2022: a weird and wonderful year

Some of us finally met each other for the first time because we’ve been working virtually since the lockdowns of 2020. Project/account manager Ceejay and developer Hector met each other and everyone else at a backyard BBQ for all staff in May. Creative strategist Libby met her coworkers at the agency’s AGM in September—but she didn’t meet marketing specialist Morgan till our holiday lunch in December. Their biggest surprise: everyone’s heights. (In video meetings, everyone looks the same size.) Our New Year’s Resolution for 2023: More in-person meetups for brainstorming and building on each other’s ideas while walking around and gesturing wildly, sketching ideas on paper and sticking notes on a wall while letting our coffee go cold. Just like we used to do when we shared office space—but without the daily commute.

Creative director Mike revelled in the creative freedom he was granted by law firm Pallett Valo. To solve their complex navigation problems, they trusted him to invent a totally unique infrastructure design—an intricate spiderweb-like mesh of people, expertise, publications, awards, events, and more – all related and easily interlinked. The result: a great-looking site with a seamless user experience, even on the smallest mobile screens, regardless of what users searched for or how they went about finding it. Part of what inspired him was the card-sorting research groups he’s begun conducting to learn how users navigate sites, and how they go about finding what they need. These sessions are real-world reality checks and always lead to valuable user insights. 

Brent took a “vacation,” working remotely from Mexico for three weeks while managing to cross something off his bucket list: getting his license for open-water scuba diving. It seems that in video meetings, in addition to his shirt, he was wearing swimming trunks and flippers, his oxygen tank and mask within easy reach (and probably a waiter bringing him a margarita just off-camera). Some of our 2022 video meetings were with the Nature Conservancy of Canada and everyone involved in a project to attract new donors. We all needed to know what everyone else was doing to ensure that our efforts were complementing each other’s.

We did something new (for us): We created a digital signage platform using WordPress as a CMS (Content Management System) to keep first responders apprised – in real time – of breaking news, bulletins, and alerts. So the next time you hear a fire engine roaring down the street, there’s a chance we had a hand in dispatching them.

Front-end developer/designer Birdi took advanced courses in UX design and has been putting them to good use: conducting insightful Site Usability Audits for clients’ sites (and those of their competitors) in terms of functionality and communication. Meanwhile, Ceejay somehow managed to complete his MBA while handling his busy KZ workload! In September, the whole agency got a primer on empathy-driven User Journey Mapping in a half-day session led by KZ associate Brian Walsh, who’s done similar workshops for blue-chip clients like McDonald’s, Citibank, CIBC, Sun Life, Air Canada, Pearson Airport, Indigo, Save the Children, and the UN Refugee Agency. We’ve now added him and his technique to our list of services, and have already put it to work for one client.

Offsite Journey Mapping session
Offsite Journey Mapping session: Front to back & left to right: Angela (Finance), Ruth (GM), Rich (IT), Mike (Creative Dir), Hector (Dev/Full Stack), Birdi (Lead Design/Front End Dev), Mary Ellen (Process/Project Strategy), Tomas (Lead Dev/Full Stack – He flew in from BC!) Off-camera: Brent (Prez), Ceejay (Accounts/Projects), Libby (Creative Strategy) & Morgan (Marketing/Creative).
User Journey Mapping Session in progress
User Journey Mapping Session in progress

We learned that we’d won three awards in 2021 on an international agency review site and three more in 2022, this time competing against larger agencies! We never entered any contest or paid any fees. The site rates agencies worldwide, based on their longevity, services, pricing and (importantly) the reviews and star ratings awarded by their clients. Brent still questions the value & legitimacy of awards like these, but he admits that we do stack up nicely against other agencies.

Almost all of us caught Covid at one time or another—up to four times!—thanks to the Omicron variants that kept on morphing. That was a drag, but we ended 2022 with broad smiles and a chorus of Awwws when Birdi became a dad for the second time on December 28th and treated us to adorable photos of his newborn daughter, even before he introduced her to her big sister, age two.

We can’t even imagine what 2023 holds, but we hope it’s as weird and wonderful as 2022!

And we hope it’s a great year for you!

KZ Team