Thoughts on life after fffunction

Well, that's the end of that. For the last seven years I was the technical director of fffunction, but now that it's over it feels like a good time to get my thoughts down.

fffunction was a user-centred design agency. I wasn't a founder, but I was there from the beginning, mucking in for a few weeks as a freelancer, and becoming a director and shareholder very soon after that.

Ben and I made the decision to close the agency mid-February this year.

They're good websites Brent

That user-centred was important to me.

The bulk of my web career beforehand had been a form of marketing of some kind, at agencies such as Tequila or Mason Zimbler; early on in my career at the PC marketing team in-house at IBM.

Usually a variant on persuading people to buy stuff they didn't need.

So, after all that, I ended up designing and building content-driven sites, for good people, based on user research and insights.

A dream come true, like the proverbial glass of water in the desert.

We built an awful lot of good websites in those seven years: fully user-centred, and backed up with tons of research from our UX team. The sites we built not only had longevity, but we had great client relationships too, so that we were often able to work on many phases over time.

Quick mentoring shoutout

Talking to peers such as Tom Dyson at Torchbox and Stu Charlton at CX Partners was really helpful for me.

I'd have doubts from time to time, so I took the advice of our sage UX director Dan Goodwin, and tapped them up for some one-to-one mentoring.

Both Tom and Stu had some really valuable reflections for me. They'd been in similar situations as myself during their careers, which was invaluable for me to hear when I was unsure of where to go next.

I can't recommend this enough: get out there and talk to your peers, or become a mentor for someone.

I should remember to tell stories

I find myself telling stories a lot in day to day life.

Who knew, right? It's a pretty common human trait. But I never managed to get in the habit of writing blog posts at fffunction. There was never enough time, always something more pressing to do.

Running a business and a technical team meant for me that writing felt extravagant: there was always more to be done, like looking after staff, improving processes, or finessing client work.

The thing is, I like writing once I start. And I love the idea of sharing knowledge, not only with the rest of the world, but with your future self who doesn't remember why or how you did that thing six months ago.

So, I'm going to try to write more posts when I can, and specifically aim to share some of the code and patterns that I've developed over the last few years working with Wagtail.

Let's see how we go, eh?

Life after fffunction

Coming out of an owner/manager role and being independent again has at first glance been pretty positive for me, given how closing a business isn't the most positive thing to do.

The final days of fffunction coincided with the first bout of spring-like weather in Cornwall. It was quite the metaphor of new beginnings.

The pace of my days have slowed down. I can now make sure that the boy gets a decent walk each day.

I don't think it's any great insight to say that I found running a business to be hard work, but for me it also came with a lot of upsides, such as being able to define the culture, choosing your clients, being able to say no.

However, I think that by the end I found it draining, as if my reserves were slowly but surely being depleted.

I did often find it très rewarding, but being blessed a problem-solving brain like mine led to a couple of serious long-term bouts of insomnia during those seven years. To Jack's complete lack of surprise I'm not suffering any insomnia only a few weeks after shuttering the agency.

I feel that it's okay to not want to go back to running an agency soon, if at all. I know how the web works fundamentally, and I like building good things with nice people. I definitely don't want to be a manager again soon. Maybe that'll change in the future.

For now I'm very happy to concentrate on one thing at a time, rather than juggling fifty balls in the air.

That feels like progress.

And we out

Time to wrap up. Did I have a point? I'm not really sure.

Maybe it's:

"Life can be tough, it changes every now and then, and sometimes it's easier than other times".

Maybe you can discern the point for me. Do let me know.

Anyway, here's to all the lovely team members and clients that I worked with over the lifetime of fffunction.

You know who you are. I'll miss ya.