This “interview with a web design company” was conducted by a student looking to go into graphic and website design. As a web design company dedicated to our local community, we try to help out as much as we can. We have been contacted several times by career advisers at local trade schools to see if their web and graphic design students can conduct informational interviews. The goal of these interviews is to get students to think about how they can enter into the graphic and web design world. Below is a list of questions and answers from one of the latest informational interviews.
Question #1: How did you get started as a business/freelance designer?
We started out of necessity. In 2012 I was the Program Director for my mom’s company, Kathy Sisk Enterprises. I was in charge of running marketing campaigns for at least 7 companies, which meant I had to find the graphic designers, web developers and online marketers to accomplish our marketing needs, while maintaining brand consistency. It didn’t work. I wasted THOUSANDS of dollars marketing in the wrong places getting ripped off, lied to, and being fed false promises.
We took a hiatus from outsourcing these services, and developed our own in-house marketing division responsible for doing all of the graphic design, web development, and online marketing. We started servicing only our own needs, and then eventually opened our services to the public and it took off. We found that the vast majority of our clients had the same exact experiences that we did, so we developed our business around doing the opposite of what everyone else was doing.
Question #2: What sets you apart from your competitors?
Customer service, quality of work and affordability. The level of customer service with a lot of our competitors is just sad. Even simple things like picking up the phone when your clients call, giving weekly status reports on the development of their websites, follow through, etc… the list goes on. We aim to sell by serving – hence the name, Butler. Our quality of work is the same, if not better than many high-end marketing and web development firms. The only difference is that we are a fraction of the cost. We do this intentionally because we believe in charging what’s fair (not charging what we can).
We found that for small to medium sized businesses, it was very hard for them to find quality work at a reasonable price. They were either stuck paying tens of thousands of dollars (which they didn’t have) or getting crummy work or service. We aim to bridge the gap for them – offering professional service, great looking graphic and web designs, at an affordable price.
Question #3: What programs do you use?
We use the full Adobe Suite, along with CMS’s such as WordPress, Drupal, etc. We started out hand-coding website, using notepad and Dreamweaver, and doing our Graphics in Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop (for the most part). Eventually, most of our clients wanted the ability to maintain their websites without having to know code, so we were forced to start building sites using CMS’s and PHP. Majority of our sites, now, are built in WordPress and we use Adobe Programs to design the graphics and other elements needed.
Question #4: How do you communicate with your team/clients?
There is daily communication with my in-house staff. As the Operations Manager, I have to make sure I know exactly where we are in the development of each website that my team members are working on. We have an open floor, so we are all in one room; therefore communication is really easy.
We communicate with our clients the traditional ways: email, phone and face-to-face. We have a 6 step process that we follow. You can see the details here: The Process
All of our website are built on our servers while they are being built. We give the clients a live link to their development website so they can see the progression of it as we are building it. Once they are satisfied with the site, we then transfer the site over to the clients hosting server.
Question #5: What are the commonly asked questions you use to find out what your clients are looking for in a design project (especially those who might not be so design savvy)?
My first step in the 6 Step Process is needs analysis. I sit with the clients and learn who they are as a company, what their goals are, and what they expect having a website should do for them. Based on their answers, it’s MY job as a website development and marketing company to inform them of all of the different options they have. It is my job to help them strategize a plan (which is the 2nd step in the 6-step process).
Me and my team come up with a strategy that we believe will work for the client’s online marketing goals, and then we present the strategy to the client. We often use wire-frame example of what their website could look like, and then get their feedback.
Question #6: How do you handle publishing print jobs?
We design all of our graphics in-house, but we do not print in-house. We have a reseller’s license which allows us to partner up with printing companies by being able to purchase their print materials for a discounted price so that we could mark them up and make a profit while offering competitive rates. We have a list of different vendors we use for different applications of print. We have one company for signs and banners, one company for paper materials (business cards, post cards, brochures, etc.) one company for premium business cards (silk laminated, spot UV, etc.) and another company for screen printing and embroidery.
Question #7: What do you charge and why do you charge that?
All of our standard prices are listed on our website. Our prices are based off of $50/hour. It’s a lot lower than most of my competitors, and we do that strategically so that we can offer website designs to small and medium sized companies, as well as mom and pop shops.
Question #8: Do you have a motto or a business tagline to abide by?
Our motto is to sell by serving. Every business says that they offer customer “service”, but few actually abide by the principles of true service. When developing websites and graphics for our customers, we want to make sure they feel like they have been served, not taken advantage of, or treated like a number.
Question #9: How do you best keep up with the changing design trends?
Research. We are always looking at what the latest trends in graphic design and website design, how our competition is attempting to meet these needs, and then formulating a plan to best serve our clients.
Question #10: What have you found to be the best networking opportunities in this field?
Our business is located in Clovis California. Clovis is a real tight knit community, and people tend to stick with one another here. We joined the Clovis Chamber of Commerce when we first started, and it has been really good for us. Since our customers are primarily business owners, the Clovis Chamber of Commerce has been great for networking.
However, you can network until you’re blue in the face, but if you don’t provide excellent service, you’re wasting your time. There is no better advertisement than a job well done. Most of our networking aside from the Clovis Chamber has been through word of mouth. One customer turns into two… two turn into four… four turn into more.
Other than that, we take advantage of local trade shows such as the Clovis Advantage Show, Leadercast Central Valley, The Central Valley Women’s Conference, and more. Any opportunity to meet new business owners is always good.