Open + Collaboration = Market Efficiency

03/12/08 :: by hdunce

The interactive industry is lucky that the “open source” movement happened and succeeded. What this movement has proved, is that if you have something accessible to all, and you let others build on top of it, they will fix it’s problems, improve its capabilities, and thus make it a better product. It is a true testament to the concept that sharing your knowledge and collaborating will grow an industry faster and better at large. Conferences like sxsw are amazing because they create a platform in which we share our experiences from mistakes to successes and help the industry grow wiser, faster.

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So, I am really excited to see SoDA, the new organization sponsored by Adobe (thank you :)), emerge and create standards to streamline business processes within interactive agencies. This means creating standards and guidelines for documents like RFPs, proposals, awards, etc. While this wasn’t discussed at sxsw at the panel, I hope that this organization takes an active roll in making more of our experiences “open”. Specifically, I would like see certain data regarding interactive products (not just developed by agencies) become free, accessible, and lack for a better term, “interactive”. This means share the following online:

1) actual costs and timeline of the web product
2) ability to view the web traffic statistics
3) allow people to read the actual business goals and marketing strategy for the product
3) thoughts on what the challenges were, what techniques were successful vrs unsuccessful
4) allow people to comment and ask questions and your agency responds
5) aggregate and create a visualization for this data so we can easily understand it (this part is probably the hardest, phase 2 maybe?)

The bottom line is that we have way too many great ideas, few talented designers and developers, and still not enough collaboration. I think the above will lead to smart standards, faster innovation, and aid in creating more usable, intuitive products.

I can pretty candidly say that in the last 2 years or so Fluidesign has actively created internal procedures to help share our knowledge within our internal team by encouraging our team to do things like share resources, talk openly about what works and what doesn’t, make a concerted effort to have collaborative meetings between designers and developers to ensure good design and usability, to attend conferences, etc. And this, has greatly contributed to our profitability.

And obviously we are not the only company that is practicing this type of collaboration. So I am putting it out there, aware of the challenges of creating a more open transparent market, but simply saying that the benefits will outweigh the costs for each firm and the industry at large.

4 Responses to “Open + Collaboration = Market Efficiency”

  1. brocksteady Says:

    I was part of an AIGA focus group several months ago which was trying to find ways to evolve the organization to impact a changing design landscape. They are perceived in some ways as an old school behemoth, focused on traditional graphic design so I thought it was great that they recognized that and were trying to stay relevant. They have done a decent job recently taking steps to include interactive design in their conversations, but I do think our industry as a whole needs more of a niche organization to truly make an impact so it’s nice to see SoDA being formed.

    Heather is way more of an idealist than I am about the “togetherness” of the web world, but I do hope SoDA can actually make a some sort of impact. I won’t be expecting any changes over night (or everyone to start sharing all their site stats and profitability reports). Pure transparency is not always the proper device, but having one place to have open conversations is much appreciated. It will likely take years to grow the awareness, standards, and best practices that we as interactive designers are seeking. But hey, here’s to a [a hopefully] strong start.

  2. hdunce Says:

    I guess I just don’t think this is such a big “idealistic” thing to do - especially because our industry already sees the benefits of “togetherness” and does ACT. We already collect this data internally, why not make it public? Those who participate can see the data.

    This is a fairly simple focused site: 1) the ability to become a member 2) view projects 3) add/edit projects with information 4) could pull in web statistics automatically from alexa or compete 4) allow commenting 5) robust visual search

  3. brocksteady Says:

    I’m saying it’s idealistic because we do client work and therefore don’t necessarily own or have rights to disclose some of the data you’re talking about. Some [especially high profile] clients do not want their site data and/or project details made public. But I’m sure it would be fine in some cases and for our own internal projects.

  4. hdunce Says:

    Well yeah, that is probably the biggest challenge, but it is for their benefit. It is basically the same as showing their work in our own portfolio but with more production detail specifically geared to designers and developers. It could all be approved by the client.

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