Econsultancy spoke to him about how he came to found a web design agency, what he does in a typical day, the best and worst parts of his job (one word: invoices), and his advice for anyone who wants to go into web design.
Please describe your job: What do you do?
Andy Golpys: MadeByShape is a digital agency which specialises in web design services – from bespoke design to front end/back end development. We’re lucky to be working with a vast range of national and international brands, from start-ups to large global organisations.
In my role as co-founder and creative director, I manage and monitor the agency’s workflow along with overseeing all clients and developing and presenting new business pitches to potential clients.
Whereabouts do you sit within the organisation? Who do you report to?
Andy Golpys: I head up MadeByShape together with my co-founder, Jason Mayo, holding regular team meetings to ensure the team understands their diaries, workflow and what the agency and client goals are.
What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?
Andy Golpys: To lead an incredibly talented and creative team requires confidence, and working with senior level clients means I mustn’t be shy in providing opinions and consultancy recommendations.
Time management is also critical; though it sounds simple, managing my own diary as well as the team’s workflow is instrumental in how the business flows.
Being able to understand people as individuals is important too – knowing what their capabilities are, where they could excel, and their potential in the future means we can provide a stimulating and challenging environment that plays to individual team member’s strengths and passions.
Tell us about a typical working day…
Andy Golpys: I will wake up every morning and reply to important emails, delete spam and mark emails I need to respond to once I get into the studio. On arrival at work, I will respond to more emails and then check each team member is comfortable with their workload, review designs if required and send to clients for feedback/sign-off.
I will then typically have one or two meetings either in the studio or at the client or prospective client’s offices. We work with a lot of businesses in the North West so I’m quite happy to visit them if it’s more convenient. The past few weeks has also seen me visit clients in Dublin, London, Leicester and even Barcelona – building relationships with clients is very important to me.
Once I’m back in the studio, I’ll catch up on emails and calls, before sitting down with our lead designer to discuss our ongoing projects.
What do you love about your job? What sucks?
Andy Golpys: I love meeting new people and seeing how passionate they are about their brand and how they do things differently. Listening to the visions they have for the brand and giving them options and avenues of how we can help them get there is a particular passion.
I love my job and I think that’s really important – if you enjoy work, you will be more successful.
Chasing invoices is definitely the ‘suck’ part of the job. It doesn’t matter how experienced we are – MadeByShape has been established eight years now and I’ve been in the industry for 14 years – I still have to chase invoices, which can be incredibly frustrating.
What kind of goals do you have? What are the most useful metrics and KPIs for measuring success?
Andy Golpys: The size of MadeByShape isn’t a priority for me; my goal is to create an agency that everyone wants to work with because of the quality of our work and the fun experience they have working with us.
My monthly and yearly targets are set in stone and agreed at the beginning of the year with our accountant. I think it’s important to look at stats and figures, but also to understand how powerful some projects can be. We might get offered an amazing project to work on that won’t be financially worthwhile but it will gain us huge exposure.
We are probably considered an informal agency which understands good design and that likes to work with good people. We look after our team and our clients and give honest views. For us – that’s a measure of our success as opposed to turnover figures alone.
What are your favourite tools to help you to get the job done?
Andy Golpys: Our team obviously needs the Adobe Suite to design, but beyond this, the tools I use and rely on daily are Emails (G Suite), Post-It Notes, Teamwork (project management), Slack (project communication), iCal, and Trello (project management).
How did you come to start a web design agency?
Andy Golpys: Like every other teenager, I thought I was going to be a footballer but that didn’t work out. I knew from the age of 18 that I wanted to work in the digital industry and worked very hard to make that happen. I had 200 freelance clients whilst at university and worked at four of the top agencies in the UK.
At the age of 21 I got offered the opportunity to become a lecturer at Salford University within the Degree course. I loved teaching, but I also loved spotting the best talent in Manchester and helping them grow into very talented individuals – some of which came to work for me here at MadeByShape.
I’ve been in the design industry for 14 years, I worked at some of the UK’s top agencies but always had a passion to create my own studio. With that in mind, myself and Jason set out to create an agency that people would want to work for, and clients would want to work with. Our ethos is simple – do good work and enjoy what we do.
I wouldn’t change my path as I’m very proud of what we’ve created here at MdeByShape.
What does the future hold for your agency?
Andy Golpys: With an ever-growing client base, in the immediate future we need to appoint two more people to the team. Another ‘all-rounder’ and another web developer.
I think being a small studio is very beneficial for us; it gives the clients a personable service and the flow works very well which delivers profit. Our financial goal is to keep improving profit year on year.
Do you have any advice for those who want to work in web design?
Andy Golpys: Learn. Be motivated to learn. It’s not going to be handed on a plate to you. You don’t necessarily have to go to University to study web design, it can be done at home or on work experience – it’s all about the individual and how much they want it.
The digital industry is a very cool place to be and I only seeing it improving in the future. And if you want more of my thoughts, last year I even wrote a short article on the benefits of working in the design industry.