Life in lockdown: a Nottingham digital agency UX review

Take it from a bunch of UX nuts - somehow the user experience of the working day just isn’t the same. Here at nuom, we began working from home a few weeks before the official UK government mandated lockdown began; we’ve had plenty of time to get used to operating wholly remotely. Even better, as a digital agency this wasn’t a huge logistical shift for us. But we can't help but miss life pre-lockdown.

We’ve been taking some time to indulge in a touch of nostalgia. To really appreciate the creature comforts we were used to, and maybe even took for granted.

The office

We’re based in the gorgeous Oldknows Factory, a centuries old Nottingham landmark. Our open plan office has been a fantastic space for our creative process, enabling quick (holler across the office) communication, and a sense of unity within the team. Not to mention the fact that there’s no better place for a digital design agency than a building full of other creatives and dedicated professionals - stairwell conversations with our neighbours have always been a staple and a delight. Sure, the commute to work is a whole lot quicker now, but we find the atmosphere can be a little lacking in comparison.

Hosting clients

Having face to face meetings with clients isn’t just part of the job, we’ve always considered it a real treat, and an opportunity to get to know them better. Whenever clients choose to make the journey to Nottingham rather than us coming to them, we’ve loved hosting people at the agency office.

Meetings like this are great for catching up with clients we already have an established relationship with, as well as getting a feel for new ones - in particular if we’re carrying out the UX discovery phase of a new project. Right now, face to face meetings just aren’t an option. We’re maintaining communication with everyone through calls, video chats, email and Slack messages, but we miss getting to spend time physically interacting with everyone.

Workshops

Our work, be it with clients or within our internal team, is a very hands-on, involved affair. Nothing cracks a tough design nut like a workshop. Of course we’ve made the move to digital workshops now. But no matter how streamlined and fine-tuned the process is, we’ve still got a hankering for the physical experience and flexibility an in-person workshop provides.

As a digital design agency, close working relationships between our team members is important, and workshops are a fantastic way of maintaining them. Sure, everyone from development to the UX design team is still just a Slack message or video call away. But while we’re pleased to know that our team can stay in close contact, it’s nice to reminisce about the energy of a room full of people working together on creating something great.

Lunchtimes

Okay, we admit it, it’s not all about the work. We miss hanging out with our colleagues! From a catch-up chat during a walk to the shops to pick up some snacks (a major benefit of being based so close to Nottingham city centre), to a lunchtime game of cards, time at the office was also time spent with some pretty cool people. Not to mention the joint food orders - we could give the Deliveroo app a very thorough UX review based purely on the number of times we’ve used it for some sweet sweet lunchtime indulgences.

Lunchtimes are a different kind of nice now. We’re cooking at home, sharing more meals with family, and still have the occasional lunch date with colleagues. But as we all (and some more than others) can attest to, sometimes you just want to enjoy a fast food treat during a card gaming lunch with your pals.

The results

Much like everyone else, we’re getting used to a new normal. We’ve been lucky in that we’ve had no major disruptions to our workflows, and all our colleagues are safe and healthy. And really, it’s not so bad that the small things we miss about office life are our biggest problems. So, our professional UX review results? The software works just fine on this new device, but we prefer it on the old one. Call it a personal preference. It’ll be nice when we can get back to the office, see everyone face to face, and enjoy the hustle and bustle of Nottingham and our agency homebase again.

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Martin Sandhu
Founder – martin@nuom.co.uk