(Left: Björn Jeffery, speaking at Stanford’s Innovation Journalism conference)
I have the pleasure of interviewing Björn Jeffery of Good Old (here’s his blog), a Web Strategy show in Sweden. I met Björn (or at least saw him speak) at the Innovation Journalism conference held at Stanford a few weeks ago. We exchanged a few emails and I realized he had some knowledge that would be useful to the Web Strategy community.
Jeremiah: You describe yourself as a Internet Strategist, (similar to how I describe myself) how’d you come to this role, and what’s it mean to you? Tell me a bit about your background.
Björn: It’s a title that is generally misunderstood I find, but that is probably as it is still relatively unusual. My main focus is convincing executives that their internet policies are of strategic importance. Every company, no matter what their business might be, is in the internet business. Like it or not. And what I do is help my clients to understand that fact, and then how they can use this to develop their business.
My background is in media; working as a journalist, editor and an internet developer at several large newspapers. Seeing large publishing houses trying to cope with parallel channel publishing made me realize that this was only the beginning. And I also saw that many of the mistakes that were made were on a strategic level – executives that simply did not understand the digital shift. When this gained on me enough, I quit my job and started the consultancy that I run today.
Jeremiah: Being so American centric, I’m very curious to learn about the state of the web industry in Europe. Tell me how things are in your area, what are the hot topics, challenges, and interests? Are things as hyped about Web 2.0 as they are here in Silicon Valley?
Björn: The market is a lot more diverse and can’t really be seen as a European whole. Berlin seems to have an emerging web cluster revolving around Plazes, London have Last.FM and a few others, and then there’s Scandinavia that have been most prominent when it comes to mobile development. Jaiku, Kenet Works and Superlocal, to name a few.
The general feeling I get is that there is a lot of looking towards Silicon Valley to see what’s working, and what can be implemented over here. Search marketing is not as prominent yet, but growing strongly. Other buzz words are local, mobile, social and geo. Pretty much the same as in the States I would think, but a few months back when it comes to development.
Jeremiah: You’ve some interesting clients, tell me Bjorn, what is their level of awareness when it comes to Social media? How about joining the conversation, do they really understand the fundamental shift and disruption? Tell me why?
Björn:Their awareness is surprisingly low. So low, it’s a reason for concern actually. A lot of the companies that I meet have just about heard of blogs, but think they are just a way for people to talk obsessively about their pets and stuff like that. And if they’ve heard of UGC they think that they can fire some staff and get people to work for free instead. So those two things are the first that I have to break down for them. On the other hand, once I start giving them examples of what is going on, they seem to get it some what.
Unfortunately, vision isn’t as good a driver as fear is. Therefore only business seeing a dropping market share/profit margin tends to act on it. At the moment, media companies fit that bill perfectly, but it won’t be long until finance and insurance will see the same development in their sectors.
Jeremiah: Sounds like you’ve got your work cut out for you for some time. As an internet services and solutions firm, what trends are you noticing in the market? What are clients asking for?
Björn: There seems to be a large interest in alternate channels of communication. Both running blogs parallel to regular websites, as well as letting customers get in contact with them in the way they want. IM, chat, texting – whatever way they want to get in touch, it should work. And it should work at any time, and from any place. Clients of mine seem to be getting this through watching their teens, and the way they communicate.
Jeremiah: It sounds like you’ve got quite a few vehicles to choose from, so tell me about this SecondLife case study that your firm did, why’d you do it, what were the objectives and how’d it turn out?
Björn: We launched the Swedish daily newspaper Sydsvenskan in Second Life, as the first large company entering in Sweden. The lesson to be learnt here was mainly for the newspaper themselves. They needed to start thinking about how people are socialising today, and in what manner media companies can be relevant for these people.
Following that line of thought, we figured that the best way of learning anything is by participating. So we opened up an island and then asked both the employees and the local community what they thought we should be doing. A bunch of other companies and organizations contacted us straight away so now we’re putting it all together. Anyone that adds value in some way can be a part of it. The island is far from finished but it’s growing, slowly but surely. And it definitely put the question of the future of publishing on the agenda in a major way. I think it was a big success.
Jeremiah: You are a co-founder of Good Old in Sweden, what’s so “good” and “old” about it, what do you guys do? Who are some of your clients?
Björn: It’s a silly name really – but we wanted it to sound like “Ye Olde Pub”, that sort of thing. Anything with “old” in it sounds a bit more credible we thought. And considering that we’re pretty young as a company and only work with really new stuff, the name turned out to be quite a good joke. Well, a joke at least.
On a more serious note, we are a communication agency helping companies understand and implement social media and current web trends. We do both advisory and strategic work for executives, as well as design and development if that is needed.
We do a lot of work for Bonnier, a large company group here. Both Bonnier Newspapers and Bonnier Magazines, the latter being the ones that recently bought Time Inc. We’re just now looking to see it what direction we should be expanding – there are so many interesting areas to work with at the moment. Making a completely new banking system would be such an amazing challenge for instance, I would love working on a project like that.
Jeremiah: Bjorn, thanks so much for sharing with the web strategy community, it’s appreciated.
I interview folks on Video, Text, or Ustream, depending on the situation, location and need. If you enjoy text based interviews, check out this one with Bryan Rhoads, Intel’s Web Strategist.
Robyn of Edezines first contacted me because she was interested in advertising on my blog. (which I think is a fantastic). I’m not quite ready for ads on my blog, although the topic is coming up more and more lately.
I checked out her site Edezines, and found that it’s really an online resource for the Web Design community. It looks like a resource to me, so I asked her to describe it in detail:
“Edezines.com is a self-proclaimed web design directory. In this case that means that Edezines has resources for those interested in both hiring a web design firm and learning how to do their own site designing. On one hand there is a directory of designers and specific details about each, including a handful of featured firms, as well as some articles addressing who you should hire and why for your specific site needs. For those interested in doing their own design there are a number of web design articles on such topics as usability, use of Flash, and more. For those just looking for a quick fix there are also some helpful design tips available…”
While I’m not sure how a firm becomes a “featured design firm” there appears to be come good resources for those seeking to buy or sell web design services. I’d like to see them create a web design directory that lists many firms, maybe by customer rating. See their web design resources section as well.
Have you read my comparison of all website design process and workflows? If you’re trying to price a web design project, here’s some resources I’ve collected. If you’re a design firm and are looking to get your name out, you can leave a comment on this post.
This blog is intended as a resource for professionals that are responsible for the long-term planning of a website (How to find out if you a Web Strategist at your company). While not a Web Design blog, web strategists need to make decisions, dictate budget, or approve web design projects. A client recently asked me for some resources for Web redesign for their website, well actually, they wanted to know of some firms that do this, I have started a voluntary list, but realize there’s quite a few steps that occur before and after dealing with a web design services company.
A Comparison of various Web Design Processes:
It’s interesting to note the differences in Web Design process (which is arguably different from Software Design) from a variety of different industries and focuses.
Instructional Design Process
A Design Process Revealed
No Smoke, No Mirrors
Research & Discovery
Execution & Implementation
The Seven Phases of Web Site development
Web Design Workflow, Complete Process
1. Client Consultation
2. Initial Drafts And Sketches
3. Photoshop Mock Up
4. Finalize The Design
5. Code Into XHTML/CSS
Breakdown of the ideal web design process
1. Know what you’re doing
2. Know what the site needs to do
3. Know what the site’s visitors want
4. Get a good picture of the personality and style of the web site
5. Sketch out highly successful scenarios
6. Organise views into a site map
7. Sketch the essential features & look
8. Map your visitors’ attention
9. Arrange the visual elements to work together
Web Style Guide Process
Before you begin
* Developing a site specification
The site development process
* Site definition and planning
* Information architecture
* Site design
* Site construction
* Site marketing
* Tracking, evaluation, & maintenance
Web Design Workflow 2.0
Step 1–Defining the Core Process: discovery, planning, and clarification
Step 2–Developing site structure: content-view, site-view, and page-view
Step 3–Visual design and testing: creating, confirming, and handing off
Step 4–Production and QA: prepping, building, and testing
Step 5–Launch and beyond: delivery, launch, and maintenance
Most of these processes have a common theme that are broken down to Design, Production. A few of these processes don’t include the analysis before any work is done, while some have various stages of design mockups. Some of these processes don’t include post launch activity, such as testing or evaluation.
Of course, every process depends on the project at hand, however this is a good start to understand some common methods.
Kelly and Emily have released some additional resources for your planning needs. Also see the top resources sites for Web Designers. Lastly, there are tons of sites tagged in delicious with the terms web design process. If you’re shopping around, Understand Web Design Pricing, or see a list of web design firms (add your own or favorite firm).
Update: Robyn Baker emailed me this interesting resource directory for Web Design and Web Designers called edezines,it’s worth a look.
I’ve notice quite a few posts about blog design recently, from these 10 beautiful blog designs, from these 45 selected ones, I’m impressed with what Ars Technica has recently done. One thing for sure is that everyone wants to have a great blog design. I’ve had similar discussions with Hyku’s Josh Hallett, well known blog designer among the tech blogosphere.
Even with RSS being a common way how people read your content, having a web or blog design that represents you is important. This is why USA Today and other newspapers are undergoing massive web redesigns to meet the changes of social media.
I’m frequently asked by contacts, friends, and family to provide recommendations for web designers as well as web design pricing. Since the answer always “depends” I’m going to link to a few resources that will help those that want to know more learn about what to look for in web design, service, and what to expect for pricing.
One can never put a price on having a storefront on the web, it’s something necessary for the smallest of businesses, doing it right, or doing it so it matters is a completely different discussion.
Of course, developing and documenting the goals of a website is the first step, but that’s a discussion for another time. Emily Chang has some interesting design philosophy. Ian from Portive has a book that I reviewed on the subject. Whether your a designer or a customer seeking web design, here’s a few articles to read before engaging in those discussions:
Web Design Pricing Resources to read before talking money:
4 Steps To Effective Web Design Pricing
Here’s how one clever web designer priced out his/her worth
How much should a Design Cost?
Blog Design discussions.
Per Page, Per Hour, Per Project
An over simplified view of web design, if you’re expecting to piece together a web strategy this way, your website will reflect the attention you’ve put into it.
14 Point Web Design Checklist (and a way not to get repeat customers)
Somewhat related in a humorus way, this list of web design punishes the ignorant client, personally, I’d rather inform and educate them, isn’t that why they called you? It’s tagged “humor” so I get the joke.
Leave a comment if you’ve other resources for either clients or designers should know about pricing web design services.
If you’re seeking a Web Design company, see this list here. If you’re a Web Design company, feel free to leave a comment promoting your work on this post.