By Chris Watson
Creating your own website seems like a simple DIY proposition. Every major hosting company offers a process, accompanied by varying and vague promises of success, that will get you ready to do business, promote, or publish on the world wide web. However, designing, executing, and maintaining a website is like plumbing in an old house. It looks easy on YouTube, but once you get started it can get mindboggling, messy, and if done incorrectly, expensive.
Enter Interactive Design Solutions, a Waterville OH based company that works to personalize web design and online marketing. “A web site isn’t just a billboard,” says Chris Kapelski, Creative Director and CEO of IDS. “A website is the place where customers, prospective and current business partners, employees, investors and of course potential malicious users, both see and interact with your company. That is a tremendous amount of marketing and promotional power packed into a single tool. It doesn’t make sense to leave that power in the hands of an impersonal online web building algorithm or someone without industry experience.”
Reality Births Creativity
Kapelski, a northwest Ohio native, went to college at Shawnee State University for Video Game Design and Development. “I was already doing web design and marketing on the side at school. It was part of our degree curriculum,” recalls Kapelski. “I had internships in the Game Design area but when the economy took a downturn in 2008 those got canceled. It was a great life lesson. I had wanted to do one thing but life changes.”
Kapelski continued to work on the side until he graduated in 2009. By 2010 IDS came into being. “It really was just me doing a bunch of freelance work. However, I was getting more and more referrals and I knew I needed help. I started to gather a team and IDS was born.”
A critical part of that team today is Brittany Stapleton, Project Manager and Designer for IDS. Also a graduate of Shawnee, Stapleton’s degree is in psychology, followed by a Masters from University of Toledo in Social Work. “When Chris suggested I come on board I jumped at the chance. There is quite a bit of psychology in web design. People have a natural fear of technical terminology,” says Stapleton. “Our ability to translate what a customer needs in terms they can relate to is one of our core strengths. People don’t know what they don’t know. We take that fear of the unknown away.”
Along with Kapelski and Stapleton, IDS employs two programmers, an animator,a designer and recently added a marketing position. This core allows the team to drill down into what a company needs and wants from a web presence.
“Asking a client ‘what are your goals for the site’may seem like a simple question but it routinely catches people off guard,” says Kapelski. “This is why it is so important to interact with a real person who knows web design, hosting, maintenance, and marketing.” By starting with fundamental goal setting and expectations for a web presence, IDS can introduce their clients to functionality they may not have even considered.
“We don’t just build websites,” says Stapleton. “We help companies articulate their message, ensuring that their site provides the information the user is seeking. A website isn’t like printed material. Websites are used and read differently. One of the great things about IDS is we take away the headache of learning a web builder template. We build you a great website, help that site get noticed, maintain it to industry standards, and let you get back to painting houses, repairing cars, being a doctor, or whatever your business is, while knowing that if you want to make a change you will be talking to a person, not back relearning a web template you didn’t want to learn in the first place.”
“Websites are more than a few pictures and a contact form,” says Kapelski. “Like any other marketing or business tool, purposeful design is necessary or they get lost in the noise of the web.” The IDS team works throughout the design process ensuring all elements come together in the end.”
“It is like watching someone decorate a cake on TV,” remarks Stapleton lightly. “You see images on TV. They show stills and slow motion video of how it’s done and you think ‘No Problem!’ I am going to make that cake. Then you get into the kitchen and find out you don’t have all the tools you need or the skills. People train for years in visual design and website development. We bring that expertise to your doorstep.”
Design isn’t just about visual elements. “In the design of your website we look at all of the different devices the site will get used on,” says Kapelski. “Mobile has far surpassed desktop as the main way to search the web. Ensuring your site is responsive is
something that a highly trained and attentive designer should guarantee.”
Current marketing surveys support Kapelski. According to Hostingfacts.com, by 2020 mobile devices will account for 45% of all e-commerce, compared to 20% in 2016. Likewise, 82% of people currently use their phones to research a product or service prior to purchase. “From the beginning of your website design, how users are going to interact with your site needs to be considered. And we stay with our products. We keep up with current trends, helping our clients stay on top of whatever the industry or Google decides to change this week.”
I don’t want to be hacked… Kapelski hears these words all the time. “People hear web language all the time. Words like SEO and Security and HTTPS then ask what the S is for. We are that solution for your site. We train and stay educated, keeping up with how search engines are changing, how security needs are evolving, and above all making recommendations about the structure and design of your site to keep it modern, secure and useful.”
Web security is a growing problem that IDS helps solve. That problem isn’t one that focusses on “big” stores like Target or eBay. According to Small Business Trends, 43% of all cyber attacks are focused on small businesses. “Whether you’re implementing security features or helping make sure that search engines find your site, having a team of experts on your side is important,” says Stapleton. “This is work that we do so you don’t have to.”
“The bottom line is,” says Kapelski “you don’t have to struggle. Your web presence should be a resource, not a risk. We can help make that happen.”