“Web designers are a bit like hairdressers, in that you don’t know how good they are until it’s too late.” That’s the word we got from Elly Butler at Managed By when we asked for some end of the year feedback on their new website.

It’s something we do every year at Metal Potato; we take feedback from our most challenging projects of the past 12-months and box them up in a neat, holiday package to see what we’ve learned.

What went well? What could go better? How happy are the clients? After all, our goal is to be the best hairdresser in the UK, or something like that…

The First Cut is the Deepest

Last year, Metal Potato developed a new brand identity to set ourselves on the road to growth. And if you’ve been following our blog, you know that road has been a roller coaster. We devoted ourselves entirely to building high-quality responsive websites for companies that wanted more than a cheap, placeholder website as their digital home.

Little did we realise that hoping on that road would take us on a roller coaster to success. Thanks to our clients and the hard work of all of the team members here at Metal Potato, we’ve been able to make huge strides this year by expanding into a new, larger office that allowed us to bring more design spuds and engineering tater tots into the fold—all of which played a key part in the next words out of Elly Butler’s mouth keyboard:

“My initial concerns were that Metal Potato would not be able to grasp the brief without a face-to-face meeting and would not deliver the high end finish that my clients needed to showcase their work. The proof however is in the pudding.

We are all thrilled with the results. We can easily update photos and content by logging in to the content management page which keeps the site fresh.

I could not have asked for better customer service. The team were fast, creative, responsive and professional with a lovely sense of humor.”

Heyo! Score one fresh new hairdo. We’re happy to report that Elly’s project is not only rocking a fresh new cut, but it’s become the talk of the party.

Cutting Your Own Hair

Managed By remains one of our favorite projects of 2014, but setting businesses up with exciting new websites is really just the start of making customers happy. To really love a haircut, we feel you’ve got to know how to wear it.

To teach companies that, we turn to our favorite hairspray—WordPress.

Case in point, Bijoux Bazaar.

The Bazaar’s colorful layout and simple approach to eCommerce give it a slot in our top projects for the year. Of course, eCommerce can be an overwhelming task for users. Managing inventory, filling orders and shipping products are full-time jobs, and at first, Bijoux Bazaar founder Lucy Smith had her concerns:

“I did worry about being stuck with a website I would struggle to use, but Metal Potato is always on hand to answer any technical or performance questions. The site was also built to my needs and ability, and I’m confident that I can rely on Team Potato if I ever run into difficulty further down the line.”

Thanks to WordPress spray (now available with 20% more usability), our super spuds took that problem, flipped it around and delivered a wonderful solution to Lucy..

“The website is fantastic to use, and provides me with everything I need to run an e-commerce fashion website. From an inventory system, to traffic statistics and order management, everything is made easy. I love being able to manage my blog from within my website, and look forward to seeing those viewing numbers grow month on month.”

Bijoux Bazaar’s website looks great, works flawlessly and—extra bonus—is actually fun to use!

The same results are true for another eCommerce website from 2014 for a UK-based shoe company called Varca. Varca specialise in fashionable footwear, and their WordPress-based eCommerce store—along with social media tutoring from our staff—has helped them substantially increase their following on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Those things, combined with the website, have sent Varca sales climbing through the roof.

“We are extremely happy with the results of the new website – it is easy for us to change, alter and upload stock as well as looking exactly as we have asked for – well done.”

An International Makeover

Our greatest challenge of 2014 was a website that needed both the fit and polish of Managed By’s website and the eCommerce flexibility of Bijoux Bazaar. It was a project that saw Team Potato up to our ears in mud, sweat and (sometimes) tears—Point5Digital.

I think without a doubt this was our greatest challenge to date,” said our company Director. He’s not joking.

Today, Point5Digital is a resounding success story. In its first two months after a complete redesign, the American news and radio website has pulled in over 150,000 visitors. It’s been so successful, in fact, that the website’s parent company had to relocate it to a brand new, dedicated web server to handle all of the traffic.

But it didn’t begin that way; Point5Digital began as a project resembling the Minotaur’s maze. Radio schedules, streaming music channels, live weather radar, a full advertising suite and custom eCommerce systems needed to be built into a news website that still displayed beautiful content that was instantly formatted and shareable on social media.

As icing on the cake, a 30,000 page news archive needed to be relocated to the new website—all of which was locked behind military-grade encryption software leftover from the original Point5Digital design.

If ever there was a test of our Metal Potato might, this was it. The results speak for themselves. Take it from our friends across the pond:

“The team at Metal Potato have completed several jobs for us.  They are a joy to work with, deliver on time and are always fairly priced.  We will continue to be a return customer!”

That last phrase is important to us. It’s what 2014 was all about.

From the new offices to new team members and new equipment, there have been a lot of shiny “new” things at Metal Potato this year. To be honest, we’re excited about all of them. But what we appreciate more than any of them is something only hard work can buy—something a little older and well-worn, our return customers.

So thanks to you, Potato Family. You guys make us who we are, and we hope to see you all returning for years to come. And we hope you enjoy your new haircut.