Posted by Umber Creative 17/02/2020

Meet Luke, our Web Director

Where are you from?

I grew up in the village of Nafferton, near Driffield. My family has lived around Hull and East Yorkshire as far back as I’ve been able to track.

What’s your previous career/education history?

After an abortive career in vegetable peeling for Wolds Village restaurant, I headed to university in distant Scarborough to study a BSc in Internet Computing (where I met our Technical Director, Tom). Days after finishing my studies, I started working in Hessle for a design agency called Lee Creative (where I met our Creative Director, Kevin). During my time there, I learnt to apply my skills in a commercial environment. After four years, I decided to seize the opportunity to start my own business with Kevin. 

Why did you decide to start your own agency?

I’ve always had an interest in running my own business, at school I arranged gigs at a local nightclub and put together compilation CDs featuring local bands. I’d always intended to pursue my own enterprise, but it came earlier in my career than I’d anticipated. 

With the web evolving at a rapid pace, I could see opportunities to do things a little differently, and going it alone gave me the freedom to do that.

What does your role as Web Director involve?

My role as Web Director has changed a lot over the years. In the early days, I was building websites as fast as I could! These days I rarely get to do much code, I spend more time working with clients to understand their problems and propose solutions. When I’m in the office, I help to organise the flow of work for our excellent team of developers and aid in the training of our apprentices.

Where did the name Umber Creative come from?

Kevin and I were slinging name ideas around and we found it hard to settle on anything, part of our skill set is being able to come up with a logo and a brand for clients who’ve often already settled on a name. We’re confident we can make most things work and feel right - this meant that neither of us were too worried about the name. 

In the end my wife, Faith, suggested we drop the H in ‘Humber’. This felt like a nice nod to our city, and as I dabble in painting, the reference to the ‘Umber’ colour also appealed to me. When we work with clients out of town they tend to think the name relates to the colour, whereas our local clients can share in the joke.

Why did this industry appeal to you?

Building websites has always been something I’ve found fun since the early days of figuring out how they worked with geocities site builder and other similar tools in my early teens. This industry is the perfect way to combine that interest in making things work whilst working on lots of different kinds of projects for different clients. 

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I enjoy being able to come up with a solution to problems that clients haven’t considered. Often, people have a preconceived idea of what they need, and often they’re right. However sometimes, there are other opportunities they’ve not yet considered, and it’s very satisfying to pull these all together and see the excitement this can inspire in the client. 

Also, it’s amazing the different kinds of clients that are hidden away on unassuming business units on streets you drive down every day. I’ve visited vineyards, manufacturers of doors for battering ram training, convertible luxury lorry manufacturers, wire rope specialists, soft play designers and tree surgeons. I never cease to be surprised. 

What’s been your biggest fail in the workplace, and what did you learn from it?

Early in my career, I wrote a script to generate a feature for a webpage. It worked well, and the job was completed quickly. But I didn’t anticipate that over time, the script I’d written would take a little longer and a little longer to run each time. Before long, the script was so intensive for the server to process that it would slow down not only that website, but all the other websites on the server...

I learnt that the quickest solution isn’t always the best, and it’s worth taking the time at the start of a job to understand it properly and consider the effects of the solution you’re proposing. Especially when you’re feeling rushed or under pressure.

Where would you like Umber Creative to be in 10 years’ time?

In the last 10 years, Umber Creative has grown from myself and Kevin working in my back bedroom to a really strong team of talented people. In 10 years’ time I’d like to see Umber Creative being run primarily by the staff that have been trained here and still offering its clients plain speaking advice and quality solutions.

Top piece of advice for young people who’d like to enter the industry?

We’ve trained up a few apprentices to date and I think it’s a great way to get into the industry. They learn so much so quickly working on the job. 

You’re making a cuppa. What goes in first... milk or tea bag?

I’m not much of a tea drinker so me making a cuppa is rare enough that the team will gather around to watch. I’ll put the tea bag in first - saves splashing the milk, right? 

What’s your pet peeve?

Goal music at football matches. Who on earth came up with that brilliant idea?

“We need to improve the matchday experience… I know, that bit when we score and everyone cheers is a bit dull - let’s stick on a bit of the Fratellis on the loud-speakers, that’ll liven it up!”

You have £1 million pounds. How do you spend it?

I think we could do with some home improvements, so perhaps a new garage and small extension would be in order. I’m sure I could find something to spend the rest on.

What’s the best thing about running a business in Hull?

Hull is full of practical, hard-working folk. You won’t find many in the city who are happy to waste money on frivolous ideas so you’d best be sure that the creative ideas you offer are worth their salt. 

Hull isn’t glamorous, everyone in the UK knows that. However Hull is spacious, welcoming, proud, creative, practical and honest. Some of these are pretty well-kept secrets to those from outside the area - I honestly wouldn’t swap for anywhere else.

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