The history behind Furry Frog Website Design

W

e are Neil & Helen, and Furry Frog is what will allow us to travel the world one day

2006

learning My Craft

Whilst studying Digital Media at Canterbury Christchurch University in Broadstairs, the initial plan of the course for me (Neil) was to go into the world of video editing so the university course right on my doorstep seemed absolutely ideal to learn the skills. As the course went on, it was clear from seeing the absolute wizards working in video, that that was not to be my pat, and that learning to code soon took over, and before I knew it, i had carved out a future in the web design world.

In the web world, there are are general web developers, (they develop the code), and web designers (they design the overall look of the site), but i felt there was a need to bridge the gap and become more of an overall solution for small businesses where i would bring both elements together and look after all elements of the website from domain, hosting, emails, SSL certificate, to the overall design of the website.

During my time on the course, I had a few friends who were happy for me to create and look after their business websites in addition to a few free websites i created also which gave me invaluable experience in both the practical skills and learning what the customer wanted and needed.

2007

Honing My Skills

During my time on digital media course, i also undertook voluntary work in 2 website design agencies, Creative Venom in Whitstable and Pillary Barn in Maidstone to gain some real world experience, and got to meet one of my cricketing heroes who was a client at the latter :)

2007

Decision Made

I had very quickly noticed that although the principals of design were the same, I did not want to work in a web design agency working on large websites, my skills, and preferences were far better suited for the smaller business. Combined with the Digital media course at CCCU, and skills i had learned on work experience, I Decided to start my own business providing small business website designs.

2007

Furry Frog Is Born

Furry Frog was born. I’m often asked why I chose Furry Frog as a name for a business, and the answer was quite simply that I wanted a business with two words, both starting with the same letter!!

2007 – 2016

Growth

Business quickly grew and became my main source of income over the next few years. I would guess I created over 100 websites during this time, and the flexible working hours was a real winner for me as we had just introduced our first baby to the world. Working through the evening designing websites with few distractions was highly enjoyable with the fire burning in the corner of the room and my dog Oscar at my feet, I was in a very productive space, and i got to see my family too during the day, loving life :) I even had the opportunity to travel around India following the England cricket team for a month and still work from my laptop.

2016

Burnout

As business grew, along with my client list, training became hard as resources weren’t readilly available, and it was easy to fall behind with web standards. I realise (now in hindsight) that i was suffering from burnout, and that I just wasn’t enjoying the job any longer. I felt that I wasn’t nurturing the relationships that I was building and not looking forward to going to work, or even talking to my clients on the phone, so I knew i had to make a serious life decision and shut the business.

2022

Furry Frog V2

The flame for web design never quite burned out for me in the 6 years that I was closed, and I was regularly updating my website for my other business and started to enjoy it again. In January of 2022, after we took an airbnb for a month to relax from the stresses and strains of every day life, I had many conversations with Helen about reopening Furry Frog, as long as lessons were learned and I would do my best not to slip back to burnout. The lessons learned were as follows…

Work only with small businesses that I can really help. I’ve had the opportunity to work with local artists, online shop and even a local estate agent, but my skills are not placed here, and do not feel i could provide the correct service.

Continued Learning

I have made a pledge to myself that for 30 minutes every day, I would learn. This is mainly in the form of YouTube videos from leading web design experts’ channels, but also listening to short daily podcasts, reading books, chatting to fellow web designers, or even attending conferences (Brighton SEO in October 2022 is the next one)

Be Strict With Work Time

Naturally my family is my main focus, and i have made a promise to my wife that during family time, it means just that, and not get distracted by emails, niggly issues that need fixing etc. not something that comes easy to a small business owner!

Manage Expectations

I was a victim of trying to please everybody in Furry frog version 1, which placed added stress on me when i wasn’t able to fulfil those promises. honesty and integrity are very important to me, so if I feel there is something I am unable to do, I will happily point you in the direction of someone who can do it)

Subscription Model

Cash flow for small business is often tight, especially at the start, and especially in todays cost of living crisis! With this in mind, I created a more suitable subscription model where a large upfront payment was not required. This has also proved helpful to my client relationships as it means I am constantly checking in on progress and updates, keeping everybody in the loop with changes, (and also helps with google rankings!)

Side Hussle

Furry Frog version 2 is not my main source of income, so there is less pressure on me meaning I am more able to focus on the tasks at hand, and more productive. The long term goal for Furry Frog is to enable us as a family to travel in the UK or Europe in our camper van while I work from my laptop, and hopefully further afield trips such as Thailand. It is also acting as our pension long term.

the Furry From Senior Management Team

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