This story is about my experience in using a website designer to create my business website Hawkeye Aerial Imaging Solutions and to give some pointers on what you should do to make your experience rewarding and ultimately resulting in a successful launch of the website you envisioned.
Eight weeks ago, after passing the Aeronautical Knowledge Test (AKT) and receiving my remote pilot airmen’s certificate, it became apparent that I was finally able to conduct my commercial aerial photography and videography business legally. I patiently waited for the pieces to fall into place with the FAA, and once all the studying and passing the exam was behind me, I contacted Web Strategies in Winchester, Virginia to design a website that would showcase my work. My vision was to have a website that was professional looking, elegant, simple and classy. Web Strategies had designed my business logo many months before in anticipation of passage of the new FAA regulations for commercial sUA operations. I did not want to go to the expense of having a website designed until I was certain the FAA would come through with their promise to pass these new regulations. Further, my entire month of August was dedicated to attending ground school and studying for my pilot’s examination, so thinking about having a website designed was the furthest thing from my mind.
My wife and I met with Web Strategies and signed on immediately upon earning my airmen’s certificate. Then the work began. Now understand, I had no experience nor knowledge of how to build a website or what went into working with a designer. I quickly realized that I was going to be put to the test. I was called upon to write all of my textual content and produce visual content for inclusion in the website. And boy did I give them content. To the point I got lost in just how much I had uploaded to Basecamp. My point in all this, is that I wanted to stay engaged throughout the creation of the website…I did not want to become uninvolved or cease to be pro-active resulting in delaying the completion of the project.
I still did not have a clue as to how all of this was going to be put together by my designer. After about five weeks, I was notified that a prototype was available for my inspection, comments, criticisms, and recommendations. And indeed I had a lot of comments and recommendations for changes. It was frustrating and at times, irritating, trying to get my ideas and changes in content conveyed in a manner that was understandable to my designer. This was the hardest part for me. I know the folks at Web Strategies thought I was being difficult, but that was not my intent. I’m a perfectionist but I’m also a realist…I strive for perfection in my own business but I also realize that perfection can never be achieved…we can only strive for perfection. After several attempts at trying to get my recommendations implemented, we finally called for a face-to-face meeting with the designer and we went over in-person exactly what my criticisms/recommendations were point-by point and requested those to be incorporated into the website. I found this meeting was the most productive of all communications I had had with the designer. During this meeting, we had to compromise on certain issues as the theme that was chosen was not able to handle some of the things I was requesting. I accepted this, and after the meeting, things moved incredibly fast and after a couple of weeks, I was satisfied that the final design was not only acceptable, but met each of my criteria…professional, elegant, simple and classy.
Finally, on November 14, 2016, the website was launched and on November 15, we had a meeting with Web Strategies for a two hour educational session to teach us how to administer our website now that it had been launched. The education was exceptional, but nothing beats hands-on practice in making changes as the administrator. I am still learning, but the learning curve has decreased tremendously since our educational session. I have been adding content almost daily, including blogs, photographs, videos, changing out items on each of the pages and even doing some troubleshooting. I know as time goes on and, hopefully, my business grows or expands, I will need to modify certain things on the website that I am not qualified to implement. I will definitely reach out to Web Strategies to make any necessary modifications.
You might be asking yourself, if you think you had such a bad experience, why would you continue with the same designer. Well, it wasn’t a bad experience although it was a trying and tiring one, but it was a rewarding experience…I learned so much and I think my designer may have learned some things as well. They are good and decent people and I would like to thank specifically Mandi Perry, Keri Ritenour and Faye Guerra for their patience, understanding, professionalism and most importantly, expertise. Web Strategies is a top-notch web designer and I would recommend them above all others. My one recommendation for anyone wanting to have a website designed (whether it be Web Strategies or some other designer) is to stay engaged. In addition, review all of your updates and communications and stay in contact with your project manager. Ask questions, stay informed, be pro-active. If you do not possess the expertise to design and create a website, use a designer that you have researched and found to be a credible professional.
Finally, I would like to say that I am very pleased with the website that Web Strategies built…it meets every requirement I originally stipulated. I have received many compliments on the website…most are about the professional design and some are about the beautiful content (I guess I can take credit for the content!!!). When you receive compliments from perfect strangers (not family members or friends), you know you probably have a winner. And I picked a winner with Web Strategies. You should choose them too!