In a break away from the one-stop-shop for Web design, Specialmoves is a dedicated interactive design agency specializing in high-end production for the Web.

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Specialmoves are unique combinations of button presses that give your character a spectacular advantage over the competition,” says Darrell Wilkins, co-founder and partner in Specialmoves. Think blinding light, enormous explosion, massive attack or shock and awe: “Seemed like a good metaphor for the sort of company we wanted to build.”
And Specialmoves has built quite a reputation. “Specialmoves is the only company specializing <BR>
in high-end production for the interactive industry,” says Wilkins. That means that unlike many interactive design companies that win accounts and then hang onto them all the way from idea generation through to delivery, Specialmoves specializes in interactive production: online games, spiders chasing your cursor and even the world’s first interactive online church. 
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“There are thousands of Web-design companies. This creates one of the big problems: How do you differentiate yourself in such a crowded market? How do you stand out when Jimmy Bloggs down the road, who’s done an evening course and has got a hookey copy of Dreamweaver, is calling himself a Web designer too?

“We all studied at university level for four years, got a couple of years’ commercial experience and found that the people buying Web design were as likely to hire Jimmy as us. We were not alone in this and many companies still suffer from this problem; there is an immature understanding client-side of what goes into interactive design. This is improving now, but two to three years ago it was acute.

“The larger companies got round this by setting themselves up as full service companies. They can take on projects from analyzing their clients’ business process, through strategy, planning, media buying, creative ideas, technology design and build, Web site construction all the way though to making banner ads and search engine optimization. They have been very successful. They own the client and can deliver, in a huge vertical slice, everything their clients need.”

However, argues Wilkins, “It’s only been in the last two years that quality has ever been an issue.” Before that, “the creative quality was often low”. But since advertising turned its attention back to the Web, this has become more of an issue. Ad agencies want creativity and they want it on time and to budget.

The solution was simple says Wilkins, “The ad agencies either set up or bought digital agencies.” It was as the industry reached this state of flux that Specialmoves spotted their niche. “We knew we had particular strengths, especially in production, but it didn’t seem to fit where most of the industry was going, which was towards digital strategy, communication solutions, online marketing and advertising.

“Then it dawned on us and seemed so obvious,” says Wilkins. As the standards of online creativity have been upped by the ad world, the need for high-end production teams which can execute the demands of the creatives has also increased. Enter Specialmoves.

“That is where we see our niche,” says Wilkins, “We want Specialmoves to be to the interactive industry what The Mill is to video post-production. The place you turn when you want your idea realized with the highest possible production values.”

To that end, Wilkins is happy with where the company is heading. “I think we’re in a strong position. I think the industry is too.” There is now more confidence in the Web and what it can deliver, he says. “Many got badly burnt in the dot-com era and it became purely about return on investment and measurement of results.”

But creativity is making a comeback, he says, and is commercially viable too. Honda is a prime example of this, he says. The company’s new creatively-led advertising strategy has led to a big increase in sales.

“Honda are not spending any more on their advertising,” says Wilkins, “they have just changed direction.” Interactive and online design is coming of age.

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