Ad land’s Young Guns: Dhruv Shah, Social Kinnect
Dhruv Shah, UI/UX, Web & SEO Head, Social Kinnect, started his career in 2006 as a graphic designer in a start-up. He has worked on all vertices in the advertisement world – right from the start, which included leading print campaigns for Cartoon Network, video edits for Pogo, creating 3D animations, making ringtones and wallpapers in bulk (talking about 2007) for clients like Cellfish in the US.
He then moved into gaming, where he led a team of animators and Flash developers to create games for Games2Win. For Shah, this was a very interesting phase where he created more than 20 Flash games.
The company that he was working for partnered with EuroRSCG (Havas Group). He became the Project Director for the company that was called Euro RSCG 24x7, where he led a team of developers and designers to manage outsourced projects from other Euro RSCG offices around the world. They mainly used to look after developing web banners (interactive formats like expandos and page takeovers) and websites.
Shah joined Social Kinnect in 2013 to handle Web Development, where he started to build a UI / UX and Development team. Gradually, he started working with the SEO team to understand the basics. Post which, he realised that UI/UX, Development and SEO go hand in hand to build a perfect website which is easily explorable, engaging and gives ROI. Since then, Shah has built quite a few interesting sites with the combination of UI/UX, Development, SEO and his past experience with interactivity and video.
What does it takes to climb up the ladder in advertising? Here’s Dhruv Shah in his own words...
How did you get into the role you are serving?
I started working as a Graphic Designer during my college days. I was open to learning anything in the media field as it interested me a lot right from the start. The first company I joined was a start-up, which to my advantage gave me the opportunity to wear many hats. I created print campaigns for companies like Cartoon Network, made website designs, learned how to edit videos by just sitting next to editors at studios, made 3D animations, handled a team to make wallpapers in multiple sizes for mobile to even creating ringtones in multiple formats for companies in the US.
Moving on, in the same company we started creating Flash games for companies like Games2Win. I used to create game concepts, gameplay, level design and the user interface design along with a team of animators and action scripters. One of the key roles was to make sure the games are engaging and bug-free.
After a year, the same company tied up with Euro RSCG (Havas Group) to manage outsourced development work from their offices abroad. I was the Project Director there and we used to develop microsites and rich media banners in bulk. This is where I actually started looking at websites as focus and learned development and web design.
After a long stint with my previous company, I joined Social Kinnect as a Web-Head. Over the years I used my experience in Graphic Design and Development to go deep into UI/UX. As I got deeper into UI/UX, I wanted to understand how to get more traffic/ engagement onto the website we build. I worked with closely with the SEO team to understand the trade and here I am today – looking after building websites that are explorable by search engines, intent-driven, engaging and give good ROI.
What particular skill sets do you think you bring to the table?
Understanding user behaviour, user journeys, engagement patterns and intent along with analytics is something interests me a lot and I have got good with it over time.
One campaign that you have worked on that you are particularly proud of? Please take us through the making of the campaign.
We just executed one campaign that I am really proud of and my full team had put in their full heart and soul in it. It was India’s First Watch Now Buy Now for fbb. Users could come on the website, view the fashion show and shop live as models walked the ramp.
Shoppable videos are something that’s working very well abroad and it is something no one has done in India on a large scale till date. With improved 3G and 4G networks, users in India can now consume video content anytime and also interact with it.
We built an e-commerce platform along with shoppable video feature in a month. This included the complete UI/UX, development, testing, and migration.
While working on the creatives how do you prepare yourself? What goes on in your mind?
User comes first in my mind. I put myself in the users’ environment and try to think about how would they connect, interact and what kind of results would they expect once they interact with any part of a website/ application we build. Second, comes the brand – how will the interaction with the user benefit the brand and how will the end results be beneficial for both the user and brand. Apart from this, I strongly look at analytics and data to understand user behaviour in similar environments and case studies.
Icons in advertising you look up to and how they have influenced you and your work?
I follow everyone! There is no one particular. With Google, I get access to all the experts that give out case studies and knowledge about what I am looking out for or want to learn.
What are the five most productive things that you do in your everyday routine?
Visualising – The first thing that I do when I wake up is think about a layout or user flow for a project that I am currently working on. It may seem weird for some people but it’s really productive for me. When I wake up, my mind is really fresh and it’s easy for me to visualise and debate on user journeys on my own because there is nothing else going on in my head to interrupt the flow.
Reading – Next, in the morning I start reading links that I have saved for later. I keep on saving links the full day while at work, but don’t go through it as my mind would be focusing on a task or issue that I am solving with the team. Keeping up with the latest in the digital world is without saying THE MOST IMPORTANT THING!
Planning – Assigning tasks for myself and my team helps me. My full team knows what’s coming their way and also meet deadlines.
Brainstorming with the team.
Short naps while travelling for meetings. This just increases my energy levels and keeps me fresh.
Do you think a career in advertising is a viable one in the long term?
Of course, it is! As long as you are ready to try new things and take up challenges every day.
What does it take to succeed in a career like advertising?
- Learn new things | don’t be scared to try new things
- Connect and study your target audience
- Be ready to get back on your feet quickly after a failure
- Analyse and optimise your work
What would be your advice to youngsters planning to enter this industry?
Never say NO and keep on learning new things. When you join a company, try to learn things about different verticals from your colleagues or seniors and expand your knowledge. Be part of brainstorming sessions, that’s where you will learn the most.
Also, keep on researching for new things, make a list out of things that interest you - and try to implement it regularly.
Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
Building solutions that help users and brands effectively.
Is there any agency/ organisation that you would like to work with in the future?
Haven’t thought of any as of now.
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