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Littlehampton, United Kingdom

Hello Clearleft

This month saw me become the ninth member of the Brighton based web agency Clearleft.

The Clearleft team. Photograph: Jack Barnes.

My relationship with Clearleft goes back to 2006 when they were contracted by my former employer Ning to design a video sharing application. This was against some pretty rigid requirements, not least a set of style guidelines created by yours truly. Thankfully they liked what they saw and this placed me firmly on the companies radar.

Upon leaving Ning I decided to embrace the world of freelancing, with a number of US-based projects lined up thanks to a friend in the Bay Area. Freelancing was certainly a rewarding experience – knowing that every penny I earned was down to my own hard work was definitely a kick. A move to the south coast allowed me to start freelancing for Clearleft, and I was soon working on high-profile projects for companies like Gumtree and Mozilla.

I was planning to use my trip around Europe in May to decide which direction to take next. I enjoyed freelancing, but was eager to do more local (perhaps agency) work rather than long-term contracts, if only to keep work within daylight hours!

Shortly before leaving for Europe, Andy asked if I would like to join the company full time. I’d been offered the opportunity to join Clearleft a few times before, but now everything felt right – no doubt helped by having already worked alongside the team.

Without trying to sound too corny, I’m not sure I would have given up freelancing for any other company.

I love that they are a small yet multi-disciplined agency. Two well-respected conferences in the shape of UX London and dConstruct, workshops, a usability testing application and an internship programme demonstrate a desire not only to try different things, but contribute to the wider community.

I love that the three founders continue to innovate and guide the industry, whilst encouraging others in the company to do so as well: be it writing articles, running local events, or speaking at popular conferences. I have a lot to live up to!

I’m amazed it took me this long to say yes.