Oliver Payne

Behavioural insight & comms consultant

1998-1995 Amaze

What music do you like?

I first met Roy Stringer (1956-2001) in July 1995 when he interviewed me for a design job at a digital start-up called Amaze. I was in a room full of computers with a few of my friends. They worked for Amaze. I think it was about 5 people strong in all, maybe 10. I was due to speak to Roy, but no time or place had been specified. He strode into the room, saw me, and asked me loudly what sort of music I liked. I’d not interviewed before (I’d barely left University) but this felt a little ‘unique’ to say the least. I told him I liked Big Band music, and Kylie Minogue. It was a lie, but how else do you respond to such an oblique interview technique?

I got the job.

From there on in this little company in Liverpool was one of the best proving grounds you could wish for. In my three years there we grew to 50+ strong. Our work was a wash of hypermedia, navihedrons and pure exploration. Ted Nelson - the inventor of hypermedia - was a close friend who gave us his time. One of the young designers I worked with on a website a few weeks into the job - me doing graphics and him doing HTML - is the world-renowned digital designer Danny Brown. It was HTML 1.0 in those days too. Look it up, it’s so brilliantly simple.

We worked on Everton Football Club’s first ever website. Andre Kanchelskis was being transfered from Manchester United while we were there too. It was all very exciting. I say ‘we’. There was our company Chairman (prob about 15 employees total by then), a programmer, a designer and me - talking to the Chairman of Everton FC. About this ‘web’ thing. We knew nothing. And we weren’t alone.

It was a brave new world.

So we designed it, built it and shoved it online: That was a success in itself. “Build it and they will come” was the mantra in 1995. They did too - the philosophy worked in those days!

I took on the responsibility of keeping it going; I set up a deal with the local paper to use their football reports (for free, or course); I found software that made anagrams, and software that morphed images (that was a quite a task in 1995) so that I could make quizzes for the fans. Of course, the news reports were on paper so had to be scanned - And then translated into digital text - And then checked - And then wrapped in HTML - And then uploaded via FTP.

I did all that.

I also went on live radio as an ‘expert’ in multimedia. Anyone who was working commercially in those days was an expert: even if they were fresh out of University and barely 23 years old.

The next three years were a blur or design, programming, presentations, project management, deal making, and managing a relationship and the creative output of a fledgling relationship between Amaze and an advertising agency in Manchester called BDH.

Everton FC’s first website, 1995 »

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Immunology CD-ROM »

I creative directed, art directed, designed, built and coded the translation of the document into an engaging learning environment. Bought-in, managed and briefed illustration, outsourced complex lingo programming. Delivered project on-time, on-budget and far in excess of client expectation [...]