2001: Supported by The Prince’s Trust
The letter confirming my grant and loan from The Trust. The most important thing however was the faith they had in me, and the support of a business mentor for three years. As a company we’re forever grateful to the Trust for that initial help.
2001: Working from home
When I started the business my daughter was only at nursery for half days, so I had three hours of child-free time to do any phone calls or meetings. Working from home and not needing the fulltime childcare I had needed as an employee kept my costs very low however.
2001: First business cards
Drew designed these for me, and I had them printed at Prontoprint in Maidenhead. I remember that it cost £80 which seemed a lot of money to me.
2001: Our first website
Our first website looked like this. Although I think it is missing a banner image on archive.org. The backend was Classic ASP and Access, but it was all CSS for Layout.
2002: writing for Glasshaus
In 2002 I was asked to write a couple of chapters for a Dreamweaver book, published by the long since vanished Glasshaus. I worked on several books for Glasshaus and it was the start of a totally unexpected writing career. My writing became the way we found most of the work we did as a company. As people started to approach me to see if I would work for them rather than me needing to advertise or go out to seek clients.
Writing for Magazines
At around this time I started writing for magazines. I have had a large number of articles and tutorials published in magazines such as Web Designer and .net.
I was shortlisted in 2002 for the Prince’s Trust Awards. The companies that won were really impressive and already employing several people however I was so excited to be considered. I got a suit for the occasion as I was still making some attempt to look like a business person.
2003: new logo and website
In 2003 I had a new logo designed – the logo had a tilted e and the wobbly clip art chair was replaced. Again, site grabbed from archive.org – this iteration was during my Java and Struts episode so had a far more complex than required backend for what was essentially a brochure site!
2003: Branded folders
I was so excited about these and they looked lovely, however I barely handed any out. Getting them coincided with word of mouth taking off as how we got work so I stopped going to the sort of networking event where these would have been useful.
2003: New business cards
The cards with the redesigned branding. I liked these but they faded terribly in the sun!
2004: Updated website
I designed this version, and it stayed with us for quite a long time. I was still offering SEO Services at this point.
This version of the site was in PHP as I had decided that was the language I was going to work in. We’re still developing in PHP today.
2004: The CSS Anthology
The first edition of The CSS Anthology was published in 2004 and was the first book I had written as the sole author. Even the local paper were interested in it!
2005: RBWM young Business Person Finals
At 29 I just scraped in as a young business person for the 2005 local business awards. This kind of coverage was never especially useful as a marketing tool for the business. I always felt however that perhaps my story might give another person confidence that they too could start their own business.
The awards dinner was good fun. As a dancer I had made ends meet by being a “silver service” waitress at posh events. It still makes me giggle to be the person being served!
2005: Our first office
It was more like a broom cupboard, which is why the whole thing doesn’t fit in one photo. I think I took this with my back against the facing wall! Rachel took on this office when she was working alone. When I joined we made a valiant effort to fit everything in, but it was a tight space. We moved a few months later.
2006: @media Panel
I used to be very nervous of public speaking. One of the first things I did was to be on a panel at the @media conference in London. I discovered that I really enjoyed panels and it was my first step in learning to share the things I had learned as a speaker, rather than just writing about them.
June 2006: new identity
I still really love the design of these cards, created for us by Jon Hicks. Jon redesigned the site but also our logo and identity, moving us away from the wobbly Sunday School chair that had been part of our identity for almost five years.
Seven years on and we still love the work that he did, the website has changed in that time but the essential identity remained the same.
2007: Drew speaking at @media
I teamed up with Simon Collison to present “High Noon Shoot-out: Design vs Implementation” in my first speaking engagement on a big conference stage.
2007: Royal Garden Party
I was invited to the Garden Party at Buckingham Palace along with another successful Prince’s Trust supported business owner. We had a great day exploring the gardens, wearing hats, eating posh sandwiches and seeing The Queen.
2007: Drew McLellan Joins
Having contracted for the company evenings and weekends for years, In September 2007 I left Yahoo to join the company full time as a Director.
2008: Bigger Offices
Our sub-let broom cupboard arrangement came to an end, and we needed to move. We took the opportunity to take a larger office in Cookham Road, Maidenhead. This office had space for an extra couple of desks, which was handy when we had others in to work on projects alongside us.
2009: Early Perch branding
Some stickers from MOO.
2009: Exhibiting at dConstruct
With Perch only a few months old, in September 2009 we took a stand at the dConstruct conference in Brighton to tell people about it. We even had a banner made. It was fun.
2009: MOO Minicards
In September 2009, our friends at MOO (the printing people) asked if we wanted to help them showcase their new Minicards. We’d always used Minicards to help promote Perch, and these new ones could have an image printed on both sides.
Of course we said yes, and our cards can be seen on MOO’s website, as well as featured in their exhibition stands and even in their London shop. We love MOO, so this makes us very happy.
2010: New Offices
In March 2010 we moved offices again, this time to a bigger suite on Castle Hill, Maidenhead, which gave us our own kitchen and meeting room. To celebrate, we painted the walls purple and white.
2010: New website
As our focus as a company moved we streamlined the content on the site and asked Andy Appleton of Float Left to come up with a design using our existing identity.
2011: Future of Web Design
I spoke at FOWD2011 and they put a sketch of me on a tea towel! One of my more unusual pieces of conference memorabilia.
2009 – 2013: Perch coverage
We have been really fortunate to get so much coverage in magazines for Perch. A lot of the time this has not originated from us. We love the fact that people will recommend Perch, and are proud of sites they have developed using it.
If you have ever mentioned us in an article – thank you!
Rachel & Drew
2012: CSS Anthology – 4th edition
The first edition of The CSS Anthology was published in 2004. In 2012 SitePoint published the fourth edition, retitled The CSS3 Anthology.
2012: Perch 2
In July 2012 we released version 2 of Perch, along with a new website, new documentation site, new payment gateway, updated versions of all the add-ons… it was a busy summer!
The redesign of the Perch site was by Paddy Donnelly of Lefft.
2012/13: Conference Speaking
Moving away from a focus on client services, and getting over my fear of flying means I have been able to take up speaking opportunities at a variety of conferences. I feel really fortunate that this is now part of what I do and I love sharing the things I have learned with other people.
2013: a return to working from home
By 2013 Perch had become the majority of our work and we were no longer taking on client projects. A product business with customers worldwide doesn’t need a big office with room for meetings so we returned to working from home, which has the added benefit of feline company!
My daughter now works for the company part time – in fact she took some of the photos used in this slideshow. We’re looking forward to the next 12 years!