A unit of Interaction Designers
On the 16th of July 2008 Rick le Roy and I visited an Amsterdam notary office to sign the papers that marked the official start of our company UNITiD. The idea behind the company name was that when pronounced as ‘UNIT - ID’ it would mean “A unit of Interaction Designers”. When pronounced as ‘United’ you would think of a group of like-minded people. Both were true in the first 3 years or so.
Strategy: Don’t say no
Our strategy was simple: delivering interaction design capacity where needed and we would not say no. The strategy paid off. Within a year our unit consisted of 8 interaction designers. We worked for a wide range of clients. Web 2.0 startups (yes, those days!), web developers, ad agencies who had discovered digital and full-service providers that asked us to help with that ‘full-service’ part.
Early on we noticed that it was special to work with a team of interaction designers, led by interaction designers. In those days, not many people in the field had more than ten colleagues doing the same stuff. We did. We started experimenting with new tools and processes. We started sharing Omnigraffle design templates. We built quite a popular prototyping tool for mobile devices (remember Fireworks and TAP?). After I spent weeks building a highly automated documentation template for InDesign I asked my colleague if we should just publish it for everybody to download on our website. His answer: “No way! It’s not good enough.”
Growing up, but not only ‘up’.
We made name for being pretty good at interaction design. Talented young people found us and we created a culture where people learn fast. We worked less for other agencies and more directly for corporates. And those corporates wanted more than just interaction design. They wanted 'full' design. Therefore we needed project managers, art directors, and visual designers. Late 2011 we decided to take the step to become an independent digital design agency.
Fast-forward to 2017
Six years later. We now work for well known Dutch brands like Philips, Ziggo, Funda, 538 and the ANWB. Our products can be seen on television in Poland, in harbor cranes in the UK, on airports in South Korea and on super yachts around the globe. Every first Thursday of the month we organise this event called Re-UNITiD. All people from the offices in Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Eindhoven get together. It’s then and there that you realise a group of 60 people is not a small team anymore. Still, we are very design-focussed with over 45 interaction- and visual designers. Others are copywriters, some are strategists.
Still that unit of Interaction Designers?
Is this what we still are? Not really. We do things differently now.
Is this how the market still sees us? Maybe it still does indeed.
Our brand needed an update. We first tried to reposition ourselves with the original name. It didn’t work. We needed a bigger transformation. Same people, same company, but an updated story and a brand new name.
Meet Hike One™.
Renaming. How hard can it be? Well, if you want the answer, give me a call. I’ll be happy to tell you all about it. For now, many
for our team, as we did the largest part ourselves. In this post, I like to walk you through the new brand. Why this name? And what is the story?
The name originates from several creative sessions and a final touch from Erik, our copywriter. We immediately liked the sound of “Hike”. It’s active, it’s about discovery, it’s short. And if you let me quote the dictionary; “a hike is an adventurous walk across rough terrain”. We see a parallel with the design of new digital products. As a journey through unmapped territory. Getting lost in this field is not a failure but a certainty. You better be well prepared to find your way.
Then the ‘One’. We like firsts. We embrace change. New technology. We explore, we pioneer.
We love a good URL.
One that doesn’t require much explanation or spelling. Remember the old name 😀 ?
New strategy: say yes to ‘New product design’ and ‘UX design’
With ‘New product design’ we mean going from idea to product. Fast. We experiment and prototype to validate assumptions. We make things tangible and testable in no time. We use methods like design sprints, lean experiments and prototyping. We’ve done many of these projects and plan to do many more in the future. For corporates, incubators, start-ups and small to medium enterprises.
On the other hand, our UX teams continue designing awesome digital products that make life better. For web, phones, wearables, big screens and all other things digital.
100 design leaders in 10 years time
Our company culture of experimenting, learning and getting better has only improved over the years. Many of our designers start fresh from school and learn the trade working at Hike One. We now understand that training talented designers is great for the company and for a greater good: the idea that well-designed technology helps solve many of today’s problems. Over the last year, we’ve been working on the Hike One Academy to improve our own skills and knowledge and help others improve theirs. We set a goal: train 100 design leaders in the next 10 years.
We hope you like what you’ve seen so far. Take a look at our cases, the team page, read more about our services or check out what's happening at Hike One. Of course there is a huge backlog of things we like to launch. So stop by regularly or follow us on Facebook or Twitter (@realhikeone).