During my career in offering online digital solutions I have always worked to provide custom designed software – in the past I’ve contracted experienced coders to produce software to exacting specifications and to encompass specific needs from the client. Since starting Fish Media in 2003 this continued and we’ve always been about offering bespoke programming with an experienced in-house team. Over the past few years my personal online presence led me toward an Open Source approach when my blog moved to WordPress after thorough research of the blogging platform options available. One of the main hurdles when using Open Source software is the options available for hosting, but with the resources available at Fish Media this wasn’t a problem. We have been using Amazon Web Services since 2009 and this gives us the ability to start up new servers and instantly snapshot them. This meant that experimentation wasn’t an issue and Open Source software and particularly WordPress soon became a viable option to offer to our clients at Fish Media.
I’m now three years into a pretty intensive crash course in hosting, configuring and optimising WordPress under a Windows server platform (Fish Media are a Microsoft technology based company) and I’ve thrown many a challenge at Martin, our Director of Development and Hosting. Jumping in at the deep end I offered a good friend and high profile UK blogger and digital communicator @Documentally experimental hosting of his blog so that we could learn from a real life high use situation. Along the way we’ve learned many lessons, many times during the early days we would receive an SMS alert to our phones in the early hours notifying us that the WordPress server had crashed or had been attacked. On the plus side, WordPress is maintained and updated by thousands of heavy weight coders and security fixes are released quickly but on the minus side the Open Source code is available for scrutiny and therefore abuse.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed learning the intricacies of WordPress and its administration tools. Testing and building a base of plugins and widgets that have optimised and streamlined WordPress to a point where Fish Media were comfortable enough to offer WordPress as a service to our clients. It started with our corporate clients wishing to encompass a blog on the back of their website to ensure the correct URL structures and best practises in Search Engine Optimisation. But over the last few months we’ve started to offer WordPress as a platform for smaller companies and start-ups wishing to have a basic website presence with the ability for them to administer the content.
With the time and money invested into Amazon Web Services and WordPress as a platform we can now offer websites to start-ups for a very competitive price. With this you will get the experience of a group of digital specialists that have been running an established company since 2003 and all of the digital marketing and creative background that comes with this. Of course our main work is still bespoke online software solutions and integrated digital marketing campaigns but we always felt uneasy turning down the smaller companies and local start-ups that really didn’t need weeks of strategic thinking and scoping of their online requirements.
Here are a handful of our WordPress sites that give you an idea of how it can work as a blog or an information based website. We create custom themes when required to ensure a blog will match the client’s website and ensure the right plugins are installed to provide the correct level of functionality and security.
WordPress as a blog:
WordPress as an information based website:
Over the years Fish Media have produced many bespoke E-commerce websites that have catered for specialised requirements such as in-house ticket printing, automated picking and shipping systems and bespoke rental management and booking. Quite often a potential client will just want a simple system to sell a product, take payment and print a packing slip and although our custom code could eat this for breakfast, the bespoke nature and flexibility of the coding meant that the cost for a simple system was too high for the client to consider a bespoke route.
This year we have worked with a long standing client that sells Original Movie inspired T-Shirts online and we have moved them away from a bespoke solution and onto Magento – the Open Source E-commerce platform. Since April we have invested time to learn the hosting requirements of this platform and to build knowledge for its customisation. In August we launched the all new Nerdoh website based on the Magento platform and the client is very happy with the way it’s working and the built in tools available. The site is responsive and displays the products on a mobile device allowing their customer base to easily order on the move. We’re impressed with the platform and look forward to learning more by actively working with Nerdoh to feedback on the frustrations and issues they encounter. This is enabling us to tailor the solution further and become a viable option for us to offer this to new clients wanting to get into selling their products online for a competitive price without the need for bespoke requirements.
What can Fish Media offer you?
Fish Media aren’t going to suddenly drop 13 years of custom development and go totally Open Source – but we do appreciate that it’s not quite the big bad wolf that we once believed it to be. Carefully managed and securely implemented it can be a great way to get you online extremely quickly with powerful features that have been developed by the programming community. These platforms only get stronger with each new release and more and more experienced coders are spending hours and hours of their free time to enhance the platform. I feel delighted that Fish Media now have the option of being able to offer lower cost solutions based on off the shelf software, our time invested in learning these platforms only makes us stronger and not so arrogant in presuming that bespoke programming is the only way forward for our clients.
If you are interested in getting online or updating your site, now is a great time to get in touch with us. We’ll always listen, evaluate and offer the correct solution based on our experience, but if you’re looking to get going quickly and would be suited to the tools available off the shelf then we would be happy to get your company moving in the right direction.