Nico Macdonald | Spy   Communication, facilitation, research and consultancy around design and technology

Consultancy on design and technology strategy

102 Seddon House
Barbican, London
United Kingdom
[was 103 Seddon House]

 Online map (from Google)


Puts ideas into practice creating real products that can be evaluated, with an emphasis upon clear communication and effective collaboration

Spy consults in the areas of business strategy for the communication industries and for creative organisations, design strategy, and collaboration models, as well as overseeing project implementation.

Business strategy in the communication industries

  • Primary research with stakeholders and customers
  • Researching and proposing business models
  • Evaluating business models
  • Mapping business goals to project objectives
  • Providing ‘thought leadership’
  • Delivering background research and information

Business strategy for creative organisations

  • Advising on design philosophy
  • Evaluating project viability
  • Proposing business models
  • Suggesting project models
  • Developing and evaluating communication and marketing strategies

Design strategy

  • Overseeing and analysing user research, and developing user scenarios and personas
  • Developing the design brief
  • Finding and briefing suppliers
  • Briefing and working with designers and developers
  • Developing a design and evaluation process
  • Keeping project stakeholders involved
  • Overseeing usability, technical and performance testing
  • Evaluating project success and planning future stages

Overall project implementation including collaboration projects

  • Overseeing technical evaluation and specification
  • Initiating effective collaboration and documentation processes, and facilitating interdisciplinary collaboration
  • Facilitating the integration of design and engineering solutions
  • Planning for support and maintenance, and identifying the organisational changes required to support new products
  • Planning, overseeing and conducting training

Current activities

Working with production company and creative agency CC-Lab on collaboration strategy and online marketing. Elements of the collaboration project including shared calendars and contacts, new business development tracking, smart document sharing and standardising templates, presence and instant messaging, internal information sharing via an intranet, external client and collaborator collaboration via an extranet, and remote access to office services. As part of the online marketing strategy the CC-Lab site was re-launched in March.

Continuing advice to the Progress Educational Trust on running the BioNews service.

Past clients and projects

Progress Educational Trust

I advised the Progress Educational Trust on design and technology strategy for the development of its BioNews service, a Web- and email-based source of news, information and comment in human genetics and assisted reproduction. It was launched in 2003 in conjunction with a public event at the Guardian Newsroom.


Advised the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) on its print and online publishing strategy.

BT plc

Co-authored a groundbreaking booklet ‘Broadband: the Ultimate Guide for Small and Medium Enterprises’ (cover) for BT Broadband (now known as BT Total Broadband). (Please contact me with your address if you would like a copy.) I also presented on the subject at BT Wholesale’s Broadband Customer Forum for its ISP customers.

Design Council: Web Design for Business resource

Worked with the Design Council to develop ‘Web Design for Business’, a set of tools to assist Small- to Medium-Size Enterprises to find and evaluate Internet design companies, and to brief and manage the development of online design solutions. Design and production were undertaken by Jack Schulze and Matt&George.

Design Council: online pubishing strategy

In 1999, I was asked to write a document to address the Design Council's strategy for moving publishing of its Design journal online, focusing on stronger, deeper thinking. My document noted that “publishing is increasingly considered to be a two-way process and readers expect to be able to contribute to the debate”, and proposed inclusion of user-generated content, use of XML, diversified delivery of material (including audio), Web-based evaluation tools, and delivery to organisational intranets. I also noted the importance of allocating sufficient resources to the development of tools and processes for maintaining and further developing the site, the challenge of creating an appropriate workflow (and requisite training), and evangelism internally and with external authors (including encouraging staff to include annotated URLs from their research activities). These recommendations are still applicable to many organisations today.

Other clients

I have advised Euromoney Publications, the Guardian newspaper, Haymarket Publishing, Barry Diller’s IAC/InterActiveCorp (formerly USA Networks Interactive), The Sunday Times (News International), the British Film Institute, the Royal Academy, the Design Council, the Crafts Council, Wilmington Group plc, the British Computer Society, and Spiked Online on their on- and offline digital publishing and design strategies. I worked with Nick Knight and Peter Saville to develop the first iteration of Showstudio, and with Creation Records, Alan McGee’s former label, on the implementation of its online strategy.

Last updated:
Nico Macdonald | Spy 2006