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JH: The First Agency to Successfully Deploy a PWA on the Magento Platform

February 23, 2021

5 Min Read
WeareJh - Success Story

We are always on the lookout for inspirational stories of agencies and agency owners that can share the secrets of their success with our readers.

Recently we spoke to Jamie Huskisson, CEO and dynamite force behind UK-based specialist Magento ecommerce agency JH. We’re thankful he shared his amazing journey with us! Here’s what he had to say…

The Journey Begins

At the start, it was about creating something better than what I’d seen out there. Eleven years ago, not many agencies were really focused on their team as much as they were on the client’s work. They delivered work, got it done, and moved onto the next job. Their team turned up, got the job done, and went home uninspired. 

If you were an exception to the rule, your team spoke at conferences and shared processes publicly.

“You educated each other and helped each other grow, learning from your mistakes.”

I wanted to see more of that process. To put a team in place that would challenge each other to raise the standard in and out of the company.

Prior to founding JH, I had spent some time writing the first “Magento Developer’s Guide” book in what is now a long-running series at PackT. I had also spent a lot of time with systems far inferior to Magento. Experiencing the community, getting to know so many wonderful people that I’ll still message weekly even now, that combination was electric. It drove me to specialize in only Magento and ecommerce. 

We’re fortunate to see so many great agencies in the Magento space pushing as hard as they do for change and innovation at various levels. It’s special to be a part of it, and it makes all of our work better.

To now be running Meet Magento UK, when way back then it was the first Magento event we’d attended as a team – I see that as part of a circle of creating that same experience for newbies that I/we also had. I’ve heard from a ton of people that created their businesses together after meeting at the event, or found their dream employer, or found out a new technology/idea that changed their whole approach. It’s a great cycle to be a part of. 

Challenges Lead to Success

It’s tough to remember 11 years ago, at the beginning! At the time, the challenges were, and I think even now continue to be, about taking on clients or people that have been ‘burnt’ elsewhere. Whether that’s because of a bad service provided, a bad experience with their previous employer, or any other reason, that will always be a challenge. 

It can be difficult sometimes to understand why those problems have occurred, but also, it’s genuinely difficult to break down the barriers or walls that people have put up as a result of the problems they’ve had in the previous relationship. 

Sometimes this means we can’t work with people, regardless of the potential, and it’s a really tough lesson to learn to say ‘no’ when you’re talking to a household name, or someone you’ve admired for years. 

Notable Achievements

“Winning four back-to-back ‘Best Mobile Commerce Experience’ awards at Magento Imagine’s ecommerce excellence awards, has to be right up there. It’s a real statement of our work, to be validated on such a big stage. “

Besides the awards, one of the things that means the most to us as a company is building 4 of the fastest PWAs in the world for our clients. We dove into Magento PWA with both feet, and

“We were the very first agency to successfully deploy a PWA on the Magento platform.”

Years on, having learned from all the work we’ve done in serious detail, we’re happy to be in the position we’re in.

Why Magento?

Magento ‘changed the game’ when it came about.

We believe whilst others are out there doing the same today in many different ways alongside Magento, there’s still nothing precisely like it in the market.

It’s the ability to not be limited by the platform in the experience we can deliver for both our merchant’s teams and also their customers, that matters most to us. Magento isn’t beaten on that front. 

A Better Experience

It’s all about the end-user. How can we surpass the customer’s expectations and give them a fantastic experience that will bring them back time and again? What can we add that will help our clients speed up workflows and help customers faster?

“No matter what part of the site we’re working on, it’s all about how it will benefit the customer – and the client – and that influences every decision we make.”

Motivation During COVID-19 Pandemic

We took what we did before – trying to create experiences to bring our team together – and adapted it to a virtual setting. Yoga, exercise, meditation sessions, regular breaks, Friday drinks, regular quizzes, remotely-played games – it was all part of keeping our team talking and enjoying each other’s company. 

WeareJH Employee Workstation - WFH

We were very fortunate to already be in a remote-first type setup (with a complimentary office), so the adaption for us was largely around how to take that to an “ok, everybody’s now at home at the same time” setup. 

Our awesome People Experience Manager Emmy also does a brilliant job of arranging social events that everyone can take part in – from weekly quizzes and communal catch-ups to festive celebrations like gingerbread house decorating via Zoom call! 

WeareJH Employee Workstation - WFH

We also stepped up our communications. We created a dedicated channel for what was going on, what was changing, and what the plans were. We tried to not shy away from giving the team updates on what was going on, and we’d like to think that brought us closer together. After all, we were all part of the solutions required so we could be motivated as a team to step forward into the problems caused. 

WeareJH Employee Workstation - WFH

Coping with Magento 1 EOL

Firstly, I’d say that regardless of the platform a merchant happens to be on, it has to work for them. For some, that’s something they’ve built and scaled themselves. For others, it’s a system that takes six months to get a feature live. It could be still different for the rest, Magento 1, in some sense, is no different than that. 

There are brands that want to keep Magento 1 in place, because it works so well for them, and they shouldn’t feel they need to move because of external pressures. In my opinion, Magento has handled the transition very well. It’s provided lots of time, lots of communications, and has been transparent throughout the Magento 1 ‘end of life’ process. 

But we all knew it was coming sooner or later, right? For us, we transitioned away from Magento 1 year ago, but that suits our personal approach and how we work with our clients. Because we don’t work with everybody/anybody, we can’t say that’s the way everybody else has gone. You do you. 

Advice to Beginners

Always ask questions. When you’re a newbie, that naivety can be really useful – there’s no such thing as a stupid question!

“Your point of view as a newbie or outsider could be an angle or solution no-one’s ever thought of before – and the more you know, the more of a difference you can make.”

You will be blessed with a gluttony of wonderful people, events, and pockets of communities over every platform/system/network you can think of. 

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Ashmal ur Rehman

Ashmal is the Magento Community Manager at Cloudways. He loves helping out merchants and developers in establishing and maintaining online stores. In addition, he is often busy interacting with the Magento community and figuring out integration tactics for emerging tech. When not working, you could find him playing COD & CS GO. Feel free to contact him at [email protected]

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