Credits: Markus Spiske, Unsplash
Andy Nicol, CEO of digital transformation agency Sputnik Digital, celebrates 21-year-old business
I was looking back on the other day when I was 21 years old.
The eagle’s eyes between you will find that I’m not talking about myself, but about Sputnik Digital, who has just celebrated his 21st birthday.
I’ve been thinking about how both Sputnik and the industry aren’t perceived by a digital transformation agency founded in 2000.
Initially, I was the only staff member and started living on the Royal Exchange Theater in Manchester.
When most startup stories started, it took a long time in the early days and wasn’t very rewarding.
In my case, I worked for Sputnik Digital during the day and played a telesales role in the evening. It was 16 hours a day. I could easily live for £ 6,000 a year by not having a car or TV, at least until my daughter’s birth forced my hand.
In the late 90’s, web developers were marketing consultants, and designers and developers needed to come together. Frustrating for them, he was the same person who called when his PC crashed or he forgot his email password.
Web development today is much more sophisticated. A rational project requires an interdisciplinary team of user researchers, product owners, UI designers, front-end developers, back-end developers, testers, and DevOps engineers.
Over the years, we have noticed that customer expectations have changed. At the time, clients who recognized the growth of the Internet often approached us without a brief explanation, but they knew they needed a website. Things were simpler in many ways, but web developers mainly followed best practices. This was before mobile devices and responsive design.
The SEO industry has changed the perception of clients. Instead of asking for a website, they wanted to be “the top of Google.” This has caused seismic changes in the industry, the effects of which are still felt today.
Suspicious SEO agencies can hide in reputable agencies, web development budgets cannibalize to fund SEO requirements, corners are reduced during the “design and build” stage, template website popularity Soared. Ironically, these cheap options mean that the fundamentals haven’t been addressed, and the journey to better search engine rankings often started on the hind legs.
Template sites are designed for everyone, not for anyone. It is often not designed with a particular business or customer journey in mind, except that it is slow and bloated.
This meant that as soon as the website was published, we had to address user experience issues.
These were perfect conditions for a fast-growing era of conversion rate optimization.
It must be said that both SEO and CRO are absolutely essential. It’s just that they had a “wild west” moment. Neither should have been considered more important than website discovery, design, construction, and maintenance. These are all closely related.
Today, Sputnik’s team has grown to 11 people, including 8 developers, but our focus remains the same. We are writing the perfect code to create scalable, secure and reliable websites and applications.
If you spend extra effort at the beginning of your project, you’ll get high performance from day one. No one will spend next or two years modifying the website to get it where it should be.
Our commitment to best practices, from UX to engineering, resonates with clients who demand the highest standards, whether their drivers are commercial, compliant or reputable. We are honored to work with great clients such as GoCompare, Swinton Insurance and Fluent Money.
What lessons have you learned in the last 21 years?
Every budget has something, but not all websites are created the same.
Not surprisingly, companies in need of new websites and applications are seeing revenue, but it’s important for agencies to resist the assumption that clients want the cheapest options. As a rule, it is not. They want to understand the options available and the opportunities and risks at each level.
Companies accessing 3rd or 4th generation websites will experience distress when problems arise. We don’t have an infinite budget, but we understand the value of having a strong and experienced team.
Another lesson of the last 21 years is that transparency and integrity are essential. There is a lot of “buyer remorse” in our industry.
It is the responsibility of the institution not to hesitate to tell them the truth. If you don’t have a budget, it’s usually a good idea to adjust the scope. Compromising design or code quality is a last resort, and new features can always be added later.
The third lesson is to stay true to yourself. Our commitment to “precision digital engineering” has helped us. It helped us sleep at night and build strong and lasting friendships with our clients. There are many successful agencies that offer cheaper entry-level solutions, and they are optimized to do that. That is not appropriate for us.
We’ve come a long way in 21 years and there have been many changes, including myself, but the principle of adhering to best practices and writing perfect code has always been at the core of our business. ..