This year, UX studio turned 10 years old. The following lines are written with a strong bias of nostalgia and my gratitude towards all the people who made UX studio a special community, a hub for our professional passion, and a source of inspiration. Happy birthday, UX studio!
2013: The early days
All the fun started with one guy thinking differently about digital design, at a time when we all just did web design, and we didn’t have our 1st smartphones just yet. And now, here we are. UX studio is celebrating its 10th anniversary, and there is a high chance you are reading this on your mobile, a device we already started designing for even before we had one ourselves.
But what was different about this particular tiny agency that grew rapidly from its one-man show setup? In the heart of Hungary, we just started to read about ergonomy and user-friendly design. Proper UX research was not yet a standard practice. And even though I heard about the Design thinking process, I didn’t know anyone who actually practiced it.
But UX studio did.
I believe the foundations were put down by the first designers and researchers who joined UX studio in its early years. Our flat company model at the time enabled the first joiners to shape the company together. Regardless of when someone joined, they received support from the existing members and they grew together as a professional community. Those who joined later (including myself) “inherited” the values that we all share today and could (and still can) contribute with their uniqueness, adding individual building blocks to grow into a better team.
2014: Product design course
As knowledge sharing was a driving force across the team, we started our Product Design course early on. Approximately 310 people attended the course over the years. We facilitated 13 courses in a row. One in each semester starting in Autumn 2014, until the Pandemic interrupted our nice sequence in 2020. The format may have changed a bit, but we still offer Product design trainings, Design Sprints, and Product design courses tailored to businesses.
The massive knowledge-sharing activities made UX studio quickly known in the local UX community. I distinctly remember my first impression when I came across their name: “These people are doing something special and valuable, and I want to be part of it ❤️.” However, at that time, I was busy working on my startup as a co-founder, so this feeling endured for another 1,5 years. But what a coincidence! Our incubator ended up moving into the same building and the same floor as UX studio’s small one-room headquarters, bringing me closer to them.
2015: Going international
The dream of having international client partnerships seemed ambitious back then. Still, it all began with the bold decision made in Budapest, Hungary, with a team of 10-12 people. The first version of our English language website seems awfully old school now 🙈, still, it was our very first milestone. Since then, we’ve worked on products from all over the world, from the East to the West and beyond. We conducted research for Netflix and supported startups in the Google incubator. We made an impact in challenging industries, from cybersecurity to healthcare, and we took the challenges of fintech solutions to logistics.
2016: Our book
I remember joining the company when the very 1st copies of our book were delivered to our apartment office in the summer of 2016. I was super excited to move to Budapest and start my first collaboration working on a product in logistics. From then on, I have had the opportunity to learn about various domains and businesses that I might have never come across otherwise to train my mind: energy efficiency solution for small- and medium enterprises, content ID detection in the streaming industry, flight comparison in the travel sector, cybersecurity and ethical hacking, enterprise CMS solutions, and e-commerce and sports nutrition…. and so on.
It has been a rapid and intense learning curve since then. But whenever I faced professional challenges, the UX studio hub was there to support me. The premise of being part of a special professional community was a driving force for me, and so was witnessing the early success story of our book, The UX design.
Publishing the first edition of the book in Hungarian was essential as there was not much related professional content available in our native language at the time. The book covered all the basics of our design and research process and also served as supporting material for our Product design courses. One year later, we also published it in English, and now the remaining 1-2 copies are proudly exhibited on the shelves of our current office.
2017: Our products
I suppose that when you build successful products for others, it’s inevitable to eventually start considering building your own. We’ve gained a wealth of knowledge, not only in UI/UX and Research but also in thinking strategically about different businesses. We worked with products in different stages, with different financial backgrounds, and many times, limitations. Throughout the projects, we followed their struggles and successes and did our best to support them with our expertise. Our role wasn’t just about pushing pixels but shifted towards product design, maneuvering between business needs and end users.
First, we experimented with concepts, tiny MVPs such as “Marky”, a transcript app just one step ahead of the public explosion of voice recognition technologies. We wisely let that go in time, but it was a nice experiment with some learnings.
From there, we began seriously considering our own product initiative and started analyzing the pain points of our own community. There was a space that resonated with us, a problem we could grab with enthusiasm: we started building UX folio, a no-code portfolio builder tool for our peers in the UX field.
Six years later, as I’m writing this, UX Folio helps 138 277 UX professionals document and showcase their work in a fraction of the time, bringing them closer to finding their dream jobs.
2018: Rapid growth
As the team grew, we needed more space and also more structure. We moved to a new office and introduced the Studio Lead position as a full-time professional support for our researchers and designers. It was a milestone. Since then, we’ve had 8 Studio leaders as it is a rotating position, an opportunity for our professionals to try themselves in a leadership role, being a bridge between our business and our services.
Professionally, we deep-dived into some new areas that extended our toolbox, facilitated Ethical design workshops for clients, and started putting effort into our UX writing skills.
I have fond memories of 2018 as a year filled with in-person kick-offs and workshops in illustrious cities around the world. I was fortunate to have a dream team all the way long. ❤ Some of my colleagues flew to Dublin, Switzerland, and Japan…Then we enjoyed all our retrospective knowledge-sharing sessions and the enormous advantage each face-to-face occasion added to our collaborations.
2019: Flag projects
I started 2019 with the news of expecting a baby, so I am sure my narrative of the following two years was very different.❤ I had some great projects and a supportive team, and then I took a career break to welcome my baby girl in September.
What I can tell for sure is that in 2019 UX studio was attracting major Fintech and Travel businesses. We also started our collaboration with the most eye-catching names in our portfolio (wink wink). Our researchers worked on a major streaming platform, and we also explored the opportunities of video-based shopping experiences for one of Google’s incubator startups.
We introduced our new UX Audit and Expert review services, which are still favored by our new prospects. These trial services are a great way to show our expertise and value and provide a glimpse into our processes.
In 2019, we also expanded our product lineup with Copyfolio.
With over 40,000 users today, Copyfolio is designed for professionals working with texts and content – from copywriters and social media specialists to journalists. Similar to UXFolio, this product also speeds up the portfolio creation process, serving as a homepage to showcase all the works that one is proud of.
2020: The year of changes
I bet 2020 is still memorable for everyone, as the Pandemic forced us to rethink the way we work. It brought significant changes in the professional sphere, some of which we covered in our articles. For example, we discussed its impact on UXR practices, ethnographic research, and remote work in general.
To maintain our company culture of close relationships and knowledge-sharing, we restructured our designer and researcher teams into small squads. This experiment evolved into professional teams that still serve as a support system for our colleagues. One of the biggest changes at UX Studio was our embrace of remote work and going hybrid. Although our headquarters remain in Budapest, we now have colleagues from all over the world.
Now, with 60+ team members from 16 countries, our multinational composition adds value to our work culture and provides a broader professional and personal perspective. Our Culture quilt concept work in 2023 celebrates that diversity.
2021: Designing for positive impact
The year I rejoined the team was pretty intense. I was busy mentoring newcomers at the studio and supported the Studio Lead back then, the wonderful Laura. As a new parent, I can’t be more grateful for her and the studio. The flexibility and support they provided helped me get back on track. (See my related LinkedIn post about parental benefits at UX studio).
There is one project that I would highlight from this year, as it is close to my heart. My colleagues started their redesign work on Revolution Robotics, an educational robotics platform for children aged 8-13. The excitement of following their professional challenges sparked the idea to collect our UX studio knowledge about designing digital products for the youngest generation. In 2023, we co-organized a meetup focusing on this topic.
As I look through our works, they all resonate with the mission the team set in 2021: Continuous learning and knowledge sharing and making an impact through smart design.
We still have a long partnership with a large NGO that provides food assistance for people in need worldwide. We did pro bono work for the National Institute of Environmental Studies, and we started our journey in Inclusive design.
2022: The Red Dot Award
2022 was a year of growth again. We expanded our team to 60+ employees and established new long-term client partnerships. One of them is our still ongoing collaboration with Nanoleq, where we are working on the digital solution for their breathing wearable. We are especially proud of our work with the OXA team, as it also won the Red Dot Award 🎉 Our colleagues did an amazing job and we cannot be more proud of them.
As for the team, we made some important changes. We added an additional Studio Lead position to our leadership team and restructured our squads to have specialized designer and researcher teams, allowing for more focused professional development.
You may be familiar with the saying “the shoemaker’s shoes” 🙂
In 2022, we began revamping our own website and the overall look of UX studio for the next years. Sticking with the origins but giving it an up-to-date touch. This has become an ongoing task since then, and now we have an amazing team dedicated to reimagining how we present ourselves to the world.
I have to admit that 2023 was a tough year, and I can’t wait to start 2024 with the optimism of the new year. The macroeconomic environment has been challenging us all through the year, also our clients’ businesses. We are doing our best to support our partners with our top-notch talents and help them react to market changes with speed.
Throughout this year, we also did a lot of self-reflection. We are focusing on making our organization better by improving our processes and promoting better alignment and future planning within our team. We moved to a new office, and as I’m writing these lines, we are still busy unpacking and assembling chairs 🙂
In addition to these efforts, we have undertaken several initiatives simultaneously.
- We have launched our brand new product, Ranking Racoon, an ethical marketing tool for SEO professionals. 🎉
- We conducted product concept experiments, including the previously mentioned Culture Quilt card game. This game aims to encourage cross-cultural communication, which is crucial for our international team working with clients from around the world. Developing Cultural Intelligence is an important skill that we actively focus on.
- We finished our Research Repository book that consolidates our knowledge to help product teams in leveraging past and present research work and research insights. Stay tuned and wait for the public launch!
- We got to know the amazing Signcoders team. Their inclusive training inspired the product concept of Korero, an AI-powered app that conversations with the hearing-impaired community.
- We supported several UX meetups, such as the portfolio event, and also co-organized the “Designing for the younger generation” occasion. Find the event video here to see our experts in action.
- This year, we organized eight Open office events to invite professionals and share our knowledge on Inclusive design, Prototyping, Feedbacking culture, and Typography.
… and I bet I might have missed many from the list.
Our shoutout Slack channel is full of grateful collaboration stories which tells me that we will start 2024 with the spirit of relentless optimism and perseverance to our values and work culture.
Thanks to all the people who have ever worked at UX studio. Each of you added a touch to the company so it could become what it is today. Thanks to all those who bear with us and continue our journey together! Happy B-day again! A lot is yet to come.