As you all know (!) Barn2 Media is now a leading WordPress web studio, run by myself and my husband Andy, from our offices on Dartmoor in South Devon.
When we started the business in 2009 - although Andy was an experienced web developer and I had a strong background in marketing and project management - we had never run our own business before and approached things quite tentatively at first. Because of this, our first websites were for small organisations and local businesses.
Our first website was North Road West Medical Centre, a GP's surgery in Plymouth (Update: this website is no longer online!) This was in early 2010. They were interested in our services because my mum was head GP at the surgery, so it was a great opportunity for us.
The aim of the website was to promote the surgery and raise awareness of their services. It needed to present them as a leading local GP surgery and a valuable resource for existing patients, as well as encouraging new patients to sign up.
Although there was no specific requirement to use WordPress, we did some research and discovered that it was an ideal platform for building this kind of site with an easy-to-use CMS. Even better, it would allow the staff at North Road West Medical Centre to update the website themselves rather than having to ask us to make changes.
Although this was our first website, the project was not entirely straightforward and included a range of requirements:
- Designing a logo which would create a new brand identity for North Road West Medical Centre
- Designing the website from scratch and creating a custom WordPress theme
- Doing a keyword analysis to identify the most popular search terms for GP surgeries in Plymouth
- Writing the copy for each web page and ensuring the website is search engine friendly
- Adding all the content to the website and formatting it in a professional way
- Creating a custom Google map showing the surgery’s catchment area
- Working with a local professional photographer to get professional images of the surgery and staff members
- A custom template for The Team pages
- Custom header images for each page
Three years later, North Road West are still using the website and continue to be delighted with it.
We are very proud of our first website. Looking back, the design still looks modern and professional and is not dated at all. It may not as flashy as some modern designs, but I think it has stood the test of time.
The logo is particularly good and I still like the way it makes use of a compass pointing to North and West in a subtle way.
I’m also proud that we used WordPress for our first project as it enabled us to create a robust website that was scalable and could grow with the client’s business.
As well as allowing us to design a great website for North Road West Medical Centre, discovering WordPress turned out to be the launch pad for our successful business. As we became more experienced in WordPress, we discovered a gap in the market for skilled WordPress developers. This enabled us to attract clients across the UK and move away from our roots of small business web design.
If we were to design the same website today, the main thing we would do differently is not to create the design ourselves from scratch. Instead, we would either use a premium WordPress theme or commission a professional designer to produce a design for us to build in WordPress. We can create good design, but it's not one of my (or Andy's) strongest areas and it takes us a long time to get it right, which is not very efficient. Over time, we've learned to focus on our strengths and build partnerships with people with different skills rather than trying to do everything ourselves.
All in all, the North Road West Medical Centre website was a great start for our business and we are very proud of it.
This post is our entry for the 123-Reg My First Website competition.