Hi Andy! Can you introduce yourself to our readers?
Hi, I’m Andy Golpys, Co-Founder and Creative Director here at MadeByShape. I’m a Northern lad and like to think I have a friendly nature and a decent sense of humour.
It’s been a few years since I was in your studio, but tell us how Shape has developed to a highly recognisable agency and what set’s you apart from other digital agencies?
We started in 2010 with 4 team members, and it’s grown naturally over the years. We’ve hired experts in their fields, and that complement the way we work at MadeByShape. I believe we have a powerful portfolio of work, but I would say the best aspect about Shape is the people. They are all talented designers and developers, very friendly, and have great chemistry. I honestly think that clients enjoy working with us just as much as we love working together.
Regarding our competitors – we’ve set ourself in a niche area. Our minimum budget projects start at £4,000, but our competitors don’t work on anything less than £30,000. So there’s a real opportunity for us to accept a higher volume of projects. We work with start-up businesses right through to large global organisations – our services are flexible.
You have clients all over the world – how do you communicate remotely with these clients and what tools help you achieve this?
Yes, I get to travel across the globe, it’s fantastic. I’ve been in the industry for 13 years now, and my role has changed quite dramatically. When starting out, I was very much a Graphic / Web Designer, but now I am more on the business side, with client management, project management and Creative Director at Shape. Although I must admit that I do like to take on design projects personally when the diary allows me too.
If it were my choice, I’d particularly like to work on Fashion eCommerce as I feel that industry suits my style of design very well. But regarding client management and travel – we have a lot of clients in the NorthWest which means I drive to the destination. We also have a lot of clients in London, which means I usually get the train down from Piccadilly to Euston. I usually go down in the morning – plan days worth of meetings, enjoy the evening on the beer, stay over for a night and have a few meetings in the morning before heading back North. This works well for London. The further field trips to the likes of Amsterdam, Barcelona, Dublin etc. are all via Flight and are usually arranged in advance.
Tools to help me… that’s a good question. I would say the biggest is just time and project management. While I’m away (or out of the studio), I need to make sure all my team members are doing what they should be. Such tools like Skype, Teamwork, Trello and obviously email are vital.
So, let’s talk a little more about UX. How do you include UX in your design process?
It comes in the research and development phase. We listen to the client’s opinion first on what they do like and don’t like. Research the competitors, industry trends and then see what we can apply to improve the experience. This process can be swift or detailed, it depends on the client budget and timescale.
Recently you carried out a survey to find out more about your brand from an outside perspective. Can you share your thoughts behind this and what tools you used?
We have gone through a massive re-brand, you can visit our site here.
We set up in 2010, but the brand stood still for roughly 6 years, so we wanted to freshen everything up. It wasn’t so much that we didn’t like our branding or perception online, it was simply a case of giving a different approach and trying to target a slightly different audience.
Our new approach represents us very well, especially as we have grown over the past few years quite significantly. We wanted to get the opinion of our audience first, so we used SurveyMonkey and our Social Media accounts to get a response. What their opinions of our illustrations were, how they perceived the brand, what services do they know we offer etc. It was very helpful, and the feedback was fantastic. It helped us gain an insight into thoughts we hadn’t considered previously. I hope you like the new look for MadeByShape.
“The illustrations are incredible! The level of detail your team goes to makes you stand out from other design agencies” Becky Birch
Do you have a UX team or rather little, focused teams?
We’re still only a small team compared to our competitors, but it works well for us. UX is part of our design process, so one of our web designers will take care of this.
Design is very subjective. How do you validate your designs?
I always get the clients opinion first. Get them to analyse their own website, what they do and don’t like. Review their competitor’s sites, again both good and bad comments. Then also link me to sites they like and why they like it.
First of all – if I can get out of their head what they are thinking, I’m not guessing about what they like and dislike. After this, we present our ideas and direction. It’s still a discussion at this stage. I explain why we are suggesting these ideas and how it can work for them. If they disagree, we discuss and move forward. It’s a significant part of our process, so no time is wasted further into the job.
Finally, what advice would you give to designers who are looking to get a job at a creative digital agency?
Show personality. It’s so important. We receive SO many job applications per week, and most are dull – it’s a fact. Make it interesting, make it real – and obviously showcase your talent. If you’re an illustrator – make sure you have a style, there’s no point in copying somebody else. I absolutely love my job and going to work every day. It’s very rewarding, and I’m fortunate to be in this position. From my point of view, I always look at typography – no matter of the job role, I need every team member to be able to handle type and understand how it represents a brand. It’s not just a case of choosing a font and typing.
Thank you, Andy, for sharing your story with our audience at Together Incredible. Follow MadeByShape on Instagram to keep up to date with their journey.
If you would like have a chat and share your story, drop me an email firstname.lastname@example.org