Take five with David Jackson, Co-Founder & UX Director at Friday and 2021 Designs on Growth graduate, to know a little bit more about Friday, his experience on the programme and how it benefited his design business’ growth.
What was your aspiration for founding Friday?
Friday Agency was born in 2014 at the tail end of the recession. Digital marketing was really starting to gain traction in the industry but agency service offerings were disjointed – most had one foot in the old ways and one in the new. Digital marketing and user experience were very disconnected (and still can be), few were doing things the right way.
Our goal is to remove the barriers right across the customer journey online and make good user experiences the standard and not the exception.
What type of clients do you work with?
One of the many things I love about working at Friday is the variety of clients we work with, both Irish and International. From FMCGs to corporates, tourism to non-profits, tech startups to e-commerce – it never gets boring.
My area of expertise is the user experience which is grounded in research. This allows us to work with so many different types of clients, customers and users. Our goal is to find out what makes them tick, and understand their goals, motivations and pain points so we can design a solution that works for them as well as the client.
The covid pandemic has impacted each and every business, for better and worse. What have been the most surprising lessons you’ve learned over the course of the past year?
For me, like most, the pandemic was a mix of good and bad experiences along with varying degrees of stress and uncertainty. As an agency we were already well set up for working from home – our gear is mobile and everything is in the cloud, so that part was easy. I was surprised by how seamless the transition was for something that wasn’t planned. It’s amazing how adaptable we all can be when we have no choice.
Working from home full-time was both great and debilitating at the same time. Now we are back in the office and working hybrid, I’ve discovered that this is the perfect balance between finding focus and collaborating with others. Video calls are fine but they simply don’t replace what you get from working in the same room as your team or client. I like working from home when I need to put my head down and working with the team in the office when I need to collaborate. Everyone seems very happy with the mix and we are doing some great work as a result.
Friday is a well-established digital agency with a team of 8 to 9. Why did you think Designs on Growth would be a good fit for Friday and what did you want to achieve through the programme?
Both myself and Graham (co-founder at Friday) have worked for ourselves in some capacity for most of our professional careers. Neither of us have ever had any formal training in how to run a business, it’s been mostly trial and error. We signed up for the course to validate if we were doing things right and to look at how we could do things better. Because we are a small agency, we are nimble and agile so it’s easier to effect change – so we went in with an open mind, ready to embrace new ideas.
How did the Designs on Growth benefit Friday and the way you do business?
The programme gave us confidence that we were doing a lot of things right, but more importantly revealed opportunities where we could do better and work smarter – especially in how we value and manage our time. It also made us take a step back to better identify the type of projects where we feel we can add real value and do our very best work.
I also found talking with others in the program very helpful. It’s not often we get to work with other agency owners and we met some really great people who we learned a lot from.
What were the main takeaways/your favourite aspects of the Designs on Growth programme?
Validation is fine, it gives you confidence but you don’t learn very much. The bigger takeaways for me were in areas I was less comfortable in – on the commercial side of things as well as redefining the culture of the agency. We worked with our team on refreshing our mission, vision and values, this helped make sure everyone was on the same page and has helped our direction as an agency.
How has Friday grown since Designs on Growth?
Friday has evolved in many ways over the past 12 months. We made some brave strategic decisions around our focus and service offerings. We have drawn up a new agency roadmap for the next 3-5 years with new goals and refreshed aspirations. The impact of this can clearly be seen in our work and as well as our bottom line.
What advice would you give to someone who is just getting started with their agency?
I could write a small book on this topic so I’ll just pick 3 things:
1. People are everything, look after your team as well the clients that look after you.
2. Get organised – defined processes, good administration and prudent finances will keep you steady.
3. Don’t say yes to everything, you’ll get swamped with work that simply isn’t enjoyable or profitable and you’ll end up having to turn away the good work that is.
You can get in touch with David Jackson via Linkedin
Find out more about the Designs on Growth.
Find out how Design Skillnet can help you become more creative, human-centred, and impactful within your organisation.