Tuesday 24 March 2009

Olympic Games Design Causes Controversy

Oh boy oh boy, we Brits do it again, please read on...

Creative designers from around the country were left with shattered hopes yesterday. After months of hard work preparing creative designs for the 2012 Olympics, they were given the news that designs studios are to be selected at random to work on the London Games.

In February, the Olympic Delivery Authority advertised for design and print services via CompeteFor. Agencies were asked to submit its portfolio, which could only consist of three images and to fill out a questionnaire. The response was apparently overwhelming with the adjudicators having to make a short list. Design agency Sparks came out with a score of 94% but were told that they were unsuccessful due to the majority scoring 100%. The adjudicators have now decided that the short list will be made up of suppliers chosen randomly from the highest scoring applications.

It seems that designers' suitability for working on one of the most high-profile projects in UK history rests more on sheer luck than on creative ability.

Sparks' Michael Gough said, "It’s the most expedient way to get a shortlist, but this is the first time it’s been a random selection. It’s an absurd process for selecting suppliers."

Article Source:
Chris Crawford is MD of BD Recruitment, a specialist recruiter for the internet recruitment sector, with a plethora of creative design jobs and seo jobs.

Tuesday 17 March 2009

Faster Broadband For Manchester

Manchester City Council announces its intention to make Manchester a "Next Generation City".

Later this month, the Oxford Road area of the city, can expect to see “next generation” open network broadband become available to them.

It is hoped Universities, colleges, businesses and community groups will benefit from the new proposals which will see their internet access become up to 1,000 times faster than most of the services currently received. The council are hoping that this will help in the creation of new jobs, new training opportunities and new services.

Executive Member for Environment, Councillor Neil Swannick, said “If Manchester's economy is to continue to grow then it is vital that we have accessible and affordable super-fast broadband, based on the proven state-of-the-art capabilities of fibre and advanced wireless; this is what the Next Generation Digital City project aims to do.

"We know that other European cities which are competing directly with us, such as Amsterdam and Paris, are providing fibre directly into businesses and the home, at a fraction of the cost of anywhere in the UK. Consumers and businesses then benefit by having reliable broadband at anything up to 1,000 times the speeds that are currently offered here. We believe that this will soon become a major competitive threat to Manchester and the UK as a whole."

"This year we're celebrating the 60th anniversary of the world's first real computer being invented here in Manchester, and I can't think of a better way to prepare ourselves for the technological challenges of the next 60 years, than with these Next Generation Digital City proposals."

Article Source:
Chris Crawford is MD of BD Recruitment, a specialist recruiter for the internet recruitment sector, with a gamut of creative jobs and SE jobs.

Tuesday 3 March 2009

Do Web Designers Love Free Pitching?

First, the sour grapes. Last year we entered a tender process with Defra for a new website contract for the Committee on Climate Change. We had created a logo and brand style, it was a cause we believed in, and we hoped designing and building the website would be a great portfolio piece for us. The process involved a tedious and time sapping questionnaire, a design element and a presentation to various members of the tender team including procurement and communications. We were given a timescale to prepare that included just 2 days to pull together an in-depth presentation AND designs.

Our final 'score' was 68.34% - and the winning supplier scored 68.58%.

We were, naturally, bitterly disappointed, not least by the actual process (which included sending 4 printed copies - over 20 pages in each, a bizarre practice for a body so concerned with the depletion of our natural resources), the time scales, the nature of the presentation, the 'scoring system' etc.

Would I be so upset had we won the contract? In all honesty - yes. I had already decided that I would voice my concerns following the tender, even had we been given the project.

I have since visited the final site, for various reasons: 1. out of curiosity, 2. to see if any of the designs we had submitted were used in any way, and 3. to see how the competition interpreted the brief, and used our initial branding.

The site is: Committee on Climate Change and here is a direct quote from the brief:

'The website should use the latest digital technologies to ensure that it is interactive, dynamic and accessible for all audiences. It needs to look fresh, vibrant and creative.'

In no way am I here to judge another agency's work, in fact I'd welcome their feedback on the process. I just have to ask how creativity and service driven work can be judged on a scoring system such as Defra's.

Free pitching is, and always will be a hot topic in the industry. Agencies will continue to do it, and clients will always insist on it. It's a vicious circle. The problem is that because it is SO ingrained in our culture, clients are dumbfounded when you refuse to do it. When large government agencies and global corporations insist on it, the notion trickles down through every level of business. We were recently approached by a prospective client looking to set up a one-man-band estate agency. He insisted on free pitching. I explained we couldn't do that as it costs us time and money, and would not get the best out of our studio. To illustrate the point in his own sector, I asked him if he would ask 3 builders to build 3 different houses, and at the end of the process choose one, change it around a bit and tell the other two they could just knock theirs down. His reply? "Let's just say I have not seen any buildings that you or the other agencies have built which amaze me." Incredible - I would have to ask why you would approach an agency whose 'houses' you didn't like in the first place!

My point here is that it is inherent in every level of business we encounter. Is it possible to stop it? I don't think so. But maybe we're just not shouting loudly enough about it. Maybe we could take a stand as an industry. The next time you're in a 5-way pitch, try to find out who else is involved, perhaps the 5 agencies agree on submitting nothing but agency credentials and past case studies. The issue will always be that in a competitive industry such as ours, you're always looking for an edge, and if that means submitting ideas when no-one else will, then it's inevitable this will continue.

Perhaps we can make some effort though, and so I'm putting the case forward for a No Free Pitching Month. Every agency across the land should stand, shoulder to shoulder and refuse (for a month at least) to do any free pitches. Would it work? I don't know. But it's worth a try! If we can educate our clients, even a small degree, about the negative aspects of the practice, then we will have done some good.

Now, where's the sugar for those grapes.....

Article Source:
Simon Harmer is Creative Director of Marmalade on Toast a creative web design company based in London and Winchester.