Who we are
At the moment, Yes We Work is mainly Andrew Staffell (linkedin / email) and Thomas Eagle (linkedin / email). We’re both British, but we work and split our time between the UK and Spain (London and Barcelona; Cambridge and Granada, respectively).
We’ve been working together since 2008, but each of us has over 10 years experience in a variety of web, design, editorial and marketing roles.
What we do (and for whom)
- We primarily make websites, help with naming and branding, design logos, structure information carefully (whether visually or in writing) and design for print. But whatever anyone throws at us, we try to catch.
- We almost always aim for clarity.
- Because we’re small, clients talk directly to the people doing the work with no risk of mistranslations. We tend to be responsive and fast… though occasionally very busy.
- Despite being small, we have carried out projects for clients in the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Poland and Germany. Malaysia too, once.
- In almost all cases, we quote for completed projects, not for work on an hourly basis, and any alterations to the quote as a result of major changes in project specifications or requirements are discussed and agreed with clients ahead of time. We invoice as UK-based self-employed individuals and we’re not VAT-registered, in case that’s important to your accounts department.
How we do it
Web design and build
- We build 99% of our sites using open-source content-management systems which allow clients to manage and edit all of the content, images and content categories easily and, in general, without involving us. The principal advantages of using open-source software are that there is no license fee, and that the software tends to be supported by large communities of developers, meaning problems are rare and quickly fixed.
- When we choose an open source CMS, we ensure clients know they’re getting a site which other developers could work on too: we’re happiest when working with clients who are themselves happy to work with us, rather than bound inextricably to us by maintenance contracts or proprietary systems.
- We’ve used Typo3 and Drupal for some of our largest projects and we always keep an eye on the latest developments in CMSs, so we’re open to using almost anything PHP-driven. However, we have yet to find a CMS that can compete with WordPress for userbase and familiarity, good admin design and ease of use for our clients. That ease of use for clients means, above all, that sites stay alive and up-to-date. For this reason more than for any other, the majority of our web projects are based on WordPress.
- We supply straightforward instructions about using the CMS once our sites are launched, and are happy to visit our clients to guide them through the site in person if required.
- Regarding the all-important Search Engine Optimisation of sites, our belief is that very little specific SEO work should be required in most cases if a site’s content has been written well and concisely for human visitors, then structured intelligently during design and coded semantically during programming. We are always ready to help clients fine-tune site content after launch, and usually advise clients to network and link-build themselves as part of their day to day activities with suppliers, clients and colleagues. Since this is part of our standard service, we don’t charge additional SEO or maintenance fees. That said, we have worked alongside SEO specialists and reputation management professionals in certain specific (and very competitive) sectors.
- We generally don’t manage domain registration or hosting for our clients, since we feel it is almost always preferable for clients to have independent contact with their host company. We are, however, happy to advise on hosting if required, and can recommend host companies we have already used, including heartinternet.co.uk and site5.com. The open source systems we use generally require only the most common and economical LAMP hosting packages (where LAMP stands for Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP), which are found as standard with almost all ISPs.
- Normally, our design/development process for websites is as follows: based on an initial (and usually informal and quick) gathering of requirements and aesthetic guidelines from clients, we produce one or more graphic proposals for the site. When we’re happy with these, we show them to clients for feedback. Once the graphics are approved, we proceed to build the site as working web templates.
Branding, logos, identity & print design work
- We’re pretty no-nonsense about naming, branding, corporate identites and logos. It’s unlikely we’ll use moodboards, SWOT analyses or colour therapy to pad out powerpoint presentations: generally, we get a feel from clients of what they want their brand or logo to convey (and to whom); we look at the competition to make sure what we’re working on will be able to stand out without alienating, and then we start designing. We want our clients to be happy and their customers to be clear. It’s nice if we also manage to get “cool” or “funny” or “stylish” into our work, but we’ll sacrifice all of those at the altar of logic and common sense if necessary. We don’t enter design awards, so we don’t work with a jury of bespectacled designers on fixed-wheel bikes in mind.
- Surprisingly for the times, we’re doing more and more print work, including 200-page reports. We try to be as practical about print as we are about the web, aiming to make content easy to read, digest and understand, as well as aesthetically appealing. As with our web design work, we’re happiest if clients are in contact with printers rather than feeling they have to use us as intermediaries.
Copywriting, text-editing, proof-reading and translation
- Both of us studied Modern Languages at good universities in the UK; both of us have posh accents… vainly, we pride ourselves on our eloquence: we use proper grammar and syntax in text messages and we even correct our own spelling mistakes unnecessarily and rewrite sentences to be more mellifluous in our internal Skype chats. We go to considerable lengths to ensure that even greater care goes into the text content in our work.
- As if that weren’t enough, Andrew used to be a sub-editor for various magazines in London, and he has written for The Times, edited a Spanish language series for The Guardian and translated Nobel- and other prizewinning Spanish authors into English. Never mind “how long is a piece of string?“, the right question to ask Andrew is “how long is a dash?“.
- Thomas, on the other hand, was the only native English speaker in several Italian companies, including tripod manufacturers Manfrotto, so, while still pernickety, in this specific area he is more likely to resort to a pragmatic “good enough; send it” when in a tight corner.
- Between us, we speak English, Spanish and Italian fluently; Catalan, Veneto, French and German passably. We can and do work for clients in many other countries, and in many cases, we ourselves will translate their content into English. We have a side-project called Diacritico which specifically helps companies with their English-language communications. But since that’s just Andrew and Thomas too, you get all of that expertise even when you contract us as Yes We Work. That’s a trade secret right there.
- Many of our web projects are for multilingual websites. We’re proud of this, despite the headaches that getting CMSs to behave properly with content in many languages causes.
How we started
Yes We Work started in Seville, where in 2008 we met each other and Leon Yates, a motion designer and videographer also living in Andalucia. Our three surnames – Yates, Eagle, Staffell – spelled “Yes” and that seemed a good enough reason behind our name. Leon brought in David Blair, a fellow motion designer based in London. David’s current showreel contains some Yes We Work projects, and Leon is dedicating more time to photography and music videos, but as and when projects require motion graphics or video, we still all collaborate.