A look back at our 15-year journey to impact people’s lives positively through design and engineering.
2018 marks our 15 year anniversary, and we’re enjoying our reflection on the incredible journey it’s been thus far. Early on, we embarked on a mission to plan, create, and grow digital products with utility and substance, designed to improve life. We didn’t want to be just another digital agency; we had to do it with soul. We must be an agent for change—applying design and engineering to a productive end—to make the Internet an extension of our lives, our work, and our ambitions, not a distraction from it.
As a web developer, over the years I’ve asked the producers/project managers I’ve worked with “and what browsers are we supporting?” more than once, for every project I have worked on as though its fine to think there are some browsers we just don’t support. We understood that the internet is accessed by a wide range of browsers, it should be accessible and inclusive and project’s content should be viewable for as many people as possible. But, we have a limited about of time and resources and there was only so much graceful degradation and progressive enhancement we could do.
If you’ve ever worked in publishing you know designers loathe ads because they tend to force web sites into banal, homogenous layouts based on a few arbitrary but standardized ad sizes. Much worse, however, ads tend to be distractingly ugly and, in a digital world, they literally get in the way of the content. We’re forced to overlook this offense to aesthetic purity and a zen reading experience, of course, because advertising is generally what pays our salaries.
In July of this year, mobile platform strategist, consultant, and trainer, Peter-Paul Koch (PPK), published an article on his blog, Quirksmode, called “Stop pushing the web forward.” When PPK publishes, people tend to listen and at AREA 17, we’re no different.
PPK always sparks debate
AREA 17 operates primarily out of studios in New York and Paris. But we also have satellite offices in several other parts of the world. At times there can be a nine hour time differential between staff members. Thankfully email, Hipchat, Google Hangouts, Skype, and a few years of practice means this isn’t much of a problem for us. However, I sometimes still have problems with doing the mental arithmetic necessary to calculate what time it is for everyone everywhere else—especially when organising meetings. To try and alleviate this, I built a web app over the holidays that displays all of the primary timezones in which AREA 17 operates so with quick glance you can see what time it is in those places.
Just Map It
Before joining AREA 17 two years ago I spent a year and a half trying to get my startup, justmap.it, off the ground. I wanted to create a simple app where people could log and share places. And while it’s been a grind, I’ve pushed forward and will be releasing a new, much more polished version soon. Maps and places continue to intrigue me and seem to always find a way into all of my work.
The language of interactive design is still in its infancy and frequently draws parallels from its more established counterparts in architecture and the Fine Arts. These creative disciplines do share many similarities and often warrant a dialogue that isn’t mutually exclusive. However as design becomes more ubiquitous in every aspect of our lives, and informs decisions in boardrooms around the world, it’s worth reconsidering how we talk about it. One approach is by embracing simplicity and harnessing the virtues of unpredictability.
The Cognitivie Puzzles Ogilvy campaign for IBM Software. Illustration by HORT and Carl De Torres.
This article was originally published on Adage.com as the third in a three-part series authored by AREA 17’s leadership team.
Good design is good business. Now more than ever this well-worn phrase, coined by long-time IBM Chairman-CEO Thomas Watson Jr., is worth repeating. In an increasingly competitive business landscape, design is the new battleground and the success of your business depends on it.
This article was originally published on Adage.com as the first in a three-part series authored by AREA 17’s leadership team.
Is your interactive agency doing everything in its power to make your projects — and business — successful? How do you know? Whether you’ve just hired your interactive agency or have had a relationship for years, you may wonder if you’ve made the right choice. With digital budgets increasing year after year, it’s a question worth considering.
Here are five things to look for to make sure an agency is truly right for your organization.
I’m a huge sports fan. It’s a full-fledged passion. So you can imagine my excitement when I didn’t have to miss a World Cup game with WatchESPN. Then I learned that FIFA was supporting goal-line technology in all 12 stadiums during the tournament. To me, this only made one of the best sporting events in the world much better. This view, however, has been hotly contested. With technology creeping deeper into every sport the debate on its role has only increased.
If you are in digital publishing and haven’t heard about the New York Times Innovation Report, well, maybe you aren’t really in digital publishing. I’m kidding. But, chances are you’ve heard about it but didn’t have time to read all 90 pages. No worries, here are the critical things that the New York Times thinks it should be doing and, by inference, you should too.
The following is a result of ongoing conversations about where online design has been and where it could go. These discussions led directly to the doorstep of Larry Wall, inventor of the Perl programming language. Love Perl or hate it, Larry’s thoughts on the constraints presented by web design are well worth serious consideration — even 16 years later.
UC Berkeley user paths. Photo, Peter Merholz
Eugene Kim: Would it be accurate to say that Perl doesn’t enforce good design?
LW: No, it does not. It tries to give you some tools to help if you want to do that, but I’m a firm believer that a language — whether it’s a natural language or a computer language — ought to be an amoral artistic medium.
– “A Conversation with Larry Wall,” Dr. Dobbs, 1998
Something’s always struck me as odd about interactive, online design. Considering the immensely social nature of the medium, it’s shocking how often it seems to exist in a bubble — or rather a box. Websites, mobile and iPad applications are all designed and developed by a group of people or individuals usually with the hope of mass consumption. And yet despite all that (hoped for) human traffic, most mass sites feel more like cloistered, master-planned suburbs rather than thriving, ever-changing and evolving cities.
Chicago White Stockings, 1885
The top four things that Movember did/does right.
There’s a chill in the air, the leaves have changed and flannel is once again the fabric of choice. Clearly, that means that another Movember is upon us. These days, Movember requires little explanation (unless you’re my parents). But for the sake of recap, here’s the quick and short:
One night in 2003, some friends in a Melbourne pub were discussing the age-old decorative facial styling known as the mustache. (By the way, it is old indeed, with the first visual recording of the cropped growth being a portrait of an Iranian horseman from 300 BC!) These two blokes wondered about the dip in the mustache’s popularity, and settled to grow some themselves.
As an interactive agency, it goes without saying that we love all things digital and all the possibilities that the Internet affords. But as designers, we can’t help but also love print. So we’re really psyched to see a growing interest that brands have in publishing their own magazines.
This article asks whether “print is the new black” since it seems that more companies are looking to create niche magazines with bona fide editorial content as a complement to digital marketing and in lieu of more traditional forms of “disruptive,” outbound TV and print marketing.
While being reported as a trend, this analog version of what digital marketers call “content marketing” is what the print industry has always referred to as custom publishing. It’s been around for while. Apparently, farming equipment maker John Deere has been publishing a quarterly journal about agriculture called The Furrow for over 118 years! Who knew?
We speak about the future of “interactive advertising” and the question always comes down to technology. But here is an example of a truly interactive advertising campaign that is part of a two-way conversation on Facebook.
Here’s a compilation of many emails between Arnaud Mercier, Dominique Deriaz, Kemp Attwood, Andrew Ackerman and myself on the subject of business development within our company.