Dean Casalena

Dean Casalena
HP logo

HP—Make it Matter

Inheriting a project that had hit an impass, I rebuilt HP's Make it Matter website from the ground up to meet a complex and innovative animation and interaction brief.

I managed to avoid a scroll-jacking paradigm, and allowed the user full scrolling control and a smooth immersive experience. Backgrounds seamlessly came to life with video explaining the enterprise products in more detail. The site was aimed at C-level operations executives, targeted through paid digital media.

The site was integrated with HP's detailed analytics platform and the header and footer were shared across their website properties. Complex video pre-loading and memory management formed a substantial part of the exercise. The timeline was very aggressive, and a requirement to support older browsers made things challenging, but everything was completed and tested in time for a successful launch.

“We have had feedback to the tune of—the site is stunning!”

“We did go live last night in both the UK & US. We have had feedback to the tune of, “the site is stunning!” We tested really well on our side before launch from a performance & browser compatibility perceptive – both got a “green light”. Thanks for all your QA, it paid off! “The quality of the coding was well-done”, per the HP Dev team and the Analytics team said the tagging was close to perfect!

—Darlene Miller, Digital Marketing Manager at HP

A short time later, HP Enterprise split into its own company.

Netflix logo


Netflix had comissioned a study concluding that movie spoilers actually increased the likelihood of a person choosing to watch a particular movie, contrary to common conception. MUH‑TAY‑ZIK HOF‑FER conceived of a website exploring this concept, which included a few quiz games and most notably a Russian roulette style page in which you could click a button to instantly view a clip spoiling the ending of a famous movie or TV series on the Netflix service.

I handled all development and technical considerations, and directed design to allow for maximum flexibility. I prepared the site for the possibility of viral success, which proved valueable when we landed on Reddit's front page twice on launch day, earning the site over a million page views in the first 24 hours and over 10,000 video views per minute at its peak. Performance held up with zero degradation and videos loaded lightning fast because the virality kept them hot on Amazon Cloudfront edge nodes.

“Screams could be heard throughout the newsroom. Caps lock proliferated the office chat room.”—Laura Stampler,

Some notable sites that picked up the story were Time, CNN, Huffington Post, Gizmodo, The Verge, New York Times, CNBC, Refinery29, Entertainment Weekly, MTV, and Fast Company.

The site was awarded a One Show Silver Pencil, a Gold Addy Award in San Francisco (and a silver nationally), a Silver Clio, and made the shortlist for an Andy award and a Cannes Lion.

Judgey logo


My colleague Nate Gagnon and I launched Judgey, a browser-based game that gave players the opportunity to literally judge books by their covers. The site then compared players' cover-based ratings with the book's reader-based ratings (via Goodreads) and gave a score and a judgement-personality assessment.

The site made the Reddit front page and was covered in a few articles from Adweek, Gizmodo & HelloGiggles.

“Brilliant”—Otis Chandler, CEO Goodreads

A week later over 3 million book judgements had been cast, and I mined the data and published an article on Medium, which itself made the Reddit front page and was covered by FiveThirtyEight and The Independent.

AAA logo

AAA—24 Hours of More

AAA wanted to remind its current and future customers about the usefulness of its services and discounts. We built an interactive microsite to allow users to playfully explore AAA's offering, aided by an interactive dial that changed the time of day and the adventure our AAA couple was on. The video was produced by MUH‑TAY‑ZIK HOF‑FER and I was principal developer and managed an additional developer.

The site worked equally well on mobile, and I came up with interesting solutions involving a large sprite and highly optimized GIFs to allow for a lot of interactive moving imagery on devices that did not yet support inline video.

Constellation Brands logo

Constellation—Bottle Collective

Constellation, a Fortune 500 company with over 100 brands in its portfolio, was reviving their direct-to-consumer wine sales website, formerly called Expressions of the Vine. The brief was an extensive exterprise undertaking, to relaunch the site but remain on the same wine e-commerce platform.

This required a very creative development approach comprising of a combination of platform-supported skinning, and a variety of JavaScript-powered HTML rearrangement because no back-end abilities were afforded by the platform. You won't find another site like it on the platform. I was the principal developer and directed two other developers in building it.

“You guys did a helluva job breaking it down and building it up again—I know how hard that is.”—Ray Marcinkowski
Audi logo

Audi—Executive Messaging CMS

Audi asked us to help cut through the noise and deliver notifications directly to their key executives' smartphones with important updates about Audi social media campaigns (which MUH‑TAY‑ZIK HOF‑FER was running). I created a simple CMS to allow our team to publish content and notifications, and we installed apps on Audi execs' phones to receive these notifications.

The budget for this was tight, and we needed both iPhone and Android support, so we leveraged an existing app but built a feed and CMS to publish content and connect with the app's notification API.

Audi logo


MUH‑TAY‑ZIK HOF‑FER had recently created Seismic's new visual identity and video commercials, and I set out to re-develop Seismic's website to something similarly modern and vibrant. I managed a vendor for the bulk of the site's development, who was tasked with integrating with Seismic's existing CMS, but I handled the complex parts myself - implementing HTML animations on responsive layouts like you see below.

“This is a proud moment”—Mark Smith, Seismic

I don't make a habit of using the scroll-jacking UX paradigm, but Seismic requested it, and in this case it was reminiscent of presentation slides - which Seismic's customers live and breath.

AAA logo

AAA—Touch Screen System

AAA of Northern California, Nevada and Utah started modernizing their branches; complete overhauls, one branch at a time. I built the touch screen interface which was remotely-deployable onto their 42-inch touch screens. Each branch's instance showed region-specific discounts and integrated with Google maps to help users visualize how far their towing benefits would get them for each plan-tier.

Doubletree logo

Hilton / DoubleTree—DTour

I wrote an application for Hilton Worldwide, called DTour. It was a contest where users would submit their vacation photos in revolving categories, onto a highly interactive Google map. Users could browse the map for travel ideas (photo and video submissions from other contestants), and the locations of DoubleTree hotels. The UGC contest component leveraged Thismoment's Content Cloud platform.

The site ran in partnership with Google, who was widely publicizing its then-flexibility of custom brand experiences on YouTube. This interesting interview with John Greenleaf, global head of the DoubleTree by Hilton brand talks about the partnership. The site earned over 140,000 visits, millions of video views, quadrupled DoubleTree's YouTube subscriber-base, and received over 1700 user-generated content submissions.

DTour won a Gold Adrian Award and a Silver Anvil, and was covered by in articles by Adweek, Google, and USA Today.

Orange Is The New Black logoNetflix logo

Netflix—Litchfield Lockup

The task was to generate buzz on Twitter for the Orange Is The New Black Fan Event, and to help Netflix identify influencers and superfans.

With the event fast approaching, we built Litchfield Lockup, a digital Security Housing Unit or SHU - a concept fans of the show were familiar with, from concept to launch in under two weeks. Fans would be asked to prove their dedication to the show by doing one of the hardest things imaginable on the internet today.

Absolutely nothing.

To prove they were truly confined in solitude on the site, fans were required to keep their mouse pointer alive and in their browser window (or their finger down on their phone screen). Leave the window? game over. Leave the pointer in the same spot for too long? game over.

Despite being a Twitter-only campaign, with no paid media or PR, over 35,000 digital prison sentences were served, with 44 dedicated fans making it to the full hour - a LIFETIME of digital boredom.

After putting together the site in a matter of days, I built an intricate referral URL system to keep track of not only who stuck it out longest in the SHU, but also who the superfans were, and how much clout they had in the Orange is the New Black Twitter community.

GIG Car Share logoAAA logo

GIG Car Share

AAA incubated and launched the future-forward GIG Car Share in the Bay Area. MUH‑TAY‑ZIK HOF‑FER handled all branding elements from car wraps to brochures to keycard design.

I directed development on the website, and ensured a smooth modern site and management system for Gig to inherit administration of the site.

Head & Shoulders logoP & G logo

Head & Shoulders—Test Troy's Hair

Our partner created 200 video clips using a wax model of NFL's Troy Polamalu head and famous hair. The custom youtube channel we created then invited users to enter any test they could think of for Troy's hair to withstand. We tracked a list of the most commonly requested tests, and had new videos created to meet that demand.

Netflix logo


We ran a contest for Netflix and sent three skilled instagrammers on a tour of the country's famous TV and movie locations. We showed their content on a map as they traveled, and invited the Instagram community to participate by contributing their own photos taken at famous TV and movie locations. We used a platform to moderate, and secure rights for republishing submissions, and created a custom map. I directed development on the project but only periodically contributed to the codebase.

Health-ade logo


Assisted Health-Ade Kombucha, the fastest growing Kombucha brand, certain internal sections of its website, SEO and SEM.

Doritos logo

Frito-Lay / Doritos

Assisted with the development of Doritos' Crash the Superbowl contest in 2014. was used for this purpose only for a the contest period. Thousands of contestants submitted a commercial for Doritos to play at the superbowl. The prize was a million dollars.

Coca-cola logo


Maintained (fixed and improved) a flash-based radio player for for the latin american market, and the site surrounding it.

IHOP logo


Maintained (fixed and improved) Their site was primarily a custom front end using social media aggregated by the Thismoment platform.

Other brands

Led a team of 13 front end developers in building and maintaining custom Youtube channels (iframed-in experiences), for ABC, Acura, Axe, Budweiser, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Clorox, Disney, ESPN, Fisher-Price, Gain, Gillette, Johnnie Walker, Landrover, Lego, Levi's, Microsoft, Nestle, Nickelodeon, Nissan, Pampers, Paramount, Ralph Lauren, Sony, Tide, Tostitos, Toyota, Ubisoft, Verizon and Walmart. We also converted all of these sites to responsive when youtube changed its system.

Engineering & Leadership

I am a maker and a leader. Intently curious, I am driven by, and take pride in, the details of my craft. But I am also driven by the bigger picture, where I take pride in watching the effects of insightful design/engineering solutions.

I have developed specializations throughout my career as projects have demanded, including Software Engineering (Web, Front and Back end), User Experience Design, Product Management, Digital Production, Strategy, SEO and Data Analytics.

Technology has offered this fascinating paradigm for creativity. As computers get faster and browsers get new features, there's a sense in which no-one is an expert on the front lines. So much hasn't been possible until so recently. Browsers only just started allowing video to play inline on mobile. WebGL only just got Webcam in HTML5 still hasn't reached mobile safari - but it will soon. The most effective people are those who can adapt the fastest, apply their orthoganal experience to new libraries.

When it comes to software and the web, there's a necessity to being adaptive. Adaptivity is the only specialization worth its salt in technology. Every thing else is a commitment to something being replaced. Adaptivity is hard to prove on a resume.

Having worked at a number of early-stage silicon valley start-ups, I have become accustomed to the rate of progress that only a small, motivated team without too much hierarchy can seem to yield. Where experimentation and initiative are not just encouraged, but are fundamental and every member feels a sense of ownership.

Working with small agencies I have been able to ignite some of these characteristics in the teams I have led, producing highly effective digital projects for big companies like Netflix, HP and AAA.

My work has been awarded with a Silver Pencil (The One Show), a Gold Pencil, a Silver Clio, and a (national) Silver Addy. Sites I have created have been featured on, USA Today, CNBC, and others. I also created an interesting mini-game and mined its usage data. It was featured on Gizmodo and FiveThirtyEight. I hold a patent on a video streaming technology I helped develop.

Let’s Build Something

If you would like to connect with me, add me on , , or email .

I'm based in New York City.