Function & Form

London, United Kingdom

We are a small creative consultancy, specializing in digital media. We regularly work with a network of specialists who give us vast creative reach, without the bureaucracy found in larger agencies.

Function & Form's Website

May 6 2017

Hi, Tell us who you are and which agency are you with?

Hi, My name is Todd and i’m with Function and Form design and development agency based in London, UK.

Tell us a little bit of background about yourself and how did you start Function and Form?

I started my career in print design, I started my first full-time job as a graphic designer in an independent advertising agency in central London. And I really enjoyed print but the trouble with print is after you send it out you and you never actually see the finished piece (before it is launched). In digital you can see the finished website, you can launch it, you're in full control of the product. You don’t have that fear that you might have left a spelling mistake and sent it out. I also got really excited about learning code and messing around with it, doing CSS animation and stuff like that, and gradually it took over my whole professional world. So after a year of for that independent company, I got approached by a headhunter asking me to work into the digital department for McCan in London. Working for McCann was great but something that I really felt was lacking is that I was designing the project and then I would hand it out to the developers and move on to another project, then after a while you see that the project has launched and it is not really what you wanted it to look like, in terms of animation and feel, so again I wanted to have more control over the work I was doing. So, I really developed my front-end and my development skills in order to gain full control over the animation and all of the little nuances that take a website from 75% to 100% And gradually started working directly for clients.

How did you get your first clients? And how did you manage to grow?

There was a client I had for a while, a big wholesale company, that I knew through a family friend and their company has grown a lot recently and that sort of gave me a foot in the door in terms of large clients. When I was in Australia I did some work for a small web design studio that was very ambitious and there were capable of trying new things because they were small so I was able to take the whole stretch of the product from the design through the development stage. Also, I got to meet the clients and present my work, which I think is extremely important (that a designer will present his work). Because big agencies you get used to letting the project manager do the talk for you, and a lot of designers don’t get to practice presenting their work and speaking in front of clients. I also found that when I present my projects clients can feel the passion I put into the design and they accept the work and like it much more then when a project manager present it. After that I traveled for a while in Australia when I got this phone call from a big company that I worked on when I was in the studio and they told me they wanted me to handle all of their work, so having such a big client I could gradually build up ‘Function and Form’.

What is your strategy to getting new clients?

I still feel that face to face is still the most effective marketing tool, goes I feel people need to meet you in order to really feel comfortable to give you big projects to work on. So, basically my strategy is go to conferences and anywhere you can meet new clients and introduce yourself. I still do online marketing and send out emails but I think that as a young business like mine the best strategy is just going out and meeting people.

Do you have a preferred kind of client?

Not really. Basically I prefer fewer clients but for long periods of time. I feel like the first project for clients is always a bit of a learning curve, so in order to do the best work you possibly can you have to work with clients for longer periods of time and really get to know their business. Also the most effective way of running a business like this is having retainers so you don’t have to rely on new clients coming through the door all the time.

How do you Price your projects?

I price projects by an hourly rate. I have been discussing with clients about signing retainers but that will also be based on an hourly rate. When I was younger I tried pricing a fix price per project and soon realized it was a mistake. So, I give an estimate of time for the project and when it gets to about 80% of that I let the client know.

What kind of technologies do use mainly?

As a front-end developer I obviously use JavaScript, jQuery, HTML and CSS. In terms of developing tools I like Sublime text. As a designer I use Sketch mainly, Photoshop for image editing (but not for design). When I was in advertising I used to use Cinema 4d, which is a 3d image making software which I really enjoy, and that is how I made all those icons in my website. For the backend I mainly use freelancers, my website is the first website I have used Wordpress on, because I am not a huge fan of Wordpress but for smaller projects it is ideal. Regarding backend My intention in the future is to move on to using Drupal because I feel that it is much more expandable.

Do you use Bootstrap?

I don’t use bootstrap because the code the is not used has so much weight and you end up overriding loads of Bootstrap code. Most of the time I don’t find it necessary, I don’t think it saves that much time as people think. Most of the developers I know use it only for the responsive side of it but I really think it’s much easier to start from scratch. I also never used any templates or things like that.

What kind of tools do you use for communication and project management?

I use Trello a lot, with freelancers and clients, it is really great for managing products. I have recently started using Slack with freelancers and with clients I am still using emails.

What Do you feel is the main difficulty in running a web agency?

I think marketing is the biggest is the challenge for me. It is also stressful not knowing what it is around there corner and having to market yourself while you are working on projects in order to get the next project is always a catch 22, But it is also exciting, if it was easy everyone would do it :).

Where do you see Function and Form in a couple of years?

In a couple of years I would be happy if there are at least 3-4 employees (developers) in the agency. I don’t feel the need to grow too quickly because when you turn into a massive agency the work suffer.

Function & Form's Projects