The Developer Spotlight is an interview session with many of the top designers and developers of interactive media from around the world. This edition will be an interview with Peter Eisenegger from atfront ag in Zürich Switzerland.
HIA: Peter, Thank you for taking the time to be interviewed. I am hoping that by sharing stories and interviews of developers all over the world, we may begin to build a sort of camaraderie amongst all of the Horizon Interactive Awards participants. First off, tell us a little about your background: (where you are from, experience, etc.)
PETER: I am based in Zurich, as is our company. My background is actually in the field of marketing and communication. I worked for many years as a consultant and strategic planner before we founded atfront in 2003.
HIA: Peter, tell us a little about what your company does, types of projects, clients, etc.
PETER: We develop mobile and web applications to help our clients transfer knowledge and information through interactivity. We avoid the term “eLearning” as it has connotations that don’t quite capture what we specialize in. We do interactive and multimedia stuff – anything but boring “multiple choice.”
We serve a large number of clients in Switzerland who deal with heterogeneous problems and challenges. This ranges from explaining a complex technical product, to teaching kids how to eat and live healthy.
HIA: How did you get started in the business and when?
PETER: We hadn’t planned to start our own business. My partner, Daniel, developed a project during his studies in Visual Communications which actually led us to entrepreneurship. That project became the avalanche education application White Risk (http://www.whiterisk.org) that we launched together in 2003. Other projects and clients followed and we realized that we had discovered a nice niche in Switzerland.
HIA: What do you think is the most important thing about your work in terms of the customer’s perspective?
PETER: Trust through competence. You can only do outstanding work if your client completely trusts you. And the client will only trust you if you convince him as a person and as a specialist.
HIA: The majority of entrants for the Horizon Awards competition enter from North America. However, we do have a truly international entry field from year to year. There are over 25-30 different countries represented in the awards competition. Can you talk a little about the differences in how projects are built for the European markets vs. the North American markets. What is your focus on the Swiss market specifically.
PETER: As we mainly develop for Switzerland, we can hardly compare with North American projects. In our experience, the most important difference has not to do with cultural areas but with the size of the company.
But overall, I think European projects are more reduced in terms of style and design, somehow more sophisticated in appearance. North American projects, on the other hand, convince with technical state-of-the-art solutions, attractive multimedia content and good ideas about how to connect content and make it easily accessible for the user.
HIA: I know that you have entered and won in multiple Horizon Interactive Awards competitions. Tell us why you enter the HIA and what it means to win the awards.
PETER: The HIA is precious to us because it is an award that rewards interactive projects, not just marketing and communication initiatives. Plus, it’s an international award, which also tells us where we stand with a broader range of the competition.
HIA: Where do you see web technology and design going in 2012, 2013, etc?
PETER: Well, if I could tell you that…. There will be countless trends in every field of the web, but at the end of the day it’s the content that makes the difference. If you don’t have something cool to tell or offer people, it doesn’t matter how fancy you design or develop something.
HIA: What are some of the technologies you utilize with your projects?
PETER: Basically, the technology should follow the functionality. So we choose the appropriate technology individually for each project.
HIA: What do you think is most important about design for web?
PETER: Design has a task, a function. It’s not decoration. If more people - clients and users - understood that, we would see a lot more great web applications than we do today.
HIA: Where do you turn for creative inspiration?
PETER: I jump on my fishing boat and chill on the lake of Zurich. Or I kill my indoor rower at home. Both help to clear my head.
Peter, thank you for taking the time to talk with us. I wish you the best of luck in this year’s competition and with all that you do for your clients.