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I recently caught up with Andy Hood from AKQA to ask him what he has been up to. AKQA have been working closely with Microsoft on our new User Experience solutions and have a great customer example….


Can you tell us what you do at AKQA?

I lead the Creative Research & Development team here.  This is a team that focuses on rich front-end technology, across multiple platforms – it’s a development team, working in a very creative domain.  We are fortunate to have a team of dedicated people with creative flair and insight, and the development skills to make real the visions of our design team. We are involved right from the outset of any piece of work, offering insight into the latest technologies and techniques available and providing input into the conceptual side before development even begins.  It is a rare thing to find developers who are really aware of the creative side, and it is this synergy of creative and development that defines the team, and is the reason why the team has won many awards over the years.

What makes AKQA stand out in this marketplace?

AKQA is not a design company or a technology company so much as it is an ideas company with the ability to translate innovative ideas into beautiful work due to gifted design and development teams who collaborate from the outset of a project.  AKQA not only has a multi-award winning Creative team, including specialists in motion graphics and user experience, but also a Microsoft Gold Certified team of software engineers and technical architects, which has enabled us to deliver an extremely diverse series of solutions: AKQA created the user interface for the Xbox 360, but also developed and maintain Orange’s e-commerce platform for example.  At the end of the day it is the passion for innovation and attention to detail that have lead to AKQA being declared “Agency of the Decade” and “Agency of the Year” at the Revolution awards in 2006, and “Agency of the Year” by Marketing Magazine.

Tell us about a cool solution you have recently worked on

We have been working with Microsoft on both Silverlight and WPF technologies since the very earliest days of their development, and an opportunity arose earlier this year to develop a prototype Silverlight application for BBC Radio 1 to be showcased during the keynote at Microsoft Mix in Las Vegas.  It was still in beta at the time, so it was a significant challenge to develop this application in only 4 weeks.  The close collaboration of the design and development teams together with an enthusiastic client made the challenge achievable and all parties were extremely pleased with the results – the feedback has been tremendously positive and we look forward to producing more innovative work with this technology.

Where do you see the future of User Experience?

Big question!  One answer, (of many), is that the user experience, and the development of ever more engaging and innovative software user interfaces, will come to define the product itself as the edges of advertising vrs product development become increasingly blurred.  John Maeda, Associate Director of Research at MIT put in very well when he said “Communication itself will be the primary core of consumer products, not the technology.” 

Any “top tips” for users of this technology?

Collaboration – it’s more vital now than ever.  Good development and design teams should work together to create engaging rich user experiences, and learn much from each other in the process.

Any advice for partners looking at this new technology?

Our creative developers were able to pick up Silverlight and WPF as technologies and run with them very quickly to produce proof of concept and prototype apps, there is nothing to be wary about.  There are so many avenues open for help and training, but the best way is to learn by experience.

What blogs do you regularly read?

I would read Richard Leggett’s blog ( or Rick Williams blog ( but given that I sit next to them there isn’t too much point!  The team here are always throwing around the latest news and ideas – I learn more in a day just being around them than I would from hours of sifting through blogs.  Most of them do keep their own blogs, and that practice certainly encourages people to keep themselves informed.

If you weren’t sitting at your desk right now where would you like to be and why? (holiday location)

Las Vegas or Tokyo.   I live in a small seaside town in Sussex but I work in London and spend much of my time in the insanity of big cities, which I need.  In Vegas you would probably find me playing poker in Caesars Palace or The Venetian – I hope Mix is there again next year…


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