CULTURE

Yatzer: A digital guide to inspiration

His nickname turned into a job ?- better still, a brand name. His friends used to call Costas Voyatzis (Vo-)?Yatzer,? and this is where, years later, the idea for the name of a website on aesthetics came from. Halfway between a magazine and a website, according to Voyatzis, Yatzer is a ?digital guide to inspiration? as well as a ?digital home,? a web application platform that was first recognized abroad before receiving recognition locally. Named as one of the world?s top 10 websites on design, it gets 1 million hits per month. For those not especially familiar with the Internet site, www.yatzer.com covers the world of design in English. Voyatzis is the editor-in-chief and artistic director of a Greek story that began three years ago and developed quickly into a global website ? a point of reference for design in the broader meaning of the word. Design, architecture, visual arts and fashion are some of the categories on the website?s main menu. As for its founder, Voyatzis was on his way to becoming a meteorologist but chose to become an interior designer instead and is now an online publisher. Here?s a chance to find out how it all came about.

How did you come up with the idea of an English-language, Greek website with a .com ending dedicated exclusively to design?

You could say it was a matter of great expectations. My vision was crystal clear: I wanted my choices to be viewed over the world, something which, for obvious reasons, was not feasible through the use of Greek alone.

How does a digital business, such as a website, survive, if not through advertising?

The truth is that I didn?t start Yatzer as a digital business and I still find it hard to see it that way, even though its dynamics on both the local and the international level now allow me to do so. The majority of websites complement or reflect off-line business activities. There are also plenty of digital businesses with a commercial character that survive primarily ? but not exclusively ? through trading goods and services that they sell online. If we?re talking about site magazines such as Yatzer, the bulk of revenues usually stems from advertising, sponsorship and media relations ? in other words, communication goods for advertisers who wish to reach the audience of each site magazine.

During this time of crisis, the Internet seems like an easy solution for all those who wish to become rich and famous quickly. What kind of advice would you give those who want to succeed online?

My feeling is that during this period of financial crisis and recession, the Internet is a developing, not a saturated, field. From this point of view, it?s a plausible solution for business activity. I don?t consider it an easy solution, however, and it certainly doesn?t make you rich and famous so easily. As for advice for success, I don?t consider I?m in any position to give any.

Your motto is ?design is to share.? Is there a motto that you haven?t included on your website?

Beauty lies within and only when we recognize it will it reveal itself. Then and only then will art become artistry.

You refer to 380,000 unique visitors, 1 million hits per month and some 600 blogs and websites linked with Yatzer. How do all these numbers translate into financial data, success and the future?

Those figures are relative. There are those who will find them impressive, while others less so, depending on the criteria, further analysis and the comparisons they will make. As far as I?m concerned, I find them very satisfying for three reasons: first of all, because Yatzer was started just three-and-a-half years ago and the rise in visitors per year is impressive. Secondly, because studies show that we have gleaned a hard-core audience that is loyal and dynamic, an audience with the power to influence the social and professional groups in which it it moves and thirdly, because these figures have exceeded by far my initial expectations.

So what is Yatzer? An encyclopedia of style or a daily bible on contemporary design?

I will go with the term ?digital guide to inspiration.? It opens by typing the www.yatzer.com address and includes all the beautiful things that are going on in the world in terms of design, architecture, visual arts and fashion, provided they correspond to the aesthetic standards of its publisher. A guide that is updated on a daily basis and is always on top of things, a warm, crystal-clear source of inspiration.

The Internet is constantly changing. Yatzer was developed in 2007 and redesigned a year later. How quickly does its subject matter change?

It will change again next month; I love changes on all levels. A ?digital home? ought to obey the visiting rules of its readers and the rules of construction of its owner for as long as the architecture of information is still in development, even if this means bringing it all down and starting from scratch. One thing that will not change is the quality of the content, which is updated almost on a daily basis and has been filling up Yatzer?s archive since 2007.

What is the craziest thing you have learned so far?

To take more and more risks as life goes on. After I took the risk of abandoning my meteorologist studies eight years ago, I have no northern, eastern, southern or western winds blowing through my life ? but I certainly don?t regret the fact that I allowed the winds of design and style to enter it.