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2020: OMFG!

Mat Hayward

Article by Mat Hayward

It’s at this time of year that I write a post reflecting on the past 12 months and how we have performed against our plans and objectives from January, but to be honest, the prospect of doing so this year hasn’t filled me with joy.

You all know, 2020 has been a shitty year on a local and global scale. The pandemic, Brexit, the US election rigmarole, the continued fight for true equality (which by now should be unnecessary) to name a few.

While it’s been difficult to focus on the positives, I am aware how lucky I’ve been to stay healthy, continue to work, fit in a 2‑week UK-based holiday and even move house. And a quick glance over the past 12 months shows that, for Kind, there have been plenty of positives too.

That said, I still can’t wait for this year to do one! Roll on 2021! 😩

This time last year, we had planned to make more effort in the environmental communities, do more with our Craft CMS meetup group and take more time together as a team, away from the office.

We kicked off 2020 by choosing Rewilding Britain as our charity partner, pledging to donate a minimum of 1% of our turnover over the next 5 years, in line with our commitments to 1% for the Planet.

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As a team we attended New Adventures conference in January, inspiring us to think more about the consequences of our design decisions on communities and the environment, as well as the user.

We had a photoshoot with the whole team (since it had changed a lot in 2019) and then things started to go off track somewhat...

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In February, my business partner and co-founder of Kind, Tom, told me he was planning to leave the business. Thankfully he was giving me a year's notice, which has allowed us the time to properly plan his departure (and leaving party, if we're allowed!)

Tom and I met at Erskine Design where we somehow made building a major insurance website interesting by pushing the boundaries of mobile-first, modular front-end development.

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Together, we’ve navigated many of the challenges of starting a business in a hurry (Erskine closed with no notice) and built a small agency that is well respected by those who know it (I hope!).

I’ll be sad to see him go, but excited to see the positive changes he and his family can make with the additional freedom that not being a Company Director affords him.

And then all of our plans went flying out of the window in March when the coronavirus pandemic caused the world to hit the panic button.

Luckily, we made the decision to transition to home-working one week before the official UK lockdown, so while a lot of the country was adapting to the new normal” (ugh, sorry!) we were ready to go.

Most good digital agencies are already remote-friendly businesses, using tools such as Slack, Trello and Miro to collaborate with their team and their clients, so it hasn’t been a difficult transition in that sense.

In fact, delivering projects with a distributed team actually threw up less challenges than we expected and we managed to launch a good handful of successful projects, including a user-centred redesign of the Henley Business School website, a new website for Rewilding Britain and a ticket purchasing journey for Layered Reality.

We also continued to work with Sheffield Hallam University on improving their digital properties and we look forward to launching some exciting updates with them in the new year.

In the downtime we did have, we relaunched our own website and, to try to help in whatever way we could, we made an offer of free consultation to any sustainable or ethical organisation that might be struggling due to the new restrictions. That offer still stands, so if you’re in need of some guidance, get in touch.

One thing we have found difficult (or at least I have) is the lack of face-to-face contact with the rest of the team. Video calls are great, but there’s something else you get from a personal meeting which I’ve definitely missed this year.

So, as soon as the initial restrictions were lifted, we arranged a socially-distanced walk in the Peak District and in the summer we went camping in Wales. I hope to do more of this sort of thing next year.

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By far the best things to happen at Kind this year were the new partnerships we made. Working with Rewilding Britain gives us the opportunity to help an organisation that is creating real positive change, while in July we started talking to the V&A about their digital archive for Glastonbury. A dream project if ever I saw one!

And then, OMFG! While sat in a cottage in Scotland with very little signal, I learnt that we’d been selected by the BBC to join the Digital Services Framework IV. When Tom and I started Kind in 2014, the BBC was my dream client. So that’s a moment in 2020 I won’t want to forget!


So what about next year? We know there’s still some way to go before everyone gets back on their feet and we’ll do our best to help those that have been massively affected in the Cultural sector and some of our friends who work in hospitality.

With Tom leaving in February, we have taken the opportunity to tweak our business model and strategy to focus on impact-driven projects and I’m looking forward to putting that into practice.

Most of all though, I’m looking forward to visiting our clients, our friends and spending some quality time with our team, in our new office. Oh yeah, that happened too!

Mat Hayward

Mat Hayward is Founder and Partnerships Director at Kind