Open source bridges the gap between the creative and technical. It exceeds technology demands by cutting costs and accelerating time to market while providing the extensibility to build truly creative and dynamic digital experiences.
Financial giants like J.P. Morgan, mega tech companies like Google and Microsoft, and even global NGOs like Greenpeace have wholeheartedly embraced open source. Agencies, too, are embracing open-source software for client work.
We talked to Creative Technologist Peter Nellius at Ogilvy Washington about their stance around open source, its adoption among clients, and more.
Open source makes sense at all levels
As a Creative Technologist, Nellius sits at the intersection of traditional software development and creative advancements. He is expected to remain platform and technology agnostic, allowing him to assess the project’s creative and technical needs objectively.
“We try not to do technology for technology’s sake,” Nellius said. “It’s about taking the client problem and looking at that through a creative lens and combining it with technology to arrive at the right way to market to a consumer or a constituent.”
Nellius’ role gives him the perspective to see the client’s problem from both a technical and creative standpoint, identifying the best technology needed to accomplish a specific design goal.
As an agency, Ogilvy aims to use open-source software whenever possible, Nellius told Velocitize. “It makes sense at every level,” he said, explaining how it cuts costs, accelerates time to market, and gives clients full control over their websites from a usability standpoint.
It also boasts other widely-known benefits, including more security, seamless integration with other software, and the collaborative development by the communities surrounding the open-source projects.
Although open-source software has been used since the 1970s, only in the past decade or so have we started to see its mass adoption.
“More and more we’re starting to see open-source requirements written into client proposals,” Nellius said.
He pointed out that today’s clients desire portability with their platforms and websites, something open-source allows.
In addition, open source provides its users with a high level of flexibility and ownership. With closed solutions, users may face proprietary lock-in, in which customers become “locked in” to a specific vendor, service or product, unable to switch without paying substantial amounts of money.
Ogilvy has been pushing open-source software from a development standpoint for a long time now, Nellius said. “In today’s world, the very notion of open source has stretched beyond software development.”
“I find that open source today is encouraged rather than looked at as a nice option to have,” he said.
With open source software, you can start with a solid foundation and then develop it to meet your specific needs, cutting the development time in half and accelerating your time to market. It’s a super powerful mindset that allows us to be more flexible.
“I don’t need go out and buy something for thousands of dollars to get started. I can start with the base or do a quick GitHub search and get maybe half the features I need, and then build on that,” Nellius said.
He added, “open source has allowed us to be more nimble and flexible in designing the right thing for the client.”
Open source in action
Used by more than 27 percent of the entire internet, WordPress is one of the most widely adopted open-source projects in the world. Whether it’s The New York Times or National Geographic, sites of all sizes across all industries choose WordPress as the foundation on which to build their digital empires. Ogilvy uses several different content management systems (CMS) for client work, among them is WordPress.
“WordPress is personally my preferred CMS for clients,” Nellius said. “In my mind, it’s the easiest for clients to use. We have many clients who are now totally in control of their WordPress instances. Rarely once we handoff the site do they have questions about how to edit their content.”
Usability is one of the biggest selling points of WordPress, as it empowers users to own their own content experiences.
“We use WordPress not because we love it, but because it’s the best for our clients,” Nellius said.
WordPress also provides brands with the flexibility they need to take their digital experiences to the next level. “It’s incredible how far you can push WordPress,” Nellius said. “Not only does it serve content management needs, but it’s so extensible from a design and creative standpoint as well.”
WordPress also provides easy integration with new technologies and offers almost unlimited functionality in the form of WordPress plugins.
Nellius highlighted stories.usaid.gov as an example of an incredible website built on WordPress.
The site is a storytelling platform to communicate the USAID’s initiative to help end extreme poverty. It’s beautiful from both design and UX standpoints. It is totally modularized and features interactive content types.
“It’s a great example of how far you can push WordPress. It’s a full-fledged website,” said Nellius.
A brave new world
Open-source software is redefining the way we create digital experiences.
It’s accelerating time to market, cutting costs, and providing a new level of digital ownership to brands. With open solutions like WordPress brands are more nimble than ever before — they can innovate faster, integrate new technologies, and own their own digital experiences.