New staff, new sites, and better security: our 2017 in review

It has been a while since our last blog post and that reflects how busy a year 2017 has been for Castlegate IT. We have launched new sites for new clients and taken on new projects for many of our existing clients. We have introduced new security features and started building ecommerce websites with WordPress. And our team has expanded, with new members of staff bringing new skills and capabilities to the company.

New clients and old friends

Our portfolio of websites has continued to grow, with the addition of major new sites for local, national, and international organizations. We have also taken a number of sites for academic networks, bringing together researchers from across the UK. Here are just a few highlights from the year:

  • Rosti Automotive is an internationally recognized manufacturer of components for the automotive industry, with several facilities across the UK. We designed and built a new website for Rosti as part of their 2017 rebranding process.
  • Harsh UK supplies precision hydraulic equipment, with customers throughout the UK. We worked with their existing unique branding and artwork to design and build a new WordPress website that showcases their products.
  • Artemisia F1 Seed is a responsive site built for the Centre for Novel Agricultural Products at the University of York that aims to promote a new seed variety with potential pharmaceutical uses.
  • The Connected Virus Network, based at the University of Bristol, aims to support research into plant viruses in Africa. We produced a new site for the network, including events management and a members directory, to encourage information sharing and communication between researchers and practitioners.
  • I Know Food is major project being carried out by three UK universities aimed at improving research in the agricultural and food sectors. Their new website provides news and events information for researchers around the world.

We also started building ecommerce sites with WordPress, using the powerful WooCommerce plugin. In December 2017, Hattie Lloyd became our first WordPress ecommerce website, selling high quality home decorating products. We have two more in the pipeline that will be launching soon and several more WooCommerce sites lined up to keep us busy well into 2018.

Of course we haven’t forgotten about our existing clients and 2017 has seen lots of new work for some of our old friends too. Logopak and Inner Space Stations are just two long standing clients who received new designs and new website features in the past year.

New staff

Director Andy wins Christmas with his LED jumper at Secret Santa time.

We were very pleased to welcome two new staff members to the team in 2017. Dawn Exton is our new office administrator and already we can’t remember how we organised everything without her. She also quickly adopted a lead role in Christmas development – this year saw our first Secret Santa. James Hadley became the latest member of the development team in June and got stuck into writing code for old and new sites from his first day.

Advanced security

We take website security very seriously and 2017 has seen Castlegate IT introduce a number of technologies and practices to keep our clients’ websites, and their customers, safe. We have adopted new, best-in-class security plugins and written our own plugins to monitor and protect our WordPress sites. We have also begun regular security audits of all our websites to make sure they are always protected.

2017 has also seen widespread adoption of HTTPS, which provides encryption between your browser and the web server. You have probably noticed the little green padlock icon in your browser’s address bar, which indicates a secure connection. We have been using the community-led Let’s Encrypt service to provide HTTPS on all our new websites and we have introduced it on many of our older sites as well.

Events and training

Andy, Richard and Sam at WordCamp 2017 in London.

New technologies, new ideas, and new security threats mean that you can never know enough about web development. We have attended a number of events and conferences in 2017 to expand our knowledge and learn from the experience of others in our industry:

Community fund

As part of our ethical policy, and because we like to give back to the community and share our successes, the team at Castlegate IT nominate and vote for organisations that will receive donations from our Community Fund. In 2017, we donated money to the following good causes:

  • Cancer Research UK: supporting cancer treatment and research.
  • Code Club: a nationwide network that supports volunteers and educators who teach coding skills to young people.
  • Open Country: helping people with disabilities to access the countryside.
  • Liberty: an independent charity promoting civil liberties and human rights in the UK.

Looking forward to 2018

We have lots more work in the pipeline for 2018, including WordPress, ecommerce, and bespoke development projects. And perhaps we can do something for you too. If you’re interested in a new website or you want to sell products online, please get in touch!