SpearTalks: Scott Belsky, Behance Network

Posted on August 31, 2007 Under Design

On Monday, we got all excited about the launch of the Behance Network, and now, a work-week later we’re happy to report that the response to this incredible new platform for creative professionals has been overwhelmingly positive; we’re even happier to hear feedback from those of you who received exclusive invite codes from us and are loving Behance as much as we have for the past few months. I sat down with Scott Belsky last night for a quick chat about the network’s background, his feelings on making the site public and the team’s plans for the future. We still have invite codes left (and until Monday, this is the only place you can get them) information for scoring one follows this interview.

JoshSpear.com: You guys went live this week after fourteen months of development. What’s been the scariest thing that happened, so far?

Scott Belsky:The scariest thing is seeing a project that has been, for the most part, completely isolated for 14 months, suddenly live. We went through so many philosophical debates about the needs of the creative community and the balance between simplicity and functionality. Certainly the scariest event so far was our first focus group during testing. We recorded the screen movements of our testers and ended up with hours of video to watch. We then sat down with some popcorn and watched, sitting at the edge of our seats. There were moments of horror and deep suspense, but in the end there were valuable lessons learned. And we took another month to make some significant tweaks.

JS: Was the development and evolution of the Behance Network a more organic development, or was it the result of seeing something specifically lacking in the Creative professional community and the resolve to change that fact?

SB: The very premise of Behance is that creative professionals have many great ideas, many of which never end up happening.

To make ideas happen, you need to be organized, disseminate your ideas quickly, get feedback, and find new partners and resources. The Behance Network was developed to foster the “ingredients” for productive creative careers. We are simply boosting the speed and efficiency of what already happens circumstantially in the creative community.

On our blog (Behance.com) we have interviewed many creative teams and have noticed a few themes: one, there is a lot of disorganization in the creative community. Two, creative professionals often struggle to present themselves professionally. MySpace is referred to by many as a ‘flea market.’ Personal websites are expensive, difficult to maintain, and hard to promote. Other niche creative sites are too isolated and lack the cross-pollination between creative realms that makes life interesting. Three, people are more likely to follow through on ideas when they share them.

So, we took these themes into account when we designed the Behance Network.

JS: What’s your advice for users of Behance Network to get their work noticed and appreciated?

SB: When selecting portfolio pieces for the “Featured” section, our editorial team aims for an eclectic mix. We’re also want to feature content that is presented professionally. There are many Behance tools to edit the background colors/images, mix multimedia, and present work in a professional way.

We also pay attention to a project’s number of “appreciations,” and how many projects the author has in their portfolio. We also seek to feature the work of Behance participants that contribute feedback to others and are active in the network.

The Behance Editorial Team is simply playing the role of “curator” in this function.

It is important that users understand that their work will not exist only in a static portfolio. If they choose to, their content can be streamed to other circles, galleries, and eventually widgets on other sites.

We also encourage creative professionals to reserve some time every day for “self marketing.” It is annoying but essential. You need to build your network and constantly fine-tune your portfolio.

JS: It’s a year from now. Where are you and what are you doing?

SB: One year from now, I hope that our team is still developing well-designed products and services for creative professionals. Personally, I’d like to focus on the productivity-related issues in the creative professional world. I am a firm believer that the greatest breakthroughs across industries happen when ideas are pushed to fruition. That is a fancy way of saying that creatives need to get their act together. And that’s what Behance is here to do.

Looks like they’re well on the way, in that respect. If you’d like an invitation to the network, leave a comment here or email us a link to your portfolio and we’ll pass one along.