Blog Interviews Smack Happy Design

Interview With & Smack Happy Design

Jeev: Hi, today we’ve got Nicole Hanusek from Smack Happy. Welcome, Nicole—I appreciate you coming and joining us today.

Nicole: Hi! Thank you for having me.

Jeev: So, Nicole—tell me a little bit about your role, and then tell me a little bit about the organization as well.

Nicole: I’ve been designing and coding websites for about 18 years now, and I started my company about 8 years ago. Then, I kind of built out a great team of individuals and we all love helping people. Whether it be our clients, or our clients’ clients, or even each other—we’re just very open, and giving people.

Jeev: Okay, very cool. So, you say you’re an agency — talk to me about the different set of services you folks offer.

Nicole: We mostly focus on web design, and within that, mostly WordPress. We have worked with some other systems as well… helping startups with some of their code (working in their code repositories). Outside of web design, we also do some graphic design (logos, brochures, business cards—anything in the print realm).

Jeev: Sure. So, sounds like a very creative agency that has print capabilities — but on the digital development side, has a very strong WordPress foundation.

Nicole: Yeah, that’s correct.

Jeev: Awesome, awesome. So, from an ideal client perspective is it generally a startup, is it a small to midsize business? Certainl, enterprises don’t necessarily need logos generally they usually have those established. I don’t know how many enterprises are really working on a WordPress website. So, talk to me about what an ideal customer for you folks looks like.

Nicole: Okay, so we typically have four different types of clients. One can be that enterprise company. Oftentimes, their marketing website is separate from whatever they’re selling. Sometimes that is WordPress — sometimes it’s not. So, whenever their marketing team is kind of overwhelmed, and their coders can’t get to stuff, they’ll come to someone like me and my team and we’ll be able to jump in and get things done a little quicker.

I’ve also worked with startups. In that situation, a lot of times they wont have the budget yet to hire someone, like a visual designer or a front-end coder. We can help fill that gap until they get to that point.

And then we’ve worked with small companies, like mom and pop shops who just need a graphic and web design partner (and help fill in those gaps/do things for them). You know you can’t be an expert in everything, which is why you call your experts.

Jeev: Right, so how many clients do you folks have and how many websites do you folks generally push out on an annual basis?

Nicole: Ooh, annually… I’ve never done that particular number, but at any given time we have 20 to 30 active projects. We use WP Engine as our hosting partner, and currently host almost 100 websites.

Jeev: Okay, very cool. So, in terms of pricing (and I understand it really depends on the requirements of the customer), but talk to me a little bit about the different ranges that maybe customers generally have to pay for your site services.

Nicole: Okay, um so on the low end for simple static brochure website, the range is somewhere in between four and seven thousand dollars. And on the high-end for more complex websites, where there’s lots of pages and lots of functionality, it can go as high as fifteen thousand.

Jeev: Fifteen you, said?

Nicole: Yes.

Jeev: Got it, okay. And in terms of timelines, like if someone wants a smaller sized site, how quickly can they get it delivered generally speaking?

Nicole: In a perfect world, where we are getting back to each other very quickly, we could do it in a month. But realistically, most website projects take between one to three months. So, if it’s even one of those bigger sites, it could take six months.

Jeev: Understood. I presume you’ve got clients all over the world, or are they primarily California folks?

Nicole: We do have a large amount in California, but we’ve worked with people all over — throughout the US and in a couple of other countries.

Jeev: Very cool, very cool. What does the company look like, let’s say two-three years from now? What are your plans? Essentially, if you go ahead and align yourself with an agency, you’re saying “hey, you’re a critical part of my business,” right? So you’d want to see that, and I understand you’ve got eight years of history there so that’s helpful. Really, what can your customers look forward to in the next two-three years?

Nicole: I am actively expanding out my team. I have an SEO specialist on-board with us now. She’s also a writer, so she’s fantastic at creating content. Probably adding-on a marketing strategist — someone to make more solid plans and how to get the word out there about your stuff. I’ve got a couple project managers, I’ve got coders and designers… so just more building out of those people to make sure we get things done quickly and efficiently. And, again because we like to help people so much. You know, we want everyone to have a great experience.

Jeev: Yeah, sort of a tricky question, but you know this is one that I like to ask: What is a comment, not necessarily a complaint, but a feedback that you get from your clients? It’s commonality, you’re hearing it often… that you plan on addressing or are already addressing.

Nicole: Over the last year or two, one of the complaints I was getting was that I wasn’t getting back to people fast enough. I used to be really quick to respond, and then I got way too busy. So, I hired project managers and now that’s not a problem anymore. So I guess the next thing (and this is probably true always, and will always be true) is that content is really hard and is usually a hold up for a website. Oftentimes, we’ll miss deadlines because the content needs to be done and it’s hard to write your content (especially about yourself). So if you start planning your content first, you’ll be ahead of the game. We can also help finalize it and help polish it up.

Jeev: When I look at your firm, a lot of these agencies tend to sometimes outsource the work — simply because they get too; it’s not necessarily scalable business, so a lot of times it requires human capital and only way you scale that is maybe, potentially by having outsourcing partners. Do you have any outsourcing partners that your customers can rely on, or do you from a quality perspective tend to keep things in-house?

Nicole: I’m very picky, and have very high standards, so I tend to keep everything within my team.

Jeev: Okay, very cool, very cool. If I was interested in learning more about you and get a better sense of what your organization was all about, those would be the initial set of questions I would have and then I would start talking about the specifics around my project.

So, we do drive a significant amount of traffic to, and I hope our audience can reach out to you if they’re looking for either a WordPress site, or if they’re looking for creative work, I think it would certainly be a strong option to learning more and seeing if this is a fit for them.

So, I highly encourage folks reaching out to Nicole. So, Nicole what’s the best way for someone to actually get a quote? Is it through the website? Do you have a sales rep? What’s the process, and talk to our audience if you will, in terms of how they connect with you?

Nicole: The best way to get started is through the website. So, it’s, and if you want to go directly to the questionnaire, it’s /quote. So that’s “smack” as in slap, “happy” dot com slash quote. It’s a pretty detailed questionnaire, it shouldn’t take too long to fill out though. Once you get that completed, we’ll schedule a meeting. Preferably I like to meet in person or at least see each other through Skype. And if that doesn’t work, we can do a phone call. We’ll talk about the details of your project and once I kind of get a grasp of what you’re looking for, I’ll send a proposal. And we kind of take it from there.

Jeev: Very cool. I certainly thank you for your time today, Nicole.

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