WHO I AM
I originally graduated from Sligo Institute of Technology in 1991 with a Diploma in computing (Merit) when the IT industry and the internet was in its infancy.
Over the past 20 years, I have worked in a number of prestigious blue chip companies such as Zurich Insurance and Unilever and has also served my time in the computer consultancy industry in the employment of Cap Gemini Sogeti.
My most recent addition to my up-skilling CV has been a BSc(Hons) in Digital Computing (First Class) from the DIT in 2015.
My work in IT was as project manager and in IT support – a very crucial area of the business. Security was of the upmost importance. Also keeping the systems running 24/7 was a key requirement and any problems had to be fixed within a very tight timeframe.
In 2009 I decided to take the plunge and set up my own business – Smiling Spiders Web Design and Web Development.
With Smiling Spiders I am combining my years of experience with the new technologies of the digital age to produce a great product for my customers.
By setting up Smiling Spiders Website Design and Website Development, I wanted to help other businesses create a really good presence on the web by creating websites that will sell their business to their target market.
The internet finds all new sites by using a programme referred to as spiders, this programme crawls the web indexing pages for processing by search engines. Smiling Spiders aims to create beautiful mobile responsive websites to keep these spiders happy at their work and help you be found faster on the world wide web!
One thing I have become keenly aware of through my experience is that there is quite a gap in the market between development and the customer.
There are many agencies creating beautiful websites but the end user needs to be able to use them and understand how to use them without requiring a computer science degree or technology interpreter.
Smiling Spiders provide WordPress training, website hosting, website maintenance and website support packages to suit all needs to ensure you are in control of your website and you can manage and maintain it yourself with support you might need along the way.
Smiling Spiders number 1 goal is to anticipate your needs before you do.
At Smiling Spiders we do things a little differently.
All our team work remotely – it’s the 21th century way of doing things and it works for us! My team are all freelancers and they are organised into a working team for all our projects by me, Clare McSharry.
We have weekly Skype calls and communicate day to day using modern remote tools such as Trello, Slack, Github, Skype and google docs.
Our flexible way of working suits us and allows us to be extra flexible with our clients.
It’s a way of working that I love. Before anyone is accepted on to the team I check that’s the way they want to work too.
All the team have degrees in some area of computing and are enthusiastic about keeping up to date with technology.
THE WEB DESIGN PROCESS
At the start of the project I spend time understanding your business and defining your objectives and goals.
I ask a lot of questions that cover a wide range of topics such as the business case for the project, audience, review of existing system and issues, style and design preferences and your success metrics.
From this research I create the project scope that all stakeholders agree and commit to.
The ideal way to start the design process is by holding a workshop, where all involved get together to brainstorm thoughts, ideas and opinions. This serves as a great springboard for the project and helps set expectations.
I have studied and worked in UX and UI so I understand user interface, interaction and visual design and understand the technologies that power the user experiences I are designing.
I tackle each project using a custom tailored approach and clear communication with all stakeholders to take an idea from a concept to a final, development-ready design.
Drawing on my knowledge of design principles we create design layouts for review and approval. I am aware that design is subjective so constructive feedback and client involvement is essential to achieve great results.
Once the project scope, wireframes, sitemap and visual designs are approved I have everything I need to build the system.
I am expert at bringing everything together and work in-house to combine the interface, content and graphics with the underlying system framework.
When ready for review I set up a staging site on our servers where you, the client, can review, test and provide feedback.
With the website now available for review on the staging server I can test the website functions and migrate content if appropriate.
At this point I refine the system to satisfy all requirements. I will run through my checks to make sure the website works as originally scoped.
Once approved I deploy the website to the production server and check everything is working as expected.
I ensure the website statistics are running and that goals and key performance indicators are being tracked.
Finally I schedule a review meeting with you to check how things are going and discuss any secondary phases of work.
I provide a bespoke and very detailed training document to our clients. I want my clients to be able to make simple changes themselves.
I sit down and go through the document with you, the users until you’re confident that you can update their blog and update certain sections of the website yourselves.
Following launch, I stand by my customers and provide support to maintain, update and upgrade the products that I’ve built.
I have a number of maintenance packages that provide various levels of security, support, and updating. Please see that section for more details.