From Lifeboat to Speedboat
When Daggerhart Lab opened our digital doors in Asheville, NC as of early 2020, we did so as a reaction to the suddenly tumultuous and quickly changing pandemic economy. Unfortunately, an agency many of the Daggerhart Lab developers and project managers were employed by faced every business’s worst nightmare and had to close shop. As a result, former clients were reaching out to our developers for help with projects that they had lamentably not been able to wrap up or provide support for prior to the former agency closing. So, we put our heads together as quickly as possible to support these clients and keep ourselves working as the effects of the pandemic carried on.
While we started out as a “ragtag” group of developers and project managers trying to do our best, we quickly realized our massive capabilities. While we may appear to be a “young agency” as we have only been open since early 2020, we are anything but. We have all been a part of well-established agencies and bring no less than 10 and upwards of 25 years of professional experience to Daggerhart Lab. Throughout all of our careers, we have gleaned a tremendous amount about what we can do to move forward sustainably. Bringing all of our experience and knowledge to the table has helped us triple our client load and our staffing within a matter of 6 months while delivering on all project goals and promises.
Create Sustainable Partnerships & Expand Services
Initially, our services were mainly aimed at developing and supporting web applications and websites for clients we had already been working with. In discovering the extensive work we were able to complete with the team we had in place, we began finding areas where we could be helping our clients even further. As a result, we initiated growing our staff of developers and project managers, as well as building strong relationships with experts and consultants to partner with. Throughout this process, we have expanded upon our offerings both in finding unique ways to develop and deliver products, as well as by broadening the services we are able to provide. Outside of development and project management, we also collaborate with local marketing and branding experts, as well as a web content agency. That is just one illustration of our expert partnerships; whatever your company needs we have the resources to assemble the best team for the job.
We’re building a company that supports positive change, and we will continue adapting as we grow to ensure we’re providing the highest level of service we can. We do this by being very agile, working quickly and effectively, and meeting client needs through empowering work that is supported by sustainable practices. In other words, we ensure we are fully equipped for every stage of growth and development as we bring additional clients and great projects onboard. Equally, we’re always seeking out ways to improve our processes to not only deliver stronger products but to do so on more approachable budgets and timelines. While the business model of keeping the staff the same size as you take on more clients is effective for others, it is not in line with our mission. We’re always striving toward a better future for our clients and ourselves. As our project loads increase, so does our full-time staff and our pool of expert partners and consultants. Don’t get us wrong, we’re not putting the cart before the horse by any means, we’re just adding another horse when the load calls for it. Our goal is to diversify our clients in size and sectors, and we never want to lose sight of our dedication to the tried and true original clients, nor take on new ones we aren’t properly equipped to serve.
We understand that each side of these growth efforts needs to be supported by the other. If we were to make a massive effort to pull in projects without a long shelf life, increasing full-time staff would carry a far greater risk. This is another reason that support services are so important to us. Consequently, we are seeking clients in non-profit and higher-level education as these sectors are ever-growing, as are the demands to be able to adeptly expand technology when the need presents itself. For example, we recently began working with a major University in California to unsilo their technology across their individual school websites. They came to us pretty unhappy with their current agency as they felt it took an unreasonable amount of time, effort, and money to get most work completed. Some of this had to do with how their sites were initially developed, as well as a lot of employee turnover at the agency that caused for a very inconsistent quality of service to the University. We were able to identify that they needed a major change to the workflow so they could act more independently and not need to rely on their agency for every minimal to intermediate change. We will always support any design, security, functionality and optimization efforts they need, but they should surely feel empowered to be able to update their own blogs and events calendars or to reset student passwords, etc. Equally, we needed to find a more efficient and less cost-prohibitive way for the University to make global updates across all of their school’s websites. For example, if there was an announcement, security upgrade or design update that they wished to be implemented across all of the school’s sites from the English Department to the individual Science Departments, they had no way of doing this before working with us. Implementing a methodology we’ve developed utilizing Pattern Lab, we’re able to build off the same theme for all of the school’s websites. This saves our client a tremendous amount of money on the front end, and on any needed support in the future. This also empowers the University with the ability to use the same theme to keep building off of as more of their individual school’s require websites. If they have a department that formerly didn’t feel the need for their own website, and now they do, all of the frameworks are already set up and ready to go. This is particularly important as the need for school resources online was already increasing, but now has become an absolute necessity as Covid-19 continues to re-shape lower and higher-level education as we once knew it. Saving this massive amount of time and money on design and general functionality makes it so we can focus more on the development of each school’s site and their unique needs. What the school for computer engineering requires, will surely be different than what the film school does. However, having the baseline across all of the University’s websites the same, from the main site to the individual schools, encourages a much stronger user experience. And again, creates an exponentially more efficient and cost-effective way of providing and receiving support.
Innovation & Client Support Are Paramount
One approach to our sustainability strategy is to push against planned obsolescence This the malicious practice of roping clients into extra projects that were avoidable and dwindling budgets knowing that the end product has a short shelf life. This goes against what we value the most – honest work, true partnership, and innovation. Support is truly our calling. We develop websites and applications to last that can be easily and sustainably updated. If say, in the event you want or need design updates as your company grows, we’ll be able to provide that support without piling up excessive billable hours by the way we set things up initially. Equally, if you’re a new client with a website that has “good bones” and there is no need to completely hit “restart” with an entirely new custom build, we’re not going to suggest it. However, if that same website has obvious security flaws, load time issues, and is running an outdated theme causing other issues to trickle in, we will find the most efficient and cost-effective ways to improve it. The betterment of your business is baked into all of our services, which is why support reigns supreme at Daggerhart Lab.
The “good bones” reference above actually relates to a specific client we worked with recently. Their website had a great design, the functionality for their client base was perfectly solid, and the security was on point. However, the theme they were using for their site design had become outdated and as a result, had begun creeping into other areas and causing problems that were getting in the way of business. By providing them unique upgrade and maintenance support through pattern lab we were able to keep their business online (making them money) while vastly improving the user experience and back end functionality at the same time. In the end, the client’s website and the ability to update it, as well as their client’s user experience were greatly enhanced. In moving through this project and finding more sustainable and efficient ways to do work like this, it opened up room to offer our services to new clients.
Make Room For Natural Growth
To break it down simply, Daggerhart Lab was able to go from what felt like a “lifeboat” to a “speedboat” by way of properly equipping our ship. We staff in congruence with our growth, build relationships with expert partners and we find ways to create more efficient processes. This may seem elementary, but breaking out of what might be the “norm” in your professional experience can be incredibly challenging. We encourage you to take the big and little leaps, try new things, expand on the good ideas, dissect the bad ones, and never be afraid to collaborate with other professionals.
If you’re an agency that would like to talk with Daggerhart Lab about how we can help each other, we’d love to hear from you! You can reach out to us through the contact page, or shoot us a direct email at firstname.lastname@example.org!