Ben McKinnon

A Chat with It’s Nice That. Full transcript from a chat between International Magic, the studio behind Dekks and Jyni Ong from It’s Nice That.

INT: Please can you tell us how the technologies and strategies you use, inform your creative platform, content and experience productions?

Technology is as an ever changing, transient phenomenon that simultaneously informs what we do and how we do it. It’s difficult to step back from technology because it has become such an intrinsic part of our everyday lives.

Technology is blurring our experience and understanding of the physical and digital worlds around us. That said, due to the rapid evolution of game changing enablers such as smaller but longer lasting batteries and unlimited cloud storage — we’ve seen the leaps in technological progress become more frequent, albeit less monumental.

Our insatiable desire to experiment and push ideas even further is what leads us to adopt and maximise the potential of cutting edge technologies. – Adam Rodgers, Dekks Team

The strategies we conceive are a direct result of asking ourselves how we connect the dots between what’s happening now, and what the future might look like. It also informs how we pick the right tools to reach our goals.

This approach helps us create a richer, more holistic experience, whether it’s an online platform, content, an experience or a product. How can we make it more human and less artificial, so it feels more natural. It’s these types of questions which result in emergent and non-static strategies which can evolve over time.

INT: How is the way people are engaging with the physical and the digital worlds changing? How are you using this information to create tools better suited to modern life?

We are moving towards a future where people no longer differentiate between what’s happening on their screens, and what’s happening in real life. We don’t mean this in a dystopian way. More in a sense that people care less about the medium, and more about the experience.

Marshall McLuhan, The Medium is the Message. Original Source
Marshall McLuhan, The Medium is the Message. Original Source

Is the medium still the message? Certainly our collective behaviour is largely controlled by the mediums we engage with on a daily basis.

Dopamine inducing and dark UX patterns have become normalised and users mental health has taken a back seat. Creating stress-free environments, unlocked by natural user experiences, are ideas we have been playing with in the studio for a while now and actively try to inject into all aspects of our work.

We recently finished a project for the major exhibition '24/7, a wake up all for our non-stop world' at Somerset House, creating a series of short films which question the drivers of these changes, and how they are affecting our public and private lives.

INT: We heard you are working on your own products now. Can you tell us more about this new app you are working on.

Yes 🤙🏾 Dekks is a next generation presentation engine made for creators.

We all present new ideas, pitch concepts, share portfolios or create mood boards in some way or another and certainly today more than ever before. Our workflows and output frequency have changed completely with the advent of new technologies, however, we’ve been stuck with the same presentation tools from the past.

Existing presentation tools we all use, have technical bottlenecks and simply don’t look or feel good across all platforms, especially for decks that are sent off via email.

Dekks is designed to take the hustle and pain away, and it’s engineered to create and present in a new way that doesn’t suck ✌🏻 – Stefan Endress, Dekks Team

One app that that would let us collaborate with others, embed high-quality images and videos, use custom fonts and share the presentation via a link, rather than crashing the recipients’ mailbox.

A simple but powerful tool that unifies the whole creation and presentation flow from beginning to end.

INT: Please can you tell us more about your DIY approach to bootstrapping a service? What technologies are you using to ensure your team is being super productive?

Dekks was born out of the need for us to pitch for work and share ideas. As the best problems to solve are usually your own, we decided to make a simple proof of concept to validate our idea.

It took us one night to build and solved several problems at once. We received great feedback on our decks and won new work with a digital first approach.

This, combined with speaking to friends, studios and agencies in the industry (including Rob and Alistair from the It’s Nice That team) who were facing similar problems, was the real validation we needed to go on and build something people will want to use.

The best problems to solve are usually your own. – Ben McKinnon, Dekks Team

We kicked Dekks off with a workshop in London where our goal was to define what we wanted to achieve with the app. From there we matched features with benefits, which helped us identify what had to be in the MVP, and what features could be added at a later stage.

We’ve selected a mix of digital tools to power our fully remote and agile team. We love using Notion as our all in one project management and documentation tool. It’s incredibly powerful and gives us the flexibility to create our own workflows.

This diagram shows how users interact with a relational database. Original Source
This diagram shows how users interact with a relational database. Original Source

The relatable databases feature in Notion has been pivotal to our ability to think about Dekks in a logical and organised way. We’ve been looking for something like this for years and it’s been an absolute godsend.

We all work from different cities around the world (Munich, Bath, Glasgow and London). However, we regularly meet up IRL to re-group and plan the next phase of development. There are plenty of benefits to being able to work when, where and how you want — Nothing beats meeting up face-to-face and existing together in the real world.

INT: How has Dekks changed the way you work internally? How do you hope it will change other people’s working lives?

As International Magic grew and more people became interested in our work, we found ourselves creating and sharing presentations more and more. We were drowning in an avalanche of proposals, portfolios, and project updates and it felt like we were always starting from square one, rather than building up a core bank of assets and content.

Being a remote studio working closely together every day, forces us to use the right tools to streamline the workflow as a team. We tried many presentation apps, and sometimes they addressed our needs, however, none of them felt intuitive or enabled us to present with confidence.

4 Cities 3 Time Zones with @intmagicgroup, @thomthomclub, @aplusplus and @032c
4 Cities 3 Time Zones with @intmagicgroup, @thomthomclub, @aplusplus and @032c

We’re building Dekks to have all the tools and features required for teams and individuals to work efficiently together in realtime. We also understand the power of data, and over time will be adding features that improve your ability to understand your audience and create presentations that have maximum impact.

We invest a lot of time shaping our ideas into a format that makes them clear and well presented. – Adam Rodgers, Dekks Team

INT: When will the product be available to use? Where can we find it?

Dekks will be ready in early 2020. If you’d like to grab a seat for the early adopters priority list, you subscribe on and we’ll put you on it ✌🏻

Read the feature on → It’s Nice That