Thursday, June 11, 2009

Can You Dig It?

Q: Introduce us to yourself and your company.
Hi, my name is April Benton. I head up production and client services at Metajive Design.

Metajive is a full service interactive agency specializing in experience oriented web sites and online strategy. We have a team of 5 plus a french bulldog to keep everything light! Our clients come from all industries (Burton Snowboards, Gap, Sony to name a few) so because of the variety we approach each by first defining their web strategy and main goals.

Q: Interactive Producers come from all walks of life, they are a hybrid of talents, tell us about your background and how you got interested in digital production?
Let's see ... I started out doing events for a couple of ski resorts in the Lake Tahoe area, one event that I was hired for my title was literally a 'wrangler'. I then moved on to an Ad Agency in SF doing typical account work but after a taste of that not so glamours account life I quickly headed back to my 'snow roots'. Next moving to San Diego and working for a Action Sports publishing company, there I ran a gamut of their Snow, Skate, Surf and Moto events as well as their other marketing efforts. Interactive production was always in my life ... mainly because my husband was doing design and flash freelance work so I always heard about the inefficient producers and annoying account people so I figured that I could do better!

Q: How do you stay on top of emerging technologies and keep your team informed and motivated?
I'm actually really fortunate to have a team that really stays on top of knowing what's going on and being done out there. They all have a lot of years experience and are exceptionally knowledgeable about what's happening in our interactive realm.

Q: What does your ideal client/project look like?

Truthfully? A client that will let us do whatever we want, has a huge budget and pays on time!! Good joke, eh?!

In the real world there really are just not enough of those types of clients. So I'd say our 'real world ideal client' would be a client that most importantly is a real person with real ideas and open mind to listen to other idea - we want to be able to respect this person and they respect what we do - of course! Ideally this client would listen to our advice of what to do and not to do, trust that we will lead them down the right direction and really just let us do our jobs!

Q: How do you educate your clients and set realistic expectations for a project?
As far as expectations we do our research and find out what their competitors are doing and then set the expectation of how the site should look, flow and really compete. We educate our clients on what can be done and most importantly what can be done on a scale that is suitable for their audience and budget.

Q: What was the best project you have ever worked on?
We just finished an online media kit it was great because we'd worked with this same client years before on a similar type of project so they understood what it would cost, what they could do and had very realistic goals. It was the most enjoyable and stressless project that we've had in a long time.

Q: How many projects are you comfortable producing at one given time?
It really depends on the scope of the projects. If it's a straight design and HTML website we can knock those out in no time, if it involves a big CMS system it takes a bit longer then add in Flash or After Effects and it becomes more time invasive. Currently we have an average of 6 to 8 projects going on at once and of course the are all different sizes and in different stages of completion. As well as random maintenance, additions and banner ad for existing client sites.

Q: What does your dream production team look like?
We're a small and mighty team so pretty much our current team is our dream team. But if I were to put together another team it'd be run like this ... senior level designer, senior level flash developer, junior level designer that can also do HMTL code. A high end PHP/ back-end developer and a strong account person that will push when and where needed.

Q: How do you ensure that your client's best interests are met?
We spend a good amount of time in the beginning defining what they need, what makes sense and then we layout a tight plan and then we just make it happen.

Q: What is your vision of what the next phase of our industry is going to look like?
Our industry is constantly changing, we can't wait to sink our teeth into augmented reality but really even something like that is just one more tool to allow us to get our ideas across. Change is part of the game in interactive so we are happy to be mixing mediums and pushing the limits. Incorporating After Effects, 3D and creating a seamless environment for our users to enjoy. We are sure the tools are going to get better but the game will still be the same.

Q: Please share a snippet of wisdom that you would like to impart on our readers.
I've learned that it's very important to keep the office well stocked with snacks and beer! Nothing screws up a project like a persnickety designer with low blood sugar. And nothing gets a client more stoked than keeping the fridge stocked with their favorite beer ... this also works well for motivating designers and developers to work late on a Friday night!

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