.

Enough passion and commitment can get you wherever you want in this field. A great degree can only go so far. It comes down to work quality, commitment to the craft, and the ability to be a fearless thinker.

Please give us a brief bio of yourself.

As a partner at Qorvis Communications and head of its creative services group, I manage and direct development of a wide range of interactive and branding services for Qorvis clients. I have a great record of superior client service and expertise in information architecture, branding, interface design, Flash, technology, web strategy, content management, social media, email marketing and interactive advertising. Prior to joining Qorvis, I founded my own interactive agency, Internet Gravity, in 1998 and grew the company’s clientele list exponentially. I have produced, designed and built more than 400 websites for a variety of businesses and was selected by Yahoo! as the nation’s best college web designer of 1998.

What do you do for inspiration?

Walk around the city and think, visit thefwa.com, and speak with people who are indirectly connected to a project (e.g., subject matter experts, employees of my clients, etc.)

Please list 3 of your favourite sites.

TheFWA.com
TechCrunch.com
Google.com

What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?

It’s a three-way tie: my son Noah, making partner at Qorvis, , and winning the Yahoo! award.

How many hours do you work each week?

80-90

How do you relax or unwind?

Playing tennis, listening to hip hop, and hanging out with my wife, son, and friends.

If you weren't working on the internet what would you be doing?

When I was growing up, my dream was to be the best CD packaging designer in the world. Then I was introduced to the Internet, and the compact disc died. I have never looked back or thought about it since. If the Internet didn't exist today and I wanted to follow my passions, I would love to work in the hip hop or tennis industry.

What's your favourite part of your job? What's the hardest part of your job? What do you do when you get stuck?

I love the creative challenges clients throw at me every day. The hardest part of my job is striking a perfect balance of winning the best work to attract the most talented team possible. When I get stuck I reach out to mentors, advisers, or unplug for the day and start again tomorrow (unplugging rarely happens).

What's the longest you've ever stayed up working on a project?

From 4 a.m. until 8 a.m. the next day for an enormous pitch. Fortunately we won, so it was well worth it.

If there are any pivotal experiences/decisions you could point to that helped shape your career, what would they be?

One of the most pivotal decisions I made in my career was to sell my agency to Qorvis in 2003, rather than to the pure-play interactive agencies that were also interested. Working with a diverse group of talented people delivering integrated solutions has enabled me to provide a differentiated solution, which results in a very high win rate when pitching business. I also think that people need to look very closely at the people with whom they'll be working, versus just the brands with which they'll be working.

What software could you not live without?

Photoshop and my latest-favorite browser.

How many projects does your company juggle at any one time?

We currently have 90 active clients.

In terms of software, is there anything new you have been playing with lately or that has impressed you?

It is impressive how far cloud-based design services have come in the last 12 months. They still aren't as good as desktop-driven tools, but they are playing catch-up quickly.

Who do you rate as being the top 3 design companies?

Fantasy Interactive, FirstBorn, R/GA 

What effect on traffic do your new designs have?

Our UX designs produce an increase in both traffic volume and traffic quality for our clients.   

Who is your target audience?

Our work targets all audiences, but lately we have been working with iconic brands, such as The Washington Post and AAMCO, who have very high brand recall with baby boomers, but are now struggling to resonate with Millenials. We are acting as transformational agents for these brands and helping them connect with younger generations. 

Are there any websites that have shone through as being pioneering in the last 5 years or so?

RR.com, Mnt.com, Facebook.com, Google, Hulu, Piknick, and Kayak to name a few

When dealing with major clients, how difficult is it to meet the needs of such wide target audiences?

It is not difficult when clients embrace a sound research and discovery strategy at the beginning of an engagement. That, combined with enough time and resources to produce experiences that connect with all personas is all you need for targeted success.     

What did your very first site look like? Is it still online?

Unfortunately it is not online, thanks to Yahoo! shutting down GeoCities. It wasn't the prettiest site, but it did win me a major award that put me on a national stage, and started my career in a big way. Thanks Yahoo!

Have you written any books, if not do you plan to?

I have not written any books to date, but I do plan on writing one about my experiences when the timing is right. I think my book will clarify many things for people I have worked with over the years.

Are there things you do OUTSIDE of work to ensure that you are in the right mindset to be creative and/or successful in whatever you are doing?

I do many things to ensure my mind is correctly tuned for creative and managing a large business. Exercise is a great way to ensure your creative juices are flowing, and I recently completed a graduate program at Georgetown on leadership that has done wonders for me in terms of managing a large team of very talented individuals with a unique set of personalities, wishes, and desires.

Have you been a part of a campaign that was rooted in digital and THEN reached over into other consumer touchpoints? Did this happen organically or was it a part of the plan from the beginning?

Yes, I recently completed an exciting project for Intel called Scratch IT and See. It was a perfect blend of social media, digital advertising (search and display), and a fun web experience. The campaign grew offline to include a fun guerilla strategy with dressed-up characters at strategic metro stops throughout Washington, D.C. The campaign was a big hit and the results knocked the ball out of the park.

The web is getting out of the web. Do you find that thinking in digital solutions alone hinders you? Do you feel the urge to solve the problem using all mediums necessary?

Yes, it is very important these days to use all mediums. Browser-based solutions are a thing of the past. The most important thing I ask my team is: What is an idea that can be a platform for almost any media? 

Looking 10 years in to the future, how far can websites go?

I think in 10 years websites will be 3D, immersive experiences. The days of scrolling pages will be long gone. The web will be more transformational to our daily lives and how we interact with content than we can possibly imagine now. I think we are soon going to experience a whole new level of interactivity on every screen of our lives.  There will be no different between a computer monitor and a TV screen and a mobile device, just the size of the screen will be the only difference one day.

Of all the websites you/your company have produced, which one are you most proud of?

WashingtonPost.com, Intel's Scratch IT and See, and the soon-to-be launched George Washington's Estate at Mount Vernon.

Do you think Flash is here to stay?

I do, but the debate of HTML5 as of late has really got me second guessing how often it will be used in the future.  Feels like it will be become more and more a niche plugin. 

question What are your views on design/graphic school. Do you think someone can get into the field without educational experience in a school environment?

Enough passion and commitment can get you wherever you want in this field. A great degree can only go so far. It comes down to work quality, commitment to the craft, and the ability to be a fearless thinker. 


If you were a student entering this industry or an aspiring FWA award submitter, what advice would you give them?

Focus on quality over quantity.

How difficult do you find employing the right people in a world where everyone calls themselves a web designer?

This is the biggest challenge in my current agency role. Amazing talent is so hard to find and retain these days. 

How do you keep up with the latest capabilities of Flash or do you rely on other members of you team to do this?

I rely on my other team members to do this, and they do a great job. The team I work with today is by far the most talented group of people I have ever worked with. I would like to give a shout out to my creative collaborators: Stefan, Gautam, Cassie, Ryan, Max, John P., Emily, Shane, Ed, John W., Robel, B-Plat, David, Cool Joe, Rocky, Rebecca, Carrie, and of course Ms. Stetz.

What would be your ultimate vehicle to travel in?

A Bentley Continental

When your company was just getting started, what did you find was most effective for getting new clients?

Doing amazing work and making sure existing clients are happy at the end of projects are critical to getting new clients. The 8th and 9th innings are much more important than innings 1-7. You will always do better when you focus on client service and creative quality. Marketing, PR, and awards will only take you so far.

How do you keep your finger on the pulse of the latest web trends?

TheFWA.com, Meetups, UXMag.com, SmashingMagazine.com are great trend-spotting resources.

What country excites you the most in terms of innovation?

The USA. But of course!

There must be a project that you have always dreamed of doing, what is it?

Jay-Z's website. It would be a dream to work with the legend.

What does the future hold for your company, or you as a person?

My hope is that Qorvis continues to be a top-five agency nationally, and continues to grow in the field of digital communications and design. For me, I hope to keep working with better and better brands, and deal with more innovative and complex challenges.

What are you excited about learning next and is there a long term challenge you are considering tackling?

I want to become a better writer. I was a natural at visual design and interactive arts. But the written word is a craft that I initially discounted. As I have grown in my career, I learned that the words and messages that accompany a campaign are equally important to a successful engagement.

What is the most expensive thing you have bought in the last week?


Landscaping services for my home.


Any parting shots or pearls of wisdom?

As a mentor of mine Jan Wessling told me.  Follow these rules in life and you will go far:

1. Honesty is the best policy.
2. Be quick.
3. Be smart.
4. Be assertive.
5. Defense wins championships.
6. Respect other people.
7. Never start a fight you can’t win.
8. Always have a back-up plan.
9. Don’t talk big.
10. Be careful.
11. You know, you never know – expect the unexpected.
12. If you want to run with the big dogs you can’t be like a puppy.
13. Relax. 

I follow them everyday, and you should too.

It has been a privilege, thanks very much

Thank you, Rob. I greatly appreciate this opportunity. Keep up the amazing evolution of TheFWA.
Links

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ABC News with Charles Gibson interviewed Jason on his Obama inauguration Webby winning iPhone application.

2009 Reel









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