Today I am presenting another written interview with JG who has been in business for 15+ years as a designer, web developer and marketer. Check out http://bluedozendesign.com for more information.
Check out the interview:
What made you decide to start designing websites and offering marketing services? Share your story.
Well, I (personally) started off with mostly traditional and print design – logos & identity, brochures, apparel, posters and probably uninterestingly, a lot of golf course maps. That was really in the infancy of the web, and I wasn’t really interested in designing for sites – I was raised in ad agencies and had a fine art background and a history in corporate America as a print and packaging designer, and I really didn’t want to get too far away from what I was comfortable with. As soon as I started looking at the internet and websites as a vehicle for interesting design, I was drawn to it – it was a blank canvas. There’s a certain freedom in pixels that doesn’t exist in print. For a long while, I was designing and putting up fairly static HTML sites for local businesses. There wasn’t a lot of interactivity, but there was room to play with design and do some interesting stuff. So – I was hooked. There always seems to be a thirst for well-designed sites, and I feel that we (Blue Dozen Design) can really bring a lot of design muscle to a lot of businesses with not only our design, but with our development. We’ve got a very flexible style, so we can serve up good design to a lot of folks. 15 years since our first paying web gig, and there’s still a lot of passion that goes into our web design – and it’s still a blank canvas. Every site, every page – just a big, blank canvas to have fun on.
With the way sites are constructed now, it’s to the point where if you can imagine it, it can be built. That includes a lot of interactivity and relational stuff – and that can be a lot of fun to design for. There’s not much to hold you back. That’s pretty exciting.
With marketing, and all that entails, the psychological and sort of clinical thinking that goes along with it can be a lot of fun. I’ve always been attracted to the psychology and the thinking that goes behind good marketing. There’s so many things to consider when you’re building a marketing campaign or an SEO plan, it can be a lot of fun. Words and feelings can be interesting to toy with – and when you package it with clever design, you can really do something special.
Do you have any specific choice when it comes to the CMS you use for building sites? Why?
With the VAST majority of the websites we design we favor WordPress. We’ve found that the design flexibility and feature set that WordPress offers is hard to beat. We’ve developed everything from single-page sales sites to full-blown ecommerce stores with thousands of products. With WordPress, there is just so much functionality built in to the system – and with plugins, you can do almost anything with it. We’ve also really fallen in love with the SEO possibilities with WordPress. Plus, like I mentioned, the flexibility of design that WordPress allows is really phenomenal. We can design pretty much anything we can imagine, knowing that WordPres will allow us to make that design a living, breathing website.
We’re certainly not averse to or unfamiliar with other CMSs, but we’ve really narrowed our focus to WordPress, and we’ve found that it really fits just about anyone that needs a great-looking, super-functional website.
3. What are the biggest challenges you face when designing a site for a client?
This one is easy – defining a successful project. We work really hard to define goals and decide on a style for our clients. Every business is very different, so the definition of success in a site or a printed piece or a logo is very different for every client. Sometimes, clients don’t really know what a “win” is for their site and for their site visitors, and we have to define that in the very early stages of a project. That definition really drives a lot of the design and structural choices for a site.
Once we figure out what a client and their “customers” needs, the rest of the project is reasonably simple.
4. How have you been able to acquire more clients for your business and what’s working for you?
Word of mouth is huge for us – and effective SEO has really helped bring more folks through the door. We’re not the typical design agency, and that difference is a huge selling point for us. We’re not stuffy, and our design is professional but unique. Our marketing can be a little edgy, but it’s always very pointed and well thought out. The stuff we do isn’t typical – because we’re not typical. We’ve worked hard to develop a culture around what we do and how we do it, and that culture has really seemed to resonate with a lot of businesses and people out there. There’s a a lot of cookie-cutter ideas and styles in the world of design, and our slightly off-center sensibilities have set us apart. Some folks don’t get it, some folks don’t appreciate it – but the ones that DO get it seem to be drawn to it. Plus, it’s an awful lot of fun. That’s big for us – fun. We enjoy what we do and we enjoy who we do it with and for. If we didn’t, it would just be another job. Nobody needs that.
5. What are your future plans for 2015 and beyond?
We’ve actually got a few new launches that we’re really excited about. We’re branching out into a few new areas, and ones that we think we can have a lot of fun with. We’re going to keep rolling out some great client work, but we’re also looking to add some product-driven offerings and more “artsy” stuff. We’ve done a bit of that sort of thing in the past – and we’re looking to ramp that up in the very near future. Our design and business is kind of coming full circle – and we’re pretty stoked about that.