Princes Street, Ipswich, Suffolk.
I joined squaremackerel straight out of university as a first-step into web design. Starting as a junior and working my way up, I learned so much with this agency and got to work with some very talented individuals who have since gone on to work with some of the UK’s best regarded design agencies. Creativity was always at the forefront of the projects that we worked on and, for a small agency allowed us to attract some significant clients such as Anglia Railways (now Greater Anglia), UKOOA (United Kingdom Offshore Operators Association), Crayola, Ipswich Building Society, Caterer.com, Celsis and Your Energy.
After I left Squaremackerel in 2004, the company continued to produce excellent work and win exciting new clients. Unfortunately the company closed in 2008.
Chapel Road, Mendlesham, Stowmarket, Suffolk.
I was invited to join this small design agency as a website developer. Despite having an impressive client list and the potential for some very interesting work, I found BlueSky to be a difficult working environment with a frustrating approach to new media. As an agency with a strong background in traditional media they were still in the early stages of fully developing their new media offering whilst I was with them.
The Forge Community Church
Forward Green, Stowmarket, Suffolk.
This role began with freelance projects and developed to become 2 full days of work per week. The breadth of work meant that I would move from web to print to video on a frequent basis. The Forge is a very forward-thinking, non-denominational free church that puts a high value on creativity and the arts. The team that I worked with included some of the most creative thinkers that I have worked with in my 10 year career in the industry and I thoroughly enjoyed helping to realise this creativity.
The Forge sees year on year growth in the size of its three congregations; The total adult congregation is now approaching 350. I feel that my time with FCC helped the church leadership to see the real value in the power of creativity. Matthew 28:19 tells Jesus’ final commandment to make disciples and teach all nations – the power of story, creatively used across all media is crucial to this in the 21st century.
Street Forge Workshops
Thornham Magna, Near Eye, Suffolk.
Taking a break from the new media industry, I spent three years working with this learning and social enterprise initiative for adults with disabilities. Employed as a tutor and NVQ assessor, I worked with a fantastic group of people striving to continue their own personal learning whilst also helping to run a social enterprise based around the design, production and marketing of hard and soft wood products. This role also allowed me to continue with my own academic studies achieving an NVQ A1 Assessor’s award and a Certificate of Further Education Teaching.
The initiatives that I worked with at Street Forge helped to move the organisation away from their reliance on government funding and more towards educational grants from local academic centres, of which Street Forge became an affiliated branch. This proved highly beneficial during the drastic government cuts in 2006 that saw many similar projects close down after the reduction (or, in some cases, the total removal) of funding.
Mosaic Spa & Health Clubs
Hethersett, Norwich, Norfolk.
I was invited to join Mosaic as their Digital Media Manager, a role that would see me continuing to develop my existing design and development skills as well as take a more active role with the digital marketing of the company’s health club and spa brands. Working with a small team I have moved the company radically forward in its use of digital media. Projects have included the complete reworking of websites for Mosaic’s key brands, implementation of a CRM database and high volume email system, the creation of an online training portal for employees and the development of the staff intranet. As well as this I have also worked within traditional media, creating print-based marketing campaigns, corporate identities for new brands and other printed collateral.
My time at Mosaic has allowed me to develop a comprehensive understanding of Google’s Adwords system liaising closely with Google staff and handling an Adwords budget of £3500 per month. I have also helped to steer the company into the social media space handling Facebook pages and Twitter accounts. As well as this, I have learnt a great deal about marketing to the leisure industry, filling whitespace and the importance of upsell.
Alex Gant New Media
Bacton, Stowmarket, Suffolk.
I maintained a freelance new media business from 2004 until the end of 2009. At times this provided some core income, at other times it supplemented my income from the employers shown above. Running your own business teaches you a huge amount about the industry within which you work and even more about all of the ancillary tasks required to keep a business running. I regret that I never fully relied on the income drawn from my freelance business as I believe that this is a key requirement for a successful business – there is a massive difference between the “I’ll just make a bit less money this month” and the “I’m not going to eat this month” attitude that only full reliance on your own business brings!
I also found that as a sole trader, significant and interesting projects were few and far between. Increasingly, I also believe that the days of just having a website are now done. No matter how stunning the design or how clever the code, a website is no longer enough. Businesses today need to know exactly what the objectives of their web presence are, who their target web visitor is and how they are bringing that visitor to the site each and every day. This kind of approach requires a significant amount of management and, done correctly, should be carried out by someone within the organisation itself as opposed to someone whose interest in a company ends as soon as the bill has been paid.