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Designer of Arctic Monkey’s first website sees business expand

A Barnsley digital marketing , whose managing director designed the Arctic Monkeys’ first website, has doubled its turnover and is set to treble the size of its studio space and create jobs.

Genius Division’s managing director James Sheriff designed and developed the Sheffield rock stars’ first website when he was a student with band members Alex, Matt and Nick at Barnsley College ten years ago.

James said:

was one of the first websites I built and I did as a favour as we were mates and we were all just starting out.

“I’ve followed their career since of course, but we’ve not really kept in touch unfortunately.”

James’ own career in digital design has moved on from this celebrity start and in 2010 he and fellow web developer Craig Burgess set up online marketing agency Genius Division.

Mobile app specialist Richard Keys joined them 18 months later.

The three-strong team – with Craig and Richard as creative and technical director respectively – recruited a fourth web developer, Oliver Farrell, to cope with a fast-growing workload  a few months ago and have now decided it is time to take the business to the next level and expand operations further.

The company has just recruited its fifth team member, , and has plans to create more skilled jobs when it moves from its Barnsley town centre base to a studio three times the size at Barnsley Business and Innovation Centre, Wilthorpe, next month.

Genius Division’s expansion is being supported by , a business support programme delivered by Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council, which supports businesses with growth potential.

James added:

“Our strategy is simple. Our expertise lies in digital design and online marketing and we aim to be the best at that.

“We design everything from responsive websites and e-commerce functions to applications for mobile devices.

“The market for apps is expanding all the time and this is a huge growth area for us. There are still very few agencies in our region that can offer this expertise to the level we can.”

Genius Division has a company policy of not offering every aspect of design and marketing in-house, but instead works closely with partner agencies to comprehensively meet clients’ needs.

James said:

“We can’t stand the idea of trying to do everything ourselves and just doing ‘an okay job’.

“We have developed our reputation as digital design specialists and built our business on proper two-way collaboration with partners.

“For example, we ask partners to take on any print work and they come to us to deliver complex online work.”

Genius Division have developed responsive websites for Barnsley-based accountancy firm GBAC and London-based business enterprise Active Minds, which develops products to help people with dementia.

They’ve worked on digital marketing resources for clients such as household cleaning giant Starbrands, charitable organisation Brass Bands and lobbying group the Ethical Fashion Forum.

The team has built an online shop for Ilkley-based children’s bed retailer Room to Grow, which has handled over £1million worth of sales in its first year, and  a mobile app for I Do Magazine, which helps brides-to-be organise everything for their big day via the UK publication’s online wedding directory.

James says that, as their client list has grown, the company has matured and its focus sharpened.

He said:

“I suppose a year ago, the three us were quite happy just doing whatever work we could handle between us.

“But then we realised there was so much more we could do. We decided Genius Division’s way forward lies in growth and we look forward to creating more jobs for talented young developers.

“In the ever-changing world of digital it’s essential to keep on top of developments and we look forward to expanding the team and always keeping ahead of the game.”

Enterprising Barnsley has helped Genius Division formulate its business plan and human resources, as well as prepare for the move to their new 1,000 square feet business premises.

Enterprising Barnsley business development manager Angela Pedley said:

“As a relatively young CDI sector company Genius Division has grown very well during its first three years and it is great to see that they have such a clear strategy for growth.

“We are delighted to support their business development and celebrate their success within Barnsley’s booming creative and digital economy.”

Enterprising Barnsley is supported financially by the European Union and has attracted £2,259,511 investment from the European Regional Development Fund as part of Europe’s support for the region’s economic development, through the Yorkshire and Humber ERDF Programme.

Genius Division's James Sheriff, Craig Burgess, Aaron Linley, Oliver Farrell and Richard Keys
Pictured from left are Genius Division managing director James Sheriff, creative director Craig Burgess, web designers Aaron Linley and Oliver Farrell and technical director Richard Keys


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