I have been meaning to write a Covid-19 based blog since the lockdown first began in March 2020 in order to get across the steps Wibble have taken to ensure some stability through this tough time.
Like many other businesses, I made the decision to shut the studio in mid-March – just before the general lockdown. We were very lucky, in that we can do our jobs remotely and the team carried on with aplomb.
Our announcement of going remote:
Keeping the Wibblers safe
We returned to the studio gradually after we took steps to do so safely: rota for when staff would be in, perspex screens, hand sanitiser station, using communal areas at different times and a range of other safety procedures.
A few months ago, as numbers again began to rise sharply, I made the decision to close the studio again. It felt like the right thing to do, I wanted to protect the staff, some who had to use public transport to get to work. Since then, we have returned to fully remote.
As a business owner, I have a legal responsibility to keep people safe but on a personal level, I feel a massive amount of responsibility to keep my team safe and healthy. I would never forgive myself if an action I took was responsible for a member of staff getting sick. All of the decisions I made were, first and foremost, for the safety of the staff, not the profitability of the business.
I have to give a lot of praise to the main people behind Wibble – The Wibblers. These folk have worked amazingly well during a hugely disruptive period. They have taken to remote working with ease and there has been no drop in commitment or work ethic. These folk have been amazing and I owe so much to them that we are still in business while others have struggled.
Trading through lockdown
Through nothing other than blind luck, we have found ourselves able to, more or less, continue to work without any major disruption. Ensuring access to our systems with changing IP addresses is a small issue but one that is easily fixed – this has been the only technical obstacle we have faced. We are in an industry that has been, largely, unscathed by the massive upheaval in the economy.
But, we’ve been able to help a number of clients improve their digital offering or introduce an e-commerce facility to allow them to continue to trade while their bricks and mortar store was closed.
Our existing clients have seen the importance of their website and we’ve attracted new clients in significant numbers as they needed to move their offering online. This may be a cliche but I feel we are really helping clients improve their businesses online.
I am very wary about writing a section about our business doing well in the current economic climate. I am fully aware of businesses closing, people getting laid off and reductions in wages by 20+% on the furlough scheme. If I was in the same position, I’d be heartbroken for the team.
Even being in an industry that wasn’t too badly affected, at the start we were all worried about the future of the business and some of the items below really steadied us and ensured we were focused and driven to help our clients.
Atlantic Culturescape Website Win
The project was put out to public tender on the Sell 2 Wales website – an initiative from the Welsh Government helping SMEs work successfully with the public sector. We put together a really in-depth and visually impressive tender and were delighted to win it. It’s a massive web design, development and support project for us and I think it looks amazing. You can view the Atlantic Culturescape site.
Our first client in London
We have been gaining a good reputation for high end managed WordPress services and this drew the attention of London Economics – one of Europe’s leading specialist policy and economics consultancies. They were wanting a reliable and experienced WordPress development studio to migrate, manage and improve their suite of websites – this is exactly what The Wibble Rescue Package is for and we applied it to all of their sites.
Winning clients and projects during the start of the lockdown was a major boost to confidence and reassurance that we should be ok and can continue to provide award-winning web design and development services.
Providing better support for our clients
I’ve always put a huge emphasis on the web support side of the business and I was delighted to take on a dedicated support agent and web developer, Tony Irvine. Tony joined us to improve our support offering and has been an asset to us as we have seen a marked increase on our support requests due to our clients putting a huge emphasis on improving their own websites.
Dedicated project manager
Over the last 12 months, the projects we manage have grown bigger in scale and complexity as our clients really push their own digital presence more and more. This has resulted in Wibble needing to bring on a project manager to help our clients continue to improve. Shane will start with us next week and is a major jump forward for Wibble in terms of project delivery. I’m very proud that we have now grown to a team of 7 – something that didn’t seem possible even a year or two ago. Again, I’m very proud of this.
This year will hopefully see some return to normality, I think things have changed forever but some return would be nice. We will continue to work remotely as long as we want and are in no rush back to the web studio. It will be up to the WIbblers when we return to the studio, not me.
Helping other businesses with web design and development
We’ve been very lucky throughout this process and are proud that we’ve been able to help other businesses stay operating through our range of web design, web development and other web services by our Belfast web design agency. If you need help with your website or digital offering, please get in touch.
Finally, I’d like to say thanks to our clients, families and everyone who has supported Wibble and the Wibblers during 2020. It was a tough year, even in the digital sector things got tougher but we have come into 2021 a stronger and bigger team and I will be forever grateful to everyone that helped us get there, no matter how big or small the help.