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!
Last summer we had grad-to-be graphic design student Abi in the mN studio for some work experience. Abi came in for a taste of digital design within an agency environment and after two busy weeks working with the mN design team, we knew Abi had great potential to be a brilliant designer and equally enjoyed her time here, so we hired her!
Six months later, now seems like the perfect time to catch up with Abi to see how she’s finding life at mN…
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.
It’s almost a month since we headed over to Brighton for the annual Reasons To Be Creative conference. Every year the very best international creative and developer speakers take to the stage to wow, inspire, inform, entertain, thrill, teach and mix with web designers and coders that attend from all over the world. One month on, we’ve been reflecting on the highlights from this year’s event that have stayed with us left us inspired for the winter months ahead.
If the unlimited free Redbull or the crazy opening titles weren't enough to blow our minds, then the abundance of brilliant speakers absolutely did.
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."
It’s always refreshing to have new and exciting talent in the building. So when 20 year old graphic design student, Abi Nelson, asked to join us for a week’s work experience, we were delighted to accept.
Abi is currently completing the final year of her degree at Leeds College of Art and has aspirations of becoming a world class graphic designer. Go Abi! On her final day at the mN studio, we sat down with her to see how she got on.
It has been a cracker of a year at mN.
It’s also been an incredibly exciting year for Manchester and the North. There have been some momentous announcements – firstly around Devolution and TechNorth which were swiftly followed by news in the Autumn Statement about the staggering investments planned for Science and Culture in Manchester. All of which has helped to put Manchester well and truly in the spotlight for 2015. Our CEO Lou Cordwell looks back at some of our company highlights in 2014 and outlines things everyone in the 'tech' sector can look forward to in 2015.
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.
We’ve long been fans of the Hyper Island way of learning therefore it was a natural step for us to take on someone from their new Manchester based Digital Apprenticeship scheme. That someone is Charles Browne who joined us a few months back
Last week Tom and Ian from our new business team were at the newly opened ‘Connected Digital Economies Catapult Centre’ in London. The space opened in early November and is pitched as ‘a national centre to rapidly advance the UK’s best digital ideas’.
As well as attending a number of the seminars we were also invited to showcase our MiGuide project as part of the launch exhibition within the centre’s ‘Innovator Centre’.
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.
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.
We get excited about every film we show as part of our movieNight series, however as our office is teeming with Twin Peaks fans there is an extra special buzz about our next movieNight.
This fascinating documentary follows him on a 16-country tour of Europe, the Middle East, and Latin America to spread the word about the individual and global impact of meditation – something he has practised for the last 41 years.
With wit and passion in equal measure, Meditation, Creativity, Peace shows the director’s commitment to Transcendental Meditation as a way of changing the world, starting from within.
The film also offers a rare insight into Lynch’s creative process, through interviews and revealing moments from the tour.
If you’d like to come to the screening on Tuesday 28th October you can register for tickets on the Eventbrite page. Tickets are very limited so be quick!
The Design Manchester Festival (running from 21st -31st October) celebrates creativity, collaboration and inclusivity in the worlds of art, design, illustration, animation and photography.
In addition to our movieNight we are also taking part in another DM14 event, ‘North – The Great Debate’ on Wednesday 29th October. Our CEO Lou Cordwell will be part of the panel where politicians, educators, creatives and entrepreneurs from across the region and the country will tackle the hot topic of design and devolution. The event will be chaired by The Observer's assistant editor Robert Yates and tickets are available on Eventbrite.
This week Caroline and Nathan from the magnetic North team polished their school shoes and headed to Burnage Academy for Boys to host a ‘Digital Day’ session. Run by BIMA, Digital Day or D Day for short, is a series of nationwide events that link digital professionals (that’s us by the way) and young people in schools and colleges.
The session involved Caroline and Nathan giving the Year 10 boys an overview of what it is like to work in the industry and the kind of work we do at mN. Following this was a lively practical session around the theme of connected devices and the Internet of Things.
Working alongside the Head of Technology from the school, Caroline and Nathan helped the boys work up ideas for their own connected device services. There were a whole heap of great ideas including one for connected bins that notify the council when they are full and one for an app that alerts you when your front door is unlocked.
It was great to see the enthusiasm that all the pupils had for the challenge and the team left the school impressed by everything they’d seen on the day.
They also got to have a school dinner without a ladle of lumpy custard in sight. Progress hey?
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.
We recently had a visit from our friends at CHEAD (Council for Higher Education in Art and Design) who came to mN HQ as part of their Work:Space event for their Annual Conference. The conference focused on the purpose of space and collaboration both in creative arts higher education and in the creative industries and included visits to companies, galleries and studios...which is where we came in!
Why is a thriving digital and creative community vital to creating and maintaining a vibrant, progressive Manchester?
This was the theme for the 'CitySession' event with mN's CEO Lou Cordwell last night. The event was hosted by Martin Bryant Editor-in-Chief of The Next Web and organised by CityCo (the city centre management company who strive to make Manchester a better place to work, visit and live - and whose Board Lou was recently invited to join).
As well as giving an overview of mN's work, past and present, Lou also talked about the company's projects in the 'smart cities' space. Lou and Martin also chatted about the interdependency between creative economies and a city's success as well as the opportunities that 'being a city that is small enough but big enough for excellent collaboration' bring to Manchester.
It was a great evening and we were happy to see so many people come along on the first day back after the Easter break. Thanks again to Martin and to all at CityCo for making the event happen.
Recently, our CEO and founder Lou Cordwell sat down with the team at Prolific North; an online publication who cover the media and creative services sector in the North West, to talk about the lessons learnt over her career for a feature called 'What I've Learnt'. The piece talks about a whole host of things including Lou leaving her role in the advertising world to set up a digital standalone in 2000; "Somebody actually said to me 'isn't it a bit niche?'", winning Kellogg's as their first client; "We had one dial-up laptop and were working from my mum's dining room table", through to the ambitions for the company over the next few years; "It feels like we are just getting going. What I do believe is that if you focus on doing great things for the right reasons with great people, commercial success follows."
You can read the full interview on the Prolific North site.
When the promise of connected TV (or Smart TV) began to capture people’s imagination a few years ago, there was a lot of talk about ‘the battle for the living room’ – who was in the best position to create the killer connected TV platform?
Was it a broadcaster such as Sky or Virgin Media who already delivered their TV services via proprietary set-top boxes? A hardware manufacturer such as Samsung or LG who had started to release ‘Smart TVs’ with platform software built into the TV sets themselves? Could Microsoft Xbox or Sony PlayStation (who already had an impressive install base) reposition their games consoles as entertainment hubs? Or maybe it would be a new player in the market – did Google have an interest in TV? Could Apple do it again and disrupt another market? Or, not forgetting our trusty terrestrial broadcasters, would Project Canvas (or YouView as it later became) prevail?
Earlier this week, Laura spent the day over at Manchester Digital Talent Day reppin' magneticNorth and chatting with students aspiring to a career in digital. She headed over to the event armed with goodies from our studio - including a huge bowl of sweet treats - and spoke to ambitious designers, developers, marketers who had come from far and wide (everywhere from Lincoln to London) to find out about what it's really like working in the digital industry.
We met some interesting people and we also used it as an opportunity to invite students along to be a part of some user testing sessions that we've be holding in our studio. Win win all round we reckon!
We regularly hold user testing sessions at mN, so if you're keen to get involved or help out then feel free to drop us an email at audience@thisismN.com.
We've long been attendees of FutureEverything and last year our CEO Lou was appointed as Chair of the Festival, which attracts an eclectic mix of speakers and audience from all over the world. Now in its 19th year, FutureEverything brings people together to discover, share and experience new ideas about the future. Pioneering the idea of a ‘festival as laboratory’, it combines innovative art and performance with new technology, insightful discussion and playful social experimentation. The theme for this years festival, which takes place from the 27th March until the 1st April, is 'Tools for Unknown Futures'.
There is loads to look forward to and the team here are particularly looking forward to listening to what Liam Young, the architect who founded the urban futures think tank Tomorrows Thoughts Today has to say. We are also hopefully heading out en-masse to see DARKSIDE - the collaborative duo of electro producer Nicholas Jaar and guitarist Dave Harrington who are playing at The Ritz.
There's so much on that is worth checking out and if you do come to Manchester for the festival our studio door is always open, so feel free to come and say hi.
Put down your whisk and step aside Mary Berry, there are some new 'Master Bakers' in town. Well, kind of.
Inspired by our mutual love of cake, this week we decided to have our very first mN Bake Off. The rules were simple: bake something utterly delicious and bring it in on Monday, for the entire office to gorge on and then rate (or slate).
There were some pretty impressive contenders which included Sanj's Lemon Drizzle Cake, Sam's Oat and Raisin Cookies and Sarah's Carrot Cake.
We were spoilt for choice and after we had each consumed approximately 12,000 calories and reinforced the studio floor we cast our votes.
There was one clear winner. Step forward Producer Joanne. Her seriously tasty Rocky Road and Peanut Butter Squares smashed the competition to pieces and she graciously accepted her prize of a luxury week for two on Necker Island. Sorry, correction – her prize was a cookbook of her choice, which she graciously accepted.
All in all, a great way to start off the week even though the entire team are still on a sugar comedown.
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!
We asked the Head of our Digital Media team (Adam) and the Head of our Digital Cities team (Ray) to give us their highlights from the last 12 months and tell us a bit about their thoughts for the new year. Here are their reflections, insights and predictions as we go full steam ahead into 2014...
It's the 2nd December, 2013 and after a scenic trip, I’ve arrived in Scotland’s fourth-largest city, Dundee. Famous for Jute, Jam and Journalism, as I had been forewarned, the city is going through a major re-development. The vast waterfront presently being a construction zone for Dundee’s new Victoria and Albert Museum.
I’m here at the invitation of Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design to be a guru for the day. Lending my advice and guidance to students studying Digital Interaction Design and Product Design. After getting over the disappointment that this doesn’t involve ceremonial robes or a badge of honour, I get stuck into meeting the fifteen of the sixty students I’ve been allocated.
In a day pretty full with talks about high-level top-down approaches to changing cities and the use of data, Ray’s session ‘Smarter Cities: The Virtuous Circle’ was centered around how we need to bring the focus to the actual people within cities, enabling them to make changes and design their cities as they want them to be.
He was on a panel with Jamie Caffrey from IBM, Andy Kerr from Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation and our good friend, architect Jim Webster from Haus Collective – with whom we have worked closely on the NOMA project.
A few weeks ago Gareth and Julien headed to London for the Playful Conference. It's always great to get out the office to feed your brain and Playful continually delivers an impressive line-up of 'brain broadening' speakers.
Gareth did a write up on his GoodWorkSon blog and we’ve reposted it on our site so the entire Universe and beyond can enjoy it as much as we did.
Our Creative Director Adam has been talking about all things UX+D today at the D&AD Creative Brief-In. The event, which ran at 2022NQ as part of Design Manchester 13, allows students to develop techniques on how best to interrogate a brief, identify insights and prototype ideas.
Adam’s presentation was on the theme of radio and aimed at students with an interest in visual and user-experience design. It explored how radio has been re-invented throughout its existence and shared thoughts about how it could be developed in the future. Also speaking words of wisdom at the event was Tom Bradley from BBC Knowledge and Learning.
After their talks, they hosted workshops with the students on current themes, trends and practices to help them develop their responses to the D&AD New Blood Awards briefs. A great day was had by all!
Image from @DandADNewBlood
Lou and Ray spent the day over at the IHBC Digital Heritage event held at 1 Angel Square NOMA, where they gave a talk around the theme of 'digital interpretation' to a conference of people who work in the heritage sector with historic buildings. Their focus was to question how digital is currently being used in interpretation across the culture and heritage sectors.
As part of the presentation they showed many examples of different types of digital interpretation, and suggested that the focus should always be on creating experiences as opposed to what the latest and flashiest tech is.