Ken Willes Interactive Designer & Developer

Photo of Ken Willes (5/21/2012)

Core Services

  • Design: Visual design, wireframing, sitemapping, diagramming, modeling, graphics design, UX design
  • Usability: Usability testing, informational modeling, heuristic evaluations, statistical analysis, rapid prototyping, think-aloud analysis, design patterns.
  • Development: Systems design, distributed source control, quality control, programming, scripting, documentation
  • Leadership: Project management, procurement, remote collaboration, project documentation, teaching, team building


  • 2008 AIGA Ten Show Interactive Silver Award for the Interactive Wall
  • 2007 Davey Award for the design of SAU School of Visual Art and Design website
  • 2006 W3 Award for the design of Secret of the Cave’s website

I create interactive experiences that inspire and inform.

I am a software developer for an online learning company based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. My responsibilities involve designing and developing interactive web, desktop, and mobile applications for multimedia training courseware and content delivery. I also develop the back-end for a range of instructional experiences and games for mobile phones and tablets. Some of my research involves cutting edge software and hardware solutions such as immersive, mobile and wearable technology.

Prior to working at the online learning company, I lead teams at Ideum to create uniquely crafted multitouch interactive experiences.

Before moving to New Mexico, I served as the professor and program head of Interactive Media from 2004-2012 at SAU’s School of Visual Art and Design. My students went to places such as Microsoft, Google, Posterous (acquired by Twitter), and higher learning institutions. My students have succeeded because they have worked hard to obtain a powerful skill set in combining design with technology.

Beyond teaching and commercial work, I have exhibited several large-scale installations.

During a two-week conference in June-July 2010, my most recent interactive wall system was shown for a Seventh-day Adventist world-church gathering at the Atlanta World Congress Center with over 65,000 visitors in attendance. The Interactive Wall of Spirituality used my immersive technology to promote Southern Adventist University (SAU) and to provide visitors with a memorable experience. Participants walking into the wall  space saw a real-time digital shadow of their body displayed on an 8′ x 23′ curved  screen. As they reached their hand toward light floating at the top of the screen,  light particles would swirl down and turn their body’s digital shadow from dark to light. Thorns would climb up the body outline but then fall away once the  participant connected to the light source, and light could be passed from one individual to another across the length of the wall. This unique interactive  experience enabled the University to communicate its spiritual values effectively.

The Interactive Wall of Spirituality was a complex project involving over a thousand  hours of design, engineering, and programming with 10,000+ lines of code. I led a team of Interactive Media students and graduates from SAU’s School of  Visual Art and Design to take the interactive wall from concept to completion on  time and under budget.

In 2008, I was invited to display an interactive wall at NASA Ames Research Center for Yuri’s Night, a celebration of advances in science and  technology. The 10’ x 28’ interactive wall followed the event’s theme by immersing  visitors in simulations reflective of nature’s wonder and our responsibility toward  the environment. As people passed by, the graphics displayed on the wall would  react to the physical location and movements of the person. One simulation showed  blades of grass swaying gently based on the “breeze” the individual created as they passed by; a musical simulation played different notes on a chime scale as a person  moved from note to note across the wall. In a recycle game, participants gained  points by catching falling trash with recycle buckets, and another simulation  allowed people to create waves in the ocean based on their physical location and  body movements.

While completing my MFA in Interactive Design and Game Development at Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) in 2003-2004, I created web-based data mining and search engine software for SCAD’s eLearning department. During that time, I also designed critical interactive components for Gulfstream’s  Interactive Marketing department illustrating features of the world-class Gulfstream  private jet.

My work process includes systems analysis, wireframing, informational  architecture, usability testing, prototype modeling, system planning, programming  and documentation. Where custom fabrication is needed for a project, I communicate with architects and engineers utilizing modeling software. Through  all stages of a project, I continue to be committed to the highest experience  quality and client satisfaction.

My goal is to maximize--and push where appropriate--the use of interactive technologies and the design for those systems. Current projects include large-format 3D multi-touch interactivity, mobile design concepts interfacing with the web, and 3D augmented reality visualization.

I hold a Masters in Fine Art in Interactive Design and Game Development from Savannah College of Art and Design and an undergraduate degree in Graphic Design from Southern Adventist University.