Brand-New Websites Funded Through Accelerate Ashington
One significant expense that can pose a barrier to digital growth within a business is the creation of a company website. A professional website often serves as the initial impression a customer forms of your business and is a key indicator of credibility. Typically, businesses desire a functional, professional, and visually appealing website, but all these features come at a cost. The funds needed to hire a web developer can significantly impact your budget, discouraging many businesses that could otherwise benefit from having a website, leading them to delay or even opt against getting one. Accelerate Ashington promised to eliminate this obstacle for several local businesses through the delivery of Website Design & Development Grants to ease the financial burden of development.
Accelerate Ashington is a programme managed by Advanced Northumberland and is funded by the UK Government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, with the North of Tyne Combined Authority as the lead authority.
The Design & Development grants were made available for Ashington based businesses to support projects valued between £1,000 and £5,000, accessible through a competitive application process. Each business had the opportunity to select their own suppliers and submit applications for the expected project costs. This was all done to give the business owners the flexibility to select a developer that fit their specific requirements.
The open call for applications was live from 20th February until Friday 28th April 2023, during which the programme received 15 total applications. Each application underwent a competitive assessment based on our evaluation criteria, including viability and the value added to businesses. Ultimately, nine applications were successful, with a combined value of £40,000.
Though the businesses that applied for these grants were from many different sectors all found that it was a necessary step for the growth of their business. The value of a professionally developed website cannot be understated. With the deadline now complete and all websites having completed development we have reached out to a few of the businesses to showcase their new landing pages.
Gravity Heating Ltd
Rory is an accredited and trusted heating engineer, providing reliable boiler and heating services throughout Northumberland. With over 20 years’ experience in the industry and a history in tap manufacturing at a busy plumber’s merchant, Rory used his wealth of knowledge to start Gravity Heating. Gravity Heating provides reliable boiler and heating services in Ashington, Northumberland and the surrounding areas. The goal of his development was to add additional pages to his existing website and add payment functionality.
Rory said during his application, “Having the ability to take service bookings online and offer finance will increase boiler sales and improve my booking procedure for servicing gas appliances. Impact on turnover would add minimum of 50% to my boiler sales”
Inspired Product Design
Tony’s business designs and manufactures niche system office furniture. System office furniture differs from normal office furniture as it can be configured into a number of unique spaces such as meeting rooms, learning spaces, breakout spaces, storage areas etc. The goal of the website’s development was to provide the business with landing page and a configuration tool that customers can use to visualise and design their own product.
Tony said about the new functionality, “It would effectively be like have a salesperson always working, 24 hours a day. Providing quotes for products so as they are not reliant on me returning an enquiry.”
The Sewing Machine Guy
The Sewing Machine Guy is Ian – a professional, reliable sewing machine mechanic with decades of experience. Over 30 years in fact! With an impressive knowledge of all makes and models, and an outstanding reputation for machine repairs. He runs a family business that offers domestic sewing machine sales, service & repairs, haberdashery, crafts, fabrics, wool, beads & much more.
Though they had an existing website, it was providing very limited sales and was difficult to update and maintain. With the grant funding they hoped to add increased functionality and improve the design to have wider appeal and link to social media.
Pride Action North
Pride Action North is an LGBTQIA+ charity. It started life very differently back in August 2017 the aim was to bring visibility to Northumberland through events, commonly known as Pride. Since then, the charity has gone from strength to strength, from a predominantly volunteer led charity to employing 9 staff by December 2023, we are a major source of support for LGBTQIA+ people across Northumberland and Tyne and Wear and are proud to have their base Ashington.
Their original website was not fit for purpose and described by Darren Irvine-Duffy, the chair at Pride Action North as ‘fundamentally broken’.
They’ve said of the newly developed site: ‘The standout value so far is that everyone who has accessed our website has said how amazing and clear it is. We’re already seeing results through our training offer and new business, a way we raise money to deliver our services. We have seen referrals increase, it’s much easier for individuals to refer themselves or others to use.’
All nine of the initial grant claims have been fulfilled as part of Accelerate Ashington and there are still plans for further delivery. A second open call was held in September 2023 which allowed for four additional applications with a development deadline set for March 2024 and there are plans for a third and final call to take place in early 2024.
For more information about the programme and to register please go to: www.AccelerateAshington.com or contact the team at: AccelerateAshington@advancenorthumberland.co,uk