|FL: You've been listed as one of the 4th fastest growing business in LA. With the weak economy overall and the particularly bad time that the web design industry has been facing, how are you managing to grow? What are some of the factors of your success?
|i: We see a couple of reasons for
this type of growth and success. The first
has to do with us becoming more than just a Web shop over the last 2 years.
We have evolved into much more of a Web-centric technology company. Of
course, Web design is something that we still do and do well, but it is the
technology behind the front end that has enabled us to grow, both in terms
of the types of projects we take on, and the revenue they bring in. An
off-shoot of this is that we are now offering technology "products" of
various types that also increase revenue. The second reason has to do with
our success at maintaining long-term relationships with our clients. This
allows us to continue to bring in revenue from existing relationships which
is a lot easier than always finding new sources. From a practical side, we
find that the overall level of creativity and efficiency improves when you
work with the same client over time.
|FL: What does the name "imagistic" mean? How did you choose to launch your firm under this name?
|i: Imagism is the name of an
American/English poetry movement started in the
early 1900's. Imagistic poetry used succinct verse of dry clarity and hard
outline in which an exact visual image made a total poetic statement. When
we were coming up with names for the company, back in 1997, we wanted
something that made a strong statement. After numerous suggestions, not all
good, we stumbled upon the term imagism and it just clicked - it felt right.
It sounded good and meant something relevant. We have always strived
towards keeping things simple and usable, which the name connotes.
|FL: "Sharpen your web [sight]" happens to be one of the best taglines I've seen for a web design firm in quite a while. Beyond the crafty wordsmithing, what does imagistic offer companies that helps them see the web in a sharper way?
|i: Thank you, we like it too.
The reason we decided on it was that it spoke to
the idea that the Web could offer more than what most people think. It can
be more than just a pretty Web site. Especially with the introduction of
more sophisticated technology, a client can really use the web to achieve so
many more business ends. Currently, most of our clients are trying to find
ways to have their online initiatives improve their revenue and efficiency.
Using smart technology we have been able to help with these goals.
|FL: You have a client list that stretches across many different industry segments, from restaurants to Hollywood celebrities. When you take on a client, is it important to get inside that client's' shoes and understand what makes them tick? Does that mean you have to get into the kitchen and make the pizzas yourself?
|i: It is no accident that our
portfolio is as diverse as it is. When we first
started, we made a conscious choice to NOT niche ourselves. We felt that
what we brought to the table was not expertise in one industry or vertical,
rather, what we knew was how to use the Web to achieve basic business
objectives. Regardless of what the specifics of a particular client's
industry or organization, they all need to achieve the same, fundamental
things -- revenue, marketing, promotion, outreach, efficiencies, etc.
That's not to say we don't try to learn as much as we can about a client and
their industry, we do. For example, when working with California Pizza
Kitchen on their Web site and intranet, besides eating a lot of pizza at
CPK, we worked hard to understand their brand and what they were all about.
In this particular case, a very delicious research assignment.
|FL: How does one go about creating a site for an individual, even one with the fan base and the personal history of someone like Brendan Fraser? Is it an easier or more difficult task than creating a site for a company?
|i: This is an interesting question.
We approach an individual's site much like
any business site. The main question is always to understand what the
objectives are. In Brendan Fraser's case, he wanted a very personal Web
destination from which he could really be himself and showcase his
photographs. He was not looking to create a publicity site. We had
numerous meetings with him really trying to understand what it was he wanted
to say and how he wanted to say it. As busy as he was, he made a lot of
time to provide us with very personal insights as well as meaningful objects
from his past. From these sessions, we were able to develop something that
represented his true personality. Was it more difficult than say a company,
probably. With most companies, they already have a brand, they have an
existing sense of who they are. With an individual, the process of
developing a personal site requires that person to understand who they are
and what they want and are willing to say about themselves. That requires a
lot of thoughtfulness and bravery-don't you think?
|FL: Your site refers to Imagistic as a "boutique development firm." What does this mean to you as a company and what would it mean for a client?
|i: One of our most basic principles
is to provide exceptional client service.
It has always been a guiding tenet. During the crazy dot.com boom, we had
numerous opportunities to grow much larger, but we decided that in order to
provide the level of service that we were dedicated to, we needed to remain
smaller, nimble and personal. We are very proud of this fact. What it
means to a client is that they will not be taken for granted and they will
be well taken care of. They won't be lost among dozens or even hundreds of
clients and their concerns and questions will be addressed. We have heard
so many horror stories from clients who came to us after working with much
larger firms and as such are more convinced than ever that being huge is not
necessarily an asset. People make the wrong assumption that bigger means
higher quality, but in fact, we've seen this proven wrong time and again,
both in terms of the end product and a client's experience.
|FL: It has always seemed a rarity to me, having viewed so many web design firm websites, to see any reference to the future of a website. Your site talks about a "scalable tomorrow," which seems to imply that subsequent versions/growth of a client's website is just as important in your process as the first version. How well do clients react to this? Are companies willing to invest in the future while building for the present?
|i: The double edged sword of the Web
is that a site is never really "finished".
In other words, it isn't like publishing a book, once it goes to the
printer, that's it. We encourage our clients to think of their web presence
as an ongoing investment. It must be revisited and updated and it's purpose
needs to be constantly reevaluated. Our clients have reacted very positively
to this assertion, and of late, this is something that has been pushed by
them, especially as pressures increase to find every possible way to get a
return on investment from every initiative. The Web, if used properly, can
be an enormous revenue and efficiency generator.
|FL: There's a definite sense of humor that is conveyed through the site ("idea-mining without the black lung" for example). How important is a sense of humor to running a business? Does the web provide companies with a unique opportunity to present both a humorous and serious side to their business?
|i: One thing that we have always said
as founders of imagistic is that if we
are not having fun, then we shouldn't be doing this. We believe that having
a good time and having a sense of humor allows our team to do the best work
it can do. It motivates people to come to work and be creative and
constructive. This feeling also extends to our clients making them feel
comfortable and open-minded. We look at it this way - we are serious about
what we do, we just try not to be too serious doing it.
|FL: Besides being a movie town, what about Los Angeles makes it an ideal place to run a business? Does the density of different types of creativity in the area help to enhance the creativity your firm is able to bring to the web?
|i: Great weather is a plus. There is
also access to all kinds of talent making
it easier to find the right person for a specific task. There is also great
weather, and LA is a business Mecca, with some of the most successful
companies representing a broad spectrum of industries all located within
freeway distance. That is good for new business. Ironically enough, we
have worked with numerous clients over the years that were located nowhere
near LA. Other cool things about LA, did we mention the weather?
|FL: If tomorrow, computers finally learn to think and subsequently to design websites, what you the people of imagistic be doing?
|i: Don't computers do that already? Tough question, because everyone at this company has so many interests. One of my partners would be a rock and roll bassist. The other would want to do database programming. I would want to be a full time adventure traveler. I think that if we couldn't do what we do now, we'd probably find the next technology wave and figure out how to be a part of that ride as well - or at least until a computer could do that too.
|(spotlight first ran February 2002)