How we came about, finding the mothership, and why we decided to make websites for a living.
For over 10 years, we have been designing and building digital products that users love.
SoftShell officially opened its doors late last year, truly born during late nights and weekends after moving to the Far North from Auckland. We are a small team of two, and we have over 10 years of collective experience of working within creative agencies, tech studios, and corporate and startup environments. We have thrived and learned from different management and teams. Now we have our sights set on planting our roots, widen our reach, and improve our craft.
All that time working in studios taught us a thing or two. Like how to tell stories, organize information, adapt to changes, respond to competing demands, and make complex stuff easy to understand — experiences that continue to guide our work today.
A few facts about us:
- Founded in late 2020
- Founded while living in my parents' house
- Started out with two people (Software engineer and Designer/PM)
- Supported and led delivery of over 50 web projects in the last decade or so
- Managed over 40 clients throughout the years - and counting
- Consumed over 300 cups of coffee - and counting
- Our love languages are internet memes, UK panel shows, Reddit threads, and cute puppy videos
- Have mastered the art of chat (usually Slack) gifs and emojis
- We have an 'office' dog, Ted.
We avoid corporate buzzwords as much as we can, but here are the things we actually we believe in.
Like you, we take our work seriously. We put your customers at the heart of what we do, or at least we try to. Our design and development decisions are anchored by one thing: finding the sweet spot between delight and usability for all our users.
So what do we believe in?
Design + Engineering = Magic — We set a high standard to our outputs because ultimately, we believe good design and engineering is a way of life. Years of experience tell us that businesses lose customers due to poor design choices and badly built digital product. Function informs and dictates form - and this is the guiding principle to our work. Creating something beautiful yet thorough down to the last detail is our North Star.
We keep things simple — Our process is this: we stick to what we have seen work for many years and continuously improve those things that we think have not. If we think it's fluff, we call it out. If it's new or flashy or trendy, forget it. Don't expect us to hide our work in technical jargons. We serve humans therefore expect us to think and communicate like one.
We focus on results — We do not aim to be the best in New Zealand or in the North Island. Or heck, even in Kerikeri. But our goal is to consistently deliver outstanding digital experiences and platforms that will stand the test of time (or at least the next 10 years).
Timely shift in the face of crisis
How we survived — and thrived — in 2020, aka the year of Rona, aka the Shitshow.
To say that it’s crazy to build a business in the middle of a pandemic is an understatement. The last thing any sane person with a stable job, a steady income, and a growing set of responsibilities would do is risk everything for the pursuit of a 'successful' venture.
Yet here we are.
The still ongoing public health crisis forced the nation to unite in beating COVID - ironically, by dispersing and isolating themselves at home. This series of lockdowns has brought about dramatic economic, political, social, and psychological impact to us all. There is still a lot of uncertainty both in the market and the workplace, and businesses will do anything to go back to the ‘normal’ we’ve all been used to.
This change led us to rely more on all things digital. Our lives have all been moved to the black screen. If you are a business or an organisation, it is now fundamental that you have a digital platform that represents you: it may be in the form of a product, service, values, identity, culture, voice, and even a face. You have to be as accessible as possible from whatever device people have at hand. That means it is not enough just to have a website, no. It adds the pressure to have an outstanding web presence. You need a digital experience that is thoughtful, always three steps ahead of your customers, otherwise you lose the game. You lose them.
We know that eventually a sense of normalcy will be back, but who knows what's next to come. Our focus now is the future and how we help businesses navigate uncertainty through the use of digital platforms.
Working With Us
We will hold your hand through your digital transformation journey. Metaphorically speaking. (Maybe literally too but it costs extra.)
When we were just exploring the idea of putting up SoftShell, we were thinking we will be part of an ever-growing roster of web studios out there. Just another website design/development team. We scouted the Far North market and have seen the competitive landscape. Even outside the big smoke, it's still quite a feat to make a mark here. In spite of this we saw that there is still a need by businesses for a digital service partner — an experienced bunch who will guide them throughout their digital growth and transformation, wherever they are in their journey.
We are happy to say that we are stepping up for this role and that we are here for the long haul.
We like to partner up with people who likes to put in the hours. Those who are not afraid to test their ideas. The ones who care about what they put out in the world. Because these are the things that resonate to us: the pursuit of value through honest work. Zero Dean couldn't have put it any better: We collect value by contributing value. Our hope is we bring value by us working together.