The new Unthinkable

Unthinkable has changed a lot as a company, and we thought it was time for our brand to catch up with us.

We started life in January 2010 as Unthinkable Consulting, an agency focused primarily on digital strategy. 2013 was a big year for us, in which we saw a digital strategy through to delivery for the Serpentine Galleries, managing the design and build of their new website. At the same time, we generated the product vision for the new learning platform FutureLearn, creating its delivery plan, helping to put in place the product team that would launch the website in September of that year and setting up the content operation for getting courses from universities on to the platform.

While our work for the Serpentine made use of our production skills, our work for FutureLearn took us into a different kind of territory, that of helping to establish a new digital startup. We’ve been at the centre of the action during FutureLearn’s growth from a small team with an idea to an established digital platform with more than 3.5 million users. In the process we’ve honed our understanding of the rhythms and dynamics of platform growth.

Since then, while we have continued to deliver research and digital strategies for clients, we have also seen through the design of prototypes and services as diverse as a pilot platform for social innovators, an interactive prototype of a personal biography tool and a toolkit for organisations to work with creative artists with learning disabilities. And we’ve been helping FutureLearn create courses, putting into practice what we have learned about learning design from so many great university colleagues alongside our own production experience gained in our BBC days.

Needless to say, Justin and I could never have done all this work on our own, so we have been gradually expanding our network of associates, pulling in experts who we know and trust to help us on these projects, whether that’s Roland Taylor and Dharmesh Rajput to share their production skills on FutureLearn Studio, Lorna Palmer as research analyst extraordinaire for the BBC and FutureLearn, Paul Finn as our design thinker for the Serpentine Galleries, Ashley Elsdon to lend us his music technology expertise on SoundLab, or Carl Draper to bring his brilliant product mind to the complexities of engaging with social innovators for GCU, to name only a few.

We are also delighted to announce that, as of today, Emma Hutson, a fellow strategist and expert in broadcast and the arts, will be joining Unthinkable as an Associate Director. We’ve worked with Emma for several years in projects for the BBC, IRC and FutureLearn, and look forward to collaborating with her in many projects yet to come.

Of course, strategy remains central to our work. We are not and will never be simply a web shop, and the implementation work we’ve done has always been grounded in a process of bespoke strategic thinking for our clients. And since strategy remains central for us, we felt that it was high time we took a taste of our own medicine and applied some user-centred digital strategy to ourselves. The result of that process is our new brand and the website that goes with it – for which thanks go particularly to Paul Finn and Rebekah Ford for their flair and patience in working with us to capture and channel who we are and what we’ve become into some lovely design and code.

We’re also committed to doing something that we’ve struggled to prioritise alongside our client work, and that’s to do more of our thinking in public again, sharing our take on the subjects closest to our heart. We’re starting this month with a focus on designing the best physical/digital learning experiences (starting here). Please follow us, keep in touch and let us know when we’re getting it right and when we’re getting it wrong.

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