This is the first-ever Mogul website. I designed it myself in July 2007. Well, ‘designed’ is not really the word for it. This is what happens when a web company doesn’t have a graphic designer. When you’re a colour-blind, time-poor, non-creative, you just have to stick to the basics.
You can see at the bottom it says ‘Matthew Miller Limited’. A tad narcissistic, perhaps, in hindsight. The company name didn’t actually change to Mogul Limited until 2009. I can’t believe George let that name stand for two years.
I see that we offered a free appraisal. It makes us sound like dodgy antique dealers. At least we had a portfolio. There can’t have been many clients in it, considering we had only just started.
Ah, this is better. Now we even had a tagline: ‘Building Influential Websites’.
It’s amazing what a graphic designer can do. Louis Coyle started when George and I got sick of wrestling with the GIMP and took a punt on our first-ever employee. Louis brought his own monitor and would sit at the kitchen bench while George made us pumpkin soup for lunch. We instantly went from having one of the worst websites in New Zealand to one of the best. We were going places!
I can’t remember if this website was built with WordPress or MODx. Can anyone remember MODx? It was a spectacular CMS, well ahead of its time. Unfortunately it never really took off and it was mown down by the emerging force of WordPress.
The golden age of Mogul. By this time we had moved out of home, into an office, and we were a real company (no longer called Matthew Miller Limited). Everyone in the office was on Gmail, the accounting was done in Xero, and the smartphone revolution was in full swing. This was our last non-responsive website, i.e. it didn’t change its layout to suit small screens.
We had our first serious attempt at branding ourselves when we met Kim Wicksteed, an advertising industry veteran. Our work with Kim led to us repositioning Mogul as a digital marketing agency. The tagline changed from ‘Building Influential Websites’ to ‘Smarter Thinking Online’. We weren’t just builders anymore – we were thinkers. Yeah!
Soon we were Massey University’s digital marketing provider and we even developed our own social media wall, tentatively called Picstream.co (but that is another story).
Mogul’s hipster phase. This was the era of ‘flat’ design and we took it to its extreme with this iteration of the Mogul website. The only things missing are a waxed moustache, a scarf and a copy of On The Road.
This was a time of great expansion for Mogul. We found ourselves travelling to Auckland and Wellington much more regularly. We also became much more export-oriented and the Xero partner network was an opportunity for us to do a lot of websites for forward-thinking accounting firms, and we were fortunate to attend Xero conferences in Sydney and San Francisco. Our 5th birthday party was held at the Pipi Bar in Havelock North and what a superb occasion it was.
Louis reasserted himself as a true master of web design with the bleak, brutalist ‘black website’. An intense, brooding response to the busy sloganeering of the preceding hipster aesthetic, this was the website design that accompanied the new ‘batwings’ logo (or are those cat’s ears?).
The black website represented a company that was increasingly at ease with its place in the world. Two SaaS products – Layercake and Strea.ma – were on the market, Nick Egerton from The Icehouse was consulting for us on how to scale the business without breaking it, and we were working with customers as diverse as The Rugby Site and The World of Wearable Art.
The only problem was that we were still in our shoebox-sized office in Treachers Lane, Havelock North and cabin fever was setting in. Even having four pubs (Diva, the Rose and Shamrock, Turk’s, and the Loading Ramp) within a stone’s throw of our front door was wearing thin. We needed space and lots of it…
Wow, where did ten years go? The black website has been replaced by a brand new white one and Mogul suddenly has 13 people working in a converted warehouse that is big enough to park a Boeing 747. We’ve got grown-up job titles like Agency Lead, Customer Success Manager, Marketing Manager, Design Team Lead, and Office Dog. The kitchen bench seems like a long way away now.
Strea.ma has been used by more than 2000 brands worldwide and Mogul collected the Small to Medium Size Business Award at the Hawke’s Bay Business Awards, as well as making the finals of the Hawke’s Bay Export Awards.
Somehow, George, Louis, and I are still working in the business. We sit up against the back wall like the senior All Blacks on the touring bus, mentoring the team and regaling them with stories of the epic team days’ we had before they started, and giving motivating(?) speeches on the exciting game plan we have mapped out for Mogul’s future.
Matthew Miller – Founder & Director