Love Shrewsbury’s April Fools 2014

Last year’s April Fools article about Shrewsbury getting an Airport was the sites most popular day to date, I thought it was a great opportunity to do better.

I’ve been exploring ideas all year however with a tendency to over think them to the point where they no longer seem funny it was difficult to formulate the best way to proceed.

The Charles Darwin film idea originally came to me in January, I thought it was clever at the time but I never really had a chance to develop it further. I toyed with several celebrities before settling on Brad Pitt, he seemed like the type of actor that would be good in the part.

I try not to leave these things to the night before but with a heavy work load and my trip to Brussels I was left with writers block. When I could finally get my head in gear I ended up redrafting the post several times and even then I wasn’t sure whether to publish it or not. Given we didn’t have anything else for the day there didn’t seem any harm in scheduling it for 8am on April 1st.

The morning of the 1st started slowly, the article got a few retweets and a couple of shares on Facebook but nothing more than average. At around 11am this started to change, our traffic started to increase rapidly to around 500 hits per hour.

This continued for most of the day and evening with the article receiving over 6000 unique views for the day. That’s six times the traffic of last years April Fools article on a post I wasn’t even sure about setting live.

So why the big increase and what was it about the post that chimed with people over last years airport joke? I guess it comes down to believability, from reading the headline alone it sounds a lot more plausible and as soon as you realise its a joke you’re more likely to share it with your friends. This is what happened on Facebook, almost all of the 6000 visits to the post were from Facebook.

It still came as quite a surprise and has certainly got me thinking about next year.

The Web Orchard Donates Website to Flaxmill Maltings

The web development arm of Shrewsbury based IT firm Information Solutions Limited has donated a new website to the Friends of the Flaxmill Maltings. The site showcases latest news and media from the Friends as well as its background and history.

Built using the Drupal 7 content management system the Friends have the ability to manage all the content and media on the site through the web browser. The new site stands them on a much stronger foundation for the future and will help in their fund raising and project promotion efforts.

There have been a number of sets backs in the buildings construction work since Christmas however the Friends are still pushing forward and are hopeful that with English Heritage taking charge that the work will commence soon.

Managing Director of Information Solutions Limited, Nathan Bensley-Edwards commented “We’re keen to support local groups and the Flaxmill Maltings project has an especially strong cultural significance to the town. We have close ties with the area with our office only being a short walk away and a number of employees living close to the development.”

Formed in August 2010, the Friends aim to promote the conservation, preservation and restoration of the buildings known as the Shrewsbury Flaxmill Maltings

Information Solutions paired with their web consultancy, The Web Orchard, offer world class technology solutions from their offices in Shrewsbury, UK. In 2012 & 2013 the company was awarded a ‘Mayor of Shrewsbury’ award for their outstanding contribution to the community.

The website of the Friends can be viewed at www.flaxmill-maltings.co.uk

For more about The Web Orchard either email [email protected] or call 01743 343411.

The Web Orchard Year in Review 2013

It’s been a busy year at The Web Orchard, we’ve worked for a lot of companies, charities and agencies. Here are some of the projects we’ve been involved with that we can talk about:

PSDC Iraq

One of our showcase projects of the year has been for the World Bank, the website we developed helps promote private sector development within Iraq. We worked closely with the PSDC staff from the World Bank complex in Baghdad to develop a Drupal 7 based website in both English and Arabic. We provide training and ongoing support for the project.

www.psdc-iraq.org

Friends of the Earth – Shrewsbury Green Guide

The Shrewsbury Green Guide is a directory of local organisations that provide environmentally friendly products and services. We designed and developed a Drupal 7 based website and provided training so that the volunteers could easily manage the website.
www.shrewsburygreenguide.org.uk

Mowgli

Mowgli provide mentoring throughout the UK and MENA (Middle East North Africa) regions. We developed their website in a phased approach throughout 2013. The sites striking design and use of Drupal’s custom content types and views has made it one of our favourite projects of the year.
www.mowgli.org.uk

AAIB

We’ve worked with AAIB for a number of years and in 2013 we assisted them with updating their website with their latest branding.
www.aaib-insurance.com

Shropshire Unison

Our second project for the trade union Unison has seen us build the website for our local branch. Communicating with their members was one of the key goals to the site.
www.shropshire-unison.org.uk

Visible Recovery

Spreading our work even further than the Middle East, Visible Recovery based in Australia help people overcome addiction problems. We developed the responsive WordPress website to help attract patients to their Adelaide based treatment centre.
www.visiblerecovery.com.au

Love Shrewsbury

Our Love Shrewsbury site has gone from strength to strength in 2013 and we’ve been busy developing and tweaking it’s features. We went for some ground breaking ways to display our monthly archives that have been a huge hit with our visitors.
www.loveshrewsbury.com
www.loveshrewsbury.com/monthly

ShropGeek

I’ve been heavily involved with ShropGeek this year, helping organise (R)Evolution conference in September and taking parts in a hack day in March.

What’s in store for 2014

Phone/Tablet Apps

We’ve recently become involved in iPhone/Android app development, and with a couple of projects on the horizon it looks to be an interesting area in the new year.

Drupal 8

The top discussion at both Drupal Camps we’ve attended this year has been Drupal 8; expected to be released sometime next summer, it is an interesting and highly anticipated overhall to a rock-solid framework that we are looking forward to tackling in the new year.

Lots more projects

We have several big projects in the pipeline for 2014 which promise to be both challenging and rewarding.

To find out more visit www.theweborchard.com or call 01743 343411

The Making of The Web Orchard Video

Back in January the team at Shrewsbury based Information Solutions Limited started thinking about how to grow their web company, The Web Orchard.

With over seven years of experience in building websites the company knew they were doing something right, but wanted a new way to spotlight their services and philosophy.

The use of short videos on websites has exploded in recent years, and have become a powerful way to engage with visitors. The Web Orchard wanted a video that could not only be used their own website, but as part of advertising on other sites; such as LoveShrewsbury.com.

After a chance meeting in the Shrewsbury Coffee House between Information Solutions Director Pete White and Aaron Child from Painted Life Productions, a meeting was setup to brainstorm ideas.

The Web Orchard were keen to keep their green, organic brand that had worked well for them on the website and in print. A number of concepts flourished, until the idea of a camera panning around a tree, with vines interacting with a laptop was formed as a way to bridge the gap between technical and organic.

The concept was developed further by introducing stop motion, a technique involving taking thousands of single frame shots, and combining together to form a realistic animation; the same method used in the production of films such as Wallace and Gromit.

With the storyboard for the video taking shape, Aaron and his team hand-built the set; including a custom turntable, and a tree trunk formed from real tree bark. They started the task of filming the tree and the vines, the 60 second video took over twelve hours to film. Each frame needed carefully setting and checking against the previous to ensure continuity.

Once filming was complete, it was over to the CGI animator to insert the background and setup the tracking required to overlay text and The Web Orchard logo on to the laptop screen. A custom soundtrack was produced, and final edits were made to allow the video to be used as both an advert, and as a website introduction.

Aaron from Painted Life Productions commented, “The success to this production was down to the intricate planning and precise implementation. The unique challenge introduced some interesting problems to overcome, however I felt the end result surpassed expectations.”

The video can now been seen on the sidebar of the Love Shrewsbury website and the front page of The Web Orchard’s website. There are also plans to use the video as part of a range of promotional activities over the coming months.

Pete from The Web Orchard added, “We’re thrilled with the video Aaron has created, we feel it really sets the scene for the philosophy of our web company.”

To find out more about Painted Life Productions please email [email protected] or call 07753 417473.

To find out how The Web Orchard can develop your online presence please call 01743 343411 or visit www.theweborchard.com

Award for Shrewsbury Web Company

A website developed by Shrewsbury based The Web Orchard has won second place in the May website of the month awards. The award given out by internet giant Heart Internet celebrates the best new websites.

The award went to the website for Shrewsbury business Pied Pipers Childrens Clothes for its new ecommerce website.

Robert Mathers from Heart Internet commented: ‘Pied Piper Children’s Clothing is a fantastic site that really deserved its success in our May Website of the Month competition. The site has a consistent look and feel across its design, imagery and messaging that clearly shows the caring and fun nature of the brand. The options to shop by both brand and category and the layout of the site’s product pages also help to make the customer journey much easier.’

Pied Piper are based in Milk Street in Shrewsbury and sell a range of Childrens Clothes from brands including Joules, Sarah Louise, Mayoral, Hatley, Lego, Petit Bateau, Bobux, Franck & Fischer and Happy Horse.

The Web Orchard specialise in Drupal and WordPress based Content Management Systems, find out more on their website or call 01743 343411 to see how they can help your online presence.

Green Guide Launched in Square

A website we’ve been building over the past couple of months had its official launch in the square last weekend. The website helps local residents by providing a directory of organisations and services that promote a green life style.

Shrewsbury Friends of the Earth used the Square to promote the new guide by demoing the site to visitors and shoppers.

Judy Coleridge, the editor, says ‘We’ve had some Lottery funding, and with lots of informative volunteers, we’ve put together, with the help of The Web Orchard,  a comprehensive guide of organisations and companies. Some are local and some are further afield, but all of them can help us in Shrewsbury to become greener in the way we live. We can also get inspiration from what others are doing, locally and nationally.”

Visit the Shrewsbury Green Guide website.

Shop Locally Online This Christmas!

We’re huge fans of supporting local businesses and with more of them having websites you can do this without having to leave your sofa! We’ve helped a lot of them over the past few years build their online presence, often holding their hands with e-commerce principals, training and support. Here are a few of the local companies we’ve supported that might help with your Christmas Shopping

Pied Piper

Based in Milk Street, Shrewsbury, Pied Piper sells a range of good quality childrens clothes. Brands include Hatley, Emile et Rose and Steiff.

www.piedpiperchildrensclothes.co.uk

Chris George Cards

One of Shrewsburys’ favourite indie shops closed down back in June this year – Cath Tate Cards in Hills Lane. Sadly the shop was a victim of the current economic conditions and Chris was made redundant. Now Chris has been busy setting up a new business – Chris George Cards.

www.chrisgeorgecards.com

it’s a nomad life

With a shop in the prestige location of Shrewsbury’s Wyle Cop, it’s a nomad life has an excentric collection of vintage gifts and collectables.

www.itsanomadlife.com

Little Gifts & Things

With a great selection of Christmas gifts for men and women Little Gifts & Things has something for everyone. With their under £10 category they have something for hopefully every budget too.

www.littlegiftsandthings.com

Smoke & Pickle

Based on the Shropshire Enterprise Food Centre, Smoke & Pickle have their food in shops across the country including Harrods in London.

www.smokeandpickle.co.uk

Think you’re local business could do with the support of The Web Orchard? Contact us today on 01743 343411 or email [email protected]

The Web Orchard Receives World Bank Accreditation

Shrewsbury based Web Developer, The Web Orchard part of the  award winning Information Solutions Group have been accredited by the World Bank to work on projects funded by the organisation. The Vendor Accreditation will allow the Web Orchard to be engage in World Bank projects worldwide.

The Web Orchard’s Director Pete White says the recent accreditation is significant. “Our highly successful work in the middle east, in particular websites that focused on the needs of Iraq and Libya, attracted the attention of investors and the World Bank who encouraged us to enroll as an accredited vendor. This will enable us to leverage that experience to World Bank sponsored projects around the world.”

Over the past two years, the Information Solutions Group has managed the website of the Iraq Business News (www.iraq-businessnews.com), helping to take the site from ten thousand visitors to over one hundred and fifty thousand per month. Earlier in 2012 a similar project was setup in Libya (www.libya-businessnews.com ) to help promote business growth in the country.

Some of the World Banks mandates include being:

  • The world’s largest funder of education
  • The world’s largest external funder of the fight against HIV/AIDS
  • A leader in the fight against corruption worldwide
  • A strong supporter of debt relief
  • The largest international financier of biodiversity projects
  • The largest international financier of water supply and sanitation projects.

Information Solutions paired with their web design consultancy, The Web Orchard, offer world class technology solutions from their offices in Shrewsbury, UK. In May 2012 the company was awarded a ‘Mayor of Shrewsbury’ award for their outstanding contribution to the community in Shrewsbury.

For more information, please visit www.theweborchard.com or telephone 01743 343411.