Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I’m Wes Dollar – yes, just like money, and, yes, that’s my real name. I am a full stack developer and UI/UX designer that specializes in web-based software and ecommerce. I spend my days working on very awesome projects at RSI (Rural Sourcing Inc) as a Senior II Engineer in our Web practice. I’ve also had the opportunity to start a handful of businesses in the technology, software, and ecommerce spaces, with some failures and some successes along the way. I’m a father and musician away from the computer, which leaves very little time for anything else.
What are your best technical or creative skills?
I’ve been cranking out code since I was 12, so for 20 years now, and have had to learn every facet of web development to achieve my goals as a teenager and beyond. I’ve been fortunate enough to be exposed to hundreds of codebases, which has given me experience in a wide-variety of tech stacks, programming languages, and frameworks. As a side-benefit, all this experience has given me the ability to adopt new languages and frameworks very quickly. I take a ton of pride in writing clean, maintainable code on both the front-end and back-end sides of the fence. I’m also a data nerd and really enjoy user experience research and testing. I have a very keen understanding of how users interact with websites and software and enjoy shaping their experience in ways that increase their pleasure/productivity while also helping the business’s bottom line.
Why the interest in the technology field?
My life quite literally changed the first time I heard my dial-up modem make those funky but joyous sounds. Even as a pre-teen, I somehow understood the possibilities that opened up by being able to connect to the world at large via the internet. I see how the internet can solve problems for businesses and accelerate their growth by reaching markets that are only limited by their imagination. On the flip side, I also see how the internet can enrich the lives of consumers in a myriad of ways. The internet and industries around it have provided my income since I was 14, so that’s obviously a huge driving factor in my interest in the field, but I also really enjoy enriching the lives of the people who use my software, whether it’s an app for logging golf stats or while they’re shopping for their next whatever product on one of the many ecommerce sites I’ve had my hands in throughout the years.
How do you stay informed on emerging trends?
This field changes every day, or so it seems. I’m constantly reading and researching. I have curated my social media feeds to deliver news and information from many of the leaders, leading companies, and quality news outlets, blogs, and the like in the tech space. I also subscribe to a number of email newsletters that I’ve carefully selected, trust, and respect. I don’t really have much time to travel to conferences these days, but I do participate in webcasts as frequently as possible and stream many talks from YouTube once they’re published.
What’s next on your list to learn?
Augmented and Virtual Reality. I’ll likely start with React 360, as I’m already well-versed in the React ecosystem. I believe AR and VR are both poised to eventually be a significant part of how consumers shop and make purchasing decisions and will become an integral part of how businesses market to and engage with their consumers.
Favorite project you’ve ever worked on:
I’m enamored by things that people do on a daily basis, like listen to music, pay for goods and services, and communicate via SMS and voice calls. A lot of my personal projects and entrepreneurial endeavors revolve around these interests. I’ve worked closely with many medium and large businesses to build datasets around how their online marketing dollars are spent for the purpose of giving them the ability to see the returns or losses in real-time. Obviously, this is easy to do when it comes to online marketing but is much more difficult with traditional marketing mediums such as billboards and print/TV/radio ads. So, I developed a platform that patches into the PSTN (public switched telephone network) via third party APIs that allows users to register phone numbers and assign those phone number to specific marketing endeavors. Data is then collected in real-time for each caller, providing valuable insights into the effectiveness of the traditional marketing campaigns. Have I mentioned I’m a data nerd?