Terry and Cowboy Bob’s Corral, but they always delivered the fun for an audience they understood very well. Maybe that’s where Mark learned to think about users before technologies. Or just where his cheeky sense of humor was born. Either way, Mark is the strategic lead in most W/I client relationships.
Mark sets aside a promising career in management and returns to where he began: creative. Westlake Design is born.
With some shared space inside a client's office (thanks again Jeff!), Westlake Design hires its first few employees.
westlake-design.com officially launches, and after a few years finally acquires the URL without the hyphen. That was a good day.
Goodbye to the zappy chiropractor across the hall as we exited our shared space in Fishers and joined the Hamilton county hipsters (such as they are) in Carmel’s Arts and Design District.
We are thriving with a full time staff of 11. IKEA staffers are beginning to know our names.
westlakeinteractive.com launches, while we stay grounded in the good work of helping our clients succeed.
In our business, there is a great temptation to rush into technological solutions before the deep causes of the challenges are revealed. The antidote is remaining attentive to new information even as the solution is in development. We start every assignment—even with long time, familiar clients—by listening carefully, and we keep listening well after the solution has been deployed.
There is absolutely no substitute for user testing, and user feedback should be baked into every major milestone. A post-mortem on a less-than-successful technology deployment is almost always connected with end-users who were left out of the development process. Users are customers, even if they are employees, and the aim should always be to delight them.
This business space crackles with the new—next generations, innovations and disruptions. It’s both exhilarating and disorienting. Our response is to embrace the novel and learn everything we can, and to balance that with a growing understanding of what changes more slowly—human nature.
A company culture is a human chemistry experiment. We love the interactions and what they create, especially with people we’ve been fortunate enough to attract and retain. They reinforce and remind us what makes work fulfilling: autonomy, meaning, personal connections, and balance.