We have decided to move our UK offices to Brighton from Hastings, because Brighton has become a major hub for UX in the UK. It has the advantage of two Universities in the immediate area (Brighton University and University of Sussex) which both teach Human Computer Interaction; the cost of living is lower than London; local interest is fostered and sustained by local groups such as UX Brighton and it has excellent national and international transportation links. This latter was a particularly winning point, since we need easy access to the airport; we have clients spread across Europe, our head office is in Ireland and our R&D is carried out in Portugal.
Recently the Economist magazine had an article about the success of what they call ‘Silicon Roundabout’ in Shoreditch in East London. Very near to it,13 years ago, I initiated my first start up. The attraction then was the manageable rent whilst being near to the centre of London. Since then rents in the area have gone up, moreover hiring people in London is expensive not only because of high living costs, but because of the draw of high paying jobs in finance in the City. Being situated in ‘Silicon Roundabout’ is still necessary if you need to raise Venture Capital, since Venture Capitalists are famous for not travelling more than 5 miles. However we no longer need them.
We first started to come to Brighton because of UX Brighton. This started when a small group of like minded people decided to meet up for a talk every month. A year ago we helped Danny Hope, the founder of UX Brighton to put on a special event about Remote Usability. It was a roaring success so this year (2010) we helped him mount a full blown conference,UX Brigthon 2010, which was held in September at the University of Brighton. Meeting so many interested people has shown to us that there is a vibrant UX community in Brighton.
Brighton has many design firms that sign up to the User Experience mantra, like CogApp and ClearLeft, however in pure User Experience research there is really only one other firm in Brighton, Vertical Slice, that specialises in games research.
Photo from neilhooting