Goodbye to 2017 and Hello to 2018

The festive season is upon us, the time of year for Christmas jumpers, mulled wine and mince pies! Our tree is decorated, we've enjoyed our Christmas Party and the office Secret Santa is complete — the festivities are in full swing!

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Naturally, the end of the year is a time to look back and reflect on company successes and plan ahead for the new year to come. 2017 has been a busy year for us and we look forward to building upon our successes as we enter into 2018.

Making life easy for online publishers

This year has seen us push forward with our plans to make life easier for the publishing industry. We’re used to developing for some of the biggest and busiest publishing sites in the industry and we understand what works well with current Content Management Systems and what could be improved upon. We’ve been developing tools for publishers for years, working to integrate third-party software  — a job that can be very frustrating, complex and time-consuming. We knew we had the knowledge and experience to simplify and improve the process and an idea was born — ‘Standfirst’. It was time to bring our tools together under one roof.

We’re pleased to announce New Statesman has renewed their contract for Standfirst for Kindle and a number of client sites are now running on our Standfirst for Cloud Publishing Platform. Find out more about Standfirst here.

There’s no I in Team

Working with a top team of colleagues can make all the difference and we’re lucky here at interconnect/it to have a team of some of the best.

Every year sees team numbers grow and this year we were pleased to welcome Claire Larsen as our new front-end developer. A passionate web developer who relishes nothing more than getting stuck into a complex challenge, Claire has been heavily involved with moving clients onto Standfirst. She’s been working on Sniff Petrol and Whitley Fund for nature, both of which will be launched in early 2018.

This was also Andrea Piccart’s first full year with us, having joined our team in December 2016. Andrea has brought a touch of Italian passion to our lunch times as a self-confessed foodie and ex-chef. This past year Andrea has primarily been involved with developing for and supporting The Spectator and he is looking forward to branching out into new projects next year and spreading his wings.

And of course there was team building! As always, we try to make time for at least one team building activity a year. This year we enjoyed a slow paced cultural day as a change from our usual adrenaline fuelled adventures. You can check out some photos from the day here.

The team at crazy golf.

Giving back to the Next Generation

As well as fostering our current team of talent, we also like to give something back to the community. 2017 saw our director, Dave, volunteering as a STEM Ambassador for the first time, where he worked with primary school children in the local area.

We also take on at least one work experience student a year, as well as a summer intern. This year we welcomed Joshua for a week-long placement, where he tested the capabilities of a Raspberry Pi Zero. Our Summer intern was Gregoire, who joined us from INSA Rennes in France. Gregoire’s summer project involved working with and testing our APIs to create a proof of concept mobile application. His work has aided our ongoing Research & Development and will be incorporated into future projects to come.

If you know any young people who would be keen to complete a work placement or summer internship with us, please do get in touch and we would be happy to discuss the idea with you.

Applying our Special Sauce

All projects come with their own unique challenges and 2017 has brought with it the opportunity to work on a whole variety of different projects. From expanding and developing the Gender Champions site to include New York and Vienna, to working with Mexico based client CIMMYT, designing and building their new site — not to mention working on a multitude of Centaur projects — we have applied our own special sauce to help our clients grow.

We’re passionate about developing for the publishing industry and love to see our clients do well. It was an honour to watch as the re-launched Marketing Week site won a PPA Digital Award and learn that both The Spectator and New Statesman were bucking the trend seeing growth in both print and digital subscriptions. Well done to everyone involved in these projects, it’s great to see the hard work pay off.

Screenshot of the new CIMMYT website

Looking Ahead to 2018

So after what has been a successful and happy year at interconnect/it, what do we have in store for 2018?

Hadrian – a Powerful and Flexible Paywall Solution

Noticing the weaknesses in current systems out there, we’ve spent the last year working on Hadrian — a powerful paywall, datawall and subscription management platform for digital publishers. Complementing your existing website or plugging into the Standfirst publishing platform, Hadrian provides a flexible solution allowing you to sell premium content with ease. Due to be launched early next year, we’re excited to get this out into the wild! If you want to know more, why not contact us for further information?

Year 2 of Partnering with Liverpool Girl Geeks

In January 2017 we signed up to ‘Partner’ with Liverpool Girl Geeks, an organisation that seeks to bring awareness to the gender gap in the tech industry. 2018 will see us Partnering with them for a second year and we look forward to working with Jo and Chelsea again. If you want to know more about how we came to work with LGG, check out this blog post.

Exciting projects lined up?

We do of course, but it’s important to keep most projects quiet until they’re either about to launch or are already available. You’ll just have to subscribe to our newsletter to find out more when it happens!

And finally, a word from our director, Dave

“I think the publishing industry is entering a new period. Publishers have long established their digital presence by now, worked out their positions and how digital all fits into their organisations. So what we’ll see is a series of consolidating moves, along with additional exploitation of tools that are available.

That gives two areas of focus: making the publishing workflow as efficient as possible, and secondly, finding ways to maximise the value of published content.

I think that display advertising is pretty much over. It’s a nice revenue stream, but it’s not an amazing revenue stream. Returns there have been driven down by low value publishing using social media biased clickbait articles.

Instead, I think the focus for digital publishing will end up switching towards informative, expert driven publishing that creates real value for the target audience… that they’ll have to pay for either on subscriptions or on pay to read models. Social media, search engines and so on will still be vitally important for audience generation, but once you have them it’s going to be all about being valuable to readers. And for commercial customers, this high value content will drive sponsorship opportunities and connections – a software developer might choose, for example, to sponsor some content for free access with co-branding.

Print will also still have value, but I think it’s important to accept that it’s different. Print has a great value for reading in bed, the bath, or on the train. It’s just nicer. And it’s tangible. But functionally it’s more limited. A webpage can be filled with video and animations and huge images. It’s also far cheaper to deliver… and most importantly, it’s searchable. One area we’re investing in, which I think is missed with digital products a lot, is search. Access to your site is access to a huge archive of valuable and useful material. Is it possible to monetise that search access as well? We think so… Think about directories, cross linked content, and serendipitous connections. We’re doing some research on this subject, and it’s fascinating.

But ultimately, I think we’re all going to have to keep experimenting and innovating. Digital moves quickly, and agility will matter the most. Here’s to an innovative and exciting 2018!”

Goodbye 2017, Hello 2018

Thank you to all our clients for being such a joy to work with in 2017 — we can’t wait to work with you all again in 2018. See you then. In the meantime, we’ll leave you with a few photos from our office Christmas party. Merry Christmas!