Crafting Digital

Last week the digital industry came together to celebrate the 2013 bookmarks awards and it’s great to see some great work being produced.The focus seems to be integrating campaigns and more around the idea, as it should be. But I feel that there isn’t a very high standard of traditional digital craft.

I went through all the award-winning work on 10 and 5 and there are only a handful of agencies who are really standing out for me. The thing that stood out most is that no one is caring enough about craft. Most of the supporting sites on campaigns aren’t great and simply functional. But there’s no real love for beautiful design, clever code, fast loading mobile friendly sites or any advances in technology. Hardly any of the sites I visited were responsive, reduced in file size or anything resembling the standard of design I have a spent an entire career trying to replicate. The best designed stuff came out of Ogilvy Cape Town, who are a traditional Ad agency, but in my opinion, in the running for the top digital agency too. Not that I’d take anything away from the teams at HelloComputer, Native VML and Quirk who are really coming into their own and crossing that line between traditional digital and integrated full service agencies.

At the end of the day, I totally understand that clients don’t really care about using SVG graphics so that things scale beautifully on retina displays and are tiny in file size, but as the digital industry, we should care, we need to set the standard. If work cannot be crafted by the time it needs to launch, the beauty of digital is that it’s easy enough to polish after the launch and we can always continue to refine our stuff and let’s be honest, if we are going to use it to promote ourselves, then you don’t need a budget signed off to show your work some love.

What I’d like to see from the bookmarks are categories that look at high quality web design and development, best interfaces, mobile apps etc. These need to follow best practices, be light, adaptive and certainly not follow the cooky-cutter format most of them currently have. They also need judges who understand this. While I have a huge amount of respect for the senior representatives from the previous winning agencies, they are not necessarily qualified to be judging work that is technically brilliant as important¬† as it is aesthetically pleasing.

I like that the bookmarks award individuals in categories like User Experience Designer and Strategist, but what about best interface designer, digital designer, front-end developer and so on.

I feel bad writing a post like this, because I have never entered the bookmarks, I also haven’t been producing as much work over the past few years, but I do believe in craft and I do believe in our industry, so whether I’m producing the work or not, I feel I have a responsibility to motivate the industry to do better work. Yes I’m a kak writer, my rambling here isn’t going to inspire much, but if the lack of gold compared to the huge amount of bronze awards are a sign, the level of work is worse than my writing, with the exception of a handful of talented folk, we have a way to go, so let’s not forget about craft.