Why “Walking Men”?

The answer to our most frequently asked question

animation by Marianne Cassells

Why “Walking Men”? I have heard this question from almost every person I’ve presented Walking Men to for the first time. But what’s in a name? Company names don’t necessarily need to have a meaning. However, Walking Men does have a nice story behind it. Especially if you see that our thinking, way back when we started Walking Men in 2001, is just as relevant today. Even after 19 years, I still find it an amusing tale to tell.

...

In 2001 the internet was an IT thing. And when I told people that we had started an internet agency, they always reacted with “oh so you’re an IT person”. This wasn’t the case at all. Even the complete opposite, as I must’ve been about the least IT orientated person within the industry. In those days indeed, most agencies boasted about their hi-tech skills. Buzzwords were not UX, UI or SEO — it was all about xhtml, css, javascript, dotnet, asp or — God forbid —flash! Me and my fellow founders (there were four of us in the beginning) strongly believed that there was more to it than just code. We were a mix of digital and advertising experts and we all shared a great love for design and believed in the power of beauty. We saw the potential of the internet as a strategic communications channel and decided to make it our mission to make the world wide web a better place.

Then and now

At its birth, the web was a plain place, where beauty was clearly not a priority. Even worse, it wasn’t a very friendly place either. Websites consisted of long monotonous pages, filled with links to other pages that either said nothing of importance, or just way too much, and almost always written in such a way it made people (that’s what we used to call a user back then ;)) flee after a mere 10 seconds. The legendary bounce rate was born. And please don’t get me started on “skip intro”.

“We became convinced that the secret to a great website was linked to empathy.”

Whilst discussing our future plans for Walking Men, we became convinced that the secret to a great website was linked to empathy. The technology was getting all the attention but to us, it was just an enabler. And so we pledged that we would always start a project by first looking at it through the eyes of the people who would use it, as we were confident it would help us create a better product. It has become a second nature for us at Walking Men to get into the skin of the users, listen to them, talk to them, walk with them.

Forget about speed for a minute, the slow notion of walking is absolutely crucial —stop running, don’t rush, it’s okay, don’t skip paces and take every step into account. Every bend or potential choice at a cross-road had to be explored and considered.

And while we strolled with our users, we took our time, observed their decisions, paid careful attention to ask the right questions and took note of their answers. We looked around, we even questioned the destination sometimes. We made sure we knew what we were stepping into.

First floor of our dear current office

For us building a successful website was (and still is) not a purely technical matter — it’s above all a people thing. So we decided to become the preferred walking companion for our clients and to show them how to walk with their users. Hence the name, Walking Men.

And here we are in 2020, where it’s all about the user — we still keep on walking. It’s still fun. It still feels right.

By the way, last year we started a great video series where our team members are walking you around our beloved downtown Brussels neighbourhood — you can watch it here and join us for a walk.

Walk with us

Today, we keep on walking. We are taking you on a tour through our much cared for neighborhood. Walk with us and discover places we love in Brussels.

DRAG

Come walk with us

Stay up to date
with our newsletter

Contact Katelijne to find out

Katelijne van loo

Agency presentation