Posts tagged design
Launching Hagstromer Macksey

This spring, Michelle quit her job to launch her own start-up. She teamed up with Helena Hagströmer and together they launched Hagstromer Macksey — a creative operations consultancy. In essence, they help online retailers with strategy, planning and production of content. “Don't worry if it takes a few months to get everything up and running”, I advised. They signed their first deal after 5 days.

My small role is helping out with technology and design. I have a few guiding principles when it comes to designing for small companies in the early stages:

  • Done is better than perfect.
  • Consistency beats perfection.
  • Credibility is created from a series of consistent, positive experiences. You show up on time to the meeting. You have business cards (despite no-one actually using them). You have a web site that matches the business cards. You have an active Instagram account. You follow up after meetings (the style of the email footer matches the business cards). You appear in business press — the message matches what you said in the meeting. Etc etc. All these little interactions create credibility over time. After 10 positive interactions or so you may just get hired.

With this in mind, we got to work.

We tried a few different logo ideas and landed on something simple, but usable. Easy to work with in different formats. Modern but timeless. Recognizable enough. 


We implemented the logo and color scheme in different formats and it worked really well. We combined it with Apple's San Fransisco font (great font, default font stack on Macs which serves us well on the web, available for free). Here's how it looked in an early pitch deck:


Then it was time to create the business cards. I found a printing studio that didn't hate me for knowing nothing about print. I showed them my Sketch file and they helped me get the settings right.

IMG_2076 3.jpg

Helena and Michelle set up the usual social media accounts, but focused especially on Instagram, since it's an extra important channel for online retailers. They quickly created an interesting feed and found a visual language. They post Instagram stories almost every day. 


We launched a web site on day one. Michelle and Helena wrote the content and I designed and programmed it during an 8 hour delay at Faro Airport.

We set up G Suite for the organization. It may seem like a boring detail but it adds to the credibility of the company. Being able to send proper meeting invites and share documents makes the company look more professional and established.


We've taken a bunch of photos for Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, press releases etc. The company's visual style is quickly beginning to take shape.

On launch day, Michelle and Helena sent out a press release. Some of the most relevant business press in Sweden picked it up and ran stories about the new company.

An alternative sign-up form for Facebook

Last week, I launched


I shared it on along with the following comment:

“Most people don't see the problem with giving lots of private information to a large company like Facebook so I created a website explaining some of the privacy implications. I've tried to be factual and link to sources.”

I've tried to be very clear that this is an attempt at writing a neutral guide to Facebook's data collection policies. It's not a part of #deletefacebook or similar movements. (I'm still on Facebook.) 

The web site doesn't have any tracking scripts, but judging by the HTTP requests to the server, the site has had roughly 25 000 hits this week. It's the number one story this month at DesignerNews and it's been shared on HackerNews, Reddit, and Twitter.

Fork it on GitHub:

Web Design Memory Lane

One day, out of the blue, my best friend showed me 2Advanced's website. We were both blown away. We didn't really know what we were looking at or what 2Advanced was, but we knew it was cool as hell. It was a web site that turned you into Ethan Hunt, just by looking at it. It blinked, faded, flashed and everything else that Flash could possibly do at the time.

I wanted to make stuff like this.


I spent a lot of time making animations and UIs in Flash, but eventually got tired of it and moved on to HTML and CSS. Bartelme Design, a design studio run by Wolfgang Bartelme, became my new design obsession. Every little detail was in the right place. The colors were crisp and punchy. It had gradients and reflections that gave the web site life. It had cool, photorealistic elements like bubbles and grass. It was pixel-pushed to perfection.

Imitating Wolfgangs work taught me the ins and outs of Photoshop — especially the Shapes tool and the Layer Effects window. I learned to work with light sources and reflections and to imitate different materials. 

Soon thereafter, I discovered 31Three, a one-man digital studio run by Jesse Bennet-Chamberlain. Jesse created beautiful web sites that balanced typography, layout and visual effects perfectly. It had a level of sophistication that I had never encountered before on the web.


One my favorite items i Jesse's portfolio was this design for Campaign Monitor. After discovering it, I was unable to unsee it. This was good design, period. For the longest time, everything I did was blue and green, had a MacBook Pro in the splash and featured a punchy sans serif headline with an italic ampersand as the last character in the first line. You're welcome, clients.


Unlike me at the at the time, Jesse was really good at tailoring his designs to his clients' brands. I was amazed that the same person who created the cool all-caps-gotham buttons for Campaign Monitor were also able to design this elegant design for piano maker Steinway & Sons.


Jesse's designs taught me that web design was about more than just making cool buttons — it was about understanding that each client is different and that each site should communicate the client's brand, not the designer's personal style. I desperately needed that lesson.

Jesse also knew how to bring energy into a design. I would constantly revisit his design for Fitbit and marvel at Jesse's mix of turquoise and pink. This was before color theory was a big thing in web design circles so the color decisions in his designs seemed like black magic to me.


Later, while devouring typography books, I discovered Jason Santa Maria's work. Jason drew a lot of inspiration from print design. In this lecture, he talks about how disappointed he was to see imaginative print layouts become boring, default-layout articles when published online.

To prove his point, Jason created a series of articles on his web site, all with unique layouts, each tailored to the content and theme of the article. I have a large folder in my Dropbox with half finished, over-designed imitations of these.


When starting my own web agency in 2011, I dreamt of creating a Scandinavian Happy Cog. To me, they represented what web design should be like. They knew the rules of typography, layout and color so well that they could break them and still look good while doing it. Their designs broke out the traditional 960 grid and their headlines mixed fonts and sizes in creative ways.



The rest, as they say, is (modern) history. Responsive, mobile-first, atomic, flat…

Today, as I — and the rest of the design community — talk product design and design systems, I can I can find traces of all of these early designs in my work. All the stuff that I've stolen, refined and made my own is still very much present in my Sketch, Figma and Framer files. Thanks for the inspiration everyone.

(Ps. Please steal this blog post idea and share the stuff that shaped you as a designer.)

Mårten Björkdesign