Meet the Bigfish Team: Dennis Elder

Our new Technology Director talks everything from chat bots to dad bods.

What surprised you most about being a parent?

My wife and I have four kids at home right now and each of us has one out of the house. Over the last 20+ plus years there have been lots of things that have surprised me. Like seriously, how can that much stuff come out of something so small?
I think the biggest surprise is just the amount of joy (most days) my kids bring me. As hard as it is; and it is hard; at the end of the day, you just have this little person that you have this mutual unconditional love for each other.

They say that having kids changes your life. The sleep you’re going to lose, how your free time is going to disappear, and date nights…forget about it. But what really changes is how you change as a person. A true example of how grace and mercy works.

What’s more likely, going out to eat or ordering in with an app?

Ordering in with an app for sure! My wife and I both love movies, so ordering some food and chilling on the couch with a good movie is an ideal date night for us.

Your 3-day vacation getaway: Beach, mountains, cityscape, or VR trance?

Except for the VR trance (reality is so much better) I would say all.  In recent years some of my best vacations have been in Jamaica and Belize which have both mountains and beaches. But my dream is to spend my permanent vacation in Paris. So basically I have no idea!

What needs the most improvement in online UX?

I think the ‘user’ in user experience. I think we work so hard on making the experience cool that we sometimes we forget our core user and what works best for them in getting the information they requested. A great UX designer is going to strip away all the stuff and focus on telling a good story that relates to the end user. Right now I see a trend towards great story-telling which is exciting.

What initially drew you to developing websites? Do you remember the first site you ever made?

This passion started quite a while ago when I was 8 years old hacking away on my parents Texas Instruments TI-99. I remember creating this checkbook balancing app for my mom. This was back in a time when you had to manually balance your money in your bank account! It was written in BASIC, and was, well basic. But from that point on I was hooked.
Now, 40 years later, I am still amazed that I can type stuff into a computer and have it on the internet!

You’re fairly well versed on the subject of Chatbots, what other burgeoning technology trends are you excited about?

Blockchain is something I think is going to be a major disrupter in many different verticals of industry. It has been around for some time now but is really gaining traction as people start looking how this can play out in finance as well as industries like insurance and health. Also, little bots working by voice commands will continue to gain acceptance. Amazon Echo, Google Home, and Siri are just the start.

Any personal projects/hobbies you are working on at the moment?

Wood working is not really a hobby, but I did just get done building a pretty sweet coffee bar at my house. I needed someplace to house our Keurig, our French press, and our normal coffee pot as well as some cool mugs we have collected over the years. My wife and I really love coffee!
Fitness has been my main hobby. Over the last 6-7 years I have competed in many Tough Mudder and Spartan type races. I just completed a 24 hour race in November where I ran 50 miles while completing military style obstacles. I am considering doing it again this year…with a goal of 75 miles! 

You’ve got some movie quotes featured on your website. What’s your genre of choice and favorite flick of all time?

I do love movies. I have two favorite genres. Most movies I watch are either Sci-Fi or Comedies. I have to say I have a bit of a man crush on Ryan Reynolds, so anything he is in is a favorite. His delivery of sarcasm is second to none. I am also a sucker for Chevy Chase which is why Christmas Vacation ranks as one of my favorite all time movies.

Let’s talk fashion – since you have such a well-polished wardrobe; Where do you get your personal style inspiration from the most and where do you like to shop?

That’s funny. I have been told I don’t dress like the average developer. I used to read GQ a lot as a teen and young adult. My style ranges so much that I get inspiration from a lot of places. I would be lying if I said I didn’t check out Pinterest every now and again.
My two favorite places to shop are Banana Republic and Goodwill. I know, complete opposites of the spectrum. Things like blazers and jeans I typically get at a department store. But you’ll be amazed at the quality of ties, pocket squares, watches, and other accessories you can find at Goodwill.

But I think style really just comes from just being comfortable in who you are, because that is really where confidence comes from. Once you have that, you can pull off any look.


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Mike’s strength as a writer and strategist lies in his ability to boil messaging down to easily d [...]