July 1st marks the six year anniversary of Parallax. Back when we started out, the only plan we had was to create a bunch of really neat stuff that people found both useful and cool. We’d like to think we’ve made good on that.
Since 2010 we’ve built a number of exciting websites and apps for some extremely high-profile clients. We moved from York to Leeds and opened an office in London. We’ve grown and nurtured our talented team of developers, designers and marketers. We’ve tapped into emerging technologies and played around with cutting edge solutions. Over the years, we’ve massively expanded our capabilities and evolved into a full-service digital agency. We even built our own bar. And yet, there’s still so much more we want to do.
But before we turn our attention to the future though, let’s take a quick look back. That’s what milestones are for, right? So to celebrate six years in the business, here’s six things you (probably) didn’t know about Parallax.
1. We’ve had some rather famous clients.
Our work for easyGym is widely known – we’re really proud of our ongoing relationship with the famous fitness brand. Recently, we were involved with Mattessons’ huge Snackarchist campaign, building them a brand new website in time for launch. We’ve contributed to the serverless recording technology behind the official UEFA Euro 2016 anthem – with an endorsement from David Guetta himself.
We’ve also worked on advertising software for British Airways, Sportswoman of the Year for The Sunday Times and Sky Sports, and an app for Enterprise Car Club. Other big names we’ve partnered up with include Dyson, AMEX, Pure, Hisense, Nespresso and Arriva. (And that’s just the ones we’re allowed to talk about.)
2. We made it onto BBC News.
It’s true. Our ‘Bonkers for Conkers’ campaign for CitiPark (formerly Town Centre Car Parks), was reported by the BBC. A nifty little initiative that allowed customers to pay for parking with conkers, the project was picked up by the Telegraph and International Business Times. It was tweeted by Time magazine and even appears in the game Fibbage.
It’s not the only eye-catching project we’ve created for CitiPark. We created a direct sequel – ‘Bonkers for Conkers 2’ – that featured a live web feed of actual squirrels. We also produced a spoof April Fool’s video to announce a fictional left-handed ticket barrier, and our Braking Badly mini game won Awwwards’ Site of the Day and a feature in their 365 Best Websites Around the World compilation.
3. We weren’t always called Parallax.
Parallax started out life as Snapshot Media. Founded by four friends – Dario, Lawrence, Andy and James – the company actually began as two separate businesses, one specialising in websites and the other in web applications. In true start-up style, it was run from several bedrooms across York. With so much business coming from nearby Leeds, merging together and moving cities was our next logical step.
As the team continued to expand we quickly outgrew our first two offices, so we upgraded to an even larger space here at The Old Brewery. Complete with wooden beams and exposed brickwork, we really started to look the part – but our name no longer reflected who we were. That’s why in 2013 we decided to undergo an extensive rebrand. There was a lot to consider, but we took the plunge and haven’t looked back since. Later this year we’re preparing to unveil the next part of our journey, in the form of an all-new website and an update to our look and feel. So watch this space.
4. We take Hack Days seriously. Sort of.
Every few months we take a day out to turn our attention away from client work and play around with new ideas. This has resulted in some surprisingly fun and inventive projects, including – but not limited to – an Alan Partridge sample text generator, an SVG map tutorial, a time-tracking system for our staff, Facebook starred updates, an AngularJS/ELO system to control our FIFA league, a UI redesign of our Expose CMS system, a bot that controls the music in the office, an OS X headphone detector, a collaborative markdown editor and a Raspberry Pi that monitors beer levels. Oh, and we also hacked the doorbell in our office.
As if that wasn’t enough, we’re also bug spotters. Back in 2013 we uncovered a serious flaw in Chrome iOS – as a result we appeared in TechCrunch, Gizmodo, The Verge, TNW and Cult of Mac. We like to help people out wherever we can. More recently we created an emulator for Facebook instant articles – it’s really useful for testing out what they’re going to look like.
5. We got skills.
The Parallax team features a great blend of talent – from developers to designers, marketers to managers. But aside from all the coding, copywriting and cataloguing, our team also harbours a number of hidden talents. For example, Lawrence is a licensed pilot and flies light aircraft, and Andy F used to run for North Yorkshire. Dario is passionate about cycling and James loves cooking – he once prepared a Thai meal for over twenty people.
We have a number of accomplished musicians. Jack is famous for being the keyboardist in the indie rock band One Night Only, best known for their top ten hit Just For Tonight. As well as representing Parallax at Code in the Dark, Sam is also a drummer in a death metal band, and Oli plays drums, keyboard and guitar. Not to be outdone, Jason also plays keyboard (grade 4). We’re not short on DJ’s either – Mikey’s performed at club nights, forest parties and raves, Adam provided DJ support for Pendulum/Nero and Kirkby not only warmed up for Grandmaster Flash and Coolio but also spun the decks for Princess Beatrice.
There’s more. Tom once appeared on Blue Peter alongside Diane Louise Jordan and Katie – our office manager – used to be a presenter for Lincs FM, going on to produce for national radio. Liam wrote and directed a sitcom pilot, Gaz created a computer game called Vortex Rush and Jamie walked the Coast to Coast (200 miles) in eleven days. Vanessa, originally from Florida, is fluent in Spanish and Swedish. Emir is either a champion poker player or just really good at bluffing. Phil is a pro illustrator, Louis a Snapchat aficionado and Andy C came first in an Alan Partridge themed quiz. Chris – right down to his job title – has chosen to remain a man of mystery.
6. We love a good spin-off. And food. And spin-offs with food.
A number of our side projects have evolved into standalone products and organisations, now successful in their own right. Director James ‘Rio’ Hall first wrote Expose – our content management system – on a TV in his living room. It now forms the foundation of almost every website we build. jsPDF (a HTML5 PDF generator) and vtop (a terminal activity monitor) both came about simply because we wanted to prove they could be done.
Our work for CitiPark spawned Bay Sentry – a software company specialising in car parking season tickets and pricing. We also hold regular meet-ups for Amazon Web Services in our office, and talk at local industry events such as Forefront, Hey! and Glug, not to mention international meetings like Beyond Tellerrand in Berlin and the global AWS Summit in London.
It’s not all tech focused. A bunch of the Parallax team also founded Leeds SOUP, an altruistic volunteer-led project that generates funds for charities in the local community. Meeting every few months, attendees get to sample delicious soup and help worthy causes at the same time. Speaking of food, we’re also supremely proud of our weekly Lunchtime Legends initiative. We’ve found it’s a great way of socialising with each other and taking turns to cook. We’re hoping to once again combine these two passions – food and charity – by expanding the idea out to help the homeless this summer.