DDSN Interactive

Information Technology & Services

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DDSN Interactive is an Australian based, best of the breed digital agency. We take pride in creating customised digital solutions through creativity, innovation and strategic thinking by curating an easy to use integrated digital communication system. 

We continue to thrive by developing new platforms, software, apps, user-friendly CMS, hosting, and digital marketing solutions to cater to the specific needs of our clients, among a myriad of other web related services. We specialise in working in an agile environment and keeping up-to-date with the latest industry trends and ever-changing technological resources. 

Founded in 1997, we have been developing and maintaining effective digital solutions for a wide range of firms including Trinity College, Telstra, The Cancer Council Victoria, ANZ, Vic Roads, CPA Australia, St. John' College, The Australian Drug Foundation, Bush Heritage Australia, Goulburn-Murray Water, as well as other small to medium businesses. We continue working in partnership with our clients and maintaining close relationships with them. 

2 - 9
Cecil Street, South Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria 3205
+61 3 9533 8800

Focus Areas

Service Focus

  • Mobile App Development
  • Web Development
  • Software Development
  • App Designing (UI/UX)
  • Web Designing (UI/UX)

Industry Focus

  • Information Technology
  • Advertising & Marketing

DDSN Interactive Executive Interview

Rob Wells
Rob Wells
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Kindly share your feedback on how GoodFirms has been doing so far in increasing your visibility among potential clients.
We are quite new to GoodFirms, and we’ve noticed how hard the organization works to help promote our business. We appreciate the promotion is for both new clients and communicate with existing ones. We are receiving multiple marketing options, regular contact, and multiple suggestions for new kinds of promotion. We look forward to seeing those efforts result in new sales for our business.
Please introduce your company and give a brief about your role within the organization.
DDSN Interactive is an Australian-based best-of-the-breed digital agency. We take pride in creating customized digital solutions using creativity, innovation, and strategic thinking to plan, build and deploy a comprehensive but easy-to-use integrated digital marketing, communications, and operations management platform for each client.

Our solution combines design, UX, marketing, and business operations consultancy with rich pre-built but customizable software (for websites, intranets, extranets, and mobile apps), high-performance hosting, and expert “always available” engagement/support services to provide end to end digital options for both larger and smaller clients.
We continue to evolve by developing new software and digital tools; mobile apps; user-friendly CMS tools; bulletproof hosting; and digital marketing and operations solutions to cater to the specific needs of our clients. We specialize in working in an agile environment and keeping up-to-date with the latest industry trends and ever-changing technological resources.
I co-founded DDSN Interactive in 1997. Starting with a personal background in design, we were early adopters of advanced web-based technologies in the areas of e-commerce (e.g. we were the first company in Australia to deploy online payment solutions such as ANZ eGate), content management, and digital marketing tools. I personally learned how to design and build websites, apps, CMS, intranets, extranets, and more for our company and clients, and took a keen interest in how to unify all those systems to provide beautiful, effective end to end user experiences; both for external customers and internal audiences.
As the company grew, my role transitioned into leading a team of talented developers, designers, and business consultants. Today my key responsibility is assuring the quality of our systems and procedures – including our flagship content management platform: Acora CMS – and I like to be involved in individual client projects wherever the team invites me to provide strategic insights or design options.
The other key partner in our business is Danielle Kennedy, who joined us after leading over 180 scientists to build Australia’s largest future science platform in her senior role at CSIRO. Danielle brings deep insights into big data, strategic systems development, ideation, scientific future thinking, and putting all that to work in live, operational systems.
What is the story behind starting this company?
In about 1995 I was working with a colleague in a small (two-person) desktop publishing and multimedia business. We were asked by one of our clients to build a website, which we labored over for months and certainly didn’t make any profit on. That company generated two unsolicited international business inquiries through the website in the coming months, which resulted in millions of dollars of new business for them. So we got excited…

We decided we could sell Australian wine online, shipping local products from boutique Australian wineries to ex-pats and other interested people in Southeast Asia and America. We learned how to buy and sell products, how to package and deliver, how to deal with international product shipping rules and standards, and we designed and coded our own website to promote the wines and delivery services online. (The web part of the business was my main responsibility in the partnership.) Keep in mind: there was no “off the shelf” software in those days, we designed and coded the website ourselves from nothing. It even played jazz and classical music while you browsed the site! We were just youngsters trying something new, really.

As I learned more about being in business, I realized we had developed a new international business concept, designed and established a complex product offering and fulfillment strategy, and created a marketing strategy to go with it. We didn’t even know those words when we started! Suddenly we had newspapers wanting to write articles about us, banks wanting us to trial their new payment system ideas so they could write case studies about us, and big companies (IBM/Lotus signed us up on a deal to promote their new web software) wanting to sponsor us to represent them at international conferences.

I realized that the business world was about to adapt to a new way of communicating, and we could use our knowledge and creativity to help other companies get their operations online the way we did. That’s when DDSN was born. The wine business was great, but digital business consultancy is where my passions took flight, and I was lucky to find others with complementary skills and interests to join the team as it grew.

The dot com boom and crash (remember those times?) were both exciting and challenging, but we survived that with a strong established business model. Recently the business has encountered new challenges just like all businesses in 2020. But because the core of our business is sound, the company remains strong and resilient, and it’s been a delight to be part of.
What are your company’s business model–in house team or third party vendors/ outsourcing?
Our company consists of talented in-house consultants, designers, and developers who work for the clients directly. We partner we some industry experts to strengthen our offerings in certain areas – such as a prominent national network vendor (Nexon) to support our proprietary in-house hosting platform – but the core of our work is always delivered by our DDSN experts.
How does your company differentiate itself from the competition?
A few things, but most of all it’s our strong focus on our ability to deliver beautifully designed, fit-for-purpose digital solutions to both smaller and larger customers in creative, strategically minded, sustainable ways, and continue to work with each client to manage and grow those solutions over time. As a small but highly skilled agency, we can deliver similar (usually better) products and services to our customers at incredible prices, compared to bigger agencies that require higher overheads to deliver the same things we can do.

We don’t provide cookie-cutter solutions or simply templated / out-of-the-box designs and software with a “deliver and forget” attitude. Rather, we build on those ideas and work with our clients over the course of years to really understand their business and become part of it. Because of our bespoke approach, we work really well with government clients, associations, and private sector companies who are looking for a partner in business, rather than simply outsourcing some work.

Our flagship content management platform stands out – Acora CMS. This enterprise-class DXP (Digital Experience Platform) is comparable to products at 10x its price, and we can make it available to both large and small businesses because it’s ours.

Our bulletproof private Australian hosting cloud is unique: Most agencies don’t do that in-house – preferring to rely on AWS or Microsoft Azure (which we can also do, if asked) – but we always have.

Deep expertise in a few important but complex specialty areas sets us aside: strategy, accessibility, UX/CX, interface design, analytics, systems integration. Bigger agencies develop these skills so they’re not unique, but we cost a lot less.
Tying it all together is the bow on the top of the package.

Our oldest clients date back to 1997 when the company started. E.g. we designed the first update to the Goulburn Murray Water website in 1997, and we have just embarked on the latest project to overhaul the GMW digital user experience again this year. We measure our client relationships in decades.
What industries do you generally cater to? Are your customers repetitive? If yes, what ratio of clients has been repetitive to you?
All of our clients are repetitive – 100%. That’s simply built into the way we work. Although we can deliver a one-off piece of work (like a website, online system, or mobile app) with great value, we don’t think that way. For us, it’s always about how that system will evolve and move with our client’s needs, and how it gets used and supported too.

Well… Perhaps we have occasionally done a single job without further work if that’s what someone wanted from us. Maybe 100% is a small exaggeration. But not much!

Almost all of our business comes from long-term contracts, repeat business, and referrals. In fact, just quietly: we’re a bit understated when it comes to marketing ourselves to people we don’t already know – because our days are filled with thinking about our clients instead – and so that’s one area in which I’d like to strengthen the company.

As an agile consultancy business, we can work across most business sectors. So we don’t specialize per se. But of course, our offerings suit certain kinds of clients better than others. It’s more about how the client will engage with us so we can learn how to contribute to their business, than having knowledge in any specific business vertical. Over the years we’ve added experience to our portfolio in a wide range of areas – including but not limited to, e-commerce, national commercial brands, government entities, natural resource management, membership associations, nonprofits and charities, educational institutes & residential colleges, manufacturers, and small to medium private sector businesses in different industries.
Please share some of the services that you offer for which clients approach you the most for?
Typically, clients approach us for website and app design and development, or for hosting and support of an existing system that needs to be improved. Customers also come to us for SEO/SEM work and online marketing solutions.
Clients who are ready to graduate from very simple websites to something a bit more advanced, or clients who need a new digital agency partner who is willing to work closely with them, come to us for help.  We are often referred to work if a client has specialized needs, wants to build something that suits their business better than standard systems, or needs custom integration work. We design their website and apps from scratch and host them on our Australian CMS too.
Our core services are similar to many digital agencies:
  • Websites, web-based apps, and mobile app design and development
  • Intranets, extranets, and integrated systems development
  • Visual design, online branding, and brand design/development
  • Digital marketing services including SEO/SEM
  • Digital strategy consultancy
  • Maintenance and support services
  • Advanced, robust, highly secure private cloud hosting
We have deep specialties in some important areas:
  • User experience design & usability testing
  • Accessibility
  • Content management systems: Acora CMS, Kentico CMS, WordPress, others
  • Systems integration
  • Security
What is your customer satisfaction rate according to you? What steps do you take to cater to your customer’s needs and requirements?
Our entire business model is designed around the idea that every client needs specialized support to deploy complex digital marketing and communications systems. So our design and support processes are very client-centric: There is a lot of consultancy upfront, we ask a lot of questions and we do a lot of listening. And during delivery, we do a lot of testing. And after delivery we move into highly active support agreements, so we’re talking to our clients constantly – monthly, weekly, even daily for many of them. Sometimes we develop new skills through research and training, just so that we can deliver what a client needs, especially if they don’t have a facility to do that work through other existing partnerships.

Like many agencies, we use online project management and support tools to assure transparency and flexibility in all our processes – project management tools, help desk, lots of online documentation, etc. The tools are not the most important part though; the tools are only as good as the people who use them. So all our project staff are trained to put ourselves in the customers’ shoes, not to just think about technical or design outputs, but to think about how those outputs help our client, and our clients’ customers get their jobs done.

I believe we have a strong reputation among our clients that we always deliver, whether it’s a difficult project or not. We don’t give up, and we work very hard to see solutions get online. We often receive unsolicited compliments for how hard we worked, or how much we’ve exceeded the expectations of a project. With that in mind, we believe our clients are delighted with our output and services.

Of course, not every project is easy. We recognize that and so do our customers. If we encounter difficulties, we go out of our way to understand those problems and get a great job done anyway. That’s what has to lead to us working with all our customers for years, often decades.

If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing well!
What kind of support system do you offer to your clients for catering to their queries and issues?
In terms of digital tools, we provide similar things to many agencies: an online help desk for query and job tracking, project management tools, online design prototypes and mockups for design work, and permanent visibility of their project work through development and staging systems that are always online.

A good old telephone is also an important tool, though that is changing to video conferencing and online meetings now that our clients are ready to make that leap. We make sure our clients know we’re always personally available for them.

In terms of continuing support, every customer enters into something we call an “engagement plan”. It’s a support plan with monthly performance measurements, which is designed to help the client run their systems, stay up to date with technology trends and design needs, get support where needed, and continuously update and improve their systems through mini-projects and agile development.

And to make sure we’re always available, and work is always progressing. All-time used under that program is closely monitored and transparently reported via timesheets. Our clients know exactly what we’re doing for them.

Different levels of support plan suit different customers of course: some customers just use a few hours a month, others get us more deeply involved.
What kind of payment structure do you follow to bill your clients? Is it Pay per Feature, Fixed Cost, Pay per Milestone (could be in phases, months, versions etc.)
Our hosting and software support services are fixed costs, with clearly defined service levels.

For our own software Acora CMS, we try to avoid putting limitations on clients because we want them to grow without feeling pain on the way. So we develop very open licensing policies that don’t limit the amount of work that can be done or the numbers of users in a system. For Acora CMS, a fixed price monthly price (on an annual agreement) gets all new features in all new versions, managed upgrades, unlimited new user training, and always-available technical support.

For our monthly engagement plans, we keep the payment structure very simple: it’s based on the time we use. Clients book a certain number of hours to use each month. We give them a significantly discounted hourly rate for that booking. If we use more time, they still get the discounted rate. If we use less time, it goes into a “bank” and can be used later. So it’s not a retainer: clients don’t lose time if it’s not used straight away. The amount of pre-booked time varies based on customer needs: small clients book a few hours, and some clients book a lot of hours. It doesn’t matter what kind of work we’re doing – design, consultancy, development, technical support, marketing – it’s all the same rate.

For project work, we have two primary ways of working, depending on the culture of each individual client… 
If it suits a client, we like to work in an agile fashion. We’ll define broad parameters and deliverables for a project at the beginning, an agreed timeline, and then work in short milestone sprints to deliver the product. Agile projects should include a fixed or capped budget or at least a firm estimate, it’s not an open checkbook. We prefer that because everyone is comfortable it won’t blow out. This approach usually involves monthly payments through the course of the project. The benefit of this approach is that it’s very flexible; we (I mean the team in consultation with the client) can increase or decrease the scope of individual developments along the way, jointly change our minds about design or direction or what will be delivered in the final product, and we can deliver more for the same price because we’re not constrained by so much risk, we can just get on with the work. This approach needs lots of transparency in the project progress, constant delivery of visible work, close project management, and solid trust between us and the client. Existing clients who know us well like this approach, but sometimes a new client is keen on it too.

The other way of working on standalone design and development projects is the fixed price for fixed deliverables model. In this scenario, we do some high-level initial consultancy to create a project estimate. Then we perform deeper project planning and analysis to define the precise deliverables and either confirm or update the estimate, turning it into a fixed price. Since the project has a clear scope and timeline at that stage, payments are either monthly, or staggered through the course of the project based on delivery milestones such as planning, design, development, testing, and launch. This procedure is a bit more rigid and old-fashioned, but it’s easy to understand and common in the market, so we’re happy to work this way.
Do you take in projects which meet your basic budget requirement? If yes, what is the minimum requirement? If no, on what minimum budget you have worked for?
We are open to all clients. In the past, we’ve struggled a little to make our bespoke service affordable to smaller businesses, but we’ve worked hard to get smarter over time. So in fact, we have recently launched a web development and design plan that focuses on really deep value for small and medium businesses.

Our smallest client might spend about $5,000 - $10,000 to get started, and then about that much per year on business and support services too. But that business is going to get a lot from us, compared to what they’ll get from other options like cookie-cutter solutions or inexperienced small agencies. We’re happy to work at that level over time to support a client’s “business as usual” operations, but we’re even happier if the client grows with us. We support and understand small businesses because we are one.

The clients that incorporate our services more directly into their monthly business operations invest a bit more in the work of course. We don’t take on massive projects (though we’ll consider being a contributor with the right partnerships in place), but we can work with clients who need serious support up to about $250k per year – those clients are able to work with us like their in house digital team, or even as an augmentation of their in-house marketing or digital team if that’s suitable.
What is the price range (min and max) of the projects that you catered to in 2020?
Almost exactly what I outlined in the previous answer. We started some small businesses up with $5,000 websites and marketing/CRM solutions. We built a web / mobile app/marketing / alumni portal/student management platform for a residential college at a major university for about $125k in project costs. We are running agile design, development, hosting, and digital support contracts (with monthly work and mini-projects included) with various clients ranging between about $25k / year and $150k / year in spending.
Where do you see your company in the next 10 years?
This might sound slightly strange for a strategically-minded agency, but we see ourselves doing similar things in many ways. We’re happy with how the business works, and we’re happy with our clients. We’d like to do a bit more of the same stuff, so we do plan to grow our team and add some new skillsets, and we intend to approximately triple in company size. But we don’t want to be a “big” agency and lose sight of our smaller customers. The business owners (including me) are focused on the quality of life involved in running a quality business, rather than being rich and famous. 😉

Business and technology will evolve during that time of course. In the same way that we adapted from “website designers” into a true integrated digital agency in previous decades, we’ll innovate to shift our servicing strategies in an agile way to keep pace with those things. It’s hard to say exactly what that looks like of course, but we’re pretty sure that there’ll be a need for us to design and consult about digital systems for the foreseeable future (at least until the AI’s take over).

While the agency engine ticks over, we are using our expertise to develop SaaS and online solutions that are designed to deliver some of the value that our agency provides on a small scale direct to individual customers through our people on a wider, more automated scale. We are strengthening existing and creating new online offerings in the areas of accessibility, content management, advanced website/mobile app/intranet management, marketing/business analytics, and online marketplaces. Some of these products will probably spin off as separate businesses.

We’ll become a Bcorp company – even though we behave like one now, there’s a lot of paperwork to do! And we’ll invest in other socially-minded corporate plans.
And although we give a lot to charities and communities through our project work now, we’d like to widen what we contribute to society too.

DDSN Interactive Reviews

5.0 3 Reviews
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Great product, great people to work with

Rating Breakdown

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  • Schedule & Timing
  • Communication
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Review Summary

We've been working with DDSN and using Acora CMS for over 10 years. We have over 20 websites running on the platform and many authors managing content. Our websites range from simple content sites to very complex systems (complex questionnaires, shop, a tool to link patients to clinical trials). The platform is secure and reliable and serves over a million page views to over 300,000 users each month (sometimes much more).

We're able to develop on the platform ourselves, and we're extremely happy with it. While we're mostly self-sufficient using the platform, when we ask for service DDSN are prompt, reliable and extremely knowledgeable.

While we can't think of anything we'd change in the product, we always love to see what's new in each release!

What service was provided as part of the project?

Web Development, Software Development, Maintenance & Support

What is it about the company that you appreciate the most?

Technical skills - we know we always have a solution.


DDSN Interactive and The Banking and Finance Oath

Rating Breakdown

  • Quality
  • Schedule & Timing
  • Communication
  • Overall Rating

Project Detail

$10001 to $50000

Review Summary

DDSN Interactive became our website provider after we undertook a review of our website hosting service and content platform. We chose DDSN based on the alignment of their organisational values and the values of The Banking and Finance Oath. They have been extremely supportive, open and transparent and always able to offer the technical support as and when required. They're also a fabulous team to work with!

What service was provided as part of the project?

Maintenance & Support, Web Hosting

What is it about the company that you appreciate the most?

Aligned values; Supportive team; Technical knowledge.

What was it about the company that you didn't like which they should do better?


IDM Instruments

Excellent Support, Friendly Staff, Expert Web development

Rating Breakdown

  • Quality
  • Schedule & Timing
  • Communication
  • Overall Rating

Project Detail

$0 to $10000

Review Summary

DDSN Interactive saved us when we most needed them which was after we decided to get rid of our previous website developers because they were not helpful, had poor lead times, etc.

On the other hand, website redevelopment and upgrade with DDSN Interactive was super easy, prompt, and overall, an amazing experience. The DDSN staff was always available to solve queries, help us with questions and issues (even the smallest ones). The recommendations by the team in terms of design, analytics, hosting were genuine and completely customized to our firm. At every stage of the project, we were informed of the changes made, the progress of the project which was really helpful.

Overall, an amazing company with amazing people ready to go beyond just the project outline just like partners. We have decided to continue our relationship with DDSN in the long run and for various digital needs.

What service was provided as part of the project?

Web Designing (UI/UX), Web Development, Web Hosting

What is it about the company that you appreciate the most?

The company is trustworthy and friendly - they are available for every question and assistance. The Hosting is very secure and safe. We would continue with DDSN Interactive for our future digital services and digital marketing.

What was it about the company that you didn't like which they should do better?

Nothing that I can think of right now.