In 2008 I was frustrated. I was working at the BBC where I had learnt a huge amount and worked with some amazing people but I was hungry for more challenges.
I had started my career at an embryonic lastminute.com in 1999 before honing my skills in user experience at the BBC. Now I wanted to combine my commercial skills with my interaction design experience.
For a some time I had been thinking about founding a company that served as a platform for talented people to do great work without any of the baggage that comes with working inside a big organisation. I wanted to work on products and services that would make a big difference, that would help improve people’s lives and do work we could be proud of.
My own goal has always been: let’s create something amazing, otherwise what’s the point?
However I knew it was risky, I would be trading the security of the BBC for a gamble where 50% of businesses fail in the first five years. At that point in my life I was also starting a family so I decided it was time to up the stakes and take control of my own destiny.
For a long time I had focused on designing great user experiences, but now it was time for a new challenge: to design a company. This would mean finding the right projects to work on, the right people to work with and creating the right environment.
When these things combine there’s a domino effect: clients are happy because they get great results, their customers are happy because the product or service meets real needs and the design practitioners are happy because they are solving complex design challenges.
Fundamentally our lives are about emotion and I believe the more positive emotions we can engender, the richer everyone’s lives become.
One of my least favourite expressions is ‘human resources’. People aren’t resources to be exploited, they are individuals who thrive, feel fulfilled and are flourish in the right environment. I wanted to nurture a business where people felt excited and proud to work.
Getting going was daunting, I had no clients, no partners and no brand. But I started knocking on doors and to my surprise before long I’d landed a few clients.
I quickly learnt the importance of partnerships — to work on the bigger more challenging projects I needed to partner with other companies and consultants offering complimentary skills and services.
Soon I teamed up with Anthony Mace, an accomplished designer and researcher who had worked at Flow Interactive, a company I’d regularly engaged with at the BBC. We discovered we had a similar approach to work, including a rigorous research-led approach to interaction design, a determinism to create exceptional products but also a desire for a monthly canoe Tuesday exploring the rivers of the South West whilst opining on projects and design.
We formalised our collaboration as Mace & Menter and quickly found ourselves working with some great clients. Over the last few years we’ve been honing our services and process and the company has continued to grow. We’ve reached a level of maturity where we we have a team of specialists and are proud to have worked on products used by millions of people around the World.
Highlights to date include:
- Designing a digital service for the UK Government Cabinet Office
- Designing the customer journey and website for the UK’s biggest ticket seller, turning over hundreds of millions of pounds
- Developing an ongoing service design relationship with Scope, one of the UK’s biggest charities
You often hear the mantra: do what you love and the rest will follow. Typically for me this phrase conjures images of frugal writers scribing in lonely sheds or composers refining their latest concertos, not someone running a small interaction and service design company. However I’m fortunate that I can say there are many things I love about this work:
- We offer a service which genuinely adds value to our clients’ products with tangible measurable results
- Our work is fundamental to the design of services that can improve people’s lives on a daily basis
- Life is all about experience and the nature of our work means we are always having new experiences: each project brings with it a new field in which to immerse ourselves — I’m continually learning
- Whether we are researching the way people buy concert tickets or designing the way mechanics interact with the MOT system, there is always interesting and valuable insight to uncover
- Co-ordinating a team of talented people with shared values, where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, is immensely rewarding
I’ve probably arrived at this point through a combination of passion, serendipity, diligence and an inherited protestant work ethic. But it still feels like the beginning.
I’m excited by the projects I’ve yet to work on, the people I haven’t yet met and the technologies that are evolving and continue to evolve at a lightening pace.
Right now my goal is to continue producing great work for motivated clients who have a desire to create exceptional experiences. If that is you or if you would like to find out about working together, please don’t be shy!