The Firm List > The Firm List Spotlights > imagistic

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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.
imagistic offices exterior
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?
imagistic offices interior
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 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.
imagistic executive team
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)

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California Pizza Kitchen

Teaching Tolerance

Brendan Fraser

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