Creative Talk with Jarman Smith from Byte Media
Tell us about Byte Media, and how it came to fruition?
In 1993 I graduated from Visual Communications, an intense 3 year course in Graphic and Computer Graphic Design. I then worked in a small agency in Christchurch briefly, then started a design print business which I sold and decided to head off overseas for the typical OE. I returned to NZ, Auckland 7 years later. I wanted a change so got into oil/acrylic painting, it was enjoyable and even started selling some works, but with my wife going back to uni for 3 years, and just starting out with painting, we needed a bit more income, fast.
I put down the brushes and cold canvased business and retail outlets in most of Auckland for several months offering design and printing services. After gaining several clients I got an office in Takapuna, things started getting busy so needed some help with a few staff members. We were a small design, print agency.
A highlight in the early days was an invite to a Parliament press release of Otago Uni on the subject for Human Genome research, which we designed the covers for.
After about 5 years into the business we put less focus the print side of things as at the time was when print was drying up a fair bit so we started developing websites 12 years ago and stayed on this course ever since. In that time we have done a wide range of business websites and have meet a lot of interesting clients along the way, some of the stand out websites we worked on were Vodafone and Perpetual Guardianʼs online e-Will sites myfootprint.co.nz and NZ Wills nzwillregistry.co.nz. Today we work on some complex coding work as well as general web development and design.
Do you prefer to work solely on digital, mobile, app and SEO projects, or do you cover print and media?
Mainly digital media, we leave the SEO to our partner experts, but set the SEO structures up in best practise. We design for any media but the main focus is on the digital arena these days, we also produce mobile apps that can talk to client sites and vice versa.
How do you source new clients?
Client referrals mostly, and other established Digital marketing agencies, we get a lot of general website enquiries too. Very much a down to earth approach is taken with clients, we try and talk on a level they will understand. We work for companies of all sizes, we have always tried to treat the smallest budget clients the same as the biggest ones, every business has a direct person to look after at the end of the day. Once a business neighbour in Takapuna approached us after another web company wouldnʼt take them on due the fact their current site used Flash. We took on the design and initial development and they turned out to be one of the worldʼs best rendering animation software developers, they sold their IP to a company called Otoy in the Sates, which at the time the current CEO of Google, was also a company board member of Otoy, so it ended up being quite a major for us. https://home.otoy.com/render/octane- render/
What does a typical day at Byte Media entail?
Kick start into our Job Task app Wunderlist, then plan job priorities. A general day is client calls, design work, possible meetings, quotations and of course emails.
Always putting some time aside to think and work on future growth.
Web development is a very demanding industry, itʼs competitive, client subjective (which makes some jobs harder than others) and the industry is constantly changing.
What are the main technologies you work with and why do you prefer them?
A. Pencil and Paper. I Like to sketch ideas out at meetings, conveying ideas for web page structures can really help everyone get on the same page with the client and we can quickly thrash out ideas, itʼs very helpful for both parties, we can get very close to nailing what they want and ready for the first online draft, massive time saver. I take photos of the sketches for later reference and discuss with the developer and listen to any suggestions or technical issues we may have on the job.
B. CMS technology for Web development depends on the type of site it is, we specialise in Silverstripe as Its so versatile and its NZ made, I will always support anything kiwi made as we are so good! Shopify if itʼs a more ecommerce suited site, such a good CMS for the client.
We code in several languages too.
Are there any new / emerging web technologies that have you excited?
Software for development just keeps changing, this can be helpful but at the same time a pain as you learn it, then have to restart again. I think that DIY Content Management Systems will become very advanced soon and even easier for the public to build their own sites, it really wouldnʼt surprise me if one day a user could talk to a CMS and tell them what they want, colour, font etc via their spoken word. This would change everything and the reason I feel custom work is where itʼs at going forward.
How would you describe the culture at Byte Media?
Relaxed, Casual and flexible with the hours which is helpful especially in Auckland with traffic
When hiring, what are the top qualities you look for? Do you prefer people who have cross-over skills or specialise in one area?
Specialists are preferred but if some people can specialise in many code languages this is even better. The most important thing is eye for detail and remembering the small stuff and testing! Good communication is key too.
Whatʼs the best advice you would give yourself starting out in your career?
I found it hard early on going to meetings or networking situations. After many meetings and years later I am a lot better at these now, I wish I had the greater calm I have now in those situations. Experience gained from going through these interactions is the only way to get better at this I found, listening is key. The absolute best place to start is with good listening, then talk.
Whatʼs next for Byte Media?
We are focusing on the development of more customised bespoke development for clients that need this, I think this is where a lot development is heading, and to maintain a high standard of design going forward.