The business I started in my living room has reached its 20th anniversary this month. Where did that time go? Seems like just yesterday, but a look back at the technology progress over the years reminds me of our evolution.
Back in 1996 when I started my consulting company doing interactive training, and someone asked if I could “do those web things,” I had no idea that IMC would still be here today. In the past 20 years, we have served close to 500 different people, ranging from creating a simple graphic to developing a full-blown custom web site. Of all our achievements, I am most proud of the longevity of our client relationships. A number of our current clients have been with us for 15 years or more.
It is hard to be a jack of all trades, so we focused on our strengths. Early on, IMC chose to assist small and mid-sized businesses and non-profits. Sure, we could create “brochure web sites,” but we also had (and still have) programming chops, meaning we sometimes create custom web sites with complex back-end connectivity to client-side databases or other functionality.
While efficiency is key in our business, we have never been tied to so-called cookie-cutter solutions. In fact, I fought going from hand-coding to Dreamweaver back in 2000, thinking it was too automated. Finally, the web site management tools won me over. Thereafter, the decision to move to a web-based content management system (CMS) was easier—it just had to be the right CMS. Enter WordPress. WordPress made it easy for us to create professional web sites with custom features and still give clients the ability to update those sites from wherever they might be—no special software required.
Using a CMS does not mean we have moved solely to simplified, basic solutions. Every web site project is evaluated based on the needs of the client. We help each client solve a problem or answer a question. Sometimes that might incorporate a cookie-cutter component (like a widget that displays a Google map), but rarely is any site we develop completely an “off-the-shelf” solution. We can customize any type of site to do pretty much anything a client needs.
We also have had an affinity for the arts over the years. In fact, many of our donated web sites went to non-profit arts organizations. After listening to artists and arts-focused organizations, we created Arts Spark—a launch pad to help creatives market their music and art. We heard from so many artists that they just wanted to do their art and not have to worry about the marketing and technological stuff. The ultimate goal of the Arts Spark web site is to help artists with the business of being an artist. Keep an eye on Arts Spark as we start to roll it out across the country this year.
Ultimately, it is our people that make IMC a favorite resource for our clients. We often say we are “small by design” and that remains true. You know that when you call, Lukas will answer the phone and will most likely answer your question. You know that Emily will take care of your graphics needs and Jeff will work his magic to help you add features to your web site. Beyond the moment of glory we enjoy as each new web site launches, it is the lasting relationships with our clients that we are most proud of building and maintaining.
Twenty years ago, I was told by someone in a position of authority that I was wasting my time developing web sites. His take on the market was that the internet wouldn’t go anywhere and I would just be looking for a job in another year. Hmmm…I’m glad I had the good sense to follow my own intuition and keep moving forward. I was talking with someone the other day about my start in business and reminded him that I had been doing something “before the web was around.” My friend said he had forgotten there was even a time “before the web.” The internet is so ubiquitous in our lives today that we cannot live without it. As we ponder what yet-to-be-released technology we won’t be able to live without 20 years from now, it is important to remember that the people and the relationships will always be there. IMC will continue to serve our clients in reaching their customers, using whatever technologies we can harness to enhance communications and build communities.