Websites for Doctors and Enterprise
My pervious company for which I was the CTO for its three year duration before acquisition. While there, I managed roughly 80 sites and built a framework and roadmap for success.
Joining the Hedgehog team was the offer of a lifetime and my first venture into entrepreneurship. Alongside Nick (Sales, Management) and Tony (Design, SEO, Management) we were able to build a company over three years from the ground up with a loyal base of clients who gushed about us, eventually ending an a great acquisition.
Hedgehog specialized in websites and minimal marketing for doctors, specifically those in the podiatry (feet!). It was just by chance the market opened in a way which we could really utilize our talents together to help some doctor that struggled in that space and it really took off.
At Hedgehog, my skills in WordPress took major leaps; not only in how to build individual sites, but how to manage them on a mass scale with minimal effort required to keep them going strong and maintained by less technical team members. During the time, I managed or participated in well over 75 sites with varying degrees of complexity while also planning the future roadmap of development and executing it on a rolling basis. It was a lot of work, but honestly, I couldn’t have asked for anything better: I was required to plan and prioritize appropriately, while also making sure long development was moving and stayed relevant to our work’s needs.
It was here I began to expand my knowledge of plugins and the real inner workings of WordPress, eventually mocking it out in a set of tools I internally named PressKit. Using this toolkit (which was composed of Symfony components, a LESS engine, and some other dependency plugins) I was able to modularize site features and themes bits-and-pieces in order to keep the sites up-to-date and internally similar. For example: site’s that contained Testimonials for sites all utilized the same plugin and the parent themes supplied default templates; doctors who wanted additional customizations just had adjustments made to their child themes. Or, when Google began requiring scripts to be loaded lack, it easy easy to modify PressKit’s higher level interface to work lower in WordPress’s loop, giving our sites additional optimizations that weren’t normally possible.
There was so much more though, that’s just the tip of the iceberg as far as development went: I developed in-depth strategies for working with WordPress and Google’s Pagespeed; I built into WordPress’s customizer for website style updates without any knowledge of HTML or CSS, created update servers and oversaw update maintenance, and even got the chance to build (and manage) enterprise level sites like aappm.org with several hundred members and thousands of monthly views. Even saying the experience, knowledge, and skill I gained here as a developer was invaluable is an understatement.
Hedgehog is also where I really began to understand how the inner workings of a business operate by being a big part of that structure. It helped me become a business guy, not just a creative. Through our lifetime, we remained a relatively small company but retained a solid administrative structure thanks to my partners; I learned a lot by working by their side like how to grow healthy companies that have value and worth in addition to the operational knowledge I started with.
It was also here that I began to really head my own teams and big projects. Though they were often small, I did my best to make sure, even in the event of stress or major hold ups, we, as a whole, put our heads up and prevailed. Here I learned the what works and experienced many times where things didn’t, only to discover how to best move forward from that. This is also a reason why I loved our client base so much: they continually pushed our team to become greater, which only helped us to to do the best to get them to stand out. It was a lot of work, both as a member of the team and a coordinator, but I don’t think I could have had it any other way.
I believe I often say it’s hard to summarize the things I’ve done or learned, but in this case, it really is impossible. Not only did my skills as a developer explode, I learned some important business management skills that I wouldn’t have built without being a part of my own company alongside such great partners with. I also couldn’t have asked for a better team throughout: they made my process of growing into a coordinator painless.
Basically: 10/10, would do again.