15 years of Clearleft

This year Clearleft turned 15. Since 2005 our purpose has been to advance the practice of design to improve organisations and people’s lives for the better. But what does the future hold?
Let’s imagine it’s 2035...

How do you hope the practice of design will have changed for the better?

Alex Higgs

Reflects the wonderful diversity of humankind better.

Trys Mudford

Less focus on analytics. More focus on creativity, inclusivity, and privacy.

Jonathon Colman

I hope designers who have been historically marginalized will be more welcomed, actively included, sponsored, and enabled for success.

Richard Rutter

Designers, developers, managers, scientists, engineers and artists will hold hands across the world & design thinking will have won the day.

Sophia Hill

Inclusive, beautiful, disruptive solutions will sit at the heart of design, as practitioners work together to solve our global challenges.

Maite Otondo

An inclusive practice that promotes egalitarian and respectful exchanges between people, organisations and our environment

Chris How

It's 2035. I'm reminiscing on how a design mindset was successful in finding imaginative solutions for societies big and shared challenges.

Andy Thornton

Designers will need to be more engaged in ethical decision-making, ensuring the wellbeing of people and the planet ahead of profit.

Katie Wishlade

Design is so integral to business - it's not even pulled out as a separate thing anymore.

Jeremy Keith

15 years from now, I want design to be practiced by people who don’t look like me. Design is dominated by white men. That needs to change.

Tom Janssen

I hope design and specifically businesses understanding the value of design becomes a core function in large organisational structures.

Sarah Drummond

I hope we can see more inclusive and diverse teams and companies. More briefs that consider impact on environment of what we're doing.

Lex Roman

I hope designers will take the reins on how to build ethical products. Moving away from buzzwords and towards thoughtful impact.

Paul Annett

I hope that more designers will consider the broader consequences of their decisions. Design shapes the world.

Jon Aizlewood

Design is ubiquitous; a powerful force for positive change in society, a mindset for the many, not the few. Diverse, inclusive & ingrained.

Cassie Evans

I hope we'll see more of a human, user-focused attitude towards UI design. Small touches and interactions that feel crafted and joyful.

Andy Bell

I hope that design and development will have matured beyond hot tools and instead, the focus would be on problem solving.

Daniel Vieira Souza

Accessibility will be ingrained in all design practices, and inclusive design will be the norm. Content and Design will be integrated.

Sarah Flynn

We are designing resilient solutions to the wicked problems we are facing. We think in the long-term & we consider all effected stakeholders

Ben christine

I hope to see design build experiences that lead to more balanced and healthier lifestyles.

Tim Healey

The world will recognise the value of engineered design: how simplicity and elegance contribute to making the world a better place.

Gabi

I think good design can help moving consumerism into a sustainable manner.

We’re collecting messages to celebrate, and pause for thought about the changes we’d like to see.

Postcards from the future

For 15 years Clearleft’s purpose is to advance the practice of design, improving organisations and people’s lives for the better. We’ve been doing this for 15 years now, but what does the future hold? Let’s imagine it’s 2035…

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2020

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Jeremy launches the Clearleft Podcast. The first series dives into six of the big topics facing our clients from Designops to Service Design and features friends from over the years including Aaron Walter and Jake Knapp.

We continue to put on world-class events during COVID, this time as Sofaconf: a 5-day celebration of various design disciplines. Joined by speakers from around the world we match donations to both NHS frontline workers and BLM charities.

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During a bucket list project with the Natural History Museum to redesign their world-renowned Wildlife Photographer of the Year digital presence, our project team create & announce Utopia.fyi, a concept for elegantly scaling type and space without breakpoints.

2019

Andy Budd is invited to join Adobe’s Design Circle with 26 leading voices from throughout the design industry coming together to drive positive change in our profession.

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We launch a new series in Design Leadership panels bringing together industry thinkers with our own experience to a room full of design leaders at the Curzon in London

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Following surveying designers across the world we launch the Design Effectiveness Report. In which we uncover three conditions under which design is most successful.

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Thanks to the success of our London version, we up sticks and take Leading Design state-side to NYC. The waiting list for tickets hit almost 1000 design leaders.

We open source the first version of our professional development framework for design. A tool for helping codify the attributes required for designers to grow their careers and track their progression.

2018

We make such an impact during a project with Virgin Atlantic that the new Head of Design stated: “I drafted in Clearleft. In effect they became the prototype for the structure I wanted to build”

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The first in a series of Clearleft Retreats takes place in Norway, with an event for Women in Design Leadership.

We begin our annual mini-conference at our studio for our clients, followed by a BBQ on the deck.

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We celebrate 10 years of UX London.

2017

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We organise a retreat in Juvet, Norway to wrestle with the big questions of AI and create The juvet agenda

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We start Clearleft Presents, featuring some of the standout workshops from our conferences. Blair Enns joins us for the first event, with Jake Knapp shortly after.

We host Patterns Day, Europe’s first conference dedicated to design systems and pattern libraries. The event is held in the beautiful Duke Of York’s cinema in Brighton.

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After 12 years with the same (but highly recognisable) visual metaphor of a CSS float, we rebrand. Our new identity, site and collateral are as striking as they are more representative of who we are and what we do.

2016

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We launch the first Leading Design conference in London’s beautiful Barbican venue, deciding the time was right for an event dedicated to design leaders

We start a long term partnership with Virgin Holidays, helping them with their design system.

We release Fractal as an open-source project. It’s a tool for working with pattern libraries that we’d been using at Clearleft for some time.

2015

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We celebrate Clearleft’s 10th birthday!

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Richard launches a Kickstarter campaign to fund a book on web typography. It was chosen as a Staff Pick and blew through its funding goal.

At UX London, we unveil the brewing arm of Clearleft; Beerleft. Our first offering is an easy-drinking little number called Goldenrod.

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Clearleft hosts a series of events at 68 Middle Street for Spring Forward, a month-long celebration of the role of women in digital culture.

2014

68 Middle Street hosts 16 events during the biggest Brighton Digital Festival yet.

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dConstruct turns 10! The grand-daddy web conference of them all comes of age. We can’t believe how far we have come…

Our event space at 68 Middle Street really takes off, as we host community meet ups (Async, Ladies That UX, She Says) workshops, film screenings and social events.

We start work on our biggest international project yet: an extensive new consumer web application for Nordea Bank.

2013

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Our 2013 graduate internship comes to an end with the launch of the social music concept, Chüne.

The Channel 4 News website scoops ‘Best News Site Of The Year’ and ‘Best Website Of The Year’ at the Online Media Awards.

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In response to the industry’s continued interest in responsive design, we launch Responsive Day Out, the world’s first conference dedicated to the subject. Tickets sell out in under 48 hours.

2012

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We sign contracts on our brand new office at 68 Middle Street in the centre of Brighton. The new office will be our home for many years to come — and let us grow as needed.

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We help Bobby Johnson design Matter – a beautiful reading experience for this independent publisher of unmissable journalism about science and technology.

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With the generous help of friends and companies we setup the world’s first Open Device Lab to support local developers.

2011

Clearleft is voted web design agency of the year by .Net magazine, for the second time.

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Working with Dennis Publishing we create The Week iPad app, bringing the publication to a whole new audience and topping the App Store charts.

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We rent a small farm on the Welsh borders for a week and take the whole team away to hack on new ideas. The concept of the annual HackFarm is born, and we create (and ship) MapTales.

Along with others Andy helps found the Brighton Digital Festival.

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We launch Ampersand, the first conference dedicated to digital typography on the web.

2010

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Wired Magazine names Richard and Andy as two of the 100 most influential people in the UK digital sector.

James Box and Cennydd Bowles publish Undercover UX: a pragmatic guide to making UX work in real companies.

Jeremy Keith publishes his concise guide - HTML5 for Web Designers, with A Book Apart.

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We’re asked to redesign Channel 4 News, the first of many successful projects and a long-standing relationship with Channel 4.

SXSW has become an annual pilgrimage for Clearleft, with (almost) the entire company attending. We run 5 sessions at the conference. And Andy is on the board.

We’re asked to redesign the Mozilla Add-ons site, a web property serving 2 million people per day.

2009

Clearleft voted web design agency of the year in the first ever .Net Magazine awards.

Clearleft start working with the BFI on a variety of projects including the London Film Festival.

Beaten to launch —just— by TypeKit, Fontdeck becomes the second commercial font service on the web.

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To help the growing number of people getting into User Experience Design, we launch UX London. It’s the first dedicated UX conference in Europe. Speakers include: Don Norman, Jared Spool, Jeff Veen, Luke Wroblewski & Peter Merholz.

2008

We win the project to redesign the WWF International website.

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With increasing browser support for font embedding, we start working on our Fontdeck start-up, a product we hope will be the first webfont service on the market.

We create one of the first responsive sites in the UK for St Paul’s School, London.

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We launch our Internship programme aimed at giving designers & developers a chance to learn new skills.

2007

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dConstruct increases capacity to 600 people, moves to the Brighton Dome and sells out in 24 hours.

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To help popularise usability testing we create Silverback, a low-cost usability testing tool for Mac OS X. Silverback is used by the Obama team in the run-up to the 2008 presidential elections.

Jeremy’s follow up book, Bullet Proof AJAX, becomes an instant best seller.

2006

We help the US social network Ning redesign their video service

Andy Budd published his book on CSS Mastery.

2005

We organise the first dConstruct conference in just 6 weeks. It’s the second ever web design conference in the UK. Tickets sell out in a record-breaking half an hour.

Jeremy publishes his first book DOM Scripting.

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Rich, Andy and Jeremy embark on their first client projects together as Clearleft

Andy and Jeremy announce Clearleft during their first ever conference talk at SXSW.