Wrapping up 2021

Image of motorbike on open road

After a long, sometimes strange and challenging year, we’re finally taking a breather. Hard to believe 2021 is almost over. Given the ongoing impact of covid and the challenges many businesses have faced, I’m thankful to say, despite a few challenges, due to the type of work we do and the clients we work with, myself and the team at Arktouros have been busy delivering projects throughout the year.

Here’s a brief overview of some of the projects we’ve been working on. If you’d like to know more or find out how we can help your plans, feel free to contact us and we’ll be happy to have a chat.

We’ve done a lot of work for The Scottish Parliament this year and over the last 18 months or so. We designed and built a real-time voting system to allow chamber proceedings to continue whilst MSPs worked remotely. Our work on that was a key component of the wider Virtual Proceedings project that won the Digital Public Services Award in the December 2020 Scottish Public Service Awards, a great accolade and one we’re very proud to have been part of.

Image of Scottish Parliament Digital Voting site, in development.
Image of Scottish Parliament Digital Voting site, in development.

We also did a full website build project, again for The Scottish Parliament, completed at the start of this year and then handed over to their in-house development team who now manage it. We’re continuing to work with and provide support to the team, particularly around the introduction of new features.

Image of The Scottish Parliament full website build
Image of The Scottish Parliament full website build

As well as having a lot of experience working with public and government sector clients, we also work with a wide variety of private sector organisations. In addition to our longer-term client partnerships and support services, the team have also enjoyed working on a number of quick turnaround projects this year – in the financial, academic, automotive and charity sectors. This ranged from providing fill-in support on specific projects, to site reviews, updates and upgrades, troubleshooting and advisory services around strategy and priority development areas.

Business support – partnership and white label solutions

Over recent months it’s felt generally that everyone is starting to feel more positive and look forward again. Of course, things remain changeable as we’re all familiar with by now and there are still challenges (as well as opportunities) for many businesses.

Over the years we’ve worked in various ways with a wide range of agencies across the UK and some of the biggest brands in the world, something we continue to do. We often provide business support through tailored partnership/white label solutions to deliver projects quickly and to budget. For larger agencies we provide support to help fill skills gaps and supplement the services of their in-house teams. For example, if you have a project you can’t deliver due to lack of resource (a real challenge for many businesses earlier this year due to the pingdemic) or maybe you have inexperienced developers who need additional support, that’s where we help.

Image of plans and notes for The Scottish Parliament prototype website
Work in progress – notes for The Scottish Parliament prototype website

Sometimes that means we resource full projects, or it might mean we help out with specific functionality, or simply deal with that annoying bug list that no one has time to look at and just won’t go away.

Generally speaking, we support our clients by finding solutions and taking the pain away, and nothing phases us.  Our core offering is Sitecore/.Net development and we offer not only development expertise, but Sitecore marketing, Azure DevOps, Enterprise search and a whole host of other services.

With over 20 years web and over 10 years Sitecore experience, we’ve seen it all, from small bug fixes, and upgrades, through to full multi-site / multi-lingual builds and maintenance, for some of the world’s biggest brands, and some of the smallest!

Making the most of your budget

With the end of the calendar year just a couple of weeks away and the new UK financial year starting in just a few months, many businesses are planning how to make the most of any remaining allocated budgets as well as starting planning for the new financial year. If you haven’t already, now’s a good time to start thinking about it.

Costs and budgets are always a concern for businesses, particularly for small and medium size organisations. We all want to make sure we make the most of the budgets we have available and get best value, as well as setting realistic budgets and priorities in the first place.

We work closely with all our clients to understand their pain points and what’s most important to them and their business. We help find the best, most effective approaches and solutions. Even if you’re not sure which areas to focus your time, effort and spend on or what a realistic budget or expected outcomes might be, that’s fine, we have many years of experience to share with you. We offer implementation and code reviews so you can find out what’s going on with your site and we help you identify the priority areas to focus on, that will really make a difference to your business.

What next?

Drone flying, Scotland in the snow
Scotland in the snow

We have some exciting plans for next year, including moving to our new studio in Glasgow with over double the space we have now! We’ll share more about that and other news next year.

For now, we’re going to enjoy all that Glasgow and Scotland has to offer – beautiful views, experiences, sights, sounds and open roads as 2021 draws to a close, and we look forward to 2022.

Thanks to everyone we’ve worked with this year, clients, partners and agencies. We wish you a safe, happy and enjoyable festive break and look forward to a positive, inspiring new year.

If you’d like to have a chat about any of our work or to find out how we can support your projects, web development challenges or other plans, contact us and we’ll be happy to discuss.

Publishing Alerts

Problem: With a large number of content editors, publishing content across a large site. Site admins wanted to be alerted when certain areas of the site get updated. The client did not want to use workflows, as they felt this slowed the content creation process.

Solution: Custom Publishing Alerts, with hooks into a couple of Sitecore events and some tinkering and we are there.

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Happy Birthday to us!!

We Are 3!

We have made it through the terrible two’s and are now a fully fledged toddler!

all the late nights, weekend working, and stress has helped us to get to where we are.

I still find it hard to believe we have made it to this milestone, we have trebled in size, moved into a nice big studio space with even more space to expand, have wonderful clients, and interesting projects, on both the web and UAV sides of the business.

I can’t thank our clients, partners, and staff enough for their ongoing support and encouragement.

Hopefully will be posting this again in another year!

The Story Continues..

space wall mural

Back in August, we brought on Caitlin as an intern. She is a Digital Art graduate from UWS who was trying to land her first grad job. She has been a web design enthusiast since a young age, and was trying to get back into this sector as her career. Caitlin was beginning the process of building her part-time business website from scratch, and our offer of an internship meant she had access to help from us if needed.

A couple of weeks ago, Caitlin joined us on a full-time basis to learn to become a developer through our training (think “wax on, wax off”) Caitlin has been designing our new t-shirts and mugs, these are heading to a client site near you soon, as well as getting up to speed with content editing client websites. In the New Year, when the weather improves, we will let her spread her wings and try some flying. Caitlin has also been great in helping Rosie, our studio partner, BlueStar Streamings’ intern, to create our fun, space-themed wall mural for the new office, which we hoped to have finished by Christmas, but isn’t far from completion now.

Caitlin has been an amazing addition to the team, bringing her own style, and energy to the studio.

Caitlin and Ash will be let loose on Sitecore as soon as possible, this will allow us to move forward with our plans for world domination aka Sitecore partnership.

Overall, its been a fantastic few months, we are excited to see what 2019 holds for us here at Arktouros, with old clients coming back for more, and new projects on the horizon.

The Story So Far..

New Office

It has been a while since our last blog post, but we have had lots of great things going on, so let’s have a bit of a catch up.

Around six months ago, we brought Ash on to our dev team. Ash has a longstanding history in programming, games design, and development, having worked in the industry for over ten years, and recently graduating from the UWS Game Development course.

Ash has been helping us with the front end side of our current big build project, which is all very hush hush for now. He is doing a fantastic job.

Ash is very quickly becoming a core part of the team, with our aspirations for VR/AR and 360 immersive video, he will be key to making this a success.

In other news, we have also moved! We are now based at our new office space along the street at The Galleries, 151 Broad Street, G40 2QR. A bigger office space has allowed us to do more, as well as expand the team, feel free to drop by for a coffee / beer, more on this in another post.

Other side of the fence

As I hope you are aware, I have been working with the Sitecore platform for nearly 8 years now, and have developed against / enhanced it for a multitude of projects/sites which I have enjoyed immensely, and I am yet to find a limitation to the platform.

More recently I have had the pleasure of working directly with the Sitecore Professional Services team, working on the new v9.x EXM platform to extend the event tracking capabilities, and integration with 3rd party systems, it was extremely strange working inside the Sitecore namespace, rather than on a clients codebase. It felt like I had made it to the top table of Sitecore developers in Europe.

It was an amazing experience, working with the product teams, architects, developers and 3rd party suppliers, this really gave me a fuller appreciation for the entire platform, the passion that the teams show for the individual products that make up Sitecore CXP is commendable, and give me hope for the future of the platform.

so what insights I have gathered working on a large scale Sitecore 9 project, with Sitecore Professional Services…

I love xConnect, it makes working with contact data so much easier. No more complex custom queries into the Analytics DB, a few simple API calls and you have what you need. easily extendable using custom facets, and the speed it works at is quite remarkable.

  • Full Azure PaaS support, with simple setup
  • EXM works brilliantly (available in  v9 Update 1)
  • Solr has its quirks, but that was more to do wiht he Azure environment, so can’t really blame Solr
  • Everything is polished nicely and feels more robust that previous releases.

There are tons of other new features that I have yet to fully explore.

one main thing I picked up, was always allow extra time for 3rd party suppliers to complete tasks, no matter how big your organisation is.

if you have a problem with your Sitecore implementation or need a new one, get in touch we can help you out, no matter what version you are running.


The sky’s the limit…..

cambusnethan prioiry

or so they say, but not for us anymore.

Our Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) journey started way back in 2013, when we built our first drone, it didn’t end well.

A few years later and a new chapter for Arktouros, we are still offering the same expert level of development/marketing skills and experience, but we are now offering aerial video and photography to our ever growing list of services.

Continue reading “The sky’s the limit…..”