Please introduce your company and give a brief about your role within the company?
I am the founder and CEO of the Bureau of Small Projects. We leverage our experience with Fortune 500 companies and Major Brands using all the little tricks that we have developed over the years; to help small businesses, start-ups and non-profits make a big impact. Everyone on our team has Fortune 500 and Big Brand experience.
What was the idea behind starting this organization?
Interesting, you should ask. I used to be a partner in a firm that built and marketed massive e-commerce websites for Fortune 500 companies and Big Brands.
As a side project, I directed the feature-length documentary, “Kindness Is Contagious”, narrated by Catherine Ryan Hyde, author of the book (and film), “Pay It Forward”, and it changed my life. While filming, my team and I worked with many non-profits, start-ups, and small businesses that were making a difference in the world; and I realized that I wanted to make a difference in the world too. Then it hit me. The way I could do this was to repurpose the sophisticated marketing tools that my company had been developing for Fortune 500 companies and major brands, to make them insane amounts of money and use them instead to help non-profits increase donations, start-ups get funding, and small businesses be more successful.
So I created The Bureau Of Small Projects as an incubator within my old company. The name was a way to differentiate our work from that of these multi-million dollar projects we had been developing. I enjoyed it so much that in the spring of 2014, I spun The Bureau Of Small Projects off into its own company so I could do this full time.
Kindness is central to our brand values and our vision.
What are your company’s business model–in house team or third party vendors/ outsourcing?
Everything is done in house. As our clients come to us because they like the way our website looks, it was critical that we have design-oriented engineers. This, I found, was surprisingly tricky to find. I think because most engineers/developers see the world like the raining symbols in Matrix and not through the eyes of a designer. So, I realized early on to get the level of quality our clients expect that I would need to build and train this team myself.
How is your business model beneficial from a value addition perspective to the clients compared to other companies' models?
We seem to fill a very interesting niche. In my experience, there are lots of organizations that build templated inexpensive websites. There are also lots of agencies that build expensive, highly customized websites. But the middle ground so far is wide open. We fell into this by accident, but I don’t see many firms that build gorgeous custom websites at a middle price point. It seems to be either expensive or cheap.
What industries do you generally cater to? Are your customers repetitive? If yes, what ratio of clients has been repetitive to you?
We don’t cater to a specific industry. I like to explain it like this. Our customers come to us because they are looking for something different. But we do cater to a certain “type” of clients. I always lead with our origin-story because kindness is at the core of our brand values. We only work with clients that share these values. That said we do have a certain expertise in the AI/Machine Learning sector. A few years back, we did marketing for a company that was bought by Cisco. All of the founders became gazillionaires and started referring their friends to us. As a result, we have developed a certain expertise in a highly specialized niche. Out clients tend to be very repetitive and stick with us for a long time. We are a branding agency that does web development and marketing, so we serve the entire digital lifecycle. I’m also very proud to stay that CoachArt, our very first client, is still with us.
Mention the parameters which are most important for you in developing an web design.
Conversion and Performance. People come to us because our websites look great, but they stay with us because they perform. The strategy is at the heart of everything we do.
What key aspects do you keep in mind while developing a web design in order to enhance its usability?
Very good question. The #1 most important thing is to have a strong value proposition. To clearly communicate what your organization does differently and – more importantly – Better than your competition. I think this is where 90% of websites fall short.
The next most important thing is to have a big beautiful image or illustration at the top of the homepage. We build hundreds of websites a year and what this means is we have a lot of data about what works and what doesn’t. And what this data shows is that people process imagery way faster than they process text. So it is critical that you get their attention first and then once you have their attention, they will read whatever you put in front of them as long as it’s useful and relevant.
Next would be the hierarchy of information. Make sure that everything is constructed in a way that tells the visitor how to read the information. Headlines big, subheadings smaller, body text smaller. A big mistake we often see is people try to cram everything above the fold. Or they highlight everything. Some text in caps, some in italics, some text in red, some bold, etc.; what this creates is texture, and the result is that if Everything is important, people see Nothing.
What are the key parameters to be considered before selecting the right framework for web design?
The most important parameter would be the use of the website. A magazine needs a different framework than e-commerce which needs a different framework than an SAAS application. Budget is also a factor, but I think the mistake people make is that they put budget ahead of purpose and fail. Doing a cheap website on the wrong framework is basically throwing your money away. But that said when in doubt, go with WordPress. It is insanely versatile.
Which framework do you suggest your clients to go for when they approach you with an idea?
The framework that is best suited for that idea. A magazine needs a different framework than e-commerce which needs a different framework than an SAAS application. Why? Doing a cheap website on the wrong framework is basically throwing your money away.
What are your recommendations when it comes to developing a web design? Which framework do you suggest on working with?
Again, choose the framework that best suits the idea. For pure design, we use photoshop. Tools that let you build fast, interactive mock-ups, and have a selection of menus, buttons, etc., to choose from, are great for novices who don’t understand web design. But by giving you a selection of premade buttons and layouts to choose from, they steer you in a templated direction, where if you start with a blank canvas, you let the idea guide you rather than the tools.
What are the key factors that you consider before deciding the cost of a website design?
• What framework best suits the need
• What the client can afford
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.)
All 3. Pay by deliverable. We charge for strategy, design, page count, and coding. Fixed cost, the only time the costs change is if the scope changes, then we spread this out in milestones for when the payments are due.
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?
The budget is not a factor. We work with a lot of start-ups and no profits. If our clients have a limited budget, we try to find a Quality solution that works with their budget. But we would rather turn away a project if they do not have the budget to build what they are asking us for. Better to let another firm to the shoddy work.
What is the price range (min and max) of the projects that you catered to in 2018?
The price range of the projects that we catered in 2018 ranged from $5,000 to $150,000.