James Royal-Lawson


The Beantin Manifesto

Digital products and services are 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 digital experience. 

Those of us working with digital design 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 digital design. 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 let alone the benfit they bring and the importance they carry. 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.

True collaboration, across organisations and with the people who will use what we create is essential for us to get the most out this fantastic medium we work with, and prevent people suffering harm.


Here is my 6 point manifesto that I will follow to help join the dots, get specialities working together, and ultimately make a better digital world:

  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 best for people, for society. Not for short term gains. 
  5. Web standards: As much as possible follow (and even create) web standards and agreed conventions.
  6. Hypothesis driven. Design and evaluate honestly and openly. 

James Royal-Lawson is an independent designer and podcaster based in Stockholm Sweden.

[Originally written in January 2011. Revised in December 2020]

Why the name Beantin?

In Sweden, at least it was the case when I started my first company, you had to send an application to the Companies Registration Office. In that application you needed 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 and the name of my first company back in 2006. In 2018 I created a new company which has just the name Beantin.

But 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 doesn’t exist any more I’m afraid. But you can still read more about the characters here and perhaps I’ll start drawing more Gowlands again, and hopefully painting a few more on canvas.

Reload this page with responsive web design ENABLED