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Jude & Chris Wharton

Jude Wharton on making professional websites easy

By Jude & Chris Wharton

Business Director, 2nd Floor Designs Ltd

With her early career spent in education and training, Jude Wharton transformatively applied her project management skills to form a web design company – 2nd Floor Designs Ltd – with her husband and business partner Chris, 13 years ago.

Driven by customer demand for affordable and adaptable website solutions, the duo have since augmented their suite of web services with Ready Steady Websites®, a templated website subscription service.

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You established the company with your husband; how is it working together in the same business?

It was hard to start off with, we were operating as a very traditional web agency with project-based work. Chris was doing the work, and I was doing management. We were both used to being managers so to begin with we did find it hard.

Now we have an office away from home, we have our set roles, and it works really well. We know our strengths – Chris is the designer and the developer; I focus much more on clients getting their message across, the user experience, marketing, social media, and the business side of things like the accounts.

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You’ve worked with a real range of clients, have there been some highlights?

We’ve had such an incredible range of different people that we’ve worked with, which is something we absolutely love. Since launching Ready Steady Websites®, we’ve increased the diversity of the people we work with massively.

It’s hard to think of highlights because everyone’s so different but one of them who is so fun to work with is a guy called Tom Morley. He was a founding member of the band Scritti Politti; he’s a drummer and now instead of being a rock star he uses his drumming as a team-building tool.

We work with a couple of authors who are published by Hay House, and they have been so wonderful to work with not only because their work is interesting but also because they have championed us. One of them is Dr.David Hamilton; he’s a medical doctor who believes in the holistic approach to health and I find that personally really interesting. Hay House now recommends us to their authors for their websites.

We’ve also worked with Mark Stevenson, who’s on Jon Richardson’s podcast. I love the podcast and think that Jon Richardson is a brilliant comedian so when Mark Stevenson came to us that was definitely another highlight.

What’s the concept of Ready Steady Websites® and how have you incorporated it into your business model?

Through 2nd Floor we were starting to work with a lot of entrepreneurs who all essentially wanted similar websites with nothing particularly bespoke. They were struggling with paying a bespoke amount for a website, but they wanted something more than a DIY service so that’s when we created Ready Steady Websites®.

We created a range of website templates that have been designed with different business niches in mind. We set it all up for them with their branding, logo, fonts, and colours; they’re in control of their website and can make changes and manage it themselves; and we take away the tech headache.

Now if people want a bespoke website, we tend to start with one of our Ready Steady Websites® templates and add to it. It’s much more budget-friendly for the clients and it also means that they can be in control of their own website.

"Add new content to your website regularly. It keeps your content fresh and professional to your clients and it’s really good for SEO."

What are your top tips for things that everyone should do with their websites?

I’ve got loads of top tips! One thing everybody should be doing is building their email list through their website. Collate emails through a simple lead magnet like a free download. Lots of our clients find that they are more successful sending to an email list than by just using social media.

Another tip I would give is that on your homepage above the fold (before you scroll) you should have a clear statement so that as soon as someone hits your page, they absolutely know what you do. There should also be two call-to-action buttons that are seen instantly – one that leads to your email list builder and one that leads to the main purpose of your website.

And add new content to your website regularly – at least once a month. That could be long-form content like a blog post or small changes like adding a testimonial. It keeps your content fresh and professional to your clients and it’s really good for SEO.

What are the current trends in websites and what do you think the future holds?

We’re seeing a lot of personal brand trends at the moment. People are really buying into the people buy from people ethos, getting themselves seen on their website – lots of personal branding, photography, and big, bold images across hero areas.

Things are also going back to simple websites that work well. We went through a phase of everyone wanting to do the parallax with moving imagery and I think people have come away from that a little bit now. Over 50% of browsing is done on mobile phones so you want your website to be a simple design – nice and clean, easy to use, and easy to read.

"We're seeing a lot of personal brand trends at the moment. People are really buying into the people buy from people ethos."

Jude Wharton - Business Director, 2nd Floor Designs Ltd

How do you like to spend your time outside of the business?

I spend a lot of my time led by our children’s activities – football, street dance, and theatre.

Swimming and walking are things I enjoy doing when I have some time for myself.

We also have a campervan – we enjoy days out and camping trips, but I’m definitely a warm-weather camper!

Who do you read or follow for inspiration?

Donald Miller – the CEO of the marketing company StoryBrand – is someone that we follow and look up to in the business world.

He’s got a book called Building a StoryBrand, which we recommend to so many people because what it says about websites, and marketing, is so on-point.

Jude Wharton