September 18, 2020

Ask a Webby Judge: David Lee, Chief Creative Officer, Squarespace

5 questions with David Lee, Chief Creative Officer at Squarespace, and a new member of the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences (IADAS) for The Webby Awards.

1. Why are you excited to serve as a Webby Awards judge? What particular expertise or vantage point do you bring to the Academy

The Webbys is an institution that I have always admired. I started my career with the advent of the Internet becoming a creative medium in 2000, and spent my earlier years focused on trying to push the boundaries of what is possible with the web. I then transitioned my career to focus on the art of storytelling in all mediums which allowed me to travel the world and live vicariously through the shoes of various global brands.

I’ve now been at Squarespace for almost 8 years, and it has allowed me to culminate all of my experience and expertise into a singular challenge that I’m genuinely passionate about. We are trying to democratize the web and allow people to go after their passion projects and ideas while continually trying to push where the web is going to be in the future. To be able to celebrate and honor the best web, stories and ideas of the internet for the Webby Awards is an honor and a pleasure to participate in each and every year.

2. What trend or emerging technology are you most excited about in your field of work?

2020 has pushed the world forward by 5 years in just 6 months and it has changed our behavior and how we interact with technology. This global pandemic has really expedited the world to transition its livelihood online, and we are seeing some interesting use of new technologies to help individuals and businesses transition and thrive online. We are also seeing some older, dusty technologies coming out from the shadows.

One piece of technology that I assumed went away years ago which is making a massive comeback is QR codes. In a world where we can’t seem to touch anything anymore, QR codes have become ubiquitous and provide a simple way to connect to information by just pulling out the camera that’s in everyone’s pocket. It used to be that you had to download a bespoke app to read these codes, and outside of Asia, QR codes never really made a dent. Fast forward to today, now all modern cameras on phones have the ability to natively detect these QR codes. As an example, it now seems like every restaurant has adapted to having their menu being viewed online through these codes. I can see people creating even more interesting and innovative mobile optimized web experiences and products that allow people to connect to simple, mini websites that are tailor-made for this behavior.

3. Why do you think being a part of The Webby Awards community matters?

It matters because the Internet and the web matter. The world has evolved so quickly and it’s safe to say that the Internet is the single most defining invention of our generation – this should be celebrated. The Webby Awards is a community that is continually looking to celebrate the most useful, beautiful, silly and odd ideas that people are creating. I hope that the ideas we celebrate and put up on a pedestal will help inspire the next generation of creators to make the most innovative and ridiculous things the world has yet to see.

4. Since so much has changed this year, what is one trend you’d like to see stick around in your industry?

A lot has changed in 6 months, but if I had to pinpoint one trend that will likely stick around, it would have to be remote work life. Most companies assumed that productivity would tank if people had to work remotely for months on end – I think we’ve seen the opposite. While I’m not sure if this is a trend that I would like to see stick around in the future – I’m not sure we have a choice for the time being.

There are definitely disadvantages of constantly being fatigued by Zoom meetings all day and never really being able to “unplug”. In some ways, we’ve seen certain people be so productive that it’s become hard for them to disconnect and take much needed time off. I’m also very aware that some people do not have the luxury or ability to concentrate while working from home. There will be a need to develop some serious guidelines and rules on work/life balance etiquette.

While I don’t have a crystal ball, I think that office life like we were used to will not come back in the same way, but there will always be a need for an office for people to come together. There is a huge advantage to having face to face conversations for collaborative sessions that require people to come up and debate ideas together and to create a human bond with your co-workers. We’ve been a company that has consistently hired throughout the lockdown and I found it very odd and a bit sad that I haven’t had the chance to actually meet some of our new employees face to face yet.

5. What projects or endeavors are you currently working on, and how will it benefit the Internet community?

2020 has been a strange, exhausting and infuriating year. We’ve all struggled on how to adapt to this new life and it’s been harder than ever to find any source of inspiration.

This is why we have been working on a new campaign that hopes to shine a bright light through the dark clouds that have taken over the world. Our “Launch It” campaign is meant to encourage people and reinforce the message that the human desire to create is still there, and is as powerful as ever – all you need to do is to find the courage to launch it out into the world. In some ways, this lockdown period has provided people with the single best opportunity to work on that passion project, dust off that old idea that is sitting on the shelf, and use this moment in time to dream up the next ideas that will move the world forward.

*Bonus Question*: What’s your favorite app that other people haven’t heard of?

My iPad has become my main productivity device when it comes to photography and content creation. I’ve been using Affinity Photo for the last year and can say hand on heart that it is the most powerful photo editing experience you can get on your iPad that rivals Photoshop on desktop. So much so, that I barely do any content creation on my laptop anymore.

The 25th Annual Webby Awards has just opened! Anyone who enters The Webbys will have their work seen and reviewed by experts in IADAS, experts who are leading digital work across their industries.
Enter by the early deadline on Tuesday, October 30th.