A lick of paint, safaris, sign language... 2019 had it all

By Clare Reucroft | 18/12/2019

December is a lovely time of year. It offers a wonderful chance to take stock and reflect on the past working year. Sigma has been a place of all sorts of positive change, learning and growth in 2019. It was only recently, when the team shared their highlights, that I realised just how much we've done and achieved this year. (And it's too good not to share) …I'll only keep you from the stollen cake for just a few minutes, I promise.

2019 brought us brilliant projects

Across all our clients, we’ve enjoyed collaborating on some really interesting pieces of work.

On mental health awareness and advocacy

Our Mind project team have had a great year. They’ve worked on a range of initiatives, from looking into the organisation’s service design to embedding content governance into team processes.

“The service design perspective is really stimulating. We're being asked to explore, understand, and guide how services are commissioned, set up, delivered, and hopefully made sustainable.

It's complex. It means we have to successfully facilitate work with a multi-disciplinary group, and we're operating with a lot of unknowns and uncertainty. Personally, I find that an exciting place to be.” - Francis Rowland, Senior UX Architect at Sigma

Supporting emergency care services 

We were also delighted to partner with Air Ambulance Kent Surrey Sussex (AAKSS) on their brand new website design. The project team have helped AAKSS in creating great user engagement across the site and ensured a high level of accessibility. With a refreshed donation process and engaging layouts and content, we're looking forward to seeing the boost it brings to this great charity.

“It’s been great to have Sigma on board to help ensure that we can continue to provide this essential life-saving service for people across our region,” - Denise Hooton, Head of Marketing at Air Ambulance Kent Surrey Sussex.

User needs in health research

Personally, for me, I loved workshopping with NIHR BioResource. We collaborated on their content, user needs, and the journeys their users could take, to inform the website refresh work our team was set to do. Particularly though, I enjoyed using holiday photos as a way of thinking about and explaining the contexts that can sit around user needs. I have my lovely teammate Lou Shackleton (and User Story Mapping by Jeff Patton) to thank for that great idea.

Inclusion is for everyone

One of the things I like most about this company, is how incredibly enthusiastic everyone is for accessible and inclusive experiences.

“I’ve loved learning sign language. It’s been great fun, something I hope to carry on and I’m very appreciative of the awareness raised” - Shane Prendergast, Front-End Developer at Sigma

Seven people, with their hands raised, learning to sign

In October, we spent an afternoon learning British Sign Language (BSL) and raising our awareness of D/deaf experiences. A few members of the team went on to do an 8-week introduction to BSL course, where they gained a deeper understanding of the barriers D/deaf people can face.

It was also wonderful to have our dedication to inclusive experiences recognised at Sigma’s group level, with Danny Lancaster named as the Tomorrow Pilot on Digital Inclusion. This group-wide initiative allows a team member to focus on a subject they’re particularly invested in. Over the next 12 months, Danny will be sharing his digital inclusion knowledge and expertise across our different business units.

Aside from raising our own awareness, the Sigma team spread the message of inclusion and diversity of experience far and wide across our client base this year, too. In 2019, we

  • delivered 27 accessibility and inclusion training courses across the UK
  • helped organisations, such as NHS Digital, Stockport Council, Glasgow University and Yorkshire Water, raise awareness of accessibility across their teams
  • produced inclusive design guidelines to help our clients internally promote the value of accessible design
  • joined the Umbraco community in improving the accessibility of the product

A real highlight, however, was when our very own Chris Bush and Molly Watt spoke at the Houses of Parliament on the importance of building inclusive technology.

Out and about 

We didn’t stay at home all year, either. From Service Design in Gov, to CHI, South Africa, Boye 19, UX Copenhagen, UmbracoFest, Camp Digital, to Curio Conf (to name but a few)… the squad was out, making new friends and learning new things.

…Did you raise an eyebrow at South Africa’s mention? I did too (in gleeful disbelief), when the opportunity arose for us to support the Star for Life programme in May, this year. We joined over 800 colleagues, from across the Sigma Group, and visited some of the schools who benefit from the charity. It was a truly inspirational trip, with amazing scenery – and we couldn't go to South Africa, without going on safari! 

Three people in a safari van looking out to an African plain, filled with antelope.

A sunset over hills with antelope in the foreground

Seven people stood together, smiling

Camp Digital was another stunner as well, this year. Yes, that’s totally bias (it is our conference, after all) but if you weren’t there, see for yourself over on the 2019 archive.

Same New digs

2019 got off to a great start for Sigma’s Macclesfield offices. It went from a moderate duckling to a beautiful swan with our office renovations. We have meeting huts now! Bleacher seats! A gorgeous mural of local landmarks! It’s just delightful, let me show you...

A table and chairs with a painted wall mural in the background

A group of people stood around a kitchen island

A group of people stood around a laptop, with a Christmas tree in the background

And finally...

Hands holding a piece of card, with the words "Love is stronger than hate" written on it.

We were delighted to launch a new website for Diversity Role Models, a charity close to our hearts who continue to do great work in schools across the UK. If you don't know of them, perhaps check them out and see if you can donate, fundraise or volunteer to help them next year.

Stollen Cake

And there’s a whistle-stop tour of what’s been going on at Sigma in 2019. If I’d shared everything, I’d have kept you well past Burns Night. What good things did 2019 bring you? Share it with us @WeAreSigma and indeed, we’d love to see you at Camp Digital next year. In the meantime, let’s all get back to the stollen cake.

Merry Christmas and a happy 2020, one and all.