Here at TJS, we are in a celebratory mood as we turn 20 this month! From modest and humble beginnings, TJS has grown into an award-winning web design company, perfectly placed to support 21st century businesses.
Our director, Richard, joined TJS shortly after its launch in August 1999, just as the company was starting out from a small office in Horncastle. Proud of our Lincolnshire roots, we are still in our wonderful market town, with a client base that has grown to be not only local and national, but international as well.
Reminiscing about the early years at TJS, we can clearly see the giant leaps that have been made in the online world in the last 20 years – Google was an infant and the verb ‘to Google’ didn’t exist; if we wanted to know something, we asked Jeeves!
How things have changed since 1999
- July – eBay launches in the UK in July and the first Blackberry is released.
- August – TJS Online Ltd is born. 2 staff with backgrounds in design, programming and marketing launch TJS as a digital agency. In those days 3 letter domains were still available!
- Connecting to the internet to send and receive emails and upload website code was done just twice a day. Ah, the glorious sound of dial-up!
- TJS wins its first prestigious client, J. Barbour & Sons. Shortly afterwards the new Barbour Wax Jackets website is launched to the world.
- Gumtree is born and RSS (‘Really Simple Syndication’) feeds makes blogs easy to follow.
- TJS staff favours Google as a new, cool search engine because it delivered more accurate search results.
- 9/11. Working in the office. The terrible news gets phoned through from a member of staff on leave at the time. Frantic searches of US news channels on the web, to find out more, prove fruitless as the influx of global visitor numbers increase by the second. All major US news outlets’ websites crash under the weight of traffic, showcasing the infancy and fragility of web infrastructure. This highlighted to the world that, even as we were entering a new millennium, television still remained the most reliable news medium and would for many years to come.
- Microsoft launches Xbox Live, its online multiplayer gaming service. ”Critics scoffed at the idea, noting how uncommon broadband connections were at the time.”
- The professional networking site LinkedIn launches while Myspace is aimed at a teen user base.
- Google rocks website owners and developers with its first ‘update’. Called the ‘Google Florida Update’ it signalled a new era of SEO. Websites that used spammy tactics of the previous decade e.g., keyword stuffing and invisible text to rank for high-commercial keywords, saw their rankings wiped out right before the lucrative holiday season. Thankfully these weren’t practices we entertained, but enjoyed pressing Ctrl+A (select all) on other high profile websites to see how much white text on white background they’d hidden!
- WordPress is released, and so is Facebook (but only if you are a student at Harvard!)
- In March, Horncastle and TJS gets broadband!
- Google Analytics is released, providing analytical tools for search engine optimisation (SEO) and marketing. A welcome relief from Webalizer!
- Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. buys MySpace for $580 million (and sells it in 2011 for just $35 million!)
- The world starts tweeting and now anyone with an affiliation to a school or university can use Facebook.
- The verb ‘to Google’ was included in the Oxford English Dictionary for the first time.
- The much anticipated launch of the new iPhone. Yes, we queued for hours outside our local O2 store to pick up our new toy. Little did we know how revolutionary these phones would be.
- The HTC Dream (or T-Mobile G1) is the first smartphone to run Android, and Chrome is released.
- TJS clients start asking for iPhone apps!
- Twitter raises $98m from investors, despite the company not having made a cent prior to that point.
- Microsoft launches Bing, its rival search engine to Google (and we all know how that panned out!)
- We can have Instagram on our phones and pin images to share with friends. 2010 also saw the launch of another game-changing device.. the iPad.
- TJS warns clients of the perils of ignoring the forthcoming ‘Cookies Directive’ from the EU.
- Google Panda was rolled out, the algorithm update that filtered out poor quality content from searches, ranking sites with unique content at the top. Over the years we learnt to fear animal-based updates (such as Pigeon / Penguin / Panda – even the adorable Hummingbird got a mention!)
- Searching becomes easier. We can ask ‘where is there a chemist in Lincoln?’ rather than ‘chemist Lincoln’.
- Apple says its app store downloads top 40 billion, with 20 billion of these taking place in 2012 alone.
- Facebook buys messaging app Whatsapp for $19 billion.
- TJS now builds all its sites to be mobile friendly.
- TJS embarks on its first major ‘Black Friday’ campaign.
- Mobile searches top 50%, placing mobile-friendly websites at the forefront of our business.
- TJS has a pre-emptive confidence that HTTPS will become a prerequisite for a successful website.
- TJS becomes a Google Partner!
- Google shifts it focus to the user experience, with the emphasis on original and premium content.
- TJS trials the new Google Home, ahead of its UK launch. To this day we have to tell it off for butting in to our conversations in the office! (We mention the ‘G’ word quite a lot as you can imagine).
- Ahead of the field in encouraging our clients to become GDPR compliant, TJS warns of the impending marginalisation of HTTP by Google.
Today, our web developers have the skills and expertise to create websites that fulfil our clients’ requirements – from brochure sites to bespoke projects – while our designers are at the cutting edge of iconic logo design and brand development. Our content writers reflect the voice of our clients throughout their sites, social media platforms and stationery, and our project managers will guide our clients from initial contact to completed project. Throw into the mix our award-winning photographer and Civil Aviation Authority approved aerial drone photography operator, and you will understand why we are so proud of our diversity and technical prowess.
The partnerships we have formed with our amazing clients are at the heart of what we do, and when we look back at how far the industry has come, we look forward with excitement and anticipation to the next 20 years. Bring it on!