Back in 2001 I managed to get myself onto the Programming intake at Experian and for 6 joyful years worked my way through the ranks ending up as an Analyst Programmer which to be honest I would have happily stayed as but with all IT companies you tend to be promoted out of what you love and I ended my Experian career as a Business Analyst in 2008.
JKE started back in November 2009 when having been made redundant from Experian I joined the HSBC in Sheffield. After a short time I felt like I was just going through the same routine every day, not being challenged to my potential and not feeling like I was acheiving anything.
I used to call it the lift syndrome because every morning I would stand in the lift on my way to floor 7 and look around at all the faces and not see anyone that really wanted to be there. It was a wage and not much more.
I always like to be busy and had been helping a friend of mine out in my spare time creating a system to help run his business. A sociable coder is what I called myself because a lot of coders speak their own language, not one that mortals would understand but I prefer to say it as it is and explain things in plain English. It was from this bit of work that I started to think about how I could do more little projects in what I enjoyed… coding.
So I decided that websites would be the perfect choice. They allow me to keep coding, work closely with businesses, I get to see the finished product, help businesses grow and I get that sense of acheivement knowing I have done my bit to help.
What Does JKE Mean?
I get asked this question a lot. I was trying to think of a name for the new business for a few weeks and in the end I sat, there looked up at my wife and kids and said “I’ll name it after you lot”, so I did, ‘J’ for Jacob, ‘K’ for Keely and ‘E’ for Elijah, the letter ‘D’ just did not flow so JKE Web Design it was.
So I do all the work and they get the credit… Maybe one day they will join in and help.
The Early Years
To begin with it was just me, a laptop and lots of reading, learning and practising. I built my website (now on my fourth version), built a website for my wifes business and built some free websites for some local groups and charities so that I could get as much knowledge and practice in before a real customer came along.
For the first two years business was slow but that was fine by me as I still worked full time and it meant I could keep learning.
The first customer website I built was for Wirksworth Logs which we still work with and help today! In fact over the 10 years I have only ever had 3 customers that did not want to stay with JKE, you cannot win them all but I think that is a pretty good judge of customer service.
Doing Things Properly
From my time as a trainee programmer back at Experian I was always taught that simple code is best, there is no need to over complicate the code it just causes more problems. I took this approach and applied it to how I deliver websites.
There are two types of web designer out there, one that buys a template coded by someone else and then configures it and one that builds the template from scratch coding it all themselves. Buying pre built templates was quick but the websites have limitations, the code is very heavy, it is not a simple approach and not very friendly to the end user.
I decided that coding from scratch and building up my own portfolio of designs was the direction I wanted to go in. It is slower, more labour intensive and probably does not earn as much money but it delivers a quality website that can grow with a business.
Right from the start I made my priority about customer service and quality, not quantity. I set the business up for the long term not as a quick rack, stack and then sell. This still remains as my goal today and always will do. Creating great customer relations and helping businesses grow is one of the many aspects I love about JKE.
From Small to Large Businesses
In the beginning it was all small startup businesses that we would build websites for and support, I still enjoy startups today because I can help them avoid the pitfalls and provide a good value quality website. We still get a lot of new startups but we now also look after lots of larger businesses who have outgrown their first website, had a bad experience with a web design company in the past or need someone local with experience to work closely with.
Every business we work with is different so building a good relationship, getting a good understanding of their requirements and goals is very important, I knew my days as a business analyst would come in handy at some point!
Expanding Our Services
As the snowball effect began to kick in and enquiries were getting more and more common I knew I needed to improve other areas of the business to provide a range of services for our customers. I wanted to be able to provide everything a business needed from one place so the search began for people I could work with to enhance JKE. This took many years and a few failed attempts.
Finding people I could trust to work with who have the same attention to detail and passion for their work as I do was a challenge but I eventually found a graphic designer and server expert. In 2016 I started to offer graphic design and hosting services. Starting with just a logo design service we have slowly expanded to provide business stationary, leaflets, brochures, newsletters, signage and vehicle wraps.
Alongside the graphic design services I also wanted to offer reliable and good value hosting so I also created our own dedicated hosting company with a business partner I had worked alongside for many years and who knew servers like I knew websites. From the years in the industry I saw how web design companies over charge for hosting and exploit the lack of understanding around it so we set up Chip Hosting as a transparent, fairly priced hosting platform for all our customers.
We have recently invested heavily in our own servers to provide the best platform, remove any middle men and deliver quality for all our websites. The hosting and graphic design parts of the business have gone from strength to strength delivering a quality service.
In 2017 JKE built its own office, we could have rented an office or hot desked at local offices but I did not want that to put a financial burden on the company and have an impact on the prices we can offer customers. It probably loses us potential custom we would have generated by being in a business community but that is not what JKE is about, I wanted the best office atmosphere to be able to create the best websites. We let our work speak for itself, we don’t have to.
Although my wife may disagree and sometimes wonders why I did not install a bed, the new offices allowed us to increase productivity, become a hub for the business and allowed us to create better websites. It allows customers to come and see us and it allowed me to finally have a fish tank!
Looking Forward to Another 10 Years of JKE Web Design
With 10 years under our belt, nearly 300 websites delivered and a solid team full of experience the future looks bright for JKE. We have lots more in the planning all aimed at providing our customers with a great service whilst ensuring we keep focussed on our core beliefs.
Quality websites and great customer relationships built on a reliable and fast hosting platform all at a sensible cost.Back