The long tale

Once upon a time, I was a ‘web designer’. There were dozens of us, literally dozens. Some obsessed over typography whilst others leant into coding, and explaining what we did to family members was like trying to talk pastry-making with a penguin.

Gradually the club split up to go become UI and UX designers, or front-end developers and engineers. Despite many fond memories of untangling merge conflicts and wondering why docker containers wouldn’t run, I gradually drifted away from coding over the years to focus on my design craft. I helped found a digital agency in Manchester called Bliss and later became their creative director. I also completed a degree in English language and literature and earned my MA in cultural analysis after moving to Amsterdam.

After over a decade creating digital solutions for organisations across a sweeping array of sectors, I joined WeTransfer in 2020 to help the team develop their SaaS offering. Though I continue to find a peculiar joy in the weeds, nudging pixels into places only fellow designers are likely to appreciate, the bulk of my time is spent working with product teams to discover and design for the challenges that millions of people face sending and receiving files from others.

This largely involves identifying patterns and relationships, translating the abstract into the concrete, and refining language and the presentation of information—all whilst drawing on my academic background in cultural analysis to maintain an intensely critical eye on the work we do and the contribution of our craft to people and the planet.

Why I design

I value design that is intentional, honest, and self-reflective. Design that presents fresh and unique perspectives without losing a sense of its purpose. Design that is whimsical but not wasteful.

I enjoy the unintended ways in which things have the power to reshape the humans that use them, the surprising ways function can be derived from form. But form that does not attend to function in the first place is not design.

I thrive in the untangling of complex concepts and the mapping of seemingly anarchic relationships between information and people’s motivation and ability to access that information—the same way people love sudoku and chess (though I’m terrible at both). In short, the introduction of order to chaos.

I believe there are no solutions, as every design intervention unleashes new, often unforeseen challenges. Great products and services are never the result of singular inspiration, but the patient, empathic layering of responses to these challenges in pursuit of an ever-elusive and expanding vision.

From a commercial perspective, I strongly believe that good services sell themselves and that in the long run, products that respect people’s time, attention, and personal privacy will win out over those thirsty to dominate every minute of our lives.

I believe in the inter(re)active capacities of technology to empower the creation, sharing, and democratisation of ideas and information, and admire design’s power to give form, translate, signpost, and extend human potential. The challenges we face are myriad and good design is essential in helping to anaesthetise frustration and alleviate need.

As for what good design looks like, I believe it embodies practices that embrace pluriversal perspectives, strives to discover the problems behind the problems, and know when to say ‘no’. Fundamentally, good design must continually interrogate and redesign itself.

It is around twenty years since I first dabbled with Dreamweaver and Fireworks, but I still know so little and have so much to learn. And to be fortunate enough to wake up every day and look forward to working and learning alongside an intelligent and inspiring group of people is a source of enduring encouragement. That little by little the pixels we push into place impact people in a positive way—that is why I design.

Portrait of Nathan Beck


This site was hand-built (well, hand-coded—it's not like I'm getting dirt on my knees here) using good old-fashioned HTML and CSS (Sass), packaged tidily together using Eleventy and published to the web using Cloudflare Pages. My goal was to keep things super simple and maintainable, without sacrificing visual flair. In that spirit, I also wanted to try building without a single line of client-side JavaScript. All interactions and animations are handled with CSS. To the best of my ability, this site conforms to WCAG and WAI accessibility guidelines.


Fonts come courtesy of Google. I've once again implemented one of my favourite typefaces, EB Garamond, by Georg Duffner and Octavio Pardo. I think it does an excellent job of bringing the richness of Claude Garamont's 16th-century humanist original into the 21st century. Stylish but readable, it makes for both excellent headings and running text, which is what I've used it for. Complimenting it is Wei Huang's super clean Work Sans, which I feel operates well at smaller sizes.


Whilst adhering to the constraints and affordances of the web, I try to draw inspiration from non-digital and non-contemporary sources. For this iteration of my website, I drew on the stunning gradients and light effects found in the work of Icelandic artist Thordis Erla Zoëga, which I discovered at her 2022 solo exhibition at the BERG gallery in Reykjavik.