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Executive Report - By Thomas Baekdal - September 2013

Create Intelligent Digital Workflows, Not Responsive Monotony

The thing about responsive designs, or all the other fancy design concepts, is that they have nothing to do with the design. And it isn't until you realize this that you start to understand both the true potential, but also the pitfalls.

It's actually about preventing those small insignificant problems before they become huge and disruptive concerns.

Let me give you an example from my past. About 10 years ago, I was working as the Digital Media Manager for a big fashion enterprise operating with several brands. We had brands for teenagers, older women, luxury brands and so forth. And because of this diversity, it was deemed vital for our success that each brand was kept separate from the rest to not 'pollute' the individual brand image.

In terms of our digital brand profile, this meant that each brand would have websites designed independently from the other brands, often using different ad and web agencies for each.

In total, we had 10 different websites. Some were made in Flash, some in HTML, others manually coded, others using resource files. And all of them completely different from the others.

One day, one of the retail managers came into my office and told me that some of our shops had expressed interest in getting their email and web address on our "find a shop" page. That was a great and super simple idea, so we decided to make that happen. I mean, how hard could that be?

We sent out a letter to all our shops, asking them to supply us with their email and web address. Promising them that this would help boost their digital presence.

After more than two months, we finally had the data we needed, so now all we needed to do was to add it to the 10 different websites. But this was when reality came back to bite us. Remember, each site was made by different people/agencies, each based on different code structures and technology. The only solution was to manually update each site, which often involved hiring the agencies to update it for us (especially for the flash sites).

The cost in both time and money was outrageous. What should have been a simple job, turned out to be a massive endeavour, during which time many other and far more important (and innovative) projects were put on hold or even cancelled. Granted, we had a lot of shops, but I don't even want to know what the ROI was (it was surely negative).

And all because each site had to be different.

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Baekdal is a magazine for media professionals, focusing on media analysis, trends, patterns, strategy, journalistic focus, and newsroom optimization. Since 2010, it has helped publishers in more than 40 countries, including big and small publishers like Condé Nast, Bonnier, Schibsted, NRC, and others, as well as companies like Google and Microsoft.

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Thomas Baekdal

Founder, media analyst, author, and publisher. Follow on Twitter

"Thomas Baekdal is one of Scandinavia's most sought-after experts in the digitization of media companies. He has made ​​himself known for his analysis of how digitization has changed the way we consume media."
Swedish business magazine, Resumé


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