In the Age of Data
How much does brand matter
Issue: how unique?
A digital partner
grow a more independent, brand-forward businessThrough Online Distinction
"Buy low and sell high!" "Get rich or die trying!" "Always be on the hustle!" What a cliché. At the beginning of Byte, we decided to craft a different kind of studio, to grow through trust and partnership, quality and distinction, and better processes and methods. We found that we work incredibly well with a different kind of business, one that didn't subscribe to the cliché. Byte helps businesses grow under a different kind of light.
There are two major parts to our work with companies: smart data and strong branding for websites and applications.
Byte is fiercely independent, and has been building websites, applications and mobile apps for 20 years for independent, forward-thinking business. We craft brands, advise on internet and content strategy, and build applications and websites from the very simple to the very complex.
Our best work is with companies that have a strong commitment to excellence, a greater connection to the community and a commitment to being more than the bottom line. Visible companies that want to show their value through unique experiences, be it in-store, at-service or online. Companies with a voice that's unique, and an independence that lets it stand out in a crowd.
We're especially excited to work with people in the grocery and food production business that are doing things to make both the community and the world a better place. In the grocery space, we work with Outpost Natural Foods, Good Harvest Markets and North Coast Co-op, and have worked with many others over the years. In the food space, we work with Purple Door Ice Cream, Catering Works, and The Flame Catering just to name a few. We have experience both on the web site and on the ownership side of a sustainable, local, organic restaurant. (The National is the restaurant that the owner of Byte created and sold.)
We have a long term commitment to our clients. Our first client was the Dickman Company, a commercial real estate firm, and we're still working with them today.
Websites & Applications In the Age of Data
Twenty years ago we were helping business understand the value of being online. Ten years ago we were showing clients how interactive content was king. On the third decade of the web, we're helping clients see the value of data, and the advantages of taking business processes online.
Dynamic businesses are using the internet of today as an opportunity to shine, be it through personalization, process improvement or through a strong showing of brand. Data tools in a modern website or application include:
- Specialized database for events, campaigns, staff
- Process improvement, like quote generation or product explorers
- CRM integrations via API or simple embeds
- Email signups, or CRM alternatives
- Integrated, data-aware forms
- Data collection for analytics and dashboards
- API consumption and creation
- Account registrations and features
We work in information strategy, schema explorations and data visualizations to make a site or application that's most effective for a business.
A New Brand Standard
Modern branding is getting deeper and more human-centric for a lot wider range of companies. A brand that used to cover only logos, colors and typography now covers tone, interactions, animations and transitions. Much of these upgraded brand attributes are happening because of the web. A business doesn't need a million dollar television ad budget to create motion graphics, a website can cover much of the same ground at a fraction of the cost. As more and more businesses are investing in their brand, we're here to help.
A human-centric brand gives a company a story, an emotional connection, and it's illustrated in a variety of ways. A brand is often explained as a "promise" and one of the deliverables is consistency. Since consistency is a strong component of quality businesses, a strong brand makes sense. It's the first thing people will see and the last thing they'll remember.
We love the depth of a brand. Even when we are handed an unfinished brand, we take it to a much deeper level in the parts of a website. The brand helps the elements on a website look and feel like the company, from the navigations to the form submit buttons to the animations. Brand helps build an experience, and a stronger experience keeps a visitor engaged longer and more deeply.
The worst part of the web today is that it's all starting to look the same. While some people contend that's a good idea, regular people see a banal website as indicative of a banal product or service. Since we work with quality-focused businesses, we create unforgettable experiences that connect with visitors.
Our discovery process
We start with an enumerated look at a site's visitors, creating audience segments, exploring their needs ('use cases'), and determining the content they need, the search terms they might use and the company’s goals for each type. We then create a series of themed sitemaps to explore different ways to group content, and ensure visitors’ needs are met, and cross reference comparative and competitive websites to understand their perceptions of content and ensure we avoid similarities.
A Deep Dive into Discovery
Because we start a site with a long view of strategy, we spend a bit longer getting to know a company and its people. We ask a lot of questions, get to the heart of audiences and their needs, site goals, search engine strategy and lot more. We do a comparative and a competitive analysis to take in a wide-angle view of the industry we're representing. We share our findings with our client, asking them to fill in missing parts and to help us explore and fine tune the findings.
One of the most interesting and difficult parts of a website is creating a sitemap. It would be easy to just create a logical or arbitrary sitemap, but since the sitemap directs the navigation menus that appear on every page of the site, we need to tell the best story. To do proper sitemap, we explore competing themed versions of a sitemap. We'll extract themes based on the discovery and on the available content, and we'll keep working on multiple themes until we know we have the best possible one.
In the end, the documentation produced in our discovery phase can help in a variety of other places. Audiences can help identify advertising opportunities, search engine keywords can help with pay-per-click or other online ads. The sitemap itself becomes a roadmap of current and future content, and helps the company find needed content while we work concurrently on the next phases of a website.
Issue: How unique should a website be?
A modern trend is to make every website look overly simple and basically the same. But what does a simplistic, seemingly copied site say to a visitor? Generally it intones that the business like other businesses, that they're ready for business, but without differentiation. For those old enough to know, it's like a yellow page ad or a print brochure, and for most businesses it can absolutely get the job done.
So then, what does a unique site say to a visitor? Often that there's something more than meets the eye. It says that there's a product or service that's different or better than other businesses, or there's something unique to the experience of the business itself. We see uniqueness generating curiosity on websites. It gives people a reason to explore more, dig deeper, and read longer than they otherwise would.
What kind of businesses or projects would be best served by something more simple?
- Companies that offer very similar services to others, like dentists, mechanics or HVAC specialists
- Companies that trade in commodities, like amazon sellers, convenience stores, distributors
- Projects that are databases or applications where strong branding will get in the way of message
What kind of business are best served by something unique?
- Companies that have a unique service level
- Companies that have a unique product or product assortment
- Companies that are sharing a unique vision
- Companies that have a strong aesthetic or stylistic feel
- Companies that are harder to understand, have a deeper story, or have more rich details to share
We create unique, brand-forward websites that follow the company's needs that are designed to seem simple and clear to users. We won't let the uniqueness of a site get in the way of a company's goals, we believe the only reason to do custom design is to make website that connects with its visitors better.
Web Design and Development Offerings
- Content strategy
- Branding and design systems
- Site design and development
- Event calendars, registration and registration reminders
- Blogs, custom blog themes
- Online and on-site emergency messaging, announcements
- Kiosks and interactive touchscreens
- Business process applications
- Database development
- User systems
- Quote generation
- Mobile applications
- Partial and full ecommerce systems
- Data dashboards and visualizations
- Proofs-of-concept applications
- API development and consumption
Our clients are partners, and a partner can expect:
- We will be honest and transparent about process and pricing
- We will ask challenging questions, and challenge some answers
- We will do all design / programming work in-house
- We will never be demanding or abusive
- We will never hide behind our own organizational hierarchy
- We will craft something unique and perfect for every partner
On Costs and Process
We are transparent on costs and our process. Our costs are determined by how long a project will take. A few notes:
- We are more costly than DIY solutions
- We are the same or slightly more costly than web design and Wordpress firms
- We are far less costly than ad agencies and consultancy firms
- We don't have account execs, our full team is partner-facing
- We will stay within budget
- We will give clear indication of any out-of-budget options
- We will never haggle costs, each proposal is line-itemed to allow partner to choose final cost
- We will help find low cost alternatives as needed
Who Aren't Our Clients?
For us to do the level of work we do best, and to make the impact our clients need, we've found that we need to be a bit picky about our clients. We can push pixels around as well as anyone, but that's not what makes us good. Here's what our clients aren't:
- Our clients don't know exactly what they want and just want a vendor to execute it
- Our clients aren't unethical, or do spam or stuffed SEO
- Our clients aren't focused on short term ROI
- Our clients aren't demanding or abusive
- Our clients don't consider our work a commodity
- Our clients don't want a traditional vendor
A Mission-based Digital Partner
The next web is data and experiential. We help companies build on both.
We specialize in building meaningful connections between users & data. We've been building data-rich sites from the beginning and have a track record of creating modern applications that are extensible, easy to use and easy to manage. To us, data isn't an extra feature, it is the base layer of websites and applications of any kind. At every level, data is stored and used in a natural format so future updates, uses and features of an application can easily change over time.
Brand plays a vital role in how people understand and interact with a company today, and it’s much more than just a logo, font & color palette. A brand is a company's voice and tone, and it’s important that that voice translates to the digital realm just as well as it does to print, signage, kiosks and other collateral. We can work with a current brand, give it life online and on touchscreen. And we can create an informed, smart brand that reaches a wider audience.
We believe in power an iterative process. From small updates to full site redesigns, websites are meant to grow and evolve over time. We don’t want this evolution to be arbitrary -- we want to learn, iterate and learn again whenever possible, and glean lessons from analytics or other usage data.
Most importantly, as a boutique firm rooted in relationships, we are fully invested in the evolution and success of our clients.