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Full-service San Diego web design, development and digital marketing company specializing in custom design and effective SEO services.

$100 - $149 / hr
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San Diego, CA
  • 17208 Caminito Canasto
    San Diego, CA 92128
    United States


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E-Commerce for Conductor

"I was impressed by his responsiveness, how quickly he responds, and how there’s just no drama to it."

Willing to refer: 
The Project
Less than $10,000
2011 - Ongoing
Project summary: 

AshWebStudios built an eCommerce WordPress site, incorporating MP3 playback and PayPal checkouts. They later made the site responsive and mobile-friendly, and continue to host the site and perform minor fixes.

The Reviewer
1-10 Employees
Jacksonville, Florida
Donald McCullough
Conductor, Jacksonville Symphony Chorus
The Review
Feedback summary: 

The team at AshWebStudios is patient and helpful. They’re goal-driven, making them able to check off milestones in a reasonable timeline, for exactly the cost they estimated. They are reliably available for bug fixes or updates, and keep a good, focused attitude about questions and challenges.

A Clutch analyst personally interviewed this client over the phone. Below is an edited transcript.


Introduce your business and what you do there.

I am a conductor and composer, and I published my music through a couple of publishers. I mostly work in classical music and choral music, for pianos and orchestras, that sort of thing.


What challenge were you trying to address with AshWebStudios?

The publishing industry is changing dramatically, and a lot of composers are selling online now. So I decided to set up a website that would not only promote me as a musician and composer but would be a place where people could review my music and purchase it. So I needed to find somebody to set up the eCommerce part of it and create a player so you can click on a score and have it open up and play.


What was the scope of their involvement?

Derek [Ashauer, Founder] had this process that I really liked. It was a preliminary conversation so he could be really clear about what I wanted and then make suggestions as to how it would solve problems and accomplish what I needed it to. Then he proposed how we might go about it. It was a lot of back and forth over emails and Skype until we got it worked out.

My website is WordPress, and they there’s a FoxyCart component that is the cart, the merchant component, and then PayPal to check out.

The site has categories so that different types of choirs and choruses can filter music based on their needs. So one of the features that I like is the way I can create categories and tags. I can make them up the way I want. I can upload scores; visitors can purchase and download that same PDF. I upload MP3 files, and there’s a button that lets you listen to a piece of music. That’s a feature that’s very important to me. But the ultimate feature is that it’s a WordPress website that I can manipulate to make it the way I want it. It’s really great.

For a while, it seemed like he had a team working with him. We never spoke about this, but for a while, he had this very fancy ticketing system to deal with issues, and there was another guy communicating with me. That went on for about a year, and that guy addressed my needs just as well as Derek ever did. I don’t know that he’s using that system now, but to be perfectly honest with you, I just email Derek saying, “Things turn purple and they’re supposed to be orange,” or whatever it is. And he just fixes it and writes back to tell me so. So mostly I’ve just dealt with him.

How did you come to work with AshWebStudios?

I honestly don’t remember. It might have just been through a web search. I will say this: I was working with this other person who came recommended because she had done a couple of composers’ websites. She was by the hour, and I spent a good amount of money with her—I don’t know, maybe $500—and I felt like we weren’t getting anywhere. Now that I’ve experienced Derek, I can tell that she was a novice. She was going at it chip by chip, like chipping away at a sculpture. I felt like she was learning along the way. Her options for how to solve my problems were very minimal. I realized I had to find somebody who could look at what I wanted and tell me what it would cost. And that’s one thing I really liked about Derek: I knew what it was going to cost.

How much have you invested with AshWebStudios?

I hate to throw out a number because it might be wrong, but I want to say it was around $4,000. That was five or six years ago. Now I pay another company for the domain name, but the website lives on his servers, so I pay him $250 for that. For that fee, he fixes any issue that crops up at no extra charge.

Oh, I just remembered: I recently paid him to make my site mobile-friendly, and I think that was under $500, maybe under $400.

What is the status of this engagement?

It could have been six years ago, but I don’t remember. Maybe 2010. And he’s still on retainer.


Could you share any evidence that would demonstrate the productivity, quality of work, or the impact of the engagement?

I don’t do any of that analytics stuff. I wish I did, but I’m too busy to do much of that. But I know this: I’ve had people call me and point to a specific piece of music they heard on the site, and that’s led to commissions and things like that. That wasn’t happening before. I have more of a presence than I did before.

This day and age, if you don’t have something that looks like you’re bona fide, people don’t take you seriously, at least in my profession. I just feel like I interact with my conductor community a lot more now because I get calls I didn’t use to get. It has built relationships for me; let’s put it that way.

How did AshWebStudios perform from a project management standpoint?

A lot of these guys are great with the computer but not so great with people, and he’s not like that. I wouldn’t hire him to raise money—he’s not Mr. Personality—but I don’t need that. I just need somebody who can get the job done and speak clearly. He’s perfect for what he’s doing. You don’t get anything from him that suggests frustration or any of that from him, which can be exhausting. I usually assume people get frustrated because of their own lack of ability: they’re getting frustrated and they’re making you feel bad for asking the questions. Derek never once made me feel that way.

Derek had a specific set of questions for me. “What are you trying to sell? What’s important to you?” I forget what all the questions were, but he had a process for finding out and making me decide what it was I wanted to accomplish with this project. And that’s so basic because if he doesn’t do that, then we’re making it up as we go along and wasting everybody’s time. So in terms of project management, I liked his style because it was very clear and precise. And if he asked me something I didn’t know, he’d send me some links with different options.

I’m a musician, but I’ve been on a thousand boards of directors, and I’ve done a thousand studies in management from a nonprofit side. It all boils down to stating clear goals and having a management style that gets people to do what you want them to do. And he’s good at that. As you can tell from this interview, I can go off on a thousand tangents. I don’t need another tangent-y person to work with: I need someone to focus me. He was great at that.

What did you find most impressive about AshWebStudios?

I’d say it was his responsiveness, how quickly he responds, and how there’s just no drama to it. I don’t know if that makes any sense. I don’t want to get into a bunch of mess or feel like I’m bothering him. He has never made me feel that way. That may seem like a small thing, but to me, it’s incredibly important, because that’s psychic energy I don’t have to give.

Are there any areas AshWebStudios could improve?

I don’t. I’m paying the guy $250 a year, and he fixes anything that goes wrong with it. I think I’m getting a great value. I really don’t have any constructive criticism. Maybe I would if I were in the business, but I don’t.

What tips or recommendations could you share that might increase the likelihood of success with AshWebStudios?

Do it. I mean, really. I don’t have any reservations about him. And I have to tell you: I’m a pretty cynical person, and it’s rare to find somebody who’s working so well for you. I’m sticking with him. And I’ve recommended him to other people.

Overall Score The guy can accomplish everything he says he will. In my profession, I see 1,000 people with talent and 990 of them don’t have any discipline and can’t do a damn thing with the talent. To have talent and discipline is so important, and he’s got both.
  • 5.0 Scheduling
    If anybody held anything up, it was probably me. He was right on it.
  • 5.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
    If I give him all fives, it’s going to look like I’m his brother or something. But honestly, it seemed like an incredible value to me.
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
    Overall, the site has worked extremely well, and when there is a problem that crops up, they address it immediately.
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer
    I’m very satisfied with them. The site’s never gone down, none of that stuff.