Mark Hurley reckons when it comes to digital, there are four key ‘joining’ elements to any successful project.
First, it’s got to look good (obviously). Secondly, it needs to function impeccably. Thirdly, it has to relate to its target audience, provoking an action or reaction. And the last piece of the puzzle relates to marketing: no matter how incredible your app or website is, if it can’t be found, it doesn’t exist – hence the need to integrate social media and SEO.
Along with Mike Little, Hurley (whose background is in fashion and design; his other company Fourforty Industries creates tailor-made brands for the likes of Farmers and the Warehouse) founded digital agency Little Giant in early 2011, just in time for the industry to really take off.
The pair met while sharing office space and today employ six people and have worked with 100 clients across a range of industries. On that list: Solo Clothing (featured in Idealog #42), Stolen Rum, Duco Events, Intrepid Travel, Closetdrop.com and the New Zealand Beer Festival.
So, some pretty hip brands. But the kind of work Hurley wants to do more of is big rebranding jobs.
“It’s fun to take a company that has had the same brand for 10 or 15 years, take them into the digital revolution and reinvent them over different mediums,” he explains.
There’s plenty of room to work with typically “stagnant” industries, such as accounting or dentistry.
“We find the biggest success really is with clients who spend the least amount of money for the biggest possible return.”
While the agency has of late been hiring every six to eight weeks, there’s a shortage of good technical talent out there.
“We would have hired another person this month but haven’t been able to find the right person. There are a lot of designers out there, but not high-end designers.”
Hurley is typically putting out a job ad and getting 250 applicants in a week but probably only interviewing two of them.
“Development is probably worse, followed by good front-end web design and branding.”
But demand doesn’t look like it’s easing up any time soon.
“The massive trend at the moment is responsive design, designing for web and mobile web, tablet and desktop. Every project we do now we’ve having to think about mobile web – they’re talking about mobile web making up 50 percent of total web traffic by the end of the year.
“The other big trend is probably just social media – building smart apps that integrate well with a website so brands can interact with customers better without them having to leave Facebook.”