Iraq Business News

Just over six years ago we took over the news site Iraq Business News and its associated publications in Iran in Libya. We’ve seen the rise and fall of Isis and the knock-on effects that has caused for people and business. 

In that time the Iraq website has received almost 10 million page views from 2.4 million users in 217 countries. The weekly newsletters for all three sites have been read a huge 1.7 million times.

The site survives thanks to its sponsors and with stats like the above we like to feel we have a strong value proposition – for more see…  www.iraq-businessnews.com

hello

Born and raised in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, I’ve spent my career in the IT/Web industry. At school I took a keen interest in computers & the internet and it was here I started my first blog. Over two decades later the website is still going strong.

In 2003 I set up a web hosting company whilst at University – Switchweb. I graduated in 2006 from Coventry University with a first class honours degree in Computer Science.

I joined Information Solutions Ltd in the summer 2006 and worked up the ranks to a director. The company has won many awards and delivers IT support services to a range of businesses and non-profit organisations.

I also set up and run a successful web agency, The Web Orchard, we’ve built a reputation for developing complex web applications for organisations around the world.

My side projects include Love Shrewsbury and Iraq Business News. The latter has received over 10 million page views and its newsletter has been read over 1.7million times since we took over the site in 2014.

I’ve been involved with ShropGeek for a number of years and have helped organise the three (R)Evolution conferences as well as numerous smaller events. 

In 2010 I published my first book, Travel Photography showcasing some of my photography from around the world.

Day to day I spend most of my time coordinating projects from our office in the centre of Shrewsbury.

My projects/companies include:

www.info-sol.co.uk

www.theweborchard.com

www.loveshrewsbury.com

www.iraq-businessnews.com

www.switchweb.co.uk

www.imafish.co.uk

www.imachistory.com

That time we had a website on Dragons Den

I was cleaning out my pictures folder earlier and came across the below screenshot. Five years ago a customer approached us wanting a new website ready for their appearance on the BBC show Dragons Den – the only problem – the show aired on prime time BBC2 in 2 weeks time.

Not to want to miss such a great opportunity we pulled out all the stops to get the site designed, built and populated with only a few hours to spare. The next problem – what to do if the 3 million people watching the show wanted to visit the site?

Fortunately, in our planning we had separated the front-end homepage & product pages from the shopping cart functionality based on the assumption most people would simply want to check out the company rather than purchase its products.

We configured Drupal to generated static pages then used Cloudflare to cache our assets for a long period. The result was that the 250,000 visits the site got over a 90 min period were almost all served up with content from the Cloudflare network and the company received more orders in that period then they normally would in a month.

The achievement for me wasn’t that we got the site designed and built in such as short period, its that we kept it up, loading fast and fully exploited all the PR the show had given the company.

2020 Flood Update

So access to the office is flooded again and most of Shrewsbury is too. River is set to go up a further half a meter tomorrow so could be the end of the week before we get back in 🧐😬😫. This is Smithfield road, I couldn’t get anywhere near the office without a boat.

TWO Supporting The Movement Centre

As part of our commitment to help local organisations we offered to help out with the website hosting of Oswestry Based specialist treatment provider The Movement Centre.

Dedicated to supporting children and their families living with movement disabilities, the small team based within the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Hospital in Gobowen, provide specialist therapy to children across the County and beyond.

Of the support provided by The Web Orchard, The Movement Centre’s Chief Executive Victoria Handbury-Madin comments:

“The Movement Centre are extremely grateful to The Web Orchard for their support. As a charity we need to raise funds to cover our costs and to enable us to continue to support children with movement disabilities, so that they can reach their full potential. By providing free web hosting and support for our website, The Web Orchard have helped us to reduce our overheads, meaning even more of the funds we raise can go directly to supporting our vital work, delivering our specialist therapy and supporting our families. In 2019 The Movement Centre lost all NHS funding due to cuts, so support like The Web Orchard means more to us than ever!”

My first LAN party

September 2002, I’m hosting my first LAN party in my parents garage on table tennis tables covered with decorating sheets. Our games of choice, Team Fortress Classic and Counter Strike on our huge CRT monitors and beautiful bage coloured PCs.

It was days like this where I developed my passion for IT, a passion I still have today. Learning skills like DNS and routing, all to make sure we were all on the same version of the game to play together.

And before any comments – that is me on the right.

Flaxmill Maltings Tour Dec 2019

I’ve been lucky to be part of the friends of the Flaxmill Maltings for almost 9 years, to see the progress over this time has been incredible. Today I was invited round with the other friends to see the latest development work, the roof on the kiln room is quite a sight and the views from the main mill span all across northern Shrewsbury.

Autarki Website

One of my favourite projects this year has been working with start up fashion brand Autarki. We developed their e-commerce platform showcasing their product range and integrating social media.

Their co-founder, Ben, popped in the office today and surprised Will and myself with Hoodies! https://www.autarki.co.uk/

The Web Orchard working in partnership with Housing Plus Group

Continuing their focus on accessible information for their stake-holders customers and colleagues, one of Shropshire and Staffordshire’s largest housing providers, Housing Plus Group, turned to The Web Orchard for assistance once more for the production of their 2019 Annual Report.

Building on the success of the 2018 report which saw us creating an interactive car journey to illustrate the organisation’s updates, the 2019 project has seen the project management team swell to include the skills of video production company 7video. This multi-agency approach has resulted in the production of the most interactive report that Housing Plus Group has ever had.

Objective

Working with Housing Plus Group we created a concept based around a self-navigating board game. Taking players around the board to illustrate the 12-month progress of the organisation, the game also introduces a new multimedia element. Incorporating video case studies and staff profiles, the 2019 Annual Report aims to make the information included within it accessible to all.

Result

Now available to view on the Housing Plus Group website, the 2019 Annual Report for the organisation is already receiving increased attention. Delighted with the result, Ben Payne at Housing Plus Group says:

“We are always keen to find better ways to do things to enable more people to benefit. The creative production and presentation of the 2019 Annual Report is a great example of this. Making the information we want to communicate more engaging, we look forward to see the increased reach that we can achieve as a result of this project.”

The Housing Plus Group 2019 Annual Report can be viewed at www.housingplusgroup.co.uk/annual-report-2019.