Going the Distance
There's one crucial component every internet startup has in common: a website. Some new businesses may use a template-based service; others may hire a local web designer. But many end up working with a design company that's in another part of the country or even halfway across the globe. Almost 800 miles separate the office of Racegear.com in Corpus Christi, Texas, and its web designer, EY Studios in Starkville, Mississippi. That distance hasn't stopped EY Studios from doing design work for the ambitious NASCAR-related content website and e-commerce startup.
Diane Metz, who started Racegear.com with her husband, Joseph, 44, found EY Studios through Yahoo Small Business's preferred partner program. They knew they wanted to use Yahoo Small Business's web hosting and store as the foundation of their site, but didn't want a typical template look. "You have to treat it with that same type of due diligence as you would hiring anyone else who would be walking into your office for an interview," says Diane, 41.
After visiting 20 other designers' websites and talking on the phone with half a dozen, Diane settled on Eric Yonge with EY Studios. "Your ultimate goal with an e-commerce store is to sell products," says Diane. "You want the design to enhance and not detract from the ultimate goal of the sale. That was something he got right away." Since you can spend half a year or more working with a designer, it's important to get the right person from the start. Be prepared to log some phone time as you choose and then work with your designer.
While you want a web designer you can rely on, you don't want to be attached at the hip after the main project is done. Be sure they set up the site so you can handle minor updates like blog entries, new products and news posts. Diane makes these kinds of changes through a web dashboard and brings EY Studios back in for larger changes. "We want to save him for the bigger things," she says. Armed with a destination built to rival established online NASCAR players, Racegear.com logged $400,000 in sales in 2007 after a year in business. The Metzes are off to a fast start, thanks to finding their dream web designer and making the distance between them a nonfactor.