w3 Jury Selection

Joe Pilcavage

Chief Experience Officer,
Digital Surgeons

An ambitious, high-energy design leader with an insatiable hunger for challenge and passion for creative problem solving, Joe serves as the Chief Experience Officer at US-based design consultancy, Digital Surgeons, where he’s focused on building award-winning creative teams, launching new digital products, and helping client partners for some of the world’s largest brands explore new ways to grow their business. 

In addition to his role at Digital Surgeons, he’s also working to help reimagine the future learning for emerging leaders and marketing professionals – serving as an advisor to early stage startups through various CT-based accelerator programs, an adjunct professor for the Masters program in Jack Welch School of Business at Sacred Heart University, and Co-founder of ThinkFWD, a community and curriculum dedicated to teaching working professionals how to leverage the principles of design thinking to drive innovation inside of their organizations. 

Joe has been the recipient of over two-dozen national and international design awards to date, spanning branding, packaging, and digital experience design. Outside of work, Joe is a semi-professional competitive gamer, musician, and dad of 4 where he spends his free time coaching sports teams, doing martial arts, and entrenching himself in the world of Medieval history.

Joe's Selects

VR/AR Experiences

What seemed like a hot-flash of hype around the Meta Quest 2 a short year ago, ended up becoming the start of my own personal future forward fitness routine. Above all of the interesting VR experiments and apps the Quest Marketplace has to offer, Supernatural is truly a cut above the rest, due to its high-quality coaches, soundtrack lineup, hyper-engaged community, and overall in-app technical performance.

Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit
Short of being able to “try out” rugs and furniture in my home while shopping (shoutout to Wayfair) I’ve always found AR/XR experiences are often more gimmicky than they are valuable; riddled with barriers, cumbersome user experiences, and all sorts of performance challenges. Although Mario Kart Live isn’t without its limitations or challenges too, its very premise is incredibly clever; a testament to Nintendo’s continuous ability to tap into the multi-generational love of it’s IP and develop new innovative ways to push gaming forward.

Ketchup AI 
It’s safe to say thanks to the accessibility and power of tools like Midjourney and ChatGPT, AI is quickly moving to the forefront of all digital tooling. Heinz’s marketing team was one of the earliest brands to take advantage of its construct in a clever way, showcasing that even the collective consciousness of the internet definitively considered Heinz and Ketchup synonymous. 


Puma Deviate 2 Nitro Landing Page 
While many brands often opt for standard, functional landing pages, this recent puma experience is an incredible fusion of sneaker culture, ground-level content capture, and forward-looking ecommerce in a single dynamic landing page experience that completely breaks the mold of its peers.

It’s one thing to say your experience is “mobile-first” but it’s another to truly embody it. As far as DTC/CPG brands go, Harry’s is one of my current favorite go-to examples of a website that does it well without sacrificing the integrity of the experience at larger breakpoints. Besides its clean, elegantly handled UI, it truly optimizes the shopping experience for fast, mobile-first shopping – demonstrated by components of the product cards where a user can purchase directly from a listing page, circumventing the need to ever visit a deeper, more traditional PDP page.

Persepolis Reimagined 
This juxtaposition of ancient history and modern technology isn’t just an extremely well-crafted microsite experience, it’s a glimpse into the future for where I truly believe we can start to push the boundaries of education in a digital-first world. My teenage self would have gleefully handed in the overweight history book in favor of a virtual “museum-esque” walkthrough like this one. 


League of Legends (Wild Rift) 
Building a world-renown esports title is no easy feat, let alone making it accessible to mobile users. The team at Riot Games didn’t just successfully capture the essence and core gameplay of their beloved PC title, they were able to reimagine it from the ground up as a mobile first experience that, in more than a number of cases, exceeds the quality of the main game. From the accessibility of its ranked system, to its in-game controls, Wild Rift is truly in a league of its own, making it a perfect esports for those who don’t often have the luxury of spending long interrupted gaming sessions at a desktop computer.

Final Fantasy VII Remake Project 
I’ve been an avid gamer my entire life. One of the most influential titles to me and many others was Square Enix’s Final Fantasy 7 due to its groundbreaking storytelling, gameplay, and unparalleled graphics at the time. Twenty five years later, Square Enix set out to do the impossible; recreate the same heart wrenching, jaw-dropping experience they were able to the first time around, while still staying true to the original. Needless to say, they delivered in spades. FF7 Remake completely subverted the entire fandom’s expectations in every way possible, from its voice acting to its gameplay, to the very definition of a remake itself; setting a new gold standard for AAA titles in every aspect. The best part? They’ve not only rekindled (and have grown) the hype of the community, but have set it up in a way that will continue to escalate for years to come across multiple titles and DLC, making it truly a modern day masterpiece.

Amidst the endless sea of games to hit the market, every once in a while something truly unique takes off. GeoGuessr was one of those games, having gained a massive amount of traction since 2020 thanks to the pandemic. Leveraging the power of Google Maps Street View, this game is a clever, lightweight experience that pits individuals or teams against each other in a race to figure out where in the world they are purely based on what context clues they find clicking around from Street View within a handful of seconds. I’ve found it to be a great way to bond with friends and co-workers alike, wherever they are in the world.

Digital Tools

Real talk; Pitch has been an absolute game changer. In our world, we often live and die by our ability to create visually arresting presentations. Coming onto the scene only a few short years ago, Pitch has been able to rapidly close many of the gaps left by tools like Keynote and PPT when it comes to building these types of deliverables with teams. Although there’s a LOT to love about Pitch, my favorite feature is the ability to create small, native “Loom-style” videos to provide additional context for viewers on a slide-by-slide basis, giving my team and I the ability to inject an extra level of our unique personalities into every slide or section.

This might seem like an obvious one to anyone in the design community, but I can’t overstate how powerful this tool has become across a number of disciplines within the creative community. Figma emerged as the clear winner of the “2020 arms race” of digital design tools due to its cross-platform versatility as a multi-purpose design and prototyping tool. On the heels of its recent acquisition by Adobe it’s only gained momentum thanks to its stream of constant feature releases and wildly powerful, community-driven plugins (like the Webflow integration) making it my personal go-to for any and all design work.

As someone who is often facilitating highly-interactive design thinking workshops with remote teams from all over the world, Miro sits at the top of my current tool stack. From its ease-of-adoption to its seemingly small, yet wildly important features like dot-voting and embedded music players, it’s truly been able to help my team and I replicate the dynamic, “in person” experience we aim to create with a pretty high degree of success.

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