Pay for passion, not for age

In our last post, I briefly touched on the concept of leveraging passion over age when it comes to deciding on a web agency. Let’s expand on that.

We’ve collaborated with hundreds of clients, agencies, developers, and other industry professionals over the years. Some projects succeed, and some don’t. While there’s many reasons as to why a company can succeed or falter, James and I look for a very specific trait when we first establish contact with a potential client.

Research, trends, competition, location, demand. These are variables which play an integral role in establishing a successful business. But the most important thing is often overlooked.

Passion. Overall enthusiasm, and the passion behind the project. Generally speaking, we prefer to work with clients who are passionate about what they want to bring to life, because those are the projects that are successfully realized. These are the type of people who will get things done, who firmly believe in their mission and inspire others around them.

Therefore, I cannot stress enough that passion must beget passion for a project to be successful. To realize your project, you should work with a web agency equally passionate about your mission. A web partner needs to believe in your vision and want you to succeed.

Don’t let your passion filter out

Our concern with many agencies is that your passion, at some point, gets filtered. You meet with a sales rep that may reciprocate your passion. That rep discusses your project to a team manager, who briefs the user experience designer, who then delegates to the in-house designers and developers. This creates a disconnect between you, your vision, and the actual work done to realize your vision. While these developers may certainly have passion for their job and for the company, the importance of integrating the client’s passion into their work may be lost along the way.

That’s why James and I meet with prospective clients directly. No sales rep, no interns, no extra overhead, nada. Just us. We want to create something based off mutual passion.

Age, the great divider

Some personal backstory: I started dabbling in code at the age of six, one year after the internet began. At twelve, I created my first multi-user account website. At sixteen, I did my first paid project. Ten years later, I’ve been involved with hundreds of websites and web applications. James has a similar background.

Many other designers and developers share experiences like these as well. We’ve been fortunate enough to accrue relevant experience in the field over the years, and grow alongside the web as it evolved into what it is today.

There is a bias that exists in the business where age directly correlates to experience. There may be some truth to it, but there’s an unfortunate side effect, the idea that younger = cheaper. Someone who is younger, even if they offer the same level of quality as someone older, is expected to charge less. This concept remains consistent between agency size as well; smaller agencies are expected to operate at a fraction of the cost, while delivering the same level of service.

Our experience with both clients and developers alike is that age has no weight on quality of work or success. Passion, above all, is where it counts.

Finding success

Your project has a better chance of success if you work with a web agency who wants you to succeed in the first place. When you meet with a web agency, do they share your enthusiasm? Do they suggest options on how to better integrate your idea onto the web? If so, you may have found your perfect web partner.

Finding the Right Web Agency

Find the right web agency

Following the launch of our Leap Projects, our advertising campaign placed our innovative approach to web development alongside other agencies with their own limited time offers. More often, these are low budget, flat cost deals for a website (e.g.: Website for $500!) that seem too good to be true.

When we introduced Leap Projects last week, we wanted to solve the problems that come with cheap development. Too many of our clients come to us from with horror stories of previous web developers they’ve worked with. To date, the tale often sounds something like:

“I wanted to save costs, so I went with a developer who offered to do the job for [low, low price] Everything seemed fine at first, but as time went on I realized the quality fell short of my expectations and reflected poorly on my brand.”

A few months ago, our friends at Webrunner Media published a well-written article about why paying less for website creation will cost you much more in the long run. In their words: Less Budget = Less Time = Less Effort. We generally agree. However, sometimes clients just don’t have that budget for a full-service web agency. You can only work with what you have.

So, how can you find the right agency, without breaking the bank?

1) Ditch the three digit offers

Between our own experiences and experiences shared with us, even small-tier projects under $2,000 tend to come out poorly, often resulting in an investment loss. However, we’ve seen first hand how damaging to all parties a three digit promotion can be ($100 – $999).

With the advent of DIY web builders, it’s easy to forget that web developers, and agencies whom employ them, need to make a living. It just isn’t feasible for anyone to create something worth creating with such low cost.

Even at a low rate, a $500 website translates to 1-2 days of service. Is that enough time to properly understand the client’s needs and expectations? Is that enough time to create something of quality that will encapsulate the client’s brand? Probably not.

2) Look at the shoemaker’s shoes

Many of our clients have something in common; our website inspires them. It’s a measure of our quality and capability. Clients often tell us this:

“We’re reaching out to you because I want our website to look like yours.”

That’s a pretty powerful statement. A web agency’s website doesn’t have to be a masterpiece, but it should be reflective of the services it offers. If you’ve found yourself tempted by a web agency with an offer like the one above, take the time to navigate through their website and imagine your website similar to theirs. Ask yourself the question: Will a website like this inspire my visitors to become my clients?

3) Assess their flexibility

Flexibility is a hard balance to achieve as a web agency. On one hand, an agency that’s overly rigid with handling requests is ill-desired. On the other hand, a team that’s willing to handle every request without considering the project’s scope are setting up their own failure.

When discussing scope changes or feature requests, let the agency explain why something should or should not be done. Is your request instantly dismissed, or is the agency doing their best to explain why it can’t be done? Are they suggesting alternatives? Are they requesting more budget?

Alternatively, is your agency approving every request without taking the time to discuss them with you? If an agency is not trusting its own experience and performing tasks without integrity, the quality of your website may start plummeting fast.

Find an agency who takes the time to review a request and discuss its feasibility with you. Listen to their experiences and suggestions. These are the agencies that have your best interests in mind.

4) Go for passion, not age

A challenge faced by young entrepreneurs is the expectation that they’re not as skilled as their older, more veteran counterparts. The website industry suffers from the belief that younger = cheaper.

We’ve been lucky to collaborate with many agencies – working with teams of managers, developers, designers, and other specialists of all ages. My experience is that the more passionate someone is, the better quality they deliver. Age plays a non-vital role when it comes to defining traits which make a web specialist great at what they do.

When meeting with an agency, are you meeting with a salesperson looking to seal the deal? Or are you meeting directly with a member of the team that will share your passion and work it into your website? A website built with passion, for a passionate brand, radiates excellence.

I can write plenty on this subject from personal experience (spoilers for our next article).

Wrapping up

It’s tempting to grab the cheapest price possible. Your website will be your most precious investment as a company – make sure you choose the right agency for your online needs!

Introducing Leap Projects

Introducing Leap

The above graphic (almost) says it all. James and I are pleased to announce our Leap Projects program, an affordable, effective web services to startups, entrepreneurs, and small businesses.

What are Leap Projects?

Leap Projects are visually-rewarding, high quality websites for websites which don’t require too much custom development. Leap Projects are unique in that they bridge the gap between agency-level professional services and budget-friendly options.

Why Leap Projects?

Our agency is built with a highly scaleable infrastructure not found with smaller agencies. It allows us to create and serve custom websites and applications with speed and quality rivalling that of larger web service companies.

While we pride ourselves in our capacity to handle projects of all sizes, today’s entrepreneurs face tough decisions when starting their business. Not all startups get financial aid or work with an incubator, and many don’t have a large budget to start working with. When it comes to their online web presence, a choice has to be made:

  1. Engage with a professional agency (of any size) whose costs far exceed the client’s budget
  2. Engage with a freelancer or micro-firm whose quality of work cannot be guaranteed

It’s a frustrating situation. Many of our clients come to us already having invested $1,000 – $2,000 in a web developer only to be dissatisfied with their work. That money is lost, due to the quality of service cannot be re-invested into a better performing website. It’s easy to say “You get what you pay for.”, but sometimes as a business you just don’t have that choice.

We created Leap Projects so that today’s entrepreneur doesn’t have to make that difficult decision.

What’s in a Leap Project?

Leap Projects contain one or several pre-developed features, depending on your needs. Generally speaking, a Leap Project website could be an excellent option for informative websites, one-pager websites, eCommerce websites, multilingual support, and other straightforward features.

In addition, we offer an optional, monthly support plan with its own custom scope. It could include content management, SEO management, analytical reporting, marketing, and/or hosting options. Leap Project clients also receive a reduced rate than our other client support packages.

Why is the availability limited?

At heart, WebCakes is still a provider of custom web services for larger projects. We’re a small team given big responsibilities, and we want to give every project the love and care it needs, no matter the size. Because some small businesses may under-estimate the scope of their online needs, each Leap Project request is thoroughly reviewed to ensure that it’s actually eligible for Leap Project pricing.

Questions? Interested? WebCakes is excited to work with you. Leap in today!

Empower your online visibility with Search Engine Optimization

Dollarphotoclub_54879624You are probably asking yourself, what is Search Engine Optimization (SEO), why is it important and why should I care? At the helm of every Search Engine is a robot, and although they have become sophisticated, they still need help to understand the content of our websites. SEO is a way in which we help these robots understand what to do with our websites so that they are visible on Search Engines; the more we help these robots understand our websites, the more visible our websites become on Search Engines.

Why is SEO important

To understand why SEO is important, we must first understand what search engines do exactly. Search Engines work in two ways: by crawling through the internet for information and building an index of everything it comes across; once they have done this, Search Engines create a list that is ranked by relevance to a user’s search.

Search Engines are robots that don’t see websites like we humans do, they rely on our help and input to understand the websites they crawl. This is where Search Engine Optimization comes into play, SEO is a set of guidelines that webmasters can use to improve their sites rankings on search engines. It is important to be ranked the highest possible, as users generally only consider the top 5 results as relevant to their searches; if your site is among the top 5 search results, your website will be visited significantly more often.

Investing in Search Engine Optimization can only benefit your company; as your website rises in the ranks on search engines, your profits will rise exponentially. Potential clients are more likely to trust top ranked sites on Search Engines, they will feel comfortable with your company and will more likely choose you over your competitors. Ultimately, SEO is a long-term marketing strategy, and a return on investment.

Search Engine Optimization will optimize sales

When people need to search for products and information, where is the first place they search? Search Engines such as Google. With proper SEO, potential clients will be able to understand what your company is about when searching for it, and know if it is what they are searching for by pointing the client in the right direction. The better your visibility is on Search Engines and the more true to your company the Search Engine descriptions are, the more likely you are to sell your products and services online.

Easy ways to increase your Search Engine Optimization

There are several methods to increasing your brand’s SEO:

  1. Place alt text in all your images: This gives search engines a text description of the images so the search engines can find your pictures based on its alt text.
  2. Use tools such as SEO-browser and MozBar: These allow you to see which parts of the content in your website are capable of being seen and indexed by search engines.
  3. Use appropriate wording throughout your website: Make sure that words you want your company to be associated with  are part of crawlable content in your website. (ie. a cotton candy company would want their site to appear if someone types “cotton candy”)
  4. Properly name all the files in your website: If you have a picture of a panda in the website, make sure panda is in the picture name as opposed to leaving it DSC007.jpg.

How WebCakes can help

If your Search Engine Optimization is still not up to par after following the instructions or you don’t feel like doing the SEO yourself you can consult a web development agency to review your current SEO and suggest optimizations. WebCakes specializes in Web Development and Search Engine Optimization. We analyze your business’ SEO weaknesses and propose a tailor-made action plan to increase your page rank and conversions. Choose us to empower your website visibility.

Get everyone responding to your business with Responsive Design

user with different devices
There’s no denying that mobile devices have taken over as users’ device of choice for browsing the internet. With over half of users’ time on the internet being spent on mobile devices, having a fully responsive website is a must.

What is Responsive Design?

Responsive design allows websites to look good and function effectively on a variety of devices. This allows user experience to be the best possible for your clients regardless of the device they use. Interacting with websites on a mobile or tablet device is not the same as on a desktop because there’s barely any space for all the fancy extras you may have on your desktop version. Many features that look great and improve user experience on a desktop don’t even work on mobile platforms, like Adobe Flash.

The best Responsive Design practices take several factors into account:

  • Readability: font sizes on mobile devices need to be big so that the user can actually read the content. Minimum resizing, the user should not have to constantly zoom in on their hand-held device to see the content of the page.
  • Panning: the user should be able to scroll vertically and not horizontally since scrolling from side to side is more tedious.
  • Easy to use navigation: opening tabs on a mobile device is more difficult than on a computer, so the pages should be laid out in a logical manner so that the user can quickly figure out which page they are going to.
  • Optimization: loading time are also greatly considered in responsive design, as mobile platforms cannot load sites as fast as desktops.

Slow loading times slow you down

Users tend to have a shorter attention span when it comes to online activities; studies suggest that 8 seconds or more in loading time of a website is too long. Having an unresponsive, non-mobile friendly website is a sure-fire way to lose viewers and potential clients, which makes having a responsive website crucial for business in today’s world. Providing users with your content is essential for your business, you want to allow your users to view your content regardless of the device they use, by having a responsive website you are providing exceptional user experience to your clients.

Mobile usage is not a trend, it is here to stay

Having the ability to surf the internet and find valuable information in the palm of their hands is not only a luxury but also a valuable tool that no user will want to leave behind. Mobile devices give users the ability to get the information they want, whenever and wherever they want. Mobile technology is advancing every day, and will continue to prevail due to its convenience, Responsive Design is a smart investment for your business. Responsive Design gives users the best experience while on your website on mobile devices, making your company a go-to place for people on the go.

Making a Responsive website is where WebCakes can help. At WebCakes our websites are tailored to your company’s needs and are completely responsive, so your company’s website will prevail over your competitors no matter what device people use visit your site.