Kevin McNally is the president and founder of Interactive Palette Inc., a Web design and marketing company based in Fall River. McNally spoke with Providence Business News about advice for businesses looking into Web design and how his company has evolved since its founding.
PBN: How did you get into the Web design business and decide to start your own company?
MCNALLY: After receiving my Bachelor of Fine Arts in sculpture from the Rhode Island School of Design, I wanted to further my education. I attended Savannah College of Art and Design, initially to study product design. While there I started creating websites to make some extra money. I found that I loved it because I was able to use my creativity and also the technical side of my brain to write code.
I switched my major to interactive design and did an internship at a Web design firm in Savannah, Ga. After graduation, I moved to Boston to find work and be closer to family. This was during the Internet boom and times were very different. My first job at a startup company lasted only two days because they folded; my next job lasted eight months. After I was laid off the second time I tried a different direction – doing contract work.
I had always had a passion for being an entrepreneur. I used to build and sell surfboards, and I once tried my hand at selling paintings on the Web. My Web design client base began to grow, and after a couple of years I hired a few employees and moved into a small office. I have been in business for myself 14 years this June and I feel very fortunate that I am still able to work for myself.
PBN: Interactive Palette started out with two clients in 2000 and now services about 170 local and national clients. How have the needs of your clients changed over the years, and how has Interactive Palette stayed current with the latest trends?
MCNALLY: The industry is always changing! The biggest change for us over the last couple of years has been mobile design. Almost 90 percent of the websites we create are responsive websites. Only two years ago we were doing separate mobile websites, and that technology is becoming obsolete for many of our customers. We invested in learning responsive design and development early on and are able to help our customers stay ahead of the curve.
Another trend that has changed our business is that many customers have the expertise now to do many of the day-to-day content edits themselves. We integrate an easy to use content management system for our customers and then train them on how to do it.
PBN: Responsive design and mobile websites are two of the hottest trends in web design right now, and Interactive Palette offers both. What are the key distinctions between the two options, and how can a company decide whether a responsive site or a custom mobile site would suit their business best?
MCNALLY: These days most of our customers lean towards responsive design because the website easily adjusts to the visitor’s monitor size. For example, the layout of the website will be different on an iPhone than on a desktop or tablet. The goal is make the websites easily accessible on whichever device you are using.
Another advantage to responsive is you no longer need to detect which device a visitor is using to decide which version of the site to present. The code for this would traditionally be something that a developer would have to install and keep up to date as devices came on the market.
However, we do have a few customers who prefer a mobile site because they are very streamlined websites, almost like an app on your phone. We can show video testimonials, menus and more.
PBN: What factors should a company consider when choosing a website design company to take their business online or revamp an outdated website?
MCNALLY: If a company is looking to invest in a new website I would suggest looking for a local provider who will meet with the company in person. In this way, you would get a good feel for the company you would be working with. Look also at the company’s track record. How long have they been in business? What types of clients have they worked with? Can they handle your particular needs? Hiring a Web design company with a diverse set of employees can be key in to getting a great website.
PBN: In addition to Web design, Interactive Palette also offers internet marketing and SEO services. What are the basics of SEO that every business owner should know, and what are the benefits of having professionals optimize marketing for SEO instead of doing it themselves?
MCNALLY: We work with new and existing customers on educating them as to how to put a plan in place that will keep their websites up to date. Whether that is through informational articles, infographics or blogs, I have always felt that content is king and having a good plan in place can really give you a leg up on the competition. In competitive markets this is something you have to be working on regularly. We either help clients with this or give them the tools so they can maintain it themselves.
We also work with customers to decide which social media platforms might be best for their business and how much time it might take to keep this up to date and optimized.
Another key factor is traditional PR. We love to see customers utilize PR to get into various media publications besides their own website because it gives them an opportunity to take better advantage of other social media sites.
From an article in Providence Business News by editor Kaylen Auer