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Why we're not a new media agency

3rd June 2011

... or any other 'agency' for that matter.

Whatever pops into your head when you hear 'new media agency' or 'web design agency' may be completely different from what pops into my head, hence this piece explaining why I shiver when one of our contacts refers to us in this way.  And if you work for or own an 'agency' of some description, please don't take offence - it's not you; it's me.

Picture this.  An office on the 5th floor of a 10 storey building, central London or central New York (not central Oxford, we don't have 10 storey buildings here).  It's the afternoon, and the sun is setting over distant tower blocks and sending a warm glow through the hi-tec blinds.  

In the office are three people.  They might be wearing suits, Don Draper style, or they could be wearing polo necks and goatees (don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with goatee beards - I'm sporting one at the moment which, may I say, is quite stylish).

The men are sweating slightly.  They've been working all day, and some of the previous night.  The previous day they've been saying things about the contract with XYZ corp like "I've got the name of Jessica's line manager - so that one's totally nailed".  As if they're building a shed and they need to triumphantly announce to their team the putting in of one nail on the edge of one plank.

What have they been doing in the night?  Researching stuff.  Putting powerpoints together.  Being creative.  High-fiving each other for "totally nailing" a phrase to describe their product or presentation.

And what they've just been doing this afternoon is meeting a new customer.  The customer has been looking at a fantastic bells and whistles presentation for a new ad campaign.  The customer loves it.  The men are thrilled.  When the customer leaves they whoop and holler.  They may open a bottle of champagne.  All in all, they are in some sort of self-congratulatory euphoria.  They've DONE IT!

Change of subject:  how do you make websites that work?  You listen to the customer.  You build a powerful and relevant website.  You measure the website's ability to attract, to gain commitment, to sell, and to engage with users.  You react to the measurements you have taken and you take decisions using science, not tired committees.  You work your socks off for the customer, and the customer reaps the rewards.

The men in the room are what I think of as 'agency' guys.  But here at Oxford Web we're not agency guys - we're web developers.  We're a cohesive team of designers, developers and web analysts whose job is to make websites work - to employ continual improvement methodologies and to create websites that benefit our customers' businesses.  Welcome to Oxford Web.


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