Launched! Turn Sketches Into Prototypes With The Marvel iPhone App


One of the biggest goals of Marvel is to turn prototyping into something that is accessible to anyone, no matter what level of design or technical skill.

The first piece of that puzzle is our new iPhone app, it allows you to turn any sketch or doodle into an interactive prototype without needing to be near a computer.

This really opens up prototyping to the masses, with more and more people coming up with their own ideas for apps and services, the Marvel app will help them bring those ideas to life.

All photos on the iPhone are automatically uploaded and synced with the Marvel web app.

It’s really simple to use and is great for brainstorming or trying out ideas before jumping into Photoshop. Within a few minutes you’ll have a working prototype to share and test on devices.

Download it now, it’s free!

Or sign up for free prototyping using Marvel

Follow Pie – The Story Of The Instagram Bot Made To Increase App Store Downloads


“How the hell do you have 18,000 followers on Instagram???”

I get this question every few weeks when another one of my friends joins Instagram and takes a look at my profile. They often wonder why a freelance designer from Streatham has so many people interested in his sunset and food photos.

I’ve never spilled the beans about how I managed to increase my followers to 18,000 so quickly.

So now it’s time to come clean -

Last year I teamed up with Brendan (@oh_moore) and created an Instagram bot that automated many of the manual interactions I had to go through to get more followers (i.e liking and following).

Essentially, it pretended to be me and by doing so, it generated several thousand downloads for our iPhone app, InstaBAM.

The following post is the story behind it, I tried my best to document everything so it’s a long read. If you want to head straight to the code it’s available on Github. Continue Reading

Introducing Marvel – Free and Unlimited Prototyping For Designers


Over the last few months I’ve been working on a free service for designers called Marvel, a super-simple way to create mobile and web prototypes using your images and PSDs on Dropbox.

We went into public beta with our MVP around a month ago and we’ve now got over 2000 users and over 8400 design files synced. The feedback has been amazing, I’ve been stunned that so many people have taken the time to write huge emails detailing things they love, hate and want to see in the future. It’s given us tons to work on. We’re now gearing up for our proper launch with lots of new features and fixes.

A bit of background

The idea for Marvel came about whilst I was freelancing at a big global agency. Like most of the designers there, a large part of my time was spent on pitch work.

There was one pitch in particular that sparked the idea. It was a iPhone app for a big brand worth 6 figures, so everyone had their heads down all week working hard on putting something impressive together.

All of my time was spent doing the interface and ux for the app, I more or less designed the whole thing by the end of the week. I sweated details, I did it all in Retina, I displayed interactions and gestures, it was full on.

What happened next is pretty typical in most agencies I’ve worked in. You hand over the finished mockups to the account director, who then crams them into a Powerpoint and presents the whole thing on a screen 5 metres away from the client whilst flicking through each slide every few seconds.

A couple of things happen at that point:

  • The attention to detail and the impact of that design is lost
  • The user journey isn’t communicated efficiently
  • It looks like every other presentation

We ended up losing the pitch.

In an ideal world I would have handed my designs over to one of the devs and they would have coded it up so that we could have presented a prototype that the client could have played with. The reality is that in most agencies all the developers are stacked on existing projects and don’t have time to anything else. Placing developers on each pitch can also lead to the cost of pitching spiraling out of control.

It wasn’t the first pitch I had ever lost nor was it the most disappointing, but I was frustrated. What’s the point of spending days on design when it’s presented in such a poor way?

For the next pitch I decided to put all my mockups on the photoroll of the device and give it to the client myself.

The result was incredible, even though the only thing you could do was swipe through the screens, the client loved it and actually thought we had finished the app. I had to explain that it was static mockups but she was impressed.

I was able to talk through the flow with the designs in context and the client got it instantly.

After we won the work, the idea for Marvel began to form.

Continue Reading

Why Talented Creatives Are Leaving Your Shitty Agency

tumblr_lh381zD16r1qzbytdo1_1280Over the past few months it seems like I keep having the same conversation over and over again with friends in dozens of agencies around London, it usually starts off like this:

“Who do you think is the best agency is at the moment? Is anyone doing good work?”

And ends with them explaining why they are thinking of moving on. The reasons why are always the same:

“I want to work on an actual product people want to use”

“I want to build my own thing”

“I want to explore more new technology and ideas not gimmicks”

“We never do any interesting work”

“We only care about hitting targets”

“I don’t feel like I’m learning”

“We never push back and tell the client their ideas are shit”

The exodus of talent we’ve been hearing so much about at executive/director level is now filtering down to smart young digital/mobile creatives, planners and account managers.

And can you blame them?

The people who generate all the ideas and work are evolving and realising that they themselves could be reaping the rewards rather than the agency.

Agencies on the other hand are happy to keep trying to live in a world which is ceasing to exist. Clinging onto the same ideas, tools, and ways of working with CEOs who are either oblivious to the current mindset or too frightened to instigate change.

It’s the perfect storm of increasing entrepreneurialism, decreasing  loyalty and an industry reveling in mediocrity.

Startups are offering equal or better salaries than agencies with more perks and chances to get equity, brands are taking design and development in-house after realising they’ve been spending a fuck-load of money on sub-standard work, pure play product and design studios are quickly emerging with young and talented leaders, and of course technology is lowering the barrier to starting your own business, in both time and cost with the freelance market also booming.

Many agencies are offering whatever trend makes them seem relevant to existing and potential clients (who sadly lap this shit up). Whether that’s UX (which never goes beyond wireframes), User Centred Design, MVP,  incubators or the current shiny thing – innovation labs.

While many people will shout “Well agencies aren’t about innovation or hacker-like creativity, it’s just about billable hours”, the sad truth is that whether they are or not, this is what agencies sell, not only to clients but to staff, and that’s the problem.

Promises are made in job descriptions and interviews that aren’t kept.

You never get an agency intro that says “We pride ourselves on creating branded apps that no one wants and churning out banners that no one clicks on, we say yes to all our clients daft suggestions because we know it’s the easiest way to make money. Oh and you’re gonna leave here with nothing worth putting in your portfolio, fancy joining us?”

The talent is there, as is the desire, agencies can try to stop the bleeding and try create places where talented people want to use their skills to build great things for clients and users, or they’ll take their passion and curiosity somewhere else and be left with the deadwood.

So here’s a small but potent list, a view from the ground for the agency execs and CEOs. My own thoughts and those of my peoples, collected from designers and creatives (and a few PMs/devs/planners too) in agencies around London.

1) You won’t stop taking on shit work

We understand, you’re an agency, you need to keep the lights on and pay people. We get that. Everyone gets that.

But at the same time we expect you to have ambitions just like we do.

In the beginning it was cool to take the low-hanging fruit of animated GIF mobile banners and cookie-cutter augmented reality apps, just like we thought making nightclub flyers at uni was cool when we first got into design, but after a while that shit has to stop and you need to start aiming higher. Continue Reading

Are You Creatively Satisfied?

Is creative satisfaction possible?

via Larissa Meek

What’s The Last Photo On Your Phone?

Love this project by Ivan Cash where he goes around San Francisco asking people to talk about the last photo taken on their phone.

Beautifully done.


Introducing Marvel – Turn Images Into Prototypes In Just A Few Clicks

I’ve been hard at work with @oh_moore and @pakmee over the last couple of months building a new service for designers called Marvel and I’m proud to announce that it’s just gone into early private beta.

Marvel turns any image including PSD’s, PNG’s and JPEG’s into shareable,
interactive prototypes that you can view on desktop, tablet & mobile devices,
all synced in real-time from your project folders on Dropbox.

Prototypes are created by drawing hotspots over any area of the image you want to turn into a link to another images. Once you’re done you can email or SMS the URL of your prototype and open it on any device with a browser.

Marvel seamlessly updates prototypes on the fly, soon as you save a file in Photoshop, the prototype updates! No need to save out PSDs, PNGs and JPEGs then re-upload. We’re harnessing the power, convenience and scale of Dropbox to provide a superior experience than our competitors at a much lower cost (free!)

Get on the waiting list by signing up at or follow @marvelapp for more updates.


How, When and Where Will The First Truly Great Digital Design Studio Emerge?

The following post is by Jules Ehrhardt, (@ezyjules), partner at digital design studio ustwo’s New York outpost. Jules offers his thoughts on where the digital design sector might be headed following the recent flurry of acquisitions.

State of the digital design nation

This week, service design studio Fjord announced its sale to the management consultancy behemoth Accenture. This move follows a dizzying flurry of industry acquisitions, pivots and mergers on both sides of the Atlantic. Big group moves: AKQA selling to WPP, LBi selling to Publicis (to subsequently merge with Digitas), Rokkan selling to Publicis. TechGiant acqui-hires such as Hot Studio selling to Facebook and NYC design studio 80/20 selling to Square. Not to forget last week’s pivot of London boutique consultancy Berg into a cloud services company.

Whilst this is not an exhaustive list, there is clearly a great deal going down in the digital sector. Most of these plays are driven by the shift towards user experience and digital product design. Under the ‘experience is the brand’ mantra, these moves are an effort to integrate such capabilities into an all-encompassing, 360, integrated service offering. The reality is that for those in digital product design*, these ecosystem changes present us all with a number of challenges and opportunities.

*By ‘digital product design’ I refer specifically to companies with the capacity to design and build digital products and services in house. This includes a range of companies from boutique mobile studios, interactive marketing agencies and design consultancies, to global management consultancies and the exciting new wave of digital product studios.

The opportunity

In the same way that consultancies such as IDEO and Frog achieved permanent association with innovation and industrial design in people’s minds, and consequently safe commercial orbit; the same opportunity and path is emerging for digital product design.

Importantly the opportunity to become truly great is about more than just financial reward. It’s about the chance to become a recognised design leader and partner to the brands whose digital products and services shape our world. It’s about the experiences and opportunities presented, which cannot be bought. The one shot you might be lucky enough to have at all this is however all too easily sold. Continue Reading

48 Hours At The D&AD Awards

Last week I spent a couple of great days on the jury of the 2013 D&AD Awards at Kensington Olympia after being invited to judge the mobile marketing category.

I loved the experience, I got the opportunity to chat with some of the smartest people in the design industry and by the time the judging was over I felt inspired and energised by some of  work I had seen, not just in mobile but in branding, packaging and poster design too.

My biggest surprise was the scale of the operation, I heard someone say that there was over 20,000 pieces of digital and physical work submitted to the D&AD over all the categories, that’s insane.

The staff were really friendly and patient, especially when the jury is in full flow and debating whether entries should make it to the next round, which can sometimes last hours (or days in some categories!).

We had the opportunity to test out every app and site and talk about what we liked and disliked about it. If someone thought the claims made in the entry video were unrealistic we could also request further information from the brand or agency.

I firmly believe that the future of the mobile category belongs to products and services. I hope to see more entries from startups, problem solving products and creations made at hackathons.

That’s why I loved Secret Fishing Spots and Pothole Season, two apps with a great story behind them but also try to fix specific problems in a clever way.

Another favourite of mine was Easy Way Subtitles, a service that takes live TV subtitles and translates them on-the-fly with Google Translate.

You can view all the results here.

I also took a ton of photos of all the entries I liked in the other categories, check them out below (click to enlarge)

Thanks to everyone at @dandand for having me, really enjoyed myself and it was definitely one of the highlights of my career so far.

- @mutlu82

IMG_0473IMG_0540 IMG_0539 IMG_0536 IMG_0535 IMG_0529 Continue Reading

Designers Making Moves To Disrupt Recruitment Agencies

A couple of years ago I made the decision to switch from full-time employment to working freelance. I’d spent a lot of time hiring freelancers to help deliver projects whilst at agencies (via recruiters) and it seemed like they had all the fun bits of being a designer but none of the crap, so I made the jump and have been here ever since.

Working with recruiters as the client was never easy, I always seemed to spend a lot of time and effort filtering out candidates with the wrong skills or being told candidates had ‘mobile experience’ when the only thing they had done was a few iPhone mockups for a pitch. Recruiters are suppose to reduce pain, not increase it, I eventually saw it as a necessary evil.

Now I’m the one looking for freelance work it’s not a surprise to find out the experience is the same. I get dozens of time consuming emails, phone calls and LinkedIn requests each week which amazingly amount to nothing.

Recruiters misreading my profile and skill set matching me with unsuitable jobs, contacting me with hardly any details on the role or they shroud the whole thing in secrecy assuming that I would just take their word for it that the client and project are ‘industry leading’. The lack of transparency is infuriating.

Recruitment agencies feel broken and in need of disrupting.

I was once looking through some CVs with a colleague and had a discussion about how great it would be if talented designers started their own recruitment agencies.

Rather than just matching words from a brief to words on a CV or LinkedIn profile, they would really understand your needs or skillset and you could trust their judgement when they suggested a candidate or project. They would be honest and up-front with commision rates and cut through the bullshit and get you great projects to work on.

As it turns out that’s exactly what is happening.

I’ve been noticing more and more designers are making moves to replace recruitment agencies with their own solutions. What’s interesting is the different approaches each has taken. I’ve listed the ones I’ve found over the last few months:


Yuno Juno

“We ain’t recruiters. Just a few creative and tech folk who want to build a decent community of people hungry to do good work.”

Yuno Juno was set up to let talented freelancers connect directly with the companies that want to hire them and take the pain (and middlemen) out of the process. They are transparent about their costs (5% for employers, free for freelancers)




Folyo is a private designer community. Post your project, and we’ll send it to a list of hand-picked designers all over the world.”

To keep the quality high, the designers on Folyo must be accepted by the guy who runs it, a top designer called @SachaGreif.

It costs $100 to post a job and designers are the ones get in touch if they are interested and available. If not designer is found, the fee is refunded.

I recently signed up and the first email I got had a couple of good product design projects with respectable budgets.




Ooomf is similar to Folyo in many ways in that it’s a handpicked private community and members get in touch if they are interested in the job posted.

Here’s the story behind Ooomf

“Before starting ooomf, most of our founding team worked as independent developers and designers.
Too often, however, our time was spent searching for high quality projects to work on. Filtering through project proposals and identifying those that had respectable budgets, briefs, and timelines was all-too-painful and the not knowing where your next project would come from was a fear that we regularly lived with.
Once we founded ooomf, we also noticed issues on the other side of the table – where to find quality talent to work on our projects?  We started ooomf to solve these problems.”
And here’s how it works:

“You can post a project on ooomf and if you’re project is approved, you’ll gain access to our handpicked community of 1,000+ developers, designers, and copywriters.

Each project that is submitted is reviewed by us and the ones that meet our guidelines are sent out by email weekly or bi-weekly (based on the quality of the supply) to our curated community of web and mobile professionals.

Acceptance to our community as a developer, designer, or copywriter is by invite-only to ensure that we build it right from the start.”



Juiicy is a completely different approach where designers who are too busy to take on work post the job they can’t take on and get a cut if someone else does it, effectively turning designers into recruiters. (Read more here)

Juiiicy will be a private community. Only invited designers will be able to post jobs and apply to them. Once the designer post a job, the client receives an email with a link to Juiiicy where he can see all the activity about the job (who applied, how much the designer that got hired charged the client, and so on…). Once a client hires one of the designers that applied to his job, he will pay the invoice at Juiiicy. Then Juiiicy will split the money between the designer that got hired(80%) and the one that spread the word(10%).

Created by Julian Renvoye, a fantastic designer from San Diego, Juiiicy could be the most disruptive out of the bunch. I have to turn down several projects a week, if I could make 10% off each one, then why wouldn’t I use Juiiicy instead of turning them away?

I’ve no doubt we’re just seeing the beginning of job sites for designers by designers. Let me know if you’ve tried any of the above or know of anymore sites to add to the list.

I’m currently using Dribbble (also started by a designer) as my primary source of freelance work, signing up for the Pro account is the best $20 I’ve ever spent so I recommend trying that out too.


A couple of great looking additions in the comments and other places,