Web Design Firm Offers Help to Small Companies

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  • July 22, 2008

By Marian Bond • business@rgj.com
RGJ Business Section: July 22, 2008

After being a Web design developer for a local company, Kristy Crabtree decided to open her own company. Westward Strategy & Design Group was established to offer professional services to the small companies that might not want to invest large sums of money to get onto the Internet to promote their services or products.

“I had worked my way up in 13 years with my employer, from an apprentice to director of professional services, and I was managing 12 to 15 technical and creative designers,” Crabtree said. “I wanted my company to be more of a boutique agency. More intimate with the customers. Because I have low overhead, I have more time to spend with my clients. I wanted to target a different audience.”

Crabtree started her company from a home office two years ago. She now shares a 2,200-square-foot building in Sparks with ACS Business Insurance Services. Crabtree runs her office with one full-time employee, three technical contractors and herself.

“The technical people do the heavy program duties, set up shopping carts. Things like that,” Crabtree said.

Her customers range from sole proprietors to companies with 15 to 20 employees. “I don’t go after the larger clients. There is a place for them. I did not believe anybody was facilitating the niche market I want,” she said.

Crabtree says that a new customer coming to her needs to understand who his or her audience is. Clients also need to have goals and objectives they want to sell or the service or product they are offering. She stressed that so much is happening on the Web these days that anyone in business needs to have a presence or they will miss out on clients.

Another plus to having a Web site, according to Crabtree, is that analytical reports can be produced to show activity on the site. This type of tracking helps with marketing goals. Her company will produce monthly or quarterly reports as required.

“The typical site will have a home page that tells about the company or information about the team that works with the product or services,” Crabtree said. She also likes to set up a news page that tells more about the company. The Web site will be set up to provide fresh information.

She also advises each company to have its own domain name and to maintain ownership.

Clients interested in art or photography can get stock photos on Web sites. “They are very reasonable in price. If you search long enough online, as we do, you know which photos have not been used,”

She said that her assistant, Chris Gandolfo, a professional photographer, will also do photos.

In planning for a Web site, the company has to decide if it wants to reach a local area or a global audience.

Crabtree said she often has companies with existing sites come for a redesign.

“We first ask if they have any analytical tools to get information as to how a Web site is performing. We find out if anybody has been going to the site. We like to sit back for about a month so we can get information. We will create basically how I would plan to help fix (the site). We don’t want their money to go down the drain. We’re a small business, too. We understand money is important to everybody.”

Crabtree said she is always eager to accommodate the customer’s needs. Her company can set up a Web site in just a short time, but generally takes about two months to finish a detailed product.

The cost of a Web site with Westward Strategy & Design Goup runs as low as $500, but depending upon the content and intricacy can also run $10,000 or more.

Doug Kurkul, CEO of the Reno Sparks Chamber of Commerce, said that last January he entrusted Crabtree’s company to redesign the chamber web site www.renosparkschamber.org and he said he was quite satisfied with the results.

“I’ve dealt with Web designers for 13 years now,” Kurkul said. “I believe that Westward Strategy & Design is one of the best I’ve ever dealt with. They are easy to work with and they have outstanding skills on both technical and on artistic aspects of web design.”

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