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I recently grabbed some time with Paul Bishop, MD at Splendid, to sip some coffee, ask him a few questions about his web agency and find out what he is up to ….

Paul can you tell us what you do at Splendid?
As one of the founders of Splendid, my role is selling and talking to people. I spend time with customers discussing what they want to do and then proposing how they can achieve it. Within a project, my role is very much at the conceptual stage. I then hand over to other people to ensure smooth delivery. There are 2 other founders at Splendid. We were all at college together and have previous experience of working for both large and small agencies. About 4 years ago we decided to set up our own agency together. We all have specific and different roles to play. Alex is responsible for business accounting and strategy, with a lot of experience in new business ventures and the tv market. A lot of start ups have great ideas but need help with the finance and Alex helps link ideas to investors. Dan is very much creative and new technology evangelist, with a focus on the music industry primarily but also looking at new technologies such as Silverlight. Dan recently attended the Microsoft Silverlight Bootcamp in the US. I talk and sell stuff!

What makes Splendid different in this marketplace?
Splendid has the ability to take on very big projects even though it is still a fairly small company. Our size helps us to maintain agility and move quickly. This had been a great help in taking on new technologies such as Silverlight. We have a very strong methodology that makes us robust and allows us to compete against the larger agencies. Our methodology gets the users involved. I think a number of companies say they involve the users, but we really do. The methodology is a guiding principle more than a rigid process, and is constantly changing and incorporating customer feedback and our learnings.  We partner with Flow Interactive for user testing and jointly we win more projects by being able to offer the full service.
Splendid majors on user experience but is increasingly developing more as technology changes. Overall we focus on user experience and we are nice people so customers want to work with us!

Tell us about a cool Splendid solution
EMAP! We initially got involved by developing a gadget with Microsoft on Vista WPF for Empire magazine. This then developed into a website for New Woman based on a full .Net build. We have just launched Heatworld – online Heat magazine. Heat magazine contributes a substantially to EMAP’s revenue and over 700,000 copies are sold every week.  They are a complete Microsoft technology house and gave us just 10 weeks to deliver the solution as they wanted it to be live in time for the current series of Big Brother. We delivered a solution on time that has a very visual navigation based on photos. In the first 4 weeks they received 5M page impressions! On the first day there were 37,000 page impressions without any advertising. We delivered a full design process completely on .Net built in 10 weeks!  Take a look – it’s addictive! 
At Christmas 2006 we delivered our first .Net application ever to New Woman. Now 6 months later our developers that used to use PHP are all completely converted. Why? Simplicity, speed, the elegant environment, re-usable components. Now about 35% of our business is .Net

What are the press saying about Splendid at the moment?
Splendid is a relatively low profile company delivering high profile sites to our customers. We are known for the work we do and that’s important.  Our customers promote us for us by recommending us to others.
Any advice for partners looking at this new technology?
Let yourself or your business needs decide on the best fit more than new technology push.  Come up with the idea and chose the technology that best suits. Splendid is agnostic to technology. We are always thinking about the solution for the customer.
We have been really surprised by the realism and the passionate approach at Microsoft. I think everyone has  a perception of Microsoft.  I know we did.  We have been really pleasantly surprised and now have an honest and open relationship with the development team at Microsoft. There is a realistic exchange between our teams and this has helped to build the relationship. It’s been really refreshing.
Microsoft actually found us and asked us to get involved last summer around Vista as it was felt that we could add something different.  We are now involved in the Win Live Special Interest Group where we get exposure to the futures, roadmaps and can provide feedback which is great because I believe that we could incorporate this into every project we do. We are linked into the Silverlight teams both in the Uk and the US.
Things have really changed for us and I’d advise other partners to take a look and be surprised.

How was Mix07 in Las Vegas?
We have been so involved in this technology that we had exposure to a lot of the content prior to the event but is was still a spectacular event.  It was great to meet so many people and I just love Las Vegas! I’m really looking forward to being involved in MixUK.

If you were invisible for a day where would you go and what would you do?
Nothing I wouldn’t do if I wasn’t invisible! I’d like to hang out in the pits at a Formula 1 race. I’s also like to nose around Number 10 or a cabinet meeting just to see how they really make their decisions. In fact I’d like to do a world tour of all the leaders!


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