Strategy, Ideas, Design and Development

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BBC 2017

It’s a hat trick: mN appointed to BBC Digital Design Framework for third time

1st August, 2017

We’re delighted to share news that for the third time running, we’ve been appointed to the BBC Digital Design Framework. The two year appointment offers a fantastic opportunity for us to collaborate with the BBC to create award winning, sector leading digital experiences.

With so many exciting possibilities in the pipeline for the next phase of the BBC’s evolution, we can’t wait to continue our journey with them and are looking forward to working with the handful of other appointed agencies to share skills and expertise. Let’s see what’s in store!

Federation House

Federation House: Creating a brand identity for Co-op Digital’s new home

6th February, 2017

2016 was a big year for the Co-op. With the announcement that 100 new stores are set to open and a major rebrand now in place, there is an unmissable and exciting new energy in the organisation that has been such an integral part of Manchester’s narrative for over 180 years.

This new zeal and vision are helping the organisation to build on and celebrate the Co-op’s unique heritage and values. The 2016 rebrand drew inspiration from their 1968 brand identity and logo and the wider Co-op team have been busy translating the Co-op’s longstanding principles into the modern digital age in which the organisation now exists.

An important catalyst for change has been the creation of the new Co-op Digital team, whose ambition is to build on the company’s brand values to create new digital products, services and platforms that will support new and future Co-op businesses and customers.

Now Cook It 4

Let's get cooking!

30th January, 2017

We’ve been working on a fantastic new foodie project recently and now the prep work is done and the worktops are wiped down, we’re ready to announce what we’ve been cooking up these past few months!

We’re delighted to introduce ‘Now Cook It’, a free online cooking course to inspire the nation to get cooking, brought to you by Co-op and SORTEDfood

500 Words 2017 C

500 Words is back!

16th January, 2017

Since 2014, we’ve worked with the BBC to help develop their Radio 2 500 Words competition and we’re very happy to announce that the 2017 competition site is live and ready for submissions! 

With each year that’s passed, the competition has grown in popularity and with that the needs of the audience have evolved. Last year the total submissions to the site reached over 100,000 with most of the submissions coming through on deadline day! With that in mind, 2017 seemed like the perfect opportunity to revisit the site’s core functionality to ensure that it is truly built to meet the needs of its users. 

MMU & Neurodiversity

MMU & Neurodiversity: helping new minds to think differently

20th December, 2016


How should neurological differences impact the way we design experiences? This is a question we’ve been asking ourselves ever since we worked with the BBC to design the visual identity for their neurodiversity initiative CAPE.

Initially, CAPE (Creating a Positive Environment) was developed by the BBC to address the need to improve access to work for people with hidden cognitive or ‘neurodivergent’ conditions, such as autism, dyslexia and dyspraxia. Since its inception, the project has grown exponentially and as a result, its reach has expanded to areas beyond access to work.


Neurodiversity in the City at DM16

26th September, 2016

Over the past few months we’ve been preparing for a very exciting event as part of Design Manchester 2016 in collaboration with BBC CAPE and Hyper Island and we are now ready to let you know all the details...

This year's Design Manchester festival (DM16) is celebrating the part design plays in making Manchester and other cities great to live in. Inclusivity and accessibility for all is a big part of this, so our recent work with the BBC CAPE team was a perfect opportunity to explore this. 


Celebrating neurodiversity

24th August, 2016

Over the last few months we’ve been working with the BBC to develop the visual identity for project CAPE (Creative a Positive Environment) – a brand new diversity initiative that aims to raise awareness of the positive role neurodiversity can have in the workplace. As part of this, we were delighted to be invited along to the BBC’s recent Connecting The Dots event at New Broadcasting House, London. This was the first public presentation of the project and it was fantastic to see our work up in lights for the first time at the event.

Originally coined by a scientist in the 1980s, neurodiversity refers to the range of neurological differences experienced by people with ‘conditions’ such as autism, ADHD, dyslexia and dyspraxia.

Predictor 1

Kicking off Euro 2016 with the BBC Sport Predictor

7th June, 2016

This week, we’re dusting off our flags ready for the first game of Euro 2016.

The mN team are extra excited this year because the tournament is kicking off with the launch of a new product we’ve delivered for BBC Sport. Go team!

Predictor is a new game available on the BBC Sport website and app that invites players to predict match results throughout the month long tournament.

ShakespeareMe launch 3

ShakespeareMe launches!

13th April, 2016

Back in January, as celebrations around the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death were being announced, you may have spotted a couple of rumblings in the press about a project we’ve been working on with BBC Learning. Headlines including ‘BBC Enlists Benedict Cumberbatch, Judi Dench and Emojis’ from The Telegraph hinted at the role of our project in the BBC’s Shakespeare Festival. According to Tony Hall, Director General of the BBC, they have “never done anything as daring, as adventurous, as [they’re] doing now” for the Shakespeare Festival. Exciting times.

We are proud to announce that as of this week, the project – ShakespeareMe - has gone live! ShakespeareMe is a web-app, concepted, designed & built by us, that celebrates the language and emotions within Shakespeare’s work in a playful, personalised way.

The web-app uses emojis to connect Shakespeare with new audiences, and invites them to explore and share the Bard’s work. With ShakespeareMe now launched and being played with by lots of people including BBC Radio 1’s Greg James, now seems like the perfect time to share the story behind the project.

Walls & Pictures Billy Colours

Walls & Pictures: introducing Billy Colours

30th March, 2016

Spring is here, and so is our next instalment of Walls & Pictures! Recently we’ve been working on a few projects that revolve around inspiring young people to get creative, so we thought what better way to celebrate this than feature an artist whose work communicates this message? Enter Billy.

Billy is an English artist working from Berlin and London. Her experience lies in illustration, painting and design, and she has worked on a number of community-based projects. All of Billy’s work is created with the intention of communicating a colourful and happy visual message to its audience. Working both inside and out, Billy’s work can be found in galleries around the UK and Germany, and continues to be seen on the streets of London, Berlin and South Africa, to name but a few.

Shakespeare teaser quote 2

A new project for the BBC’s 2016 Shakespeare Festival

8th February, 2016

We have some very exciting news!

This year, as part of the 2016 Shakespeare Festival that marks the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, we’ll be launching a brand new digital project with the BBC.

Our appointment came about through an open call from BBC Learning that saw around 60 creative responses submitted. We were delighted when we were shortlisted to pitch our idea and even more delighted when our concept was selected as the successful project. 

Juice Academy 1

mN hire Juice Academy social media intern

5th January, 2016

To kick off the new year, we’re excited to announce that we have a fresh face in the mN studio: our brand new social media intern, Amy.

First though, a bit of background:

At the end of 2015, we headed over to The Juice Academy determined to discover some fresh social media talent. Primarily introduced as an apprenticeship programme, Juice Academy creators, Tangerine PR, now seek to provide opportunities for recent graduates to get a foot in the door of the digital industry through paid practical experience in a digital working environment.

UTC seats small

magneticNorth celebrate fifteenth anniversary with UTC@MediaCityUK

17th December, 2015

This year… we’re fifteen!

Over our lifetime, we have seen unimaginable change in the tech sector and in the kind of work we create. Since 2000, we have evolved continuously in order to achieve our ambitions of creating a world-class digital portfolio, with creativity and technology always sitting at the heart of what we do.

So, we decided to celebrate our birthday by looking to the future of the digital industries. And what better way than by looking to the generation of talent who are also celebrating their fifteenth birthdays, to the people who have spent their ENTIRE life with the Internet and for whom digital devices are an everyday occurrence?

M&S Archive Explorer

‘Archive Explorer’ launches at M&S Company Archive

26th November, 2015

Over the last few months, we’ve been working with Marks & Spencer on a new project for their exhibition in Leeds. To help them share the collection’s highlights with visitors, we created ‘Archive Explorer’, an interactive digital display that celebrates the stories behind each item in the archive. We are delighted to announce, it’s now live! Now where’s that bottle of M&S champagne..?


King appoints mN as social strategy partner

12th November, 2015

We have some great news. Globe stomping games developer, King have appointed us to bring their Employer Brand strategy to life on social media. Sugar crush!

To help promote their ‘seriously playful’ brand message we'll be working closely with King’s employer brand team to develop a social media strategy and content that will drive awareness of King as a leading tech employer.

NOMA 2015

mN appointed as digital strategy partner for Manchester’s new NOMA neighbourhood

27th October, 2015

Its official! Following two and a half years of hard work behind the scenes, we are delighted to finally announce our appointment as NOMA’s digital strategy partner.

For the uninitiated, NOMA is an innovative and modern 20-acre redevelopment scheme set in Manchester’s city centre. It’s a living, breathing, evolving neighbourhood; a mixed-use location designed to meet the needs of modern businesses with a real community at its heart.

BBC UX&D handbook

BBC extends its relationship with magneticNorth

8th September, 2015

We’re delighted to announce that we have now officially formed two new partnerships as part of our role on the BBC User Experience and Design Roster.

In addition to our work with the BBC Sport and BBC Live teams, this means that our relationship now also includes:

BBC Red Button – This team are responsible for delivering both the connected TV experience and the broadcast Red Button service across the BBC.

Content Discovery – Spanning the whole of BBC Digital, this team helps audiences get the most from the BBC - using features such as the homepage and search.

mN is one of six companies on the BBC’s UX&D Roster.

Tom Hackett, our Head of Client Services, had a few words to say about this great news:

"We've had a fantastic last 12 months working with BBC Sport and BBC Live. It's a credit to the UX and Design team here at mN that we’ve been given the opportunity to extend our relationship with the BBC in this way and we’re all looking forward to working together over the coming year."

Paths of Desire

'Paths of Desire': a design research project with Lancaster University

12th August, 2015

This month has seen us begin a fascinating new project in collaboration with the Creative Exchange (CX) team at Lancaster University. ‘Paths of Desire’ is a design research project that will explore the role of cartography (the study and practice of map-making) in the digital age. 

Alongside the core CX partners – Lancaster University, Newcastle University and the Royal College of Art – a team of PhD researchers are working together on some intensive co-creation and design research. We were thrilled when the CX research team at Lancaster University asked us to join the ‘Paths of Desire’ project as creative industry partners.  

The project was created to challenge conventions around digital cartography with the partners particularly keen to explore ways of encouraging city dwellers to stray from their normal paths and, as a result, discover ‘hidden gems’ within the city. 

Walls&Pictures - Aliyah

Aliyah Hussain adds a splash of colour to Walls & Pictures

6th August, 2015

With summer turning out to be more than a little unpredictable this year, for the second instalment of our exhibition series Walls & Pictures, we wanted something bright and beautiful to bring a bit of sunshine to the mN studio. So we were delighted when we came across the wonderful work of Aliyah Hussain. Originally from Blackburn, Aliyah is a visual artist based in Manchester. She’s a busy lady; with her practice encompassing performance, photography, painting, printmaking, collage, sound and costume. Aliyah experiments with different media and techniques to create works that reference futurist narratives, utopian visions and ritualistic practices embedded in the everyday. She is also interested in experimenting with distortion, using colours, forms and sculptural motifs as a means to create unexpected structures and disruptions in the landscape; blurring the distinction between the real and the imaginary.


BBC Commissioning: website redesign and build

7th July, 2015

We’ve partnered up with the BBC to work on a new website for BBC Commissioning. The site provides potential and existing BBC partners with up to date information on commissioning opportunities from across the broadcaster’s TV, Radio and Online divisions.

mN were asked to redesign and build a new site that was both functional and dynamic thus enhancing the overall experience for potential BBC suppliers (mainly third party independent companies) exploring the commissioning processes and opportunities available.

Lincoln Castle

‘Castle Explorer’: an immersive tablet experience for Lincoln Castle

11th June, 2015

We are delighted to announce that we have been commissioned to create a tablet-based experience to guide visitors around the newly restored Victorian Prison and archaeology area of Lincoln Castle

For the last few months we have been working with the team at Lincolnshire County Council to create a two-fold experience that will allow visitors to discover untold stories from the castle’s fascinating history.

New Forest

Interactive visitor experience for the New Forest National Park

12th May, 2015

We are delighted to tell you about a new interactive experience we are creating to help guide visitors around one of England’s most beautiful national parks: the New Forest.

To help ensure visitors get the information they need, the New Forest National Park Authority have commissioned us to design a ‘Plan your Day’ interactive touchscreen experience for the New Forest Centre. With funding from the Department for Transport’s Local Sustainable Transport Fund, the Authority wants to encourage visitors to leave their cars at home and experience the Forest by rail, bus, bike or on foot. This will not only help visitors see the best of the National Park but help protect its beautiful yet fragile landscapes.


50th anniversary site for Manchester Business School

7th May, 2015

For Manchester Business School, 2015 is certainly a year worth celebrating. Why? Because this year marks the influential institution’s 50th anniversary. To help commemorate this, mN have been working with MBS to create a responsive website to act as a digital hub for all activities surrounding the anniversary. We are thrilled to announce that the site is now live and ready for you to explore.  

To compliment an extensive programme of celebratory events, the online hub allows visitors to explore all the major historical moments from the School’s 50 year history via an interactive digital archive.

M&S Company Archive

Interactive digital display for the M&S Company Archive

14th April, 2015

Since its humble beginnings as a single market stall in 1884, Marks & Spencer has evolved to become an iconic British brand and an internationally renowned retailer with an incredible heritage.

So we are understandably thrilled to announce that we have begun working with M&S to create an interactive digital display for the M&S Company Archive. The archive collection, held at the University of Leeds, is home to the Marks in Time exhibition – where the new digital interactive will be displayed.


Introducing ‘Walls & Pictures’: our brand new exhibition series

25th February, 2015

As a digital design agency, we are always searching for artistic inspiration. From internationally renowned masterpieces to student projects, there is incredible work to be discovered around every corner.

Recently, we have been scratching our heads trying to think of a fun way to celebrate the work that inspires us.  Then we had a lightbulb moment: why not create our very own exhibition space right here in the mN studio?

Introducing ‘Walls & Pictures’: a brand new series of exhibitions curated by magneticNorth. Walls & Pictures will run throughout the year, featuring specially selected pieces from our favourite creatives. 

Cultural Tour Whitworth

Brand new Cultural Tour added to Manchester Walking Tours app

13th February, 2015

We are thrilled to announce that a brand new tour has been added to Manchester Walking Tours; the audio tour guide that allows you to go at your own pace as it leads you through the city’s hot spots and highlights. The new Cultural Tour celebrates Manchester’s rich and diverse culture from past to present, exploring everything from the city’s grand cathedral to its most coveted indie music venues (cue Oasis reference).

Now, this is the really exciting bit. Voicing the tour is DJ and all round legend Mary-Anne Hobbs. Mary-Anne is one of Lancashire’s proudest exports and we were over the moon that she wanted to use her smooth-talking talents to bring the Cultural Tour to life. 

AAM Updates 2

Thousands of new images now publically available via the updated American Air Museum website

5th February, 2015

In the three months since the project launched, the American Air Museum’s digital archive has continued to expand, with visitors contributing thousands of stories and photographs to this unique Second World War online resource.  

For the initial launch of the website in October 2014, we worked with the American Air Museum (AAM) team at IWM Duxford to create a bespoke digital solution that would preserve the stories of the men and women of the US Army Air Forces (USAAF) who served in Britain during the Second World War. The online resource highlights the fascinating relationships formed between British and American people at this time and the impact this had on both nations.

To enhance the remarkable collection, the AAM team have added a large volume of fascinating new material, much of which has never been publically available until now. mN have been working with the AAM team to complete several updates that should enrich the overall online experience.   


CE50 Image

magneticNorth selected as one of the Creative England 50

27th January, 2015

As part of their showcase event last week, Creative England, a leading investor in the film, TV, games and digital media industry, selected their top 50 creative companies in the country. Here at magneticNorth, we were thrilled to be recognised as one of these companies. What a great way to beat the January blues!

The Creative England Live event took place at the Oxo Tower in London, where we met the other businesses honoured in the list. From state of the art Oculus Rift gaming to cutting edge film, everywhere you looked there was something inspiring yet completely different. Attendees also spanned multiple sectors and specialisms, with guests including performing arts guru Harvey Goldsmith CBE and Culture Secretary Rt. Hon Sajid Javid MP.

500 words 2015

Radio 2 launches fifth anniversary of 500 Words competition

22nd January, 2015

Earlier this week, listeners of the Chris Evans’ Radio 2 Breakfast show woke up to some exciting news: this year’s 500 Words competition is now open for entries.

Having worked with BBC Radio 2 team to create the online submission website for 500 Words last year, magneticNorth are delighted to have continued our work with the competition, which challenges children under the age of 13 to write a short story in no more than 500 Words.

Back with a brand new look for 2015, the 500 Words site now comes with several updates to its core features and functionality. It has a simplified entry form, making the competition more accessible than ever. Already capable of generating billions of fun word combinations, our trusted random word generating ‘Alphabot’ has also had a makeover and now features a synonym and antonym generator. The new feature hopes to inspire even more creativity with budding writers.

Desert Island Discs, Nancy Rothwell

Desert Island Discs update: Nancy Rothwell kicks off 2015 with a bang

13th January, 2015

Happy New Year to you!  As we embark upon another year of exciting projects, we’re delighted to share an update on one of our favourites.

Over the last few months, mN have been working hard with the team at Radio 4 to update the Desert Island Discs’ website. The iconic show aired its 3000th episode late last year, adding to its already impressive digital archive of interviews available to explore online.

The latest version of the site is now fully responsive allowing for a much smoother experience across mobile and tablet. When visiting Castaway pages via mobile it is now possible to search the archive using filters including luxury item or musical choices.

We hope that the updates will make it easier for you to explore the archive and enjoy the stories and musical choices of all 3000+ castaways!

Christmas Jumpers

Merry Christmas

22nd December, 2014

We hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and we’ll see you here, albeit it few pounds heavier from the festive indulgences, in January.

Best wishes from all the magneticNorth team.  

Mike Milner

Mike Milner joins magneticNorth as Senior Designer

15th December, 2014

We have another new face at magneticNorth in the form of Mike Milner who joins us as a Senior Designer. Mike, who has over 10 years industry experience, joins the team to work across clients including the BBC, Imperial War Museum and our own portfolio of products.

Welcome Mike. He had his hair *did* especially for this picture and we think you'll agree it was worth it. 

If you'd like to join Mike and the rest of us at magneticNorth then please have a look at the current vacancies we have on our jobs page. We are currently looking for both a developer and a senior UX designer.  


magneticNorth appoints Caroline Sotorrio as Managing Director and Stuart Almond as Head of Production

20th November, 2014

We have some great news to share with the world. magneticNorth have appointed Caroline Sotorrio to the newly created post of Managing Director *sets off glitter cannon*. Caroline, who has been with the business since 2009 and previously led the production team, starts her role with immediate effect.

With over 25 years experience working in the creative industry on both agency and client side, Caroline has a wealth of experience in both traditional and digital design. During her time at magneticNorth Caroline has been responsible for producing high profile projects including the BBC Desert Island Discs archive site, the BBC Radioplayer and our MiGuide digital wayfinding project for the City of Manchester. 

Working under Caroline will be Stuart Almond who has joined us as Head of Production.  


Martin Parr

Christmas movieNight: Turkey and Tinsel

19th November, 2014

In a few weeks we’ll be throwing open our studio doors to host a festive movieNight screening of Martin Parr’s ‘Turkey and Tinsel'.

The documentary tells the story of JR Holyhead Travel - a family-run coach company located in the Black Country that has been in business for 25 years. They offer ‘Turkey and Tinsel’ holidays as a way of driving business during the usually quiet pre-Christmas period.

The film sees Martin, the much loved photographer and filmmaker known for capturing the social classes of England, film a group of charming Black Country pensioners on their five-day Christmas break to the Midland Hotel in Weston-super-Mare.

It’s a warm and comical documentary which shows a previously unseen side of the festive season. We can’t wait to wrap ourselves in fairy lights and down mulled wine while we watch it.


Radioplayer redesign

BBC Radioplayer redesign

6th November, 2014

We’ve been working with the BBC on their Radioplayer product since 2012 and have recently collaborated with their team to redesign the site. We caught up with one of our Lead Developers, Peter Hough, who has worked on the project since day one.

What was the brief on the latest project and what are the changes that have been made?

Radioplayer allows people to listen to any radio station in the UK using a consistent console design. Within the console is a large area in the middle called the plug-in space this area can be customised by each station. The latest brief was for a redesign of the plug-in space for all BBC stations covering live streams, on demand programmes and clips.

Features in the new design include the following:

Animations - The new design is packed with slick animation effects. The programme information animates in to view and the panels have also been given an overhaul.

Schedule - Programme schedule information has been brought in to the console. This allows you to see what programmes are coming up or easily listen to on demand versions of programmes you have just missed.

Stations - The stations panel allows you to see at a glance all-national stations. You can see what programme is currently live and jump to that station allowing for better station discovery.

Favourites - Using BBC ID you can add programmes to your favourites list. The favourites tab allows this information to be viewed within the console.

Context Panel - The context panel is displayed at the bottom of the console and shows relevant information on what you are currently listening to such as related links, recommended programmes, and now playing information. The context panel expands to give a full view of track artwork and details on tracks recently played. BBC Playlister is integrated throughout these views allowing you to save your favourite tracks.

AAM Huie C Lamb

American Air Museum archive site launches

2nd October, 2014

This week some of the magneticNorth team headed down to the Imperial War Museum in Duxford for the launch of a massive archive project we’ve been working on for the American Air Museum.

Working collaboratively with the team at IWM Duxford we have delivered a large-scale online archive project that, for the first time, starts to build a picture of the experiences of the two million American servicemen who passed through Britain during the Second World War. Nearly 30,000 of whom never returned to their homeland.

During the process of creating the site we’ve been really humbled by the stories that have been surfaced by the data sets we’ve been working with. Amazing tales of cooks and cowboys, fighter aces and fireman – and every job in-between. There are stories of unbelievable bravery and, as you’d expect, tales of real sadness and tragedy.

Now the site is live the hope is that the public will build on the data that has been collated. Creating a digital resource of memories, pictures and information that will live on for many generations to come. Within 24 hours of launch thousands of people had already visited the website and updated information within the site – just the start we’d hoped for.


movieNight #3: Pulp: a film about Life, Death and Supermarkets

4th September, 2014

We are practically beside ourselves with excitement that we have managed to bag a screening of Pulp: a film about Life, Death and Supermarkets aka Pulp the Movie for our next movieNight.

Billed as a music-film like no other – funny, moving, life affirming and (occasionally) bewildering the documentary had its premiere at South By South West Festival earlier this year and has gone on to receive amazing reviews.

Pulp found fame on the world stage in the 1990s and 25 years (and 10 million album sales) later, they return to Sheffield for their last UK concert. The film follows the iconic 90s band on the lead up to this momentous gig.

Set against a backdrop of the city that gave birth to the band, the film sees the members of Pulp share their thoughts on fame, love, mortality - & car maintenance.

Jarvis Cocker talking about changing tyres and fanbelts? We are IN.

We will be holding the movieNight screening of ‘Pulp’ on Wednesday 24th September at The Deaf Institute in Manchester. Space is limited but if you’d like to come along to the screening drop us an email to and we’ll see if we can get you sorted (for E’s and Wizz – sorry we couldn’t help ourselves). 


Plot - the UK's first 'on-demand' garden

30th July, 2014

Today, after weeks of prep we are finally able to introduce our latest project Plot to the world.

Plot, meet the world.

World, meet Plot.

The pilot project explores the idea of ‘on-demand gardens’ - private garden spaces that can be booked by the hour within city centres. It is the first time in the UK that such a garden has been trialled and we are launching it as part of Manchester's urban gardening festival Dig the City. The festival runs from the 2nd-10th August.

The mN Balcony -2

The mN Balconies

14th July, 2014

Our space is really important to us and the way we work.  That includes the outdoor space we have – our balconies. We are up on the fifth floor of an old Victorian mill building in the centre of Manchester and have two balconies that we use as an extension of our studio space.

During the warmer months we eat out there a lot, host meetings outside and they have been the scenes of some serious (tipsy and blindfolded) piñata bashing at parties we’ve had over the years.  There were some very incriminating videos of that night we had to destroy but that’s another story.

We’d never grown anything out there until about two years ago, when our studio manager Sarah decided that we needed some green in our lives.  She set about cultivating a whole host of plants and flowers including Dahlias, Foxgloves and lots of herbs and berry bushes.

All her efforts mean that we now have a lush and fragrant space…plus most of the ingredients to make Pimms growing within a metre of our desks. Bonus!

During the summer, if you live in a city centre like Manchester it can often be hard to find an outdoor space that you don’t have to jostle with thirty other people to use.  Our love of our own balconies and our passion for blending digital and physical environments has actually inspired a new pilot project we are working on.

We’ll be announcing more details about the project, which will launch as part of Manchester’s Urban Gardening Festival ‘Dig the City’ in August, soon.

14th birthday

14th birthday

9th July, 2014

Last week it was our 14th birthday. To celebrate we did what all teenagers do at that age - we got a bit drunk and sent inappropriate Snapchats to all our friends.

Not really.There was only minimal Snapchatting going on.

We actually all headed out to Slice, in Manchester’s Northern Quarter, for pizza and beers. It was very nice indeed.

Morph also kindly delivered us a birthday cake. 

As a team we like to get together to celebrate dates that are important to us…and if there is food involved (which there usually is) then even better. 


magneticNorth appointed onto the BBC's new Digital Design Roster

18th June, 2014

We have brilliant news to share. 

mN are one of only seven companies, and the only company in the North, to be appointed to the BBC's new digital design services framework. The news was announced by the BBC's Executive Creative Director Colin Burns via the BBC Internet Blog.  

That’s a pretty big deal. In fact it is a huge deal and we are over the proverbial moon. As you can see we even made a fancy drink to celebrate. 

This means that alongside the small number of other UK based companies we’ll have the opportunity to work on visual design, interaction design, user experience and other projects across touchpoints including standalone applications, websites and connected TV.

We will be specifically working on projects from BBC Sport and BBC Live. We’ve previously worked with the BBC Sports team on the prestigious redesign of the Sport mobile website and are now chomping at the bit to get started on the new projects they have lined up.

Lou Cordwell our CEO and Adam Todd our Creative Director had a few words to say about our appointment:

Lou said “We have worked collaboratively with the BBC for over ten years and the mN team are primed and ready to see what BBC Sport and Live projects we’ll have the opportunity to be involved in.”

Adam added "We’re immensely proud to have been awarded a place on the BBC Digital Design Roster. We’re very much looking forward to starting this new phase of our relationship with the BBC and working together to create world-leading digital products and services."


CBBC Live! wearable tech project

29th May, 2014

We have collaborated with CBBC to create an interactive experience for the CBBC Live event that takes place in NewcastleGateshead from 29th - 31st May. Using wristbands containing RFID tech, kids will be able to take part in an interactive quiz trail encouraging them to test their CBBC knowledge whilst exploring the whole site.

The event is aimed at children from 6 to 12-years-old and takes place in and around Baltic Square on Gateshead’s famous quayside. The wristband-powered trail created by the team at CBBC and magneticNorth, provides a whole new way of experiencing live events by enabling the CBBC audience a way to get closer to the brands, characters and presenters they love – from Dodge T. Dog to the cast of The Dumping Ground.

At each ‘station’ at the event, kids will be able to check-in using their wristband for a chance to prove their CBBC knowledge. Once questions have been answered across the stations they will be rewarded with a special memento of the day to take home.

As well as using RFID to create the trail, the system that powers the experience uses Raspberry Pi hardware. It has been a brilliant project for us to work on and some of the mN team are up in Gateshead for the next few days seeing it in action. We should have a film of the event in the next few weeks so we’ll share that, along with more details about the project, as soon as we can.

Radioplayer Eurovision

BBC Radio 2 - Eurovision Pop-Up Radio Service

7th May, 2014

Eurovision fans hold on to your Union Jack hats! Ahead of this year's competition in Copenhagen, we've been working on a project with the team at BBC Radioplayer that will blow your mind. Please welcome to the stage, 'Radio 2 Eurovision' - a pop-up digital radio service to celebrate this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. This will complement the output on BBC Radio 2 and TV networks BBC One and BBC Three.

'Radio 2 Eurovision' promises to satisfy the needs of even the most enthusiastic Eurovision fans and broadcasting begins via BBC Radioplayer from Thursday 8th May. We've got our fingers crossed that they'll get to celebrate our entry for this year, Molly, winning (or at the very least not getting nil points). 

We've been working with the Radioplayer team for sometime now and this project has seen us work with the folks there to give BBC Radioplayer the capability to quickly create pop-up digital services, with 'Radio 2 Eurovision' being the first.

If you haven't already watched Molly perform 'Children of the Universe' then you really should. You're welcome.

Proms 2014 v2

BBC Proms 2014 Season

30th April, 2014

Exciting news for classical music fans… the programme for the 2014 season of the BBC Proms has been announced, with an eclectic line-up that will bring the best classical music to the widest possible audience. 

This year’s festival, which will run from 18th July to 13th September, features debut performances from musicians including the Pet Shop Boys, Paloma Faith and Rufus Wainwright, a War Horse Prom that will include the life-sized puppets from the National Theatre’s stage production and a Mary Poppins sing-along to mark the 50th anniversary of the Disney film.

In the spirit of the Proms’ enduring mission to make the best classical music available to everyone, there will be more Proms content available to listen to online for longer than ever before across desktop, mobile and tablet. The Proms site, re-launched by mN in 2011 and refreshed by us for each season since, is the place to go to explore the 2014 calendar of events, book tickets and catch-up on the broadcast performances. 

Library reopening -video wall

Central Library Reopening

25th March, 2014

Last week some of the mN team were lucky enough to be invited to attend the reopening of Manchester’s Central Library. Over the last four years the library; which originally opened in 1934 and has a design loosely based on the Pantheon in Rome, has been closed whilst it underwent a radically transformative multi-million pound renovation.

The results are impressive – it’s an amazing contemporary space for everyone to use and now has 70% of the building open to the public. Previously only 30% could be accessed by members of the community.

The library’s original features including the iconic dome in the Reading Room have been lovingly restored and sit alongside new elements including a Media Lounge full of Macs for people to come and play with, a business library and the interactive Archives+.

Also included within the refurbished library are pieces of work that we were commissioned to design by Manchester City Council. These include a 30ft video wall for the Media Lounge, which will serve up all kinds of information to library visitors from tweets to details about events taking place. The video wall screens are powered by ‘Cord’ the digital screen management system created by mN. Cord was first used in the on-street wayfinding ‘MiGuide’ screens that installed across Manchester City Centre in late 2013 and have helped hundreds of thousands of people find useful location based information around the City. 

Cord is also powering wall-mounted screens on each floor of the library and will be used in other formats in the library and beyond over the coming months.

If you get a chance to go and spend time at the library we really recommend you do and tell us what you think at @mNwork.


JLab for John Lewis

6th March, 2014

We've been working with entrepreneur, Stuart Marks, and John Lewis on a new project called 'JLab' - a start-up concept designed to bring dynamic innovators together with one of the UK's most respected retailers. The project's ambition is to seek out ideas that will help to shape the future of retail - so they are particularly interested in ideas around in-store innovation and real-time data projects that will provide customers with a personalised service. 

The prizes on offer are really impressive with five companies offered free digs at London's Level 39 incubator space and lots of time with mentors from the team at John Lewis and time with Stuart himself who has a particular passion for investing in companies who deal with 'big data'. One start-up will also be given a sizeable £100,000 investment in return for an equity stake in their company. They may even get to appear in this years John Lewis Christmas advert *this part may not be totally true*.

The site, built by mN, launched last Monday to a pretty impressive media fanfare and is open now for registration. 

American Air Musuem 2

American Air Museum

25th February, 2014

We love being part of a team that brings an archive together in a new way and for the first time. So we were thrilled, delighted and lots of other adjectives to be appointed by the American Air Museum to work on a huge digital archive project for them.

The American Air Museum (which is part of the Imperial War Museum Duxford) and the mN team will work closely to create a digital record of memories and stories of American Air Forces personnel who served their country in England, from the Second World War to modern day.

The site will largely be based around the Roger Freeman Collection, a compilation of over 15,000 prints and slides which captures the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) both off-duty and in combat situations.

The really lovely thing about the project is that it will surface many never-seen-before images and offer the public a chance to share their own memories too. It may be that relatives see images of their loved ones that they’ve never seen before, or that we hear for the first time about special encounters members of the public had with Air Forces personnel during the Second World War.  

With another trip down to IWM Duxford planned for this week, we’ll share more details as the project develops and hope that you’ll get involved if you have any relevant stories to share.  

Image: Left to right: Technical Sergeant Lester A Reifeiss (1918–1979) and Sergeant Jasper ‘JD’ Taylor (1920–1976) of the 78th Fighter Group repair a P-47 Thunderbolt at Duxford.  Image copyright IWM Roger Freeman Collection.

Cbeebies team up with mN

CBeebies team up with mN

19th February, 2014

We've just been appointed by CBeebies (the division of the BBC that encourages 'learning through play in a consistently safe environment for children aged 6 or under') to work on a new project. We can't share any more details at the moment, obviously we will when we can, but it goes without saying we're really excited to be working with such a charming brand. In fact if they let us we'd probably jump up and down on their lovely yellow sofa with excitement. 

BBC Radio 2's '500 Words' 2014 launch

We help launch Radio 2's '500 Words' competition

20th January, 2014

This morning Chris Evans and the BBC Radio 2 Breakfast Show team officially launched '500 Words' - the much loved children's writing competition they've run for the last few years. The competition challenges children under the age of 13 to write a short story in no more than 500 words – with some pretty awesome prizes on offer for winners, including winning their own height in books (Chris said they can wear platforms if they are really teeny) and having a tip top celebrity perform their story to the nation. 

We were commissioned by BBC Radio & Music Multiplatform to develop the online submission process for the competition, which last year attracted over 90,000 entries. The system we created is an extension of the submission process we delivered for BBC writersroom and we are hoping it will help them see well over 100,000 entries this year.

We also created an ‘Alphabot’ – a fun random word generator that will stimulate creativity and ward off the dreaded writers’ block as the children are writing their stories. Entries can be submitted anytime from now until the 26th February and Chris Evans said it's the best website he's ever seen. Thanks Christoph!

BBC Sport New image

BBC Sport Mobile usage soars over the festive period

7th January, 2014

Our clients, BBC Sport (we designed the new BBC Sport mobile site ready for the 2012 Olympics), have just released their data from the Christmas period – which shows some really impressive numbers in terms of mobile usage.

They revealed that almost three-quarters of traffic to the BBC Sport website now comes from mobile and tablet devices.

Bolstered by a football heavy festive period including lots of games on both Boxing Day and New Year’s Day, the site attracted its highest number of UK daily unique browsers outside of the London 2012 Olympics.

Mobiles contributed over 3 million unique browsers on Boxing Day – breaking the 3m milestone for the first time – before setting a new record on New Year’s Day with 3.1m unique browsers. Tablets also set a record of 1.3m unique browsers on Boxing Day before passing the 1.5m barrier for the first time on New Year’s Day.

Chris Condron, Head of Product for BBC Sport, says: “These figures highlight just how essential hand-held devices have become to our audiences. We’ve seen this trend grow throughout the year, culminating in record figures over the festive period when tablets and mobiles are a popular gift in many homes across the UK. We’ll continue to iterate and improve our digital services throughout a massive year of sport in 2014, making sure people get the best possible experience on any device they want, wherever they want.”

We really agree with Chris' final point about creating the best possible experience on whatever device people want, wherever they want it. It goes without saying that approach is a given in everything we do.

You can read the full piece on the BBC Media Centre.


Merry Christmas from mN

19th December, 2013

In 2014 we'll be launching 'mN movieNight' - a regular get together in Manchester where we show inspiring films and documentaries... and eat a tonne of popcorn too!

We thought that Christmas would be a great chance to let all of our nearest and dearest know about our plans for the new year, and so this year our mN Christmas card is – as you can see from the picture – two tickets to a ‘movieNight’ (cleverly disguised as a Christmas (post)card). 

Don't worry if you didn't get one (we love you too we promise!) – we'll be sharing more details about how you can get tickets in the new year.

Merry Christmas from all at mN!

500 Words Chris

500 Words

4th December, 2013

For the last few years Chris Evans has run a really popular kids writing competition as part of his BBC Radio 2 Breakfast show. '500 Words' challenges children under the age of 13 to write a short story that... you guessed it, is 500 words long. This year’s competition saw over 90,000 entries with kids writing stories about dragons, monsters, wizards and their love of One Direction (we're massive Harry fans obviously).

There are always amazing prizes on offer to the winners which include having celebrities such as Michael Palin and Barney Harwood (Blue Peter presenter and GOD to many children) reading their stories out at Hay Literature Festival and winning their height in books.

Why are we telling you all this? Well, it's because we've just been appointed by the team there to create the online submission system for the 2014 competition which will launch in January. 

We'll actually be building on an existing submissions system that we recently created for BBC writersroom. It's a really sweet competition and we're happy to be involved. If you have kids then get them to ready their imaginations and fingers for mid January.

BBC Writers Room

BBC Writers Room

6th November, 2013

We’ve been working with the team at BBC Writers Room on a new online submissions system, which has just gone live on their site. The Writers Room identifies and champions new writing talent and diversity across BBC Drama, Entertainment and Children’s programmes. This basically means they receive an enormous amount of submissions for the varying array of writing opportunities they have across the BBC.

Until now the majority of that work was submitted to them via snail mail aka post. You can imagine how many brown envelopes they received from budding writers every week! Also, how much storage space they needed to keep all the scripts and what a task it was for their team of readers to manage all these submissions manually. They needed a better system and we’ve worked with the lovely team there to design and deliver a sleek new e-submissions offering.

MCC screens

MiGuide Screens Launch

1st November, 2013

Today the team headed down to Exchange Square in Manchester city centre for the official launch of a digital wayfinding project we’ve been working on with Manchester City Council. In typical Manchester stylee it was raining as one of the ‘MiGuide’ interactive screens were unveiled by Councillor Murphy (Executive Member for Environment for Manchester City Council) but it was thrilling to see members of the public start using them literally the moment he’d cut the virtual ribbon.

The network of MiGuide screens (there are ten across the city centre) offer locals and visitors loads of information about getting around the city and making the most of their visit.  We created a digital screen management system (called Cord) which provides location-specific information about everything from events, attractions and nightlife to shopping, food and drink, accommodation and transport. For example if you are hungry and find yourself in St Ann’s Square, you can use the screen there to search through a range of restaurant and café options nearby, with directions, distance and transport details if necessary.