Last year, a real highlight of ours at OFFF was watching Fantasy Interactive take to the stage – and this year the digital agency didn’t disappoint. Fi entertained its audience in the Openroom with a lively behind-the-scenes of its USAToday.com project, plus sneak-previews of some brand new work.
The studio also delivered an honest look into how to recover if you take a project in the wrong direction, and how clients can really make or break a project. Global director of UX and strategy at Fantasy Interactive Irene Pereyra took time out to tell us more…
Computer Arts: What have you been up to since we spoke to you last summer?
Irene Pereyra: Wow, so much! We completed the biggest project of our career, the redesign of USAToday.com. We also got to work very closely with one of our favourite brands and spent a lot of time with them at their headquarters in Japan, which was incredible. We also opened a London office, snagged some awards and hired some very talented people. It's been a hectic and intense year!
CA: You guys are at the forefront of digital. What are the biggest challenges we're facing right now, and how are you tackling them?
IP: There are typical issues like the ever-growing amount of screen-sizes, clients jumping on the "we all want responsive design!" bandwagon because it's the shiny new object, even though it may not be appropriate for their users – things like that. But honestly, every year brings new challenges like that and they can always be overcome one way or the other.
Now, the retention of talent within agencies is one of the hardest things right now, actually, from an operational perspective. Most people no longer want to work with clients and are all going towards product. The relationship between client and agency is something that I see changing more and more over the next couple of years, and most of this will actually be dictated by the creatives. It's going to be very interesting.
CA: How do you expect the digital environment to evolve over the next few years?
IP: Ideally the browser will go away and the objects that we surround ourselves with will have some form of intelligence, or rather become smart objects – but this development is still years out. In the near future we’ll start to see web design changing completely when desktop computers will predominantly be touch-based. Websites will start to look and behave more like tablet apps, and the mouse may become obsolete completely – or replaced by a stylus, which wouldn't be so bad from an ergonomic perspective either.
CA: OFFF must be good because you keep coming back! What are you hoping to get out of the show this year?
IP: On a personal level I'm looking forward to seeing some of the other speakers, as these conferences are sometimes the only times we get to spend time with them since we're all scattered across the globe. Professionally, however, I’m most looking forward to seeing the talks of some of the speakers I haven’t yet seen. The more unknown speakers are typically the ones that surprise and inspire me the most.
CA: Tell us something we don't know...
IP: When Fi first started back in 1999, it was in a shed in Northern Sweden and the founder David Martin ran an internet shop in town. We have very humble beginnings!