James Royal-Lawson


The Beantin Manifesto

Digital communication is a gathering point for pretty much everything we’ve ever learnt. There is a never-ending list of different specialities that need to be utilised to produce the seemingly mythical perfect web presence.

Those of us working with digital communication (or, if you want, “the web”) work in a rapidly changing sector. Yes, we’re maturing as a profession, but the sheer vastness of what we are trying to learn, understand, and manipulate – combined with the speed of change, means that maturity isn’t something that will arrive over-night.


Human beings love compartmentalising things. So do organisations. Unfortunately that doesn’t work with web communication. You can’t work in silos. Each speciality can’t sit in it’s silo and produce the optimal result without genuine co-operation and co-ordination with other specialities.

Ignorance is bliss

One of the biggest problems is that many of these silos don’t realise that the other silos exist. That’s understandable. A specialist programmer isn’t going to be a specialist copywriter. Your marketing department isn’t your finance department. You aren’t expected to know the details of how the other professional/department/silo goes about it’s business.

Until we stop arguing about which discipline lies at the top (or bottom) of the pyramid (“xxx is king”), until we start linking these skills horizontally, until we stop boxing ourselves in and closing the lid, our organisations and clients will fail to get the best out of this fantastic medium.


Here is my 5 point manifesto that I will follow to help join the dots, get specialities working together, and ultimately make a better web:

  1. Share: Don’t hoard knowledge. Distribute and educate.
  2. Honest feedback: Always speak my mind. Never hold back from sharing an opinion.
  3. Good enough: Never aim for good enough. Aim for best.
  4. Your best interests: Do things that are in the client’s best interests, not in the interests of add-on sales.
  5. Web standards: As much as possible follow (and even create) web standards and best practices.

James Royal-Lawson+ is a freelance web manager and UX-er based in Stockholm Sweden.

Why the name Beantin?

In Sweden when creating a company you need to send an application to the Companies Registration Office. In that application you need to list, in order of preference, the names you are willing to accept for your company. Beantin webbkommunikation was one of the names towards the top of that list.

Webbkommunikation is the simple part to explain. That’s Swedish for online communication. I do internet-based communication stuff, not TV, print, events, or things for other channels – so webbkommunikation seemed the sensible choice

Why Beantin though? Well. At the University of York in the early 90’s I studied Economics. One of the lecturers there was David Gowland. A clever, slightly eccentric, entertaining lecturer. Being 18, creative and foot-loose at university, David became the inspiration for a single-frame stick-man cartoon I started to draw.


Gowland was the main character, but even from the first first cartoon, Gowland’s girlfriend made an appearance. Beantin is her name. She is the one with the brains. Her greatest hobby is confusing Gowland. Which she does with remarkable ease.

Even though The Cow is my favourite character, I have a particular fondness for Beantin and her intelligence. Beantin works well from a web-age branding perspective. Written as a single word it is readable, searchable and recognisable.

Admittedly, one thing I failed to realise was that many Swedes wouldn’t automatically recognise Beantin as English, and often pronounce it “Be-an-ten”. On the plus side, when I created Beantin webbkommunikation in 2006, there was the obvious bonus that was still available.

Only 24 hours in a day…

The Gowland website isn’t quite as well maintained as I’d like it to be. The 24-hour limit gets in the way of doing everything. But read more about the characters and take a look at some of the cartoons. Some day soon I’ll start drawing more Gowlands again, and hopefully painting a few more on canvas.

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