Interactive Service Companies Evolve

In shifting from an initial focus on base production – the now simple task of getting a site up on the web – to progressively more involved sites that connect with various databases, while introducing more and more interactive functionality has changed the mix of skills required of the interactive development agency while also raising the most basic of questions What industry are we in anyway?

Design. Programming. Human Factors Engineering. Advertising. Search Engine Optimization. Business Strategy. Over the initial 15 years of its’ existence, there have been interactive firms that were largely one or the other of these types of companies. Having just completed the second detailed study of the interactive industry (granted a much broader sector than Interactive Services), I am struck by the challenges facing interactive services firms and the the companies that hire them. There are more options and potential capabilities to consider than ever for development firms, and higher expectations from client firms on top of the continuously elevating usability demands of site users. In this multi-part posting, I will look at the client side implications while examining the interactive company model considerations later.

What Are You Looking For?

RFP or no RFP, everyone’s portfolio is pretty reasonable looking as we sit here in early 2010. Clearly different firms and different designers bring differing aesthetic sensibilities to their work, but is your firm looking for a new site, a site facelift, enhanced functionality, improved back-end functionality or the creation of a new web-based application? Are you a start-up business, an existing business or a division of a larger enterprise? Do you (or someone on your project team) understand the tools and technologies that are involved or are you relying on your vendor to provide this knowledge? Your needs and the engagement model used by each vendor will have a lot to say about the nature of your web solution and your level of client satisfaction with the experience.

Do you value insight over schedule performance? Design over utility? Price over functionality? Speed to market over technical elegance? Are you trying to build your firms next generation website or change the playing field on your competitors? Your answers to these and other questions should influence your budget, your project timeline and your vendor selection.

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