Interview with Glenn Hilton, President and Founder of ImageX Media.
What does ImageX Media do and how do you work with Drupal?
ImageX Media is a full service Drupal shop specializing in custom design and development. Many of our present clients have found it challenging to locate a firm that understands their unique design needs and also has the skill to tackle sophisticated development projects. In the past, some have chosen to work with two different shops in order to get what they’re looking for. However, with a full time designer, creative director and information architect, we’re well equipped to handle our client’s design, site structure and usability needs. Additionally, we have a team of seasoned Drupal themers and developers who can handle pretty much anything our clients throw at them. We feel that we can offer the best of both worlds under one roof. But truthfully we don’t all share the same roof. While we’re based in Vancouver, approximately half of our team is virtual and works from as far away as Los Angeles and Cleveland.
Since 2005 all of our sites have been created with Drupal and it has become a big part of our firm’s identity. Drupal has influenced our business direction, approach to design and thoughts about open source. Due to the number of organizations looking for Drupal services it has also opened up opportunities for us to work with clients around the globe, which we really enjoy.
At this point we really don’t have a specific market niche that we work within. We’re mostly concerned about the client relationship being the right fit and the project’s technical requirements working well with Drupal. Luckily the system is flexible so it is rare that we turn down a project based on technical requirements alone. If we had to peg ourselves we’d probably say that most of our projects fall into five main industries. We’ve worked a lot within Education (ASU, UC Berkeley, UC San Franscisco, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology), Media Publishing (CreativePro.com, CommonCraft.com, The Discovery Educators Network), Non-profits (US Catholic, BCLI, Global Oneness), Corporations (Power Integrations, Terminal Forest) and Social Networks (FreshBrain, Fantasy Sports Matrix). Working with various industries had helped us to develop a well rounded portfolio and the variety always keeps things interesting and enables us to bring a broad range of experience to our projects.
How did you first get involved in Drupal development?
When I first started ImageX Media back in 2001 with a few friends, our focus was on video production (which is why our logo is made up of 4 TV sets). As the years past, a number of our clients needed some web work so we began dabbling in that too and found we really enjoyed it. When the firm began to focus increasingly on web design and development, the strategic decision was made to drop video to streamline the company’s operations, marketing and process.
Around this same time (2005) clients were requesting more robust functionality and it became clear that one way to streamline our operations was to standardize on a single CMS. Coming from a creative background I was initially attracted to Mambo (Joomla) and WordPress due to their designs and control panels. However, my development team kept pushing for Drupal, telling me that even though I was not attracted to the design of Drupal.org in any way, the system itself was a cleanly coded and provided a flexible framework that wouldn’t restrict us. In the end I gave in and decided to give Drupal a shot. I’m really glad we did as it’s been an fantastic tool for us and working within the Drupal community has been amazing. As well, from Drupal 4.6 to Drupal 6, the UI has been gradually improving and although the design of Drupal.org is still not much better, I’m happy to hear that it’s going to be getting an overhaul soon.
Can you tell us about a recent Drupal-based project that you did that was particularly interesting?
This past summer we had the opportunity to do a complete redesign of the Northland Pioneer College website . I’ve really enjoyed working on this project as when the client came to us they were in serious need of a site redesign and an overhaul of their information architecture. As we began working with NPC a positive synergy between our teams quickly developed. This past fall we flew from Vancouver to Arizona to meet their marketing and IT departments for training and vision casting and had an awesome time together.
Our visit to NPC also crystallized some of the thoughts we’ve been having about the use of Drupal in higher education. NPC is far from unique in their struggles. We’ve found that most other colleges and universities either haven’t been using a CMS or are stuck in a propriety system that is over-priced, dated and generally disliked. We are very excited about the value Drupal offers the education market and hope to see increased adoption for of it and other open source software.
What are you most looking forward to at DrupalCon DC?
While the lineup of sessions looks great, what I’m looking forward to most is meeting new people and hanging out with friends that I’ve been Twittering or emailing with. It will also be a pleasure to finally have the chance to meet some of our clients in person, along with other firms or contractors that we’ve been collaborating with.