The first four months at my UX subscription agency Lightning UX

Michael J. Fordham
4 min readNov 13, 2023
Lightning UX, an on-demand UX subscription for startups.

A little while ago, I shared that I was starting my own on-demand UX agency:

I wanted to see if this was a service that could help startups and solo founders build better products which are suited to the world they’ll come into.

Four months later, I’m really pleased with the progress that’s been made.

Right now, Lightning UX is working with three fantastic, innovative clients who are all determined to make the world a better place. And we’ve been helping them do that.

From assisting people to find the time to meet up with their friends, to using AI to help managers get support at the right moments, the work has been varying, interesting and also helped push me out of my comfort zone sometimes.

For example, in the last month, I have been learning how to animate micro-interactions in Lottielab to solve complex usability problems with clients:

It’s also helped me realise something that I had been wondering for some time; where the highest value is in terms of the product-creation process.

So much investment, time and energy is often put into developing something first and designing for user needs second. Fundamentally, this is wasteful — and investing in design from the beginning pays off.

That isn’t to knock development. I’ve been a developer for many years. But from a product perspective, it makes no sense to develop before you really know what people need, in my opinion.

And that important step of discovery is something I’ve been helping my clients with.

For example, just in the last few weeks I conducted and analysed a set of usability sessions which identified two major points of friction in a product. And from that, the user journey’s been rethought slightly, with a fix already on the way.

That sort of thing is invaluable to a startup trying to go toe-to-toe with bigger companies.

On top of all that, with every client I’ve delivered them a new Webflow site which better represents their brand — while also engaging and converting users better.

Waggle wanted a revamp, and it was delivered in weeks. No extra expense, it was all included in their subscription.

There are two more Webflow sites in the pipeline, likely weeks from public release which I’m really excited about.

But it’s not just the work that’s going well.

When I started Lightning UX I wanted the company to have a positive impact on the world. So I made sure a percentage of our monthly revenue goes towards solving the problem of climate change.

So far, together with my clients, we’ve been able to remove the equivalent CO2 of a car driving around for two and a half months from the atmosphere.

I am already thinking of how Lightning UX can support other great organisations on a regular basis.

So, where from here?

To be honest, the story will be the same for a little while.

I cap the number of clients on board to ensure they all get high-quality design assets as quickly as possible.

The waitlist is currently open on Lightning UX, so if you’re interested in getting some UX design support for your business feel free to add your company to the list. Additionally, I’m always happy to have a quick chat about your business.

From my perspective, I want to add more existing and new work to the site so prospective clients can see what to expect. But when you’re at capacity, sometimes that sort of thing takes a backseat!

For now, it’s heads down and focusing on quality design for our existing clients.

I’m excited to share my next update already.



Michael J. Fordham

Software engineer interested in the future of innovative UX. I mainly write about design, development, data and AI.