“Archipelago” is such a lovely word. It conjures images of far-flung island chains, sun kissed beaches and ragged shorelines. Twenty-eight miles off the southwestern tip of England is Cornwall’s own archipelago: The Isles of Scilly.

The islands are a place of contrast. Beautiful yet wild. Bright white beaches nestle alongside sea ravaged cliffs. Windswept hills sit beside sheltered coves and inlets.

St.Martin’s, Isles of Scilly

My wife Katie and I have visited many times: With friends; As girlfriend and boyfriend; As husband and wife; And more recently, with our small family.

This is my love letter to the Islands: A collection of memories from…


We’ve employed Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) at Firefly for the last two years. Because they are part of our formal review process, they’re used widely across the business. However, there has been some confusion, especially amongst new starters, about how these work and exactly why we spend so much time on setting them.

In this article, I will set out how our business sets goals and how these filter down to the individual. I’ll also outline the feedback loop we use to ensure we’re capturing feedback and objective proposals from the individual at the company level.

Each team within…


We value learning at Firefly. We value giving busy teachers more time to teach. We value giving students more ways to learn. We value ensuring our team always have access to continual learning by providing a £1000 per person training budget. We also value our community. That’s why giving meetup groups like Design Club is important to us.

Monday evening saw around 20 designers enjoying some beer, pizza and listening to some fascinating talks by thought leaders in the field of User Experience Design.

The fantastic Ben Sauer kicked off the evening with his talk “Why is solving the right…


I spent some of last week listening to some great design leaders share their thoughts at Leading Design 2017. Hosted by the fine folks from Clearleft the event is now in its second year.

The Barbican Centre — The venue for the excellent Leading Design Conference

Before last year’s event, I was still trying to figure out what my job was, let alone how to do it well. I think my biggest fear when I took the position was that I would no longer have much to offer. Increasingly I’d be taking on less and less of the day-to-day work, and without producing designs or churning out HTML what was I? …


I’ve recently asked Firefly’s design team to give up some of their precious time in pursuit of writing short articles here, on Illuminated. Like all design teams they’re incredibly busy, so why add another distraction in pursuit of something that — on the face of it—isn’t of strategic importance?

I’ve long been a fan of writing, maintaining my own blog since 2005. Its always been a way for me to solidify my thinking: I’ll often be better able to communicate an idea via the written word than I can verbally. I’d argue this is the same for most people. …


I’m thrilled by libraries in Sketch Beta. I know it’s rather sad to be excited by a new feature in software, however, I’ve been waiting for this particular bit of functionality ever since we started using Sketch to manage our design pattern library.

We currently use Brand.ai to share symbols across the team. This works surprisingly well for a third party add-on, especially given the fact we have 100’s of symbols in our library. But it’s not cheap, and had always felt like a bit of a stop-gap. …


I’m a firm believer that if you’re designing for the web you should have at least some idea of how to build for the web. For my money, nothing beats spending time with developers to cultivate your understanding of how things are put together. Indeed, such conversations should directly affect how you structure your design files. Sketch is great for this. With its overridable symbols you can actively design in a way that lends itself to translation into HTML and CSS.

It seems to me that this is often a missing piece in a designer’s toolbox. All too often, a…


I don’t think its hyperbole to say that there’s a revolution happening in the design of digital products. Designers have long had the idea of designing interfaces from a kit of pre-built parts, but never really had the tools to do this effectively. Sketch is such a tool.

At Firefly, we’ve recently made the transition to Sketch specifically because of the power of symbols. These have enabled us to build our pattern library in a way that helps us to do some extremely rapid prototyping and create consistent experiences for our users.

Our Front-End and iOS teams already have their…


One of the things I spend a lot of time thinking about is education; or, more specifically the use of technology in education. I’m not a teacher, but I do work for a tech company whose goal it is to make education better.

Recently the OECD released a report that suggested that the use of technology in the classroom was having a detrimental effect on how well pupils were performing in standardised tests. As an organisation who really takes the time to try and understand education, Firefly certainly had a few thoughts on the report. …

Jon Roobottom

Designer by day. Blogger by night.

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