Web design agency Peacock Carter - Northern Design Centre office

Website support & maintenance for Christmas & New Year 2016

Peacock Carter have had a bumper year in 2016 thanks to some fantastic clients, and we look forward to working with you in 2017 and beyond.

We’re winding down over the Christmas and New Year period to give our team a chance to have a break and come back refreshed in 2017. As such, our office will be closed during this period:

Our office closes: 15:00, Wednesday, 21st December 2016.

Our office reopens: 09:30, Wednesday 4th January 2017.

If you have a support contract with us, urgent issues will be dealt with as soon as we are able during this period; please email support@peacockcarter.com.

Magento 2 Theme Design book - reviewed by our Magento consultant Richard Carter

Our involvement with the Magento 2 Theme Designs book

It’s not every day that a book with your name on the cover arrives at the office, but that’s just what happened today!

A copy of the newly released Magento 2 Theme Design book by Fernando J Miguel was ready and waiting in reception this morning, featuring Richard‘s name on the cover.

Peacock Carter & the Magento 2 theme book

Packt’s recent release, Magento 2 Theme Design, provides an in-depth guide to Magento theme development for aspiring web designers and developers wanting to start working with the Magento platform. Peacock Carter’s founding director, Richard Carter, acted as the technical reviewer for Magento 2 Theme Design publication. As author of 4 books on the Magento platform to date on Magento theming, and author of the Magento 1 books the Magento 2 book was based on, Richard’s name was included on the cover of the book.

As established Magento consultants, we’ve been working with the platform since shortly after its release in 2008. In that time, we have seen the use of Magento Community and its licensed Magento Enterprise Edition become one of the leading ecommerce platforms in the world (see our Introduction to Magento 2 talk from the Design Network North event earlier this year).

Peacock Carter makes International Trade Award shortlist at Durham Business Group awards

Shortlisted for Durham Business International Trade Award

Since our founding, Peacock Carter have prided ourselves on high quality web development and consultancy services, which have attracted clients from around the world. Some of our first clients were based in the USA and Europe. Since then, we’ve worked with clients who value our expertise and honest approach to web design, as well as high profile clients in the UK such as the NHS, City & Guilds, and University of Edinburgh.

As such, it came as a great pleasure – if no huge surprise! – to have been nominated, and subsequently shortlisted, for the International Trade Award at Durham Business Group’s 35th Anniversary awards.  The award’s criteria are to recognise North East businesses dealing with clients around the world, putting the region on the map.

We’ve been members of Durham Business Club for 6 years, and have found it a rewarding place to be; we’ve shared our expertise, made a huge number of friends and acquaintances in the North East England business scene, and, of course, helped a lot of members with their websites along the way! The business club – a non-profit organisation, has been going an incredible 35 years in 2016, and has helped generations of businesses in County Durham and the surrounding areas; they’re a true blessing to have at our side for all this time.

And finally, many thanks to the mystery member of Durham Business Club who nominated us (we’re pretty sure we know who you are!).

Richard Carter, founder of web design agency Peacock Carter

Web design agency Peacock Carter celebrate 10 years

November sees web design agency Peacock Carter celebrating their 10th Anniversary, in which time they have grown from working in a back bedroom in Durham City to occupying premier office space in Gateshead’s flagship Northern Design Centre.

“We could easily have given up early on”, says Richard Carter the company’s founder and Managing Director, who was told not to bother by a Durham business adviser at the start of his career. “Apparently there were already too may web designers in the region, with no room for more!”

“Peacock Carter is a brilliant example of a successful North East creative digital business”

Undeterred, Richard and his business partner at the time found an early niche working on high-end consultancy projects, running the business alongside studying for their degrees at Durham University.

Now one of the leading specialists of ecommerce in the region, Peacock Carter work with major clients on large scale projects both in the UK and abroad. A specialist in ecommerce, and particular the Magento platform, one of the leading ecommerce platforms in the world, Richard also reviews publications on the platform for UK and American publishers. Throw in the fact that Richard has written a number of highly regarded web-design software books and runs workshops for user groups, and business has never been busier.

This tenacity and passion for digital can be seen clearly across the region, with Peacock Carter being part of the booming digital industry sector. Figures quoted at the recent “Shine a Spotlight’ event hosted by Digital Union, the North East’s largest digital business network, illustrated the expanding nature of the sector,estimating that an additional 6,915 new jobs will be created in the next 5 years.

“Staying power”

Jim Mawdsley, CEO of Generator, which runs Digital Union said, “Peacock Carter is a brilliant example of a successful North East creative digital business working with global clients, and their upcoming 10th Anniversary proves their staying power. The company has grown and chosen to remain in the North East based on their own creativity, tenacity and the strength of support within the region for growing creative digital businesses. We’re proud to support Richard and his team as they look towards their next ten years of further growth”.

Richard and his team are also supporting the new collaborative brand #thisisMINE (this is Made in the North East). Devised by former Tech North team member Paul Lancaster and adopted by Digital Union, the campaign aims to showcase the best of the region’s digital work and highlight companies and their output.

Supporting the North East web design community

This supportive and collaborative community is one of the aspects Richard would credit for Peacock Carter’s ongoing success. Richard is part of a growing number of professionals in the region who see sharing and support as intrinsic to the success of their industry. “Networking and collaboration has always played an important role in my business,” said Richard, “Sharing knowledge, expertise and ideas helps to build strong relationships with our peers, contributes to the wider digital community and helps us to continually improve our services to clients”

“We want to capitalise on the fact that the North East is seen as a leading centre for digital expertise”

A regular speaker

Richard is a regular speaker at many web, digital and creative events around the region, including Design Network North’s monthly networking group “Rise and Design”, and the company sponsors the monthly Frontend North East events which regularly attracts 80 – 100 attendess. Frequent topics include new developments in web design and e-commerce worlds, and best practice for smaller businesses. Design Network North’s manager, Terry McStea, acknowledged the valuable contribution made by the businesses that attend the event. “We have hosted more than 1000 organisations from the region to date, and the willingness of companies like Peacock Carter to share their knowledge and experience is one of the valuable ways we can support our aim to increase the contribution design makes to our economy”.

The future

So having reached double figures, what does the future hold for Peacock Carter? “We aim to double the turnover of our business in the next two years by talking on more staff and increasing our reach nationally and globally” says Richard, “We want to capitalise on the fact that the North East is seen as a leading centre for digital expertise and we look forward to being an active part of this by continuing to identify new technologies to improve ecommerce solutions for our clients.

Speaking: Northern Design Festival

I’m really pleased to have been asked to speak at Design Network North again, this time as part of the Northern Design Festival.

Rise & Design #72 is to be held on Friday 14th October at Loftus House, Colima Avenue, Sunderland, SR5 3XB.

Where do ideas come from?

The theme of this year’s Northern Design Festival is “where do ideas come from?”, exploring the processes from the conception of an idea to the execution of the idea, and how it evolves along the way.

How playing helps generate ideas: LEGO

I spoke earlier this year at Design Network North on the topic of the future of ecommerce. As a departure from my usual topics of ecommerce, web design and Magento, I’ll be speaking on where ideas come from in the context of LEGO bricks.

The talk will explore the process of thought and idea generation alongside LEGO, and how LEGO can be used to refresh your and change the way you think.

The event is free. (As this event has passed, we’ve removed the RSVP link!)

Magento 2 demo screenshot

When should you migrate to Magento 2?

As a follow-on from some queries we had to our Magento 2: what to expect post last November, here’s some updated opinion on whether Magento 2 is ready for you to migrate to yet.

As Magento specialists, we offer our insight below in to whether you should migrate to Magento 2 yet. Magento 2 is already in use on some pretty big ecommerce websites, so you can be sure it has been “battle-tested”, but is it right for your ecommerce website?

Support for Magento 1

As we reported in November, official support for Magento 1 will be ending around December 2018; that gives you just over 2 years and a quarter to migrate your Magento store to be able to benefit from the latest features and security patches. This is not to say that web developers and agencies will stop working with Magento 1 at this point, just that Magento will not produce further security patches for future issues.

A data migration tool to transfer product, catalogue, customer, order and other content between Magento 1 and 2 exist within Magento 2. As long as you have a Magento installation which has made use of all of the core features of Magento correctly, data migration should be a reasonably well-documented task, if not trouble-free.

Are extensions for Magento 2 ready?

Magento 2 admin panel

The additional functionality on your website also needs consideration when migrating to Magento 2. Do all of the payment, accounting, order packing, customer management and other extensions to Magento you have installed exist for Magento 2 yet? If so, are they ready for use on a “live” ecommerce website? This typically requires a lot of research and an audit of your existing Magento extensions.

If they don’t exist, it may be possible to have custom functionality built by your Magento agency: this is something an extension audit can help explore.

What about your Magento theme?

So your data and functionality are ready for Magento 2, but what about your website’s design? Magento 1 themes are not transferable to Magento 2: too much has changed between the versions to allow backwards compatibility. As such, you’re left with a few choices:

  • Customising Magento’s new default theme, Luma – this is probably the simplest, quickest option, but leaves a very plain visual design
  • Using one of the existing Magento 2 themes released by third party vendors – some are much better quality than others, so it’s worth talking to your web agency (or us!)
  • Having a custom Magento 2 theme built. This allows for much scope in improving areas of your website which are less than perfect at present!

And hosting?

Most Magento specialist hosting companies now have Magento 2 offerings, and Magento 2 has been running in the wild for almost a year now.

Picking a respectable Magento hosting company is still vital, though! Reliability, availability and support options are all important considerations, and we’re always happy to help clients and recommend Magento hosts for individual projects.

Not ready for Magento 2 yet?

Even if you’re not ready to migrate to Magento 2 yet, your ecommerce consultant or web agency should be advising you on a longer term plan to ensure your ecommerce platform is suitable for your business’ requirements in years to come!

If you would like any further advice on migrating to Magento 2, please contact us to discuss your project with one of our ecommerce specialists.