Westmont Magazine Taming Technology to Tell Stories About Life
Dane Howard ’94 likes to make technology easy to use. On a visit to Westmont, he takes a quick photo with his iPhone, uploads it to posterous.com, types a short caption, and readers of his blog, his friends on Facebook, and his followers on Twitter instantly know he’s on campus. “Anyone can do it,” he says.
Dane has developed a successful career helping companies build technology-related products and services with ease. He leads a team from inception to completion, guiding the design, encouraging teamwork and breaking down barriers. His specialty is experience-based prototypes that rely on data from end-users. He urges clients to embrace this information. “Putting users first opens up so many doors,” he says.
Dane has started several companies and consulted with clients such as Major League Baseball (mlb.com), NBCOlympics (online coverage of the 2000 Olympics), BMW, Disney and Element Skateboards. For five years he worked at Microsoft designing mobile devices and services. In 2006 he left to establish VUVOX Networks, a media creation and syndication platform. E-Bay bought this start-up in 2008, and he now oversees design and user interfaces for the online auction company.
VUVOX grew out of years of experience using technology to design stories about products and services. “It took a lot of courage and faith to leave Microsoft and go out on my own,” he says. “But it was worth doing even if I failed because the journey itself is so valuable.”
Trying out for the Warrior soccer team as a freshman at Westmont taught Dane a lesson that has shaped his life: He learned he could walk on to things that interested him. “The opportunity to play became a metaphor for life,” he says. “It gave me an incentive to try different experiences.” Soccer left other legacies: deep friendships with fellow athletes that continue to the present and an appreciation for teamwork.
With his love for learning and willingness to experiment, Dane has developed a variety of expertise. His computer skills extend to 3D animation, and he was an authorized master trainer for Alias Wavefront. A self-taught painter, he has exhibited his work in numerous galleries. Using digital photography, he has chronicled the lives of his two children, 10 and 7 (see chloehoward.com). His book, “The Future of Memories,” teaches parents how to tell the story of their families through photography. He has developed online tutorials about digital photography for lynda.com. In addition, he has eight patents pending in computer software and user interface.
Storytelling is a thread that runs through Dane’s interests and activities. After two years at Westmont, he transferred to Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Calif., and majored in graphic and interactive design. His emphasis, sequential media, is the art of putting things next to each other to tell a story. “I love being a designer and storyteller, and I constantly work to improve what I create,” he says.
According to Dane, his wife, Lori Tucker Howard ’93, is a “silent hero. She enables me to do what I do.” A freelance writer for magazines such as Focus on the Family, she has written two books for young adults.
Dane shares his expertise with technology and social networking as a member of the Westmont Alumni Advisory Council to connect alumni to each other and help Westmont tell its story more effectively.