A week in the life of Make Hay

Published: 24th Jun 2011 in Ethical Business

Well, strictly speaking this is a week in the life of one half of Make Hay. I should add that during this busy week and every week, the other half of Make Hay, Jez, is even more busy managing projects, designing, developing, building and providing support to our Green Hosting clients as well as a whole range of other tasks.

I thought I would write about one of my weeks at work because sometimes it’s interesting to find out what goes on behind the scenes of a business. The idea of web design might conjure up pictures of us sitting at a computer for many long hours creating lines and lines of code. Well it does involve that, a lot of it, but it involves many other things too. So, here’s a little insight into one of my weeks at Make Hay back in May...

Monday 9th May

Competitions and New Designs

lightbulb imageMonday is always a ‘kick off’ day, setting things in place and making plans for the coming week and beyond. This Monday is the start of Green Office Week and to celebrate we’re offering a special prize of free Green Hosting for a year for one lucky business. I’m publicizing the offer as much as I can with the help of fellow greeny business people all over the country. I’ve been really heartened by my colleagues in the green business world who have helped us spread the word.

Over the weekend we have received a new sign-up to our Make Mail e-newsletter service. We handle each sign-up individually so I contact the client to welcome them, set up their account and send them their details and guide to get started.

One of our new web design projects is just moving into the design phase, so after I’ve dealt with e-mails I block a large amount of time out of the day to begin the design. To set design plans in place I’m referring back to our previous conversations with the client about their business objectives and their website content as well as their existing brand.

Throughout the day (as with all days), e-mails are coming in from clients with updates and questions about ongoing website projects or web hosting work. One of the non-client e-mails included an invitation to hold a stall at a green film festival so I get in touch with them discuss the details and then I’ll be thinking about what publicity materials and equipment I’ll need to take along.

Right at the end of the afternoon I receive a message from one of our clients whose new website went live last summer. A lady had called her up because she loved her website and wants to get one too. Our client contacted me to say she had recommended us highly to her. A great way to end the day!


Project Management & Writing Guides

Climate East Midlands logoThis morning we receive confirmation from one of our long-term clients, Climate East Midlands, that they would like to go ahead with some large developments to their existing website. I check our schedule and book the work in, alongside providing the client with details of information we need from them and some timescales. Just as with new web design projects we use a careful process for ongoing development work to make sure everything stays on time and on budget.

My next job is to switch over to the focus of another project. This is a new website build and is in the content gathering phase. Because this is usually quite a long period of time when the client is working alone to write their content I like to check in to make sure everything is on track and those involved are clear about what they need to do. I have a chat with one of our client’s staff team responsible for providing content. She updates me on their progress and we arrange to get in touch again the following week, ready for moving on to the next stage.

Via our blog, newsletter and social networking pages we like to provide helpful web-related information to our clients. That may be a ‘how to’ article or marketing tips or news about directories for green businesses, for example. Because many of our Green Hosting clients use WordPress as their blogging platform, I decide to write a free guide on how to update their WordPress installation. I don’t publish it straight away though, but will wait until a new update is available so that the guide is relevant.

To keep publicising our Green Hosting competition I take a few more minutes to post it on Facebook and Twitter again and announce it on the Derbyshire & Nottinghamshire Chamber of Commerce Website.

Again, a large part of the day and for the rest of the afternoon I continue to work on the new website design and layout I started yesterday. It’s really taking shape and I have the basis of the layout and styling in place.


Writing Quotes & Finding Green Suppliers

Print Revolution logoWe receive two new requests for website quotes this morning. Traditionally this time of year sees lots of organisations making plans setting up new projects and so May is usually a busy time for discussing new work. I respond to the quote requests straight away to confirm their receipt but will set some time aside later to go through them in more detail and discuss with Jez in preparation for providing website proposals and estimates to both potential clients

I contact a few green printers to find out about prices for banners and posters which we can use on a stall at events such as the green film festival. Once I get specifications for the poster I start designing the artwork and put the general plan in place. One of the printers I contact is Print Revolution, which I later find to be a gem of a green business right on our doorstep!

Continuing on the website design and layout which I started this week I am to a point where I’m ready to show the client, So I create previews online and send them to him with details about how the design elements address the aims and structure we previously agreed. He responds almost immediately saying he is very pleased with the designs and even uses the word “superb”!

The last piece of work for today is another previously booked update to one of our long-term client’s websites, Winkworth Farm. When this client’s website was first built she was just beginning her new business but since then it has expanded a great deal. So we have some more significant plans in place to develop the website to reflect how her business and range of services have grown.


Planning & Publicity

Erin McDaid from Notts wildlife Trust & Vicky from Make HayThis morning is all about planning. Planning for upcoming strategic meetings and quotes. We get our heads together for this stuff regularly and decide which of us will tackle what and when.

This afternoon we have a meeting with Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust and Attenborough Nature Centre staff about some exciting new developments to their websites. It is always a treat to visit the Attenborough Reserve, especially this time of year in the sunshine. We have worked with NWT for a little while now and they have agreed to do a photoshoot with us for an upcoming news story, so we’re taking the photos whilst we’re here. Erin, the Communications & Marketing Manager, tells me that they have been really pleased with the increase in website traffic and online memberships since we created their new website and puts this in writing for the article. You can read the finished NWT article here on our blog.

When I get back I need to respond to some e-mails that came in whilst we were out. They include a range of messages, such hosting support requests and responses to me chasing up client progress on a few projects. I give one of our clients instructions on how to upload videos to YouTube as she will be adding them to her blog for the first time soon.


Time for our Websites

Wind turbines illustrationI get a call first thing from a marketing expert who is working with the lovely lady who helped us develop our T&Cs. She wants to find out about our experiences and what we gained from the process. I’m more than happy to provide feedback about this as we received an excellent service.

I spend a bit of time dealing with our own marketing by sending photos and client testimonials to Louise at Perfect 10 PR who will be writing the press release about our work with Notts Wildlife Trust.

The rest of today has been set aside as Green Hosting day! It is important that we dedicate time to our own websites’ development and online strategy as well as our clients'. We’re planning a re-design of our Green Hosting website and a few other developments for our hosting service which you will hear about soon.

In between working on our own project, we break to carry out some admin and respond to client e-mails. At the end of Friday I go into the weekend feeling pleased that this busy week has been productive.

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