UP CLOSE: Meet the Teddington web designer, coding for business success

By Heather Nicholls

11th Feb 2024 | Local News

UP CLOSE: Meet the Teddington web designer, coding for business success. (Photo Credit: Teddington Web).
UP CLOSE: Meet the Teddington web designer, coding for business success. (Photo Credit: Teddington Web).

Even though Ken Richman has been building websites for businesses in Teddington since 2013, he recently decided to change his trading name from the slightly obscure Togethernet to Teddington Web.  

"Although the world wide web is world-wide, people value dealing with someone local. It's partly a matter of trust, and partly that the person is more likely to understand their needs," Ken explains. "The name change doesn't change what I do, but it underlines my commitment to the local community."

Ken lights up when he speaks about Teddington. He explained how he and his wife were looking to upsize with their two small children from Wimbledon and were "extremely lucky" to find a property in Teddington which they could afford to renovate.

"I love it here. It's got everything we need as a family. Close to shops, parks, the river. Easy transport links and a nice community," he says. 

One of Ken's typical clients is start-ups. He's helped quite a few building their online presence, but he also likes working with established sites so he can look at it, see what is wrong with it and then redesign it. 

Local charity Animal Rescue and Care (ARC) in Twickenham has been one of Ken's clients for some time. ARC came with website issues and Ken redesigned the site, adding features to make life easier for the hard-working volunteers.  

He made it simpler for volunteers to add the details of each new animal needing a home. He was also able to make fund-raising less expensive and more efficient with Direct Debit sign-ups on-site for donors, cutting the cost of each donation. 

Ken started out as a software engineer, writing code for all sorts of applications from car manufacturing, computer networking and railway communications. With perhaps not the best timing, just before the internet went supernova in the 90's, Ken gave up software to work in advertising as a copywriter, gaining an insight into marketing. 

Now Ken is able to apply all these skills to his web design and development work.  

He describes coding as a "problem-solving exercise". You apply yourself to it, break it down logically, working hard to find solutions. It is the perseverance in problem-solving and troubleshooting which he finds is quite "rewarding". 

"I've got a client who sometimes sends me little jobs he needs fixing and that's a pleasure because they're always small defined coding jobs," Ken says. "I look forward to those because it's a bit like solving crosswords or logic puzzles." 

"It's absorbing...and I quite like that," Ken says. He likes to design or code late in the evening, with fewer interruptions.  

Website building home truths

"I think people underestimate what's involved. You can certainly build a website by yourself... but good luck to you."  

Ken doesn't say this dismissively, but with great appreciation that curating and maintaining sites can often take time and painstaking effort. "It doesn't stop when you've launched the site," he says.  

He gave the example of servicing cars: People used to just stick their head under the bonnet, figure out what was wrong and fix it. But with today's expectations for websites and their functions, there are too many things that can go wrong.  

"People don't realise how much work is involved to manage a business online," Ken says. "They underestimate it. They are encouraged to underestimate it by adverts saying you can build a website for £100." 

Unlike these fast-food website fixes, Ken looks at the deeper and intricate needs for a good website. He does the background work which, he says, people don't even know they need. For instance, this could be web security, addressing email deliverability issues or making sure things work on mobile and tablet devices seamlessly. 

Ken says: "And once the site is launched, if you want it to be found on Google...it's quite a full-time job to manage your online presence."

How old is too old for a website?

According to research, a website has a shelf life of under three years but certainly after four years you should be thinking about a refresh. Although Ken thinks that the life expectancy could be longer, he also says there are plenty of sites people never consider refreshing but they really should. 

"You want to present your best image to the world," Ken says. "If you don't buy new clothes every now and then you're going to look dowdy; it's not a good visual image you are presenting for your business." 

Ken does not just build websites and troubleshoot problems. With his marketing background he can help clients develop their brand, and he advises against rushing into buying a web domain and commissioning a site if you are still at the development stage of a new product or service. "It's not quite like the chicken and the egg - the website simply can't be hatched without a brand. The brand comes first. Time spent early on developing the brand won't be wasted."

Whether you're at the start-up stage, or already reached the point where your site is looking tired and in need of a refresh, it's good to know you won't have to look far for help. Get in touch and check out how Ken can help your brand or business here.  

     

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