To Be Defined

We’re creating a web design studio from the ground up, transparently

We are Jen Hingley and Matt Gray.

We believe that people, businesses and their projects work better together when they're open, honest and transparent. We also believe that together, we have the experience and drive to establish and grow a successful web design studio.

Under the studio name 'To Be Defined' we'll test these beliefs as candidly as we're able, whilst providing a service for our clients that excels in the areas that matter most to them.

We have a few core beliefs that will form the basis of our values (but these might change over time):

  • Design, Build, Test, Refine, Repeat. We believe in constantly evaluating the work we do, testing it and using what we learn to evolve and improve it. We use this methodology both in our work for clients, and within our own process.
  • Results. We aim to end every day having moved closer to achieving a successful (and hopefully delightful) outcome for our clients.
  • Focus. We believe that talented individuals perform best when working freely within a well defined scope. All of our processes will be tailored to provide these features whilst minimising distractions and ensuring we're all able to focus on achieving and surpassing our clients' metrics for success.
  • Well-being. Neither agency owners, employees or temporary staff benefit from a working environment which makes personal well-being a secondary concern. We aim to adopt policies which promote work-life balance in order to make every project we embark upon a positive experience for everyone who's involved.
  • Accountability. We will own our mistakes and use them as a learning experience. This will require turning negatives into positives via a feedback framework which discourages the natural tendency to worry and blame, replacing it with a constructive approach in which we review and improve as a team.
  • Transparency. As far as we can we will share our journey with the world. This helps to keep us accountable to our values, develops trust with others and sets a precedent for openness and honesty throughout the team. Our processes will be tailored towards making this a reality and ensure our clients can also benefit from this radical approach.
  • Remote and asynchronous. The way people work is changing rapidly and we'd like to be at the forefront of that change. We will not be location bound and our communications will default to channels and a style which do not assume immediate response. 'Place' and 'time' will be secondary to the other values in this list and our internal processes will be designed to capitalise on the opportunities that this provides and mitigate the potential problems that it will cause.

What do you mean by 'transparently'?

Whatever we learn we want to share, including the process we used to get there. This won't just be limited to blog posts either. As we get established we want to share:

  • Revenue and expenses data
  • Productivity data
  • Internal processes, and iterations we've made to it.
  • Design and development assets (where possible)
  • Design and development live streams
  • Important meeting overviews / summaries / live streams
  • Anything else that we can feasibly package and distribute without negatively impacting the service we provide

That sounds like a lot of work...

Agreed, and we'll have to figure out as we go what works and what doesn't. To make this process a little easier on ourselves we'll be implementing two rules from the outset:

  • Egos are left at the door. We assume in advance that we won't get this right first time. Also the quality of the content we release will vary over time.
  • Processes are designed to facilitate transparency. E.G. we take a 'document first' approach to internal processes. Meetings are conducted via Google Meet which can be recorded and live streamed easily.

What services will you be offering?

This will evolve over time and be something that we need to test and refine. The very basics that we'll be tackling are:

  • Brand definition
  • Information architecture
  • Visual and UI Design
  • Development
  • Hosting and Support

Eventually we'd like to expand this offering to cover copy-writing, user experience, social media management etc, but let's not get ahead of ourselves...

What makes you the experts?

We aren't. We've both worked in and with digital agencies and large companies as heads of our respective departments. We've both led huge projects for some of the biggest brands in the world. But we don't pretend to know all the answers. We are, however, willing to learn, fail and succeed publicly.

Is this all just for PR?

Not 'just', but we aren't going to hide the fact that we hope by acting transparently we'll get some attention. The core of what we're doing is driven by the belief that it is the right thing to do - we'll mould everything else around that and share the results with you. If it has a positive impact on our progress, it'll hopefully encourage others to open up too.

Do you have anything to share yet?

Some initial blog posts are imminent. Sign up below or follow us on Twitter if you'd like to receive updates when we post interesting things.

We've also started drafting our TDB Handbook which will eventually become the source of truth for everything inside the company, from staff onboarding to how to deal with failure. This will borrow heavily from other companies' ideas to begin with, along with a non-negligible amount of wishful thinking 😉.