First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Sean Harrington: Staying safe and following all the rules such as wearing masks, washing hands, and distancing. We have really used this time to get to know each other, create new and creative traditions, and get in some serious skill-building.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Design Web Louisville.
Sean Harrington: We’ve been around for almost 10 years now. We incorporated after seeing many small businesses being turned away from other local agencies around town due to budget limitations or being a non-profit. They were being referred to build-your-own site generators or, in some cases just being ignored completely. Many small business owners are busy running their businesses, and don’t have time to learn, build, manage their websites. We knew we could really help these small businesses with small budgets get into the digital realm, and many of them have really succeeded online and come back to us for redesigns and expansions. We have seen major growth this year now that many brick and mortar businesses are migrating online. We have been able to expand our in-kind services and support services for digital marketing projects that support our community.
How does Design Web Louisville innovate?
Sean Harrington: We are constantly improving our techniques to learn the newest algorithm, framework, or SEO tactic. Not only that, we are building out new AI site generators that will allow us to offer even more to micro-businesses who have limited funds but offer an incredible benefit and investment in our local economy and community.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Sean Harrington: We’ve moved mostly to tele-meetings through Zoom, Google Meet, and other platforms. We have transitioned to allow and support our team members and contractors to work from home or a socially distanced space. We’ve seen a surge in small and micro businesses needing an online presence, and we have been working on creating more easy to use products for this new client demographic. We’ve even helped develop an online multi-vendor marketplace for art festivals that was used successfully this year and resulted in lots of sales and visitors to a first-of-its-kind event in Louisville, KY.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Sean Harrington: Fortunately, there have not been any really difficult choices this year. We’ve been able to put together new offerings for our clients to help them through these tough times and support our team. We have encouraged open dialogue between all of our partners and made many adjustments to ensure accessibility to everyone we work with, as well as expanding our availability and opportunities for new partnerships. What could have been a tough decision often became a strengthened bond through planning and open dialogue. Not every decision has been easy this year, but they have all moved up forward together.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety, how do you project yourself and Design Web Louisville in the future?
Sean Harrington: Communication is key. We find that keeping an open dialogue with employees, partners, clients, and our community really helps make people feel supported and reduce stress. Deadlines and project evolution can sneak up on us, especially during this very difficult time of pandemic and unrest. The best way we have found to dispel stress and anxiety is to create an environment of support and community by making sure we listen to one another and give full support and respect to each other’s needs and experiences. This is not always easy, but the process of trying to build these new connections has really brought us all together in ways that are surprising and welcome.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Sean Harrington: We try not to think of our competitors as our competitors. Many of the other agencies here in town actually use us for white-label services, so they are our friends and clients. We find that if you follow the right paths, fill the right niche, and make friends with all the other players. It becomes more about enjoying the game than a competition. Sometimes we win a round, sometimes we congratulate a friend on a round well won, but we will never stop playing because we love what we do.
Your final thoughts?
Sean Harrington: We’ve worked hard through the pandemic to support small businesses and organizations, especially those who benefit the BlPOC and LGBTQ communities. We are a small organization by design, but we try to give back as much as possible.